Categories
Grind Productivity

Imani McGee-Stafford on What the Pandemic Taught Her About Hustle Culture

I am currently writing this on a yacht in Greece. It sounds extravagant, I know. While here, I have attended summer classes for law school. I have also written a petition for readmission after being academically disqualified. I have sat on this boat in paradise and exhausted my network for letters of support, asking them to professionally vouch for me and my ability to finish this JD program. I sold my home, so that I could have less financial burden, because law school is expensive. I have yet to decide where I am going to live, mainly because I am waiting to see if I will be readmitted and allowed the opportunity to finish my last year of law school in person. But in the meantime, I am experiencing Greece. I am having a once in a lifetime experience with people that care about me. I am drinking champagne as if the life I will return to is not in shambles.

Imani McGee-Stafford

My family and my agent were upset that I chose to go on this trip. They thought that it would send a message that I wasn’t invested, or that I was being flippant about the very real possibility that I may be permanently kicked out of law school. Also, for reference, this was a free trip with a close friend—not that it matters. After a conversation with one of my school’s deans when I initially learned of my academic disqualification (a conversation that did not go well), I called my friend and told her I wasn’t going to come. But after she calmed me down, I realized staying behind would not change the outcome of my school’s decision. Did I need to post that I was sad and in distress for them to believe I take law school seriously? Did I need to visibly struggle to be worthy of an opportunity or second chance? For a slight moment, I believed the answer to that was “yes”. But then I realized that ultimately, their decision was out of my control and life would keep going. Quite frankly, struggle no longer needs to be a part of my origin story. So here I am, my life arguably in shambles, but enjoying it, nonetheless. 

My first draft of this article was quite terrible, but that was because I was trying to avoid talking about this. I am embarrassed that I was not able to seamlessly complete this task like I’ve done so many before. I am a bit sad that I was not above the very system I know and critique, that it still proved to be a barrier for me. I am worried and nervous that all I risked for this dream to become a lawyer was not worth it, because I’ll be academically disqualified and forced to start over, or return to basketball without my JD. 

Struggle does not have to be a part of your origin story. You do not have to fail and fight and scrap to deserve opportunity. We are all deserving of the opportunity and chance to both dream and pursue those dreams, despite the systems and propaganda that tell us otherwise. We may not all be able to accomplish those dreams, but we deserve the chance. You do not have to grovel or cry or have some sad story to make you deserving. You do not have to visibly struggle for others to think you are worthy of opportunity. You deserve to enjoy this life. You are playing against the house, the goalposts will continually move, and you will have missed out on moments trying to prove you are worthy of something that should have been afforded to you, regardless.

I challenge you to think of life as more than a series of accomplishments and a mission to garner as much as you can before you leave. I challenge you to live, to be here with me in this moment, and every moment after this. 

Impact Over Influence

We are taught to strive for positions and titles, born with this inherent competitiveness. For people of color, that means we are consistently told that our good isn’t good enough. We are told we have to be twice as good, to be considered for even half of the opportunities of our fairer skin counterparts. There is no try, only do. And if you refuse to listen, or subscribe to this belief, failure is surely around the corner. But I want us to think of success differently. 

I have lived or visited over 15 countries and the US is the only country I’ve experienced thus far that glorifies work in this way. I am not saying that other countries don’t work hard, quite the contrary. I am saying other countries do not define themselves by their work or their need to work. They understand that there is more to life than work, than hustling, than striving for the next milestone or promotion. I want us to live this way too. 

I am not built for labor. I’m sure you are not either. I believe and embody this. I do have to work for a living and to pay my bills and live in such a way that I can take care of myself. However, my work will not kill me. It will not consume me. It will not take my joy or my passion. If we have learned anything during this pandemic, it is that our time is precious. It is that these companies and corporations will still survive with or without us. They will grow while we struggle. They will profit while escaping taxes and not paying us our worth; to be very clear, your worth will never be encompassed by a position or salary. 

What if we understood and quantified success by the impact we make on those around us instead of the arbitrary titles we strive to reach. What if we told our children no title or accomplishment could make them more worthy or enough than they were merely by being themselves? You will die one day, hopefully far from now, but you won’t be able to take your titles or accolades or accomplishments with you. When people gather, I doubt you want them to state how neat your paperwork was or how you never missed a deadline or always showed up to work on time. Maybe you will be okay with your life fitting into three or four cardboard filing boxes, encompassing your desk or office, but I challenge you to want more, to view your experience here as more than the sum of your work.

Imani McGee-Stafford

Choose Joy Even in the Midst of Struggle

I have recently been wondering what good all of the accolades, accomplishments and milestones are if you have no one to bring them home to, if you have no time to enjoy the fruit of your labor. There will always be another assignment, goal, task to complete, but the days will continue ticking down. You can’t wait until things are perfect or less hard to be happy, to choose joy. I think that is something I’ve learned while traveling. Outside of mental illness of course, happiness is a choice. I have been to the wealthiest of homes in western Africa, and to slums in eastern Africa; I have been to volunteer in Singapore and high-rises in Taiwan, but the circumstances do not dictate joy. I don’t think we as Americans understand that concept enough. There will always be reasons to be unhappy, circumstances hindering your daily pursuits. But you can choose joy.

It’s not about winning the battle every day; it’s just about putting up a good fight—acknowledging that, today, in this moment, you will not be defeated. The victory is in perseverance. Things will never be easy, for most of us at least. However, I have seen people with so much less than me enjoy and love and live. It is humbling to say the least, when we think of the people with bigger problems than our own, and their ability to persist. This is not to discount our experiences, but I have lived a life riddled with pain and hurt, and these days, I choose joy. 

I’m a very anxious person. Stillness has often been hard for me. I’m a planner. A woman of a thousand dreams and a thousand lives to live. Often too busy worrying about yesterday or planning tomorrow to truly embrace and experience today. However, the pandemic, among other things, has forced me to be still, for better or for worse. I have begun repeating to myself: “Yesterday brought its own set of worries, tomorrow will surely bring more. So today, if only for this moment, I will enjoy,” in an effort to slow down and truly be present. I hope this helps you value today and all the moments in between now and forever. There are so many good things outside of and before the goal or destination. Remember that. 

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 14 Best-Selling Manga of All-Time

Just a few years ago, there seemed to be a stigma around manga and anime that has certainly since been shaken. The community seems to be growing significantly larger year by year and an increasing number of people who are into random TV series and comics are trying out some of the Japanese content.

An anime is basically a Japanese cartoon. Anime is certainly more popular than manga, at least in the Western world. Many of us were into anime as children before we even knew it. Think Dragon Ball, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon. Where anime is the Japanese version of cartoons, manga is basically the Japanese version of comic books and graphic novels. Just like shows often are with comic books, a lot of anime often starts with manga.

To bring you up to speed on the world of manga, we’ve compiled a list of the 14 best-selling manga of all time. Here they are, from top to bottom.

