My first pair of Nikes would be red suede. Bruins. Size 7 1/2. Wore them until they faded to fuchsia. Came back to Chicago with kicks no one had ever peeped. Large? Me? That was an understatement. "Who's the little kid with the red suede sneaks?" they'd say at the park and at the new school I went to in seventh grade.

All I knew was that if my game lived up to the shoes, I'd be a'ight.

I was a'ight. Held my own, held it down. From 1976 to 1978, Nikes and Chuck Taylors ruled my basketball world.

Until Converse created a television commercial for Dr.J: "Hey, hey, Dr.J, where'd you get those moves? Are you wearing magic shoes?"

Didn't take much. Every kid on every basketball team in the city of Chicago had to have the Docs. It was the closest thing to the perfect sneak we'd ever seen. Plus, it was Doc's shoe. Made you do what he do. $39.99. Everyone on my high school squad got their hustle on, by hook or crook, to get our Docs on our feet. A lot of stores had a lot of Converse Julius Ervings unaccounted for, because we were lifting every chance we got. They were our game shoes. Not for practice, not for school, not for ballin' outside, not for walking around the hood. Strictly for the official: games.

For two years I stayed in this mode. Never thought I'd leave. Then one day a sports store called Morrie Majors had a sale on adidas.

My world would never be the same.

Part II: 1980-2000

Scoop Jackson is an award-winning journalist who has covered sports and culture for more than 15 years. He is a former editor of Slam, XXL, Hoop and Inside Stuff magazines and the author of "Battlegrounds: America's Street Poets Called Ballers" and "LeBron James: the Chambers of Fear." He resides in Chicago with his wife and two kids. You can e-mail Scoop here.


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