The Nike Factory Stores of Southern California (that’s Cabazon, Ontario Mills, Lake Elsinore, Long Beach, Carlsbad, Camarillo, etc.) are home to some of my greatest sneaker finds. Long before I started doing this sneaker blog thing for a living, I was digging through outlet stores because (a) I had an office job that prevented me from chasing kicks that required actual effort and (b) it’s a lot more fun and satisfying to come across an outlet gem than walking next door to the flagship store and worrying the hyped pair you is already gone by the line you’re next in line.
2010 was a particularly memorable year because I came across two pairs of outlet finds that would actually down a path that was bright, loud, obnoxious, and green. It wasn’t just any green either; it was electric. And with Nike Air Max
Day Month celebrating all things Air and uh, Max, this edition of Sneaker Grails takes a look at two kicks that aren’t really grails, but rather gems to me.
Nike Air Max Tailwind 2+ Electric Green
Retail Price: $100
Outlet Price: $59.99
Years Active In The Rotation: 5 (now MIA, probably donated or recycled at this point)
I have a weird mental block when it comes to outlet finds compared to those I buy at regular stores. It doesn’t matter what sneaker I bought and how much it cost, if it came from the outlet store, it is going to become an instant everyday shoe. Somebody might give me hell for wearing an Air Jordan 3 Pure so liberally that the chips of paint are practically falling off the midsole, but it didn’t matter to me because I got them for sale in Ontario. But if I had bought the same pair for full price at Niketown? They would still be VVVVVVVVNDS condition to this day. And maybe that’s why I prefer outlet stores; for the reckless abandon that I bring to my kicks. So you can only imagine what paces I would put on a pair of Air Maxes on clearance.
Outside of the Nike Air Max 90 (my favorite classic Air Max) and the Flyknit Air Max (because duh, Flyknit), that Tailwind 2+ is my favorite Air Max shoe. Whether I wore them on Casual Fridays at my old office job, played impromptu pick-up basketball in them, or let them get drenched in the rain because I didn’t want my Cole Haans to get ruined, those Tailwind 2s served a purpose, even if I never used the Nike+ functionality.
Nike Air Max LeBron 7 Low Dunkman (But Not Really Dunkman)
Retail Price: $140
Outlet Price: $99.99
Years Active In The Rotation: Still wear them occasionally
The Nike Air Max LeBron 7 is easily one of the best LeBron signatures of all the times. It was certainly the most eye-catching one after a string of duds (in my opinion, kids, don’t @ me with your fandom for the 2 or the 4) that set the line back for a few years. I don’t recall buying many LeBrons post-Zoom Generation, but the 7 was the pair that got me back in the fold. Jason Petrie’s design – the 7 featured a full-length visible Air Max unit, Flywire, and was lightweight compared to other models – really catapulted LeBron’s line to the proverbial next level. It also helped that the colorways that we got for the LeBron 7 were just sick. Red Carpets, Cool Greys, All-Stars, Akrons, More Than A Games were just a handful of 7s that are still talked about to this day and that’s not even counting the Low colorways.
I still remember the shocked looked on my face when I saw a returned pair of LeBron 7 Lows on the wall. Sure, it wasn’t technically a Dunkman (the alternate LeBron logo that signified his Dunkman persona was noticeably absent) in the traditional sense, but I didn’t give a s**t. The Electric Green hue was the same as the one on my pair of Tailwinds so I was more than willing to pay $99.99 (plus tax) that it was going to take to bring these home with me. It didn’t get as much time as a casual pair to rock as the Tailwinds, but it certainly found a home on the court. I won’t say that I’m the best street ball player around, but let’s just say that if you’re going to wear a pair bright white kicks with Electric Green on them you better have a game that at least backs it up.
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