1. One Piece (Shueisha, 1997 – Present)
Amazon

Few manga on this list are still in print today, but One Piece is one of them, nearing its 100th volume. Right now, it’s the best-selling manga series on the planet, with an estimated 480 million copies sold worldwide. It follows Monkey D. Luffy, whose body gains the properties of rubber, while he searches for the treasure known as One Piece.

Buy now, $8.40
https://www.amazon.com/One-Piece-Vol-Romance-Dawn/dp/1569319014/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=one+piece+vol+1&qid=1625064347&sr=8-1
2. Golgo 13 (Shogakukan, 1968 – Present)
Amazon

Golgo 13 is the longest-running manga series on this list, starting in October of 1968 and still in production. There are a couple of hundred volumes that have sold 300 million copies. It’s about a professional assassin who must do his job while the CIA, FBI, and US Army try to hunt him down.

Buy now, $9.99
https://www.viz.com/golgo-13
3. Dragon Ball (Shueisha, 1984 – 1995)
Amazon

This is definitely the name on this list that most people who aren’t into manga or anime will recognize, especially its sequel Dragon Ball Z. Dragon Ball has approximate sales of 260 million. The series essentially follows Son Goku as he tries to collect the Dragon Balls, but of course, it goes many places from there.

Buy now, $2.60
https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Ball-Vol-Akira-Toriyama/dp/1569319200/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=dragon+ball+vol+1&qid=1625064408&s=books&sr=1-1
4. Naruto (Shueisha, 1999 – 2014)
Simon & Schuster

Naruto follows its title character, a ninja called Naruto Uzumaki, as he aims to achieve his goal of being Hokage, the leader of his village. The anime is famous for having hundreds and hundreds of episodes, but its manga was 72 volumes. To date, it has sold approximately 250 million copies worldwide.

Buy now, $9.53
https://www.amazon.com/Naruto-Vol-1-Uzumaki/dp/1569319006
5. Detective Conan (Shogakukan, 1994 – Present)
Amazon

Detective Conan, also known to some as Case Closed, is a story about a high school detective called Shinichi Kudo who turns into a child while investigating a particularly strange organization. It has sold an estimated 230 million copies and is still in print today, nearing its 100th volume.

Buy now, $7.67
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1591163277/ref=bseries_primary_1_1591163277
6. Black Jack (Akita Shoten, 1973 – 1983)
Amazon

Coming in at sixth place with sales of 176 million is Black Jack. Written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka, it’s named after its title character. Set in the 1970s, Black Jack is a doctor who does good deeds, but rarely gets recognized for it. There were just 25 volumes in the decade it was in production.

Buy now, $12.50
https://www.amazon.com/Black-Jack-Vol-Osamu-Tezuka/dp/193428727X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=black+jack+volume+1&qid=1625063366&s=books&sr=1-1
7. Doraemon (Shogakukan, 1969 – 1996)
Amazon

Doraemon is a robotic cat who time travels so that a boy called Nobita Nobi can be assisted. It’s neither a Shōnen nor a Seinen and is aimed at children. Selling 170 million copies worldwide, it’s hard to overstate how big this is in Japan. Doraemon has previously been named Japan’s anime ambassador and appeared alongside the country’s Prime Minister at the 2016 Olympics.

Buy now, $17.99
https://www.amazon.com/Doraemon-Gadget-Cat-Future-Vol/dp/4092270119/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=doraemon+volume+1&qid=1625063491&sr=8-1
8. Slam Dunk (Shueisha, 1990 – 1996)
Amazon

As you may have guessed from the name, Slam Dunk is a manga based around basketball. The plot is that a boy, Hanamichi Sakuragi, meets a love interest, Haruko Akagi, who convinces him to join their high school basketball team. He’s not interested at first, but it quickly becomes a passion of his. In six years, 157 million copies were sold.

Buy now, $5.03
https://www.amazon.com/Slam-Dunk-Vol-Takehiko-Inoue/dp/1421506793/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Slam+Dunk+volume+1&qid=1625063598&sr=8-1
9. KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops (Shueisha, 1976 – 2016)
The Puppeter

With a whopping 200 volumes, KochiKame focuses on a policeman named Kankichi Ryotsu. It’s almost like a written sitcom. Each episode centers around a money-making scheme that Kankichi thinks of, only for it to blow up in his face by the end. In three decades, this manga series sold 156.5 million copies.

Buy now, $7.71
https://verasia.eu/manga-in-japanese/543-kochikame-vol1-9784088528113.html
10. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (Shueisha, 2016 – 2020)
Amazon

Demon Slayer is the newest and one of the shortest manga on this list by a mile, starting just a few years ago in 2016 and ending last year. The anime is also insanely popular. To date, the manga series has sold 150 million copies, an impressive number for such a short time span. As of December last year, the entire franchise had generated the equivalent of $2.6 billion in Japan.

Buy now, $7.39
https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Slayer-Kimetsu-Yaiba-Vol/dp/1974700526/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Demon+Slayer+volume+1&qid=1625063949&sr=8-1
11. Crayon Shin-chan (Futabasha, 1990 – Present)
Amazon

Still in print, Crayon Shin-chan has been around in some form since it debuted in Weekly Manga Action in 1990. It follows a five-year-old named Shinnosuke Nohara and his loved ones. It has sold approximately 148 million copies.

Buy now, $6.48
https://www.amazon.com/Crayon-Shinchan-VOL-01-Reissue/dp/140121715X
12. Oishinbo (Shogakukan, 1983 – 2014)
Shogakukan

Next up is Oishinbo which is currently on hiatus due to criticism it received for its portrayal of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Plans are to bring it back for a short while before ending it. At the time of writing, the show about the culinary journalist and his wife has sold around 135 million copies.

Buy now, $10.65
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1421521393/ref=bseries_primary_1_1421521393
13. Bleach (Shueisha, 2001 – 2016)
Amazon

In print from 2001 to 2016, Bleach is about a fifteen-year-old who is a Soul Reaper (similar to a grim reaper.) It’s been a great success, boasting an anime series, a film, musicals, a trading card game, novels, and more. 120 million copies have been sold to date.

Buy now, $6.91
https://www.amazon.com/Bleach-Vol-1-Tite-Kubo/dp/1591164419/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=bleach+vol+1&qid=1625064237&s=books&sr=1-1
14. Astro Boy (Kobunsha, 1952 – 1968)
Amazon

Last up is Astro Boy (known as Mighty Atom in Japan), which has sold an estimated 100 million copies. A man called Umataro Tenma mourns the death of his son and creates an android with human emotions. He eventually wants to live life as a human boy.

Buy now, $31
https://www.amazon.com/Astro-Boy-Vol-Osamu-Tezuka/dp/1569716765/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=astro+boy+vol+1&qid=1625064305&s=books&sr=1-1
Categories
Sports Strength

Euro 2020 Quarterfinals Power Rankings

We’re down to the final eight at Euro 2020 and the fun is about to begin for the teams remaining in the tournament.

