Shoes, steak and shootin' hoops: Spending a day in Chicago 'Like Mike'
In hoops circles, Oct. 18, 1984, is known as "Defiance Day." On that day, Chicago Bulls rookie Michael Jordan played a preseason game at Madison Square Garden rocking a pair of red and black Nike shoes that violated the NBA's uniform policy. The game wasn't televised, so few saw the act of defiance. But he wore the shoes again the following February on a grand stage -- the 1985 All-Star Game -- making it impossible for the world to ignore what would eventually become known as the Air Jordan 1.
This week, Jordan Brand celebrated the anniversary of Defiance Day and the release of the Jordan XXXII by treating 20 writers, influencers and hoops fans to a "Like Mike" experience. As one of the lucky few, I got to spend all day on Wednesday experiencing a modernized version of a day in the life of Michael Jordan. For a lifelong MJ fan, it was pure heaven.
Check out our itinerary and some of the highlights:
7:00 a.m. -- The Breakfast Club: If you wanna be the best, you gotta start early. After the Pistons bounced the Bulls from the NBA Playoffs three years in a row, Jordan decided to step up his game with early-morning training sessions he called "The Breakfast Club." We recreated one of his workouts at the Jones Convocation Center at Chicago State University, running drills with renowned Chicago coach and trainer Basil Evelyn and eventually facing off in a full-court scrimmage.
The end result was a bit like an episode of "The Bachelor," with people of varying talent levels and sports experience thrown together on a court in matching ensembles (including brand new Jordan XXXIIs). So yeah, it wasn't always pretty -- but, like MJ, we worked up a sweat before most folks got out of bed.
10:00 a.m. -- Getting our "wings": After a quick shower, we headed to a photography studio where we got to recreate two of Jordan's most iconic photos -- the wings poster and the locker room shot in the Kangol hat and Jordan II OGs. With a little help from photographers Bradley Murray and Daniel Stewart, some folks really nailed it.
1:00 p.m. -- Lunch break: Our stomachs were growling after the morning workout and all that posing. Had to fuel up.
3:00 p.m. -- Fly like Mike: You can't recreate a day in the life of MJ without getting some serious air. Lacking the athleticism of the GOAT, we got a little help from Chicago Helicopter Experience.
Safe to say soaring 1,200 feet above the city isn't exactly the same as looking down into a 10-foot rim, but Chicagoans always felt like His Airness was sort of hovering in the space above us, God-like in his greatness.
8:00 p.m. -- A pregame steak: Jordan famously ate the same meal before every single game: A 23-ounce steak, baked or mashed potatoes and a ginger ale. We hit up a Chicago steakhouse to recreate the feast. We might have had a few extra side dishes and couple of glasses of Cabernet, but we didn't have a game to get to, we had a party!
10:00 p.m. -- Ready for launch: Time for the Jordan XXXII Launch Celebration at the Nike Statement House Chi. Drinks were flowing, a DJ was spinning and the new XXXIIs were prominently displayed as we capped off our "Like Mike" day with a proper party.
A day in the life of the greatest of all time ain't a bad way to spend a Wednesday. That being said, I never felt less like Mike than when I got out of bed the next morning -- slowly, carefully and in pain.
Getting worked over by 90 minutes of hoops is decidedly un-Jordan-like. In my defense, I haven't played in years. Also, I'm no Michael Jordan. Then again, there is only one.
The rest of us can only dream of being Like Mike.