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Love at first sight: How a sneakerhead got hooked

Editor's note: The NBA lives at the intersection of athletics and pop culture, with individual style embraced by fans and the way teams market their stars. This has been a driving force behind sneakerhead culture, creating a subset of fans as interested in the fashion of the game as the game itself.

Starting today, DBB will occasionally expand our coverage to include this facet of fandom. Please welcome Michael Dubicki, our new resident sneakerhead. — Matt Watson

Air Jordan I
Air Jordan I
Nike, Inc

Do you believe in love at first sight? I most certainly do. Let me paint my picture. March 1985. I was 8 years old, living on the west side of Detroit. I had just seen a 33-second commercial of a shoe that was banned by the NBA. Michael Jordan, just standing there. Ball in hand. Black and red shirt and shorts set. Plain gray backdrop. The camera pans down to the shoes.

Oh the shoes!!! Midnight Black and Crimson Red. Nothing like I have ever seen. What did he just say? Banned? Why? Did they have springs in them? Could they make you jump higher? Could these springs make ME dunk? (Remember that this is written from an 8 year old's perspective. Yes, I am a sneakerhead. Yes, I know about the Jordan ban controversy and the Nike Air Ship. If you don't know about it, that will come up in a future article.) Advertising is great!

I now had to gain the confidence to ask my mom for them. You want something bad enough, you just do it. So, I just asked, "Mom, can I get the new Air Jordans?" To my surprise, she said "Yes!!!" She didn't know what Air Jordans were, but who cares!!! Music to my ears ... followed up by, "We'll go to Kmart and look for them."

"Wait, what? Kmart?" I said. "Mom, these are Air Jordans! They don't sell them at Kmart! We have to go to a real shoe store! We need to go to ... Fairlane Mall." I remember pulling in the parking lot. I could not wait to get in there. "Hurry Mom!!! You don't need to lock the doors!!! Hurry, hurry!" I thought in my head.

My brain's going at Mach 10 like I just drank a case of Jolt. We walk in the store. There, on the shelf. The Air Jordan. As a kid I could fit into adult sizes as I've always had a big, wide foot. So I was not getting the "kiddie" Sky Jordans. I'm getting the real deal.

Then, my Mom asks, "How much are they?" Life as I knew it slowed down like a slow motion highlight.

"$65," the store clerk answered. My Mom's face drops, and I think some ninjas dropped out of the ceiling and punched me right in the stomach without anybody seeing them.

"No way!!!" she exclaimed. "I'm not spending $65 for a pair of shoes!" She was used to spending $10 at Kmart for a pair of shoes, so now I understand her sticker shock. But, back then, nothing but sadness. My first love got away. My mom did end up buying me a Jordan t-shirt, as she probably saw me fighting to hold back my tears.

It would be a little more than 10 years later that I was able to purchase my own pair. The Space Jam 11s. Then, like any sneakerhead, I worked my tail off to have the money for next year's pair. There were always new temptations. And 1 Tai Chis. Under Armor Bloodlines. Reebok Questions or Answer IVs. Big names coming to dance like Kobe, LeBron, KD, Rose. New technology: Boost, Clutchfit, and wait ... who is that? She looks like an old flame. Is that ... could it be ...  Jordan. Now XX9 — and still as beautiful as day one. Love at first sight.

Hi. My name is Dubicki and I'm a shoeaholic.

Hi. My name is Dubicki and I'm a shoeaholic.

I've been clean for about 10 years now. Gone are the days of camping out for shoes. But, the illness never goes away. I still search the internet for new models coming out. When they do, I hit the stores to check them out. But, I don't have to buy every new pair or colorway that's available. My Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are still covered with shoe info. My YouTube subscriptions the same.

But, I have found a new outlet. And I would like to thank you guys for letting me stay on the path of sobriety. In the coming weeks, I'll try to let you know what our favorite team has on their feet. I'm attempting to line up interviews, wanting to know how they got in the shoe game, and what their first love was. Also to try to get some pics of their Player Exclusive kicks. As well as keeping you updated on new shoes coming out. And I'll try to throw in some reviews. If there's anything you would like to know, please ask in the comment section and I will try to find it for you.

Also, let me know about your first love. Are you still with her, or did she get away?