We’ve seen a number of upsets so far this summer, with major title contenders like France, Portugal and Germany all eliminated before the quarterfinals.

Italy and Belgium headline the matchups in the next round, despite the Red Devils potentially missing two of their biggest stars for the encounter. Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard are both expected to be sidelined, which means Belgium will have to utilize its bench to knock out a difficult Italy team.

Meanwhile, tournament heartthrobs Denmark remain in the mix for a Euros title after rallying in the midst of a tragedy. The Danes have shown their grit after Christian Eriksen’s collapse on their opening matchday and Denmark is now looking to become more than just a sentimental favorite this summer. 

[ READ MORE: MEET MANUEL LOCATELLI ]

With the quarterfinals getting ready to kick off on Friday, we’re ranking all eight remaining nations at this year’s European Championships.

8. Ukraine
Jan Kruger – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Andriy Shevchenko’s side hasn’t been the most impressive team at the tournament, but they play without fear and with several stars in attack Ukraine has potential to make more noise.

Andriy Yarmolenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ruslan Malinovskyi boast major European club experience and their next meeting against England will certainly require a disciplined performance against one of the top remaining teams.

7. Denmark
Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

The Danes are the heartfelt story of the competition and we all are rooting for this team to make a run at their first Euros title since 1992. 

There’s no doubt this team has grit and some really good pieces, but given the stakes at this point and quality of teams remaining Denmark are certainly one of the weaker squads left in the competition.

6. Czech Republic
Alex Livesey – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Similar to Denmark, the Czech Republic entered the quarterfinals aiming to build on an already impressive tournament that has seen Tomas Soucek and Co. exceed expectations.

To this point, the Czechs have only conceded two goals while earning positive results against Scotland, Croatia and Netherlands. Their defensive shape will make them hard to break down, while Patrik Schick is having a breakout tournament up front and could finish in the mix for the Golden Boot.

5. Spain
Martin Rose – UEFA / Contributor

trophies in a span of 13 years but this Luis Enrique-led team is different.

There isn’t the same star power as those teams of the past, however, Spain is still performing relatively well in the defensive third and if Alvaro Morata and Co. replicate their form that they had against Croatia then it might be time to take Spain more seriously.

4. Switzerland
Marcio Machado/Getty Images

The Swiss have a knack for reaching the knockout round of major competitions, but very few predicted Switzerland could accomplish what they did against France.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Co. knocked out the reigning World Cup winners after trailing 3-1 late in their Round of 16 match, but the Swiss grew stronger as the game wore on. They will be a tough out for Spain and any team they play if they advance past the quarterfinals.

3. Belgium
Vincent Van Doornick/Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images

It’s fair to say Belgium’s meeting with Italy is the marquee match of the quarterfinals and both sides are very much title favorites given the way the tournament is shaping up.

The Red Devils will have to deal with two significant injuries though, as Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard will likely miss their encounter with the Azzurri. 

Roberto Martinez’s side still has talisman and leading goalscorer Romelu Lukaku, but the challenge of beating a compact Italian team will be significantly greater without two of their attacking stars.

2. England
Marc Atkins/Getty Images

With Jordan Pickford in net and England the only team left in the competition not to concede a goal yet, it’s easy to see why the Three Lions check in at No. 2 on this list.

Although Harry Kane and the England attack have looked a bit off through their first four matches, Raheem Sterling is firing with three goals and Kane managed to break his scoreless run against Germany.

Gareth Southgate’s side sit on the more favorable half of the draw, which could allow England to make their first Euros final in the history of the competition.

1. Italy
Isabella Bonotto/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

With only one goal allowed in their first four matches, Italy are the favorites to win the Euros.

Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri are incredibly difficult to break down defensively and the wealth of options they have in their attack makes it very tricky to strategize as an opposition.

Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Ciro Immobile have formed an amazing front three partnership and it’ll be necessary to throw them off their games if Italy are to be defeated.

Categories
Sports Strength

The 14 Best WWE Money in the Bank Ladder Matches

Who knew a simple briefcase would have such a profound effect on the professional wrestling landscape?

Ladder matches have always presented jaw-dropping spectacles since their inception. Several of the biggest names in the business have produced death-defying stunts and emotionally charged wins across one-on-one and multi-man/women-filled takes on the specialty bout. In 2005, WrestleMania 21 gave fans a clever spin on the formula with a six-person ladder match where the winner earned themselves a contracted world championship match opportunity. Ever since then, WWE has put on even more breathtaking Money in the Bank ladder matches and turned the whole concept into its own annual PPV. Plus other wrestling feds, such as Impact Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling, have adopted the briefcase concept for themselves and presented it in a different manner.

With so many unforgettable MITB ladder matches to look back on, we went out of our way to find the best of the best. The 14 matches we selected here stand tall as not only the greatest ladder matches of all time, but the most outstanding MITB ladder matches wrestling fans have ever laid eyes on.

1. Edge vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho vs. Christian vs. Kane vs. Shelton Benjamin (WrestleMania 21)

The Money in the Bank match that started it all still holds up even to this day. The star power attached to it places it on its very own pedestal – some of the biggest names of the early to mid-2000s are all here and accounted for. And to see them go out there and attempt to steal the show on the WrestleMania stage is still an impressive feat to this very day. Shelton Benjamin became a made man during this match due to his unbelievable feats of high-flying wizardry. Plus the rest of the field maintained an enjoyable pace thanks to a ton of enjoyable car crash-style moments throughout the match. Edge’s victory here was the perfect way to cap off the MITB match concept’s phenomenal debut.

2. Mr. Kennedy vs. CM Punk vs. Edge vs. Finlay vs. Jeff Hardy vs. King Booker vs. Matt Hardy vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 23)

This MITB match should be referred to as the “All-Stars Edition.” The field for this one was stacked – you had a nice mix of bonafide main eventers, up-and-coming midcard stars, and wily veterans all vying for the top prize hanging above the ring at the time. The spectacle of WrestleMania added so much more to the epic feel of this chance meeting between wrestling’s GOATs. There were so many jaw-dropping moments that took place here – Randy Orton went RKO crazy, Jeff Hardy damn near destroyed Edge with a great ladder assisted fall, and Booker T. planted Orton with a super Book-End off a ladder. Even Hornswoggle got caught up in all the madness when he took a nasty Green Bay Plunge off a ladder from Mr. Kennedy! This MITB match was certainly one of the bigger highlights from ‘Mania 23.

3. CM Punk vs. Carlito vs. Chris Jericho vs. John Morrison vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. Montel Vontavious Porter vs. Shelton Benjamin (WrestleMania 24)

There’s just something about the outdoor setting for this WrestleMania MITB match that makes it feel all the more spectacular. A good majority of the participants for this match are considered masters of utilizing the top rope, so you knew coming in that you were going to bear witness to some outlandish spots. And thankfully, that’s exactly what took place. John Morrison pulled off a moonsault to the outside with a ladder in hand, Chris Jericho took a sick Backstabber from Carlito off a ladder, and Shelton got sent crashing through a ladder on the outside. The Matt Hardy run-in on MVP and CM Punk’s shocking win magnified the greatness of this outdoor MITB exhibition.

4. Kane vs. Big Show vs. Christian vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Matt Hardy (Money in the Bank 2010)
WWE

And now we’ve reached the MITB PPV era. At this point in the specialty match’s history, its Sunday event presented two versions of the match – one for Raw and one for Smackdown. MITB 2010 provides one of those rare cases where both MITB presentations ended up being super noteworthy. What we have here is the SmackDown version, which featured a ton of main event superstars in the making and two oversized brutes that were feeling extra destructive with ladders in their possession. This one was pure mayhem from the very start – the smaller competitors put in work to ground their larger opposition, while Kane and Big Show fought back with some brutal offense of their own. Kofi Kingston’s ladder-assisted leg drop from the top of a ladder is incredible and has been included in every wrestling highlight video you’ve probably ever seen. The presence of giants fighting among confident mortals added a cool wrinkle to this MITB matchup.

5. The Miz vs. Chris Jericho vs. Edge vs. Evan Bourne vs. John Morrison vs. Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase (Money in the Bank 2010)

No one ever truly thought that The Miz would ever be WWE Championship material. But once this MITB match came to a close, his shocking ascension to main event status truly began. He damn sure earned it cause this MITB match pushed him and everyone else who participated in it to their very limit. Mark Henry proved to be even more a vicious wrecking ball once he picked up a ladder, plus John Morrison took some unique forms of punishment while stuck in between a ladder. One of the dopest moments from this match is when Randy planted Morrison with an RKO and immediately got caught slipping by Evan Bourne with a beautiful Shooting Star Press. Miz ended up screwing Randy to grab the briefcase, which was quite prophetic when you consider the fact that the very same thing happened when the WWE Championship came into the picture.

6. Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Heath Slater vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Kane vs. Sheamus vs. Sin Cara vs. Wade Barrett (Money In The Bank 2011)

Most folks look to MITB 2011 as the night that CM Punk ascended to godhood amongst his peers by defeating John Cena for the WWE Championship. The rest of the card for that evening’s monumental event also featured some memorable bouts and the SmackDown MITB match certainly took high honors. The best of the Blue Brand’s roster at the time converged onto this show and put on quite the slobberknocker with the assistance of ladders close by. Sin Cara took the biggest bump of the match after Sheamus powerbombed him through a ladder, Kane & Sheamus pulled off a surprising Doomsday Device on Daniel Bryan, and Justin Gabriel crushed Kane with a 450 Splash from a ladder. The other bumps taken here were certainly cringe-inducing yet wholly entertaining at the same time. Everyone looked great here, but it was Daniel that managed to prevail and go on further to achieve greatness.

7. Randy Orton vs. Christian vs. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Sheamus (Money In The Bank 2013)
WWE

“The Legend Killer” morphed into the dream killer when he obtained the MITB briefcase during this hotly contested match. His victory here catapulted him towards the heartbreaking Authority screwjob that ended Daniel’s newly won WWE Championship reign at SummerSlam 2013. Randy’s briefcase win didn’t come easy, however – he had to fight tooth and nail to grab it during this classic MITB match. Rob Van Dam was on fire here as he dished out stiff kicks and his usual array of high-flying maneuvers. Sheamus increased his brutality game tenfold by smashing Daniel’s chest with quick succession strikes atop a ladder. And Daniel went on a mid-match mean streak that saw him almost walk away as the victor. The Paul Heyman turn on CM Punk near the end floored us all at the time, plus Randy’s sick RKO to RVD off of the ladder provided the perfect closer to this momentous WWE car crash.

8. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Rob Van Dam (Money In The Bank 2014)

The main story of this match centered on the former Shield members Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose trying to end the other’s career. Their battlefield of choice was the MITB match and it just so happened to feature a who’s who of notable WWE midcarders from that time period. The daredevil antics during this match were off the chart – Kofi Kingston springboard to multiple victims on the outside, RVD’s Rolling Thunder to Seth Rollins while he laid upon a ladder, and Kofi & RVD working together to launch the top of the ladder right into Jack Swagger’s face were all mind-blowing moments. Seth and Dean’s involvement in this match stood out the most, though – their hatred for one another resulted in the wildest ladder-assisted superplex the world has ever seen. The punishment Seth took here was next level, so you couldn’t help but feel he deserved to win once he finally grabbed the briefcase.

9. Dean Ambrose vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn (Money In The Bank 2016)

History was made during the closing moments of this edition of the MITB PPV – Roman Reigns walked in as WWE Champion, Seth Rollins defeated him to claim the title, then Dean Ambrose cashed in his newly won briefcase to relinquish his former stablemate of the belt. Dean’s shocking win came after he endured hell during this storied MITB clash. Cesaro seemingly had a chip on his shoulder here as he went above and beyond the call of duty to impress. Plus Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s never-ending war resulted in them using ladders to put their hatred for each other on display. There were a ton of innovative moments that transpired here, but the one that sticks out the most is Cesaro’s jump from a ladder to the rope to land a sick jumping uppercut to Owens. Dean’s final shove to Owens onto a ladder brought this breathtaking MITB ladder match to its definitive end.

10. Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (Money In The Bank 2017)

The man that walked away from this MITB match as the briefcase holder wasn’t all that great in retrospect. But that lackluster winner doesn’t take away from the high-quality factor of the match itself. Baron Corbin’s run-in attack during Shinsuke Nakamura’s entrance kicked this one off on a high note and led right into a fast-paced ladder-fest that stayed awesome throughout. Sami Zayn launched Kevin Owens onto an open ladder off the top rope, Corbin almost got put out to pasture with a Dolph Ziggler Zig Zag off of a ladder, and Ziggler paid for his sins by catching a Sunset Flip Powerbomb off of a ladder by Zayn. Those outrageous moments and Nakamura’s crowd popping comeback all combined to produce a MITB watch that’s infinitely rewatchable.

11. Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Ember Moon vs. Lana vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Sasha Banks (Money in the Bank 2018)

MITB 2017 was groundbreaking for all the wrong reasons. While it may have produced the first-ever women’s version of the historic ladder match, it ended with a man ascending the ladder to retrieve the briefcase for his chosen associate. Plus the actual match itself was quite the letdown. Fast forward to MITB 2018 and a new batch of ladies easily surpassed the previous year’s effort. Ember Moon impressed as she looked to prove herself as main roster mainstay, Naomi shined thanks to her crowd popping maneuvers, and the rest of the field engaged in some fun (yet oh so painful) ladder exchanges. Charlotte Flair’s sick spear to Ember into a corner ladder is one of our warmest memories from this hectic bout. Alexa Bliss claimed the briefcase here and proceeded to blow everyone’s minds later on this show by cashing in during Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax’s Raw women’s title match.

12. Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Roode vs. Finn Bálor vs. Kevin Owens vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Rusev vs. Samoa Joe vs. The Miz (Money in the Bank 2018)

We’re sure you folks remember a time when Braun Strowman was one of the hottest acts in the company. During “The Monster Among Men’s” run on Raw, fans took to his penchant for flipping over cars, telling everyone to “CATCH THESE HANDS!,” and cut through everyone like a hot knife through butter. Braun’s glory days can also be felt here during this show-closing MITB match. It was awesome watching everyone gang up on the big guy at first and witness the rest of the pack go to war while Braun was laid out. As soon as he woke up, business picked up. Braun sent Owens crashing into a table off of a super tall ladder near the entranceway, chokeslammed Kofi right into another ladder, and ran right into a third ladder that was held up by Finn Bálor & Bobby Roode. The multi-man submission spot that ended with Samoa Joe interrupting it to choke out Rusev was also a definite high point of this match. Braun was the ultimate victor here and it was well deserved after his star-making performance here.

13. Brock Lesnar vs. Ali vs. Andrade vs. Baron Corbin vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Bálor vs. Randy Orton vs. Ricochet (Money In The Bank 2019)

Was the ending complete and utter trash? Yes! Did the image of Ali looking deathly afraid while holding onto the damn briefcase and awaiting Brock Lesnar’s entrance into the ring nonsensical? Absolutely! But even with that atrocious finish, we still enjoyed everything that took place before it. Randy couldn’t help but torture multiple opponents by dropping them back first onto the announce table, which was an early match highlight. Andrade was in top form here as he pulled off a nasty Sunset Flip Powerbomb on Bálor right on top of a ladder. And Ricochet and Ali used their high-flying repertoire to wow the appreciative crowd. Even Corbin put in a good effort here as he pulled off a devastating chokeslam on Ali right through an announcer’s table. This MITB match was a heavy hitter that’s only disrupted by an atrocious ending.

14. Big E vs. Drew McIntyre vs. John Morrison vs. Kevin Owens vs. King Nakamura vs. Ricochet vs. Riddle vs. Seth Rollins (Money in the Bank 2021)

Just take a look at the field of superstars that competed in this classic MITB affair. You just knew going into it that we were going to be treated to greatness once they were all announced. With guys like John Morrison, Seth Rollins, and Ricochet vying to grab the briefcase, it came as no surprise that their high-flying antics would raise this bout’s quality factor to the max. And that’s exactly what happened. Ricochet took flight at numerous points, Rollins planted Kevin Owens through a ladder on the outside, and John Morrison flew off the top of a ladder to do some big damage of his own. The rest of the batch that was presented here also held up their end of the bargain and added some crazy moments to this amazing ladder match. King Nakamura’s ladder-assisted armbar, Riddle’s RKO frenzy, and Big E’s Big Ending to Rollins off of a ladder were all big crowd popping moments. This MITB match featured memorable bumps, a hot crowd, and an even hotter lineup of worthy men that are certainly MITB certified.

Categories
Sports Strength

Pro Skater Spencer Hamilton Talks Filming in Lockdown and his “Vancouver” Part

Spencer Hamilton is a professional skateboarder living in Vancouver, British Columbia. I mention this because, historically, the path to forging a career in skateboarding starts and often ends in Southern California. It took Thrasher Magazine in 1981 to put a spotlight on Northern California, the burgeoning backyard ramp scene in the United States at the time, and later street skating, but with the industry centered in California, it was the epicenter and proving ground for most pros. This has dramatically changed in the 2000s. Without getting too granular, these devices in our pockets have become the gateway to consuming skateboarding and have assisted brands to grow globally, regardless of where they’re located. That’s a massively good thing. If you have good ideas, good terrain to skate and the seeds of a scene, you can have a career in skateboarding without having to move to Encinitas or wherever the fuck. You can also move to cities that were once considered tertiary in skateboarding and thrive. That’s kind of a new thing. Keep in mind, for all the shine New York City gets, there were like four pros calling the Boroughs their home in the early-2000s.

That being said, even with the Red Dragons and their distribution, Canada gets unfairly viewed as that cold place that hosts the Dime Glory Challenge® once a year (It’s actually in Montreal, not the entire country concurrently). Keeping a Vancouver zip code for most of his career makes Hamilton an outlier, and on top of that, he’s known as a technical skater whose craft is contingent on progression—constantly outdoing what he’s already done. It’s not a choice as much as how he’s wired and his view of skateboarding. This is not to say that those who value difficulty over other styles of skating don’t have an equal appreciation of other disciplines, it’s just how he rides a skateboard and as he gets older, it requires more attention to all the moving parts.

Having recently released “Vancouver” with sponsor Primitive Skateboards, I spoke to Spencer Hamilton about his experience during the pandemic, filming during the lockdown and how he navigates his career. 

ONE37pm: Before we go in, let’s go back. Do you have any big takeaways from the past year?

Spencer Hamilton: I could go in a whole bunch of different directions for sure. The beginning of the pandemic for me started in Florida at the end of February. You heard about the virus spreading among some passengers on some flights. Me being in my thirties, I kind of remembered SARS and assumed that this would be some news, some headlines and not a big deal. That obviously turned out to be totally inaccurate, but I got back to Vancouver after Florida and things just kind of snowballed and gained momentum there and I was planning on going down to California in March. My girl was traveling to New York and Los Angeles for work and when she came back, she was a little sick and then I got sick. 

At the time there wasn’t any real travel restrictions or anything, but people were starting to use the language that we all are accustomed to now, quarantining and like that. So we were basically just, you know, sick and laying low in our place. Then the pace really picked up so I postponed my flight because I was sick and didn’t feel like it was responsible to be traveling with symptoms. I waited a few days and then Canada put in travel restrictions—pandemic level… really restricting your movement. In a sense, I dodged a bullet because getting back into Canada would have been a real headache. We also moved apartments twice because we had a real fiasco living next to a real tyrant of sorts—a wanna-be DJ. You have to pick your battles so we just chose to get out of there. But ultimately we’re a lot happier where we are now.

I can relate. Rent was dropping in New York and I had a feeling this was going to last longer than expected. My lease was almost up so I decided to look for a spot that had everything I needed so I could just quarantine. I wasn’t expecting some bros to move in above me and throw COVID raves every night or some dude in a bucket hat knocking on my door at 5AM with a rack of White Claws, thinking the party was at my spot. Oh well, it’s New York, you deal with it and plus, there’s much worse going on. I think little things like that make you evaluate everything differently.

How’d you go about skating during the lockdown?

I don’t think everybody had the same experience or feeling, but I was never really all that worried about the actual virus itself, to be honest. So I’ve kind of just maintained what I would do otherwise and go skate as much as I could. I know a lot of people were skating by themselves tripod style, but I felt comfortable meeting up with a small enough group of friends outside and Vancouver just happened to have a really nice year. The winters are classically wet, but from the beginning of the pandemic in March, all through the summer, it’s just so nice out that everybody’s outside. Vancouver or British Columbia, has done just incredibly well by any statistical analysis on COVID death cases. It was probably one of the best places to be, honestly.

I don’t know if you’re an outdoors type, but it seems like having access to nature was really key for a lot of people.

Yeah, I am, I enjoy hiking. There was some time where trails were closed down, which really didn’t make sense to me but it didn’t last that long. I mean, they even put sand all up in the plaza to prevent us from skating, but that didn’t last long either. We had other spots to skate. It wasn’t too bad as opposed to being stuck in a metropolis like New York or Toronto. Toronto seems to be one of the worst places to be when it comes to COVID. Between all the hiking, cycling, and skateboarding, and just kind of refinancing your whole life, my girl and I just hunkered down on cooking meals at home. It’s kind of nice to have some perspective on where you want to spend your time and money.

So speaking of the outdoors, you rode for Expedition One. The brand was sort of known as a tech brand in a sense, but then the aesthetic really changed at the end and leaned into fishing and shit. How’d you feel about that?

Interesting question. Wow. I don’t know. I’m sure I subconsciously thought about at the time, but not really paid much attention to it. I always chalked that up to basically (Rob) Welch’s influence. I’m not a hundred percent sure if that’s accurate. I don’t want to throw him under the bus if that wasn’t him, not that that would apply to anybody going under a bus, but that definitely came about as he was becoming more and more active with the brand and design and all of that. If anybody’s followed the evolution of Welsh, that’s kind of what happened with him—going full outdoorsy, and I think Joey Pepper was obviously along the same lines too.

Makes sense, both of them being from New England… Maine… it’s in their DNA. So Expedition went under and then more recently-ish, Supra went through massive changes. After getting checks from them, taking all those trips, how did that play out and what do you think about the situation now?

Skateboarding definitely wasn’t a big piece of their sales pie. But going to their sales and marketing meetings, of course, it was always presented as such an important part of the brand. But you could tell that the people saying that were kind of just saying it because they felt they should. When it came to new presidents coming on that you’re like, ‘Well, you don’t know anything about skateboarding.’ They’re telling you the brand was born from skating and will always be in the space, but you know they don’t know the difference between an ollie or a kickflip, let alone care at all. 

As time went on it was obvious there was a divide that was growing between the team manager and the team and just everyone working there. I mean, the main shoe designer, Brandon, was awesome and the people working there were cool, but as you got higher up, the presidents didn’t care or know anything about skating. It’s almost a surprise the skate program lasted as long as it did. Companies get bought and sold and bought and sold and the team changes, the classic riders are no longer with the team, so you have a different identity. At some point, it’s not salvageable anymore. I was actually happy with the team and the program towards the end, but it just wasn’t sustainable. They got sold one more time to Xtep International Holdings Ltd, who bought Supra and the global rights to K-Swiss and some other brands and that holding company wasn’t interested in Supra or the skateboarding side of it. So that’s how it went down… a slow death.

Did the experiences with Expedition and Supra inform your decision to go to Primitive? I mean, who knows, in five years Primitive could get sold to a holding company, but at least you’re at the beginning of the funnel…

I haven’t thought of it like that at all. Anything is possible. I don’t see that happening with Primitive but it could. The situation with Expedition/Kayo Corp. was different because Expedition and Organika weren’t making money. Everything they did over there was noble until the end when communication broke down. But yeah, any company can be bought and change overnight. It’s the risk you take. It’s not always bad, too. Sometimes it’s just an infusion of money that allows you to do X, Y, and Z. Not all deals are the same, so sometimes you maintain operational rights and some you don’t.

Right, I think HUF is a good example of selling the company but then being able to fund more trips, content, and pay riders. Sure, they stopped making shoes but the shoes weren’t generating money anyway. So let’s talk about the inverse of that, what do you think about fashion or couture brands getting into skating, rather than stealing from it. For example, Virgil Abloh putting Lucien Clarke on Louis Vuitton and releasing a shoe?

Do I think this is a game-changer for skateboarding? No. Are they going to be producing skate shoes and put a bunch of people on a skate team? No. To a certain extent. I’m like, God, how are these shoes making him better at skating? I don’t know, but the fact that he scored that deal and it looks like he’s doing everything right with it for himself, I couldn’t be happier for him. It’s just awesome. It’s such a unique opportunity that he grabbed by the horns. You could kind of see things leading up to something like this happening. It’s great for Lucien.

I wanted to get your take on this. I grew up playing hockey and I remember our travel team playing a tournament in Montreal. We got smoked and on the way back the coach was like, “Oh, by the way, those kids were a level lower than you.” Real salt in the wounds type shit.

Anyway, you think of hockey and how it’s played and part of the culture in Canada. It’s almost an analogy for skateboarding in the US or historically, California. Obviously, that’s changed, but I think it’s interesting that the industry never shifted. You have huge brands out of Europe or the UK, but that never happened in Canada and the path to be pro has always been that you come to California to prove yourself. Dime is changing that of course, and there’s always been a rich skate culture in Canada, but I’m curious about your take and experience.

I like this. To bring it back to the hockey analogy. I never thought of it that way until you brought it up. Growing up in Canada, you’re always thinking, ‘Aw man if we just lived in California we’d be skating all year round.’ Right? In every neighborhood east of British Columbia, there are outdoor hockey rinks for most of the year. In that same sense, there’s an obvious advantage in being able to participate in something more often. 

And where are the scouts going to be? They’re not at some rink in Orange County looking for the next Mario Lemieux or whatever.

No, and they’re not going to be in Ottawa in the dead of winter looking for the next big skater. As a kid growing up in Ottawa, I would walk to the local rink and play hockey every night that I could during the winter because it was available to me. It’s a cool observation. 

So when you got into skating, how’d you deal with the harsh weather? For me growing up in New England, you pretty much knew when the first real snow fell in early November it was a wrap until March, so you had to find a parking garage, especially as a kid with no way to get to an indoor park… and there weren’t many of those anyway.

Yeah, it wasn’t much different for me in Ottawa. There’s definitely a lot of parking garages. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of skating in the winter for me. You’d fill your time occasionally in the parking garages. Eventually, there were some indoor parks in Ottawa that came and went. I think there was one that was called Capital that was around maybe for two or three years. That was pretty awesome to have because it was something that the owners would let you kind of escape when it closed and skate without pads. Montreal always had something going on. 

There was a park called the Taj Mahal that was a two-hour drive from Ottawa. We’d day trip a few times a winter. This was me juggling school and sports and whatnot as a teenager. As far as being pro in Canada, what I’ve done or what Wade (DesArmo) did isn’t totally the same as say, Mark Appleyard or T.J. Rogers or Ryan Decenzo—going down and living in the States and making a name for yourself. I guess it’s less important now because everyone sees everything on the internet.

For me personally, establishing myself in the States over the last decade, but always living here serves as an advantage because I’m representing brands in a place that isn’t always served by America. It’s helpful to have someone local representing your brands, not just locally, but on an international scale as well. If I lived in Los Angeles this entire time, I might not have the same career. Who knows, right?

Do you like that Vancouver isn’t a skate tourist destination like Barcelona? You know, fewer people coming through to prove themselves on spots, etc.? I think about what it’s like being pro in New York City and having to go through a mental list of every trick that’s been done on a spot before you even think to film or take a photo.

To be fair, Vancouver has had well-established pros and spots for decades and there were the Slam City Jam contests, so people have always been coming through. But you’re right, people aren’t saving up money to live here for months like Barcy. But as far as tricks, I feel like the younger generation doesn’t really care what’s been done before at a spot. They don’t think of it in the same way. 

For me, I don’t really want to do the same thing as someone else and I don’t want to do something worse. I’m trying to progress to a certain extent. So with limited spots, and over the years, so many good skaters skating them, it does get tough trying to one-up yourself and others constantly. I see younger skaters not really giving a shit and that makes me feel a number of different ways. On one hand, I’m like, ‘Do whatever you want’ but on the other, I think, ‘You just filmed a backside flip down those stairs that someone switch flipped 15 years ago.’

Building off that, I wanted to ask about your approach to skating. It’s really progressive and I assume that gets harder as you get older. You essentially chose a harder path, is that fair?

I mean, I’m not jumping down 15 stairs anymore, but I can still jump down some stairs. And over the last several years, I’m like, you know, I feel like I’m progressing and ledge skating more than I was before. Whether it’s manuals or ledges, you can learn other stuff that helps you progress. It seems to be more where you’re at, where you’re body is at. You have to adjust, but you can always find ways to challenge yourself.

It seems like taking care of your body is the key. If you weren’t concerned about progression, you might not be thinking about diet or wellness. It’s like, ‘Fuck it, I can pound some beers and do some slappys, whatever!’

Totally. And you can see that. It’s pretty obvious what people are taking an active role in their health. The difference is glaring. Look at (Andrew) Reynolds. He’s probably the main example people bring up. And obviously P-Rod (Paul Rodriguez) and his comeback. I’ve seen some of the workouts he does and the amount of time and effort that he puts into getting himself back in shape is just inspirational. 

It’s almost underrated. What he’s doing at 36-years-old. And if he can maintain that? It almost opens up a different career arc. It’s not just good for “his age,” it’s just great footage.

I mean, it’s almost inevitable that somebody is going to say that, “Oh, it’s really good for your age” or “Oh, that’s really good for a girl or whatever,” but I think those attitudes are changing a bit. But sometimes it is true. I have some buddies Rene and Randy who are in their 40s who skate the plaza a lot and seeing them switch flip or nollie back heel… it’s just awesome. When they were learning how to skate, a lot of people in their generation didn’t even skate switch and they’re switch flipping onto this manual pad.

Do you feel like you’ve reached a point where you’re really content with your career in skateboarding?

Definitely. I kind of wish I could do it all over again, to be honest. Not that I didn’t have fun but I just look back on traveling—the balance of having a really good time partying and having to go to events, but also skate and film. It’s super fun, but when you take that to an extreme, it’s really hard on your body. But you can get away with it when you’re younger. Nowadays, it’s so much more fun to travel because I’m not really drinking and smoking like that—I do both just not on that level. You wake up earlier, you feel better, you do more with your day and you feel steady. You aren’t coping with the ups and downs of scraping yourself out of bed, hungover, knowing you need a few beers, or else you’re not moving. Sure, I’d do it differently, but I’m not one of those guys who’s diehard about “No regrets!”

Oh yeah, anyone who claims that has the most regrets. Speaking of pounding beers, you’ve mentioned before that you used to have a bunch of beers during a session and I know that’s not uncommon, but it still blows my mind that people can skate that well buzzed or even blackout. What’s the drunkest part you’ve filmed?

That’s the weird thing about those Supra trips. We were constantly going on tours and putting out tour videos, so I didn’t really have an actual part during that time. 

They eventually put out an accumulation of all my footage from years of traveling on tour, so yeah, that would be the one. I don’t think I really skated at all on trips because I was more occupied preoccupied with “enjoying myself,” I guess, air quotes on that. But then I think about it, and look at the footage and I feel like I generally looked ok even though there are tricks where I’m not even sure how many beers I drank that day. 

It worked out, but at the same time, I would have been so much more productive if I wasn’t drinking like that. I’d end up having my go-to tricks and just sticking to my mold… applying those tricks everywhere we’d go. Yoga really helped with my body mobility, but also, just not drinking and not having that extra inflammation and having all your joints sore, you’re able to think outside the box a bit and try different tricks that you wouldn’t normally try. Sometimes I wouldn’t have much faith that I’d land a trick, but your body feels good enough that you’re willing to throw it out there.

You just put out a part with Primitive titled “Vancouver.” I really liked how balanced that part felt and the overall rhythm, can you tell me a bit about making it?

Thank you. I appreciate that. It was really the combination of a bunch of different things that made it turn out good or made me so satisfied with it. I mostly film here with Chance Swainson in Vancouver and he filmed most of this new part. We had previously done a part for my Supra shoe which he worked on. 

Alan Hannon over at Primitive ended up editing it at my request, which was a really nice gesture from him. After that, we thought to have Chance handle filming and editing the part to get rid of the back and forth and to have him show his stuff. I’m really happy with the two songs—I chose the first one and he chose the second. They really balance each other out. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, but I think of parts as an escalator where you may not be starting out with your best shit but you build up to it. Chance took more of the approach of starting out with some bangers, then more lines towards the middle, and then ending up with a bang again. At first, that kind of caught me a little bit off guard and I was a little bit resistant to it, but I’m ultimately super happy that that is how it went. I don’t know if it’s just born out of the internet age and grabbing your attention—how that actually is effective within the way that our brains work and the way that the internet works.

I’m stoked on the editing and then, to have it all Vancouver part skating at mostly classic spots that have been skated for over two decades, trying to shed some new light. I hope I didn’t do anything that’s been done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was like, “Ted DeGros kickflipped that in ’99.” I’m pretty good at watching old videos, but I’m sure I haven’t seen it all. I had been filming VX but it was nice to have the extra motivation of not being able to travel and get it done in one place. I didn’t really expect it to get the positive feedback it’s received. The idea was to just put out this VX part low key, but then Primitive showed interest in promoting it and took it under their wing, which was awesome. 

Are you gonna watch the Olympics now that they’re happening and skateboarding is going to debut?

Fuck. I’m pretty neutral on the whole thing. I’m taking a Switzerland approach. I’m excited for the participants because it’s such a bucket list thing for so many people. If I were skating it I’d be thinking how proud my grandparents would be or something. I think of it that way. I don’t watch Dew Tour, I don’t watch Street League. I’m not against it, that sport side doesn’t get me excited to skate. I don’t really watch sports in general. 

Maybe I’ll watch it because it’s so groundbreaking, but I don’t know. I have feelings about organized sports in general and countries competing against each other in that fashion, but I’m a fan of competition. Seeing who is the best or who gets the most points from these judges on those obstacles, it’s a lot different from any street skater’s perspective on skateboarding, but maybe I’d watch it to see how it plays out.

I was planning on watching, but when I found out you could bet on it, I suddenly got invested. 

[laughs] I hadn’t thought of that. That definitely adds another level of entertainment. 

Categories
Style What To Buy

Stadium Goods and Chaco Team Up To Release Limited Edition Slides

Stadium Goods and Chaco have teamed up to release a new, limited edition of the legendary Chillo slides once again. Dubbed the “Bits & Bobs,” these Chillos are the second iteration of the brands’ collaboration and are designed for store runs, lounging, pools, or any other casual activity in which you want to be comfy and stylish. The “Bits & Bobs” edition of the Chillos pays tribute to early 1990s sportswear culture and features cushioned footbed contoured LUVSEAT™ arch-support.

Stadium Goods
“Bits & Bobs” Slides

Additional features include a red and yellow adjustable nylon Z/ Strap with white Stadium Goods branding on the left sandal, a teal and purple Z/ Strap with the same white and black Stadium Goods branding on the right sandal, an EVA outsole to help ensure durability, as well as an EVA foam midsole that allows the sandals to float in water. 

ONE37pm recently spoke with Greig Bennett, VP of Brand Creative and head designer at Stadium Goods, to discuss the design process behind the shoe, and how this iteration of the slides differs from the first.

ONE37pm: You all just released a new, limited edition version of the iconic Chillo Slides called the “Bits & Bobs” Chillos, can you talk a bit about how exciting this is?

Bennett: It’s very exciting. I’ve been a fan of the brand for a long time, and when the Chillo slide came out, it felt like the right item to collaborate on. Both brands are unique and iconic in their fields, and we’ve been really pleased with the response to the products.

ONE37pm: What was the design process like in terms of crafting this shoe?

Bennett: It was awesome. Chaco’s design and development team are rock stars and it was a really fun silhouette to work with.

Stadium Goods
“Bits & Bobs” Slides

ONE37pm: How does this iteration differ from the first?

Bennett: This iteration encompasses many ideas into one and highlights the construction of the shoes by having a double-sided strap. “Bits & Bobs” is meant to be more of a statement, whereas the first slides, the “Whiteout” and “Blackout,” were low-key.

ONE37pm: Was there anything specific from the 90s “Bits & Bobs” channel that was a source of inspiration?

Bennett: The specific inspiration was ‘90s rainwear and outdoor apparel. The bright colors, color blocking, and mix and match vibe were a leftover of the ‘80s, combined with the cleaner, sleeker feel that the ‘90s brought.

ONE37pm: This collaboration has been great so far! What else can we expect down the line?

Bennett: Chaco has been a great partner and a pleasure to work with. There’s nothing specific we can share today, but Stadium Goods and STADIUM will continue to drop hot products through 2021 and beyond.

You can purchase the “Bits & Bobs” Chillo Slides via Stadium Goods official website.

Categories
Leaders Style

Behind the Brand: Lost Files

Lost Files is an up and coming streetwear brand founded in March of 2021 by Estevan Longoria. The brand has gained a lot of attention recently, especially on “sneaker twitter,” where I was first introduced to Lost Files. The burgeoning streetwear line specializes in shorts. I had the opportunity to interview Estevan and pick his brain about how the brand came to life, the process of creating a clothing brand and the learning curve that comes along with starting something new.

How did the brand come to life? 

March of 2020 is when I first had the idea. I knew I wanted to get into the fashion industry somehow, but didn’t know exactly where I could fit in. Shorts ended up being my answer. I started coming up with ideas and a plan for the brand. I really wanted to take my time with everything and didn’t want to rush into things. I made a month by month plan all the way into the next year, planning out where I wanted to be and what I needed to have done by certain months to keep myself on track. I knew I had a long way to go, knowledge wise, before I would even be able to begin thinking about creating samples of shorts I had in mind. It was a lot of reading and researching about every aspect of a clothing brand. Learning about different materials, manufacturing processes, garments, all the way down to things like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. It certainly tested my patience, but I fell in love with the process.

The whole time, I found myself actually wanting to learn more about this industry and not just researching to find an answer, but because I was curious and had a passion for it. The pandemic certainly gave me a lot of time to think about everything I was doing and really focus on the brand. The pandemic was a blessing in disguise for me.

What inspires you?

Being able to work on something that I can call my own is amazing. All the hard work I put in, I can actually see where it goes. All the weekends I spend working, all the days I stay up all night working on designs, all the days I spend packing orders, I’m able to see all of that hard work pay off.

What collection is your favorite?

My favorite designs so far are the three from the corduroy collection. That whole process of getting the licensing agreement and working with their publishing team was really cool. Seeing those go from a kids book I used to read to shorts I made was just a really cool process, so those are definitely my favorite. 

 What collection has had the most support? 

I think the paisley collection is the collection that received the most support so far. Everyone always asks me if I have any left or if I can release those again.

Lost Files is a brand you will be seeing a lot more of. For being such a new brand, they have gained a lot of attention. Celebrities like Lil Yachty, Terrance Mann, Ty Jerome, Jordan Nwora and Michael Mitchell have already been seen rocking Lost Files. Their Instagram @lost.files.clothing and Twitter @lostfiles0 are the best places to stay updated on all things they’ve got going on. Look out for their next drop on July 2nd at 11am ET.

Categories
Sports Strength

Where Should Sergio Ramos Continue His Career?

Sergio Ramos’ stellar career at Real Madrid came to an end last month, but the Spanish defender still appears to have the legs to continue his career.

With the decorated center back a highly-coveted piece for many teams across Europe it’s time to look at where Ramos could join next season as he trends towards the end of his football career at the highest level.

Various Premier League teams are believed to be in the mix for his services, while Paris Saint-Germain have the finances to sign almost any player, but where does Ramos make the most sense?

Below we take a look at where Ramos could wind up this summer and grade which clubs would be the best fit for the veteran defender.

Manchester City – 9/10

The Citizens hit it big last offseason with the addition of Ruben Dias, who quickly became one of the best defenders in the Premier League upon arrival. City boasted the best defense in all of Europe throughout the season, so why would they need Ramos?

Ramos’ veteran experience and championship pedigree could be useful for a club that’s won everything except the Champions League.

That’s the one box left unchecked so far in Pep Guardiola’s Man City career and the addition of a player like Ramos could not only help them achieve their goal but also help develop some of the raw center back talent surrounding him.

Paris Saint-Germain – 8/10

Look up and down PSG’s squad list and it’s quite clear that defensively the team is way shakier than up front. That’s pretty much a given though for a club that has Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in their attack.

PSG failed to win Ligue 1 last season, which was a massive letdown for a team that always has domestic title aspirations, while their Champions League loss to Man City served as another reminder that their clock is ticking as Mbappe’s future remains unknown.

With the club already investing heavily in Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Ramos would be a significant upgrade at center back for the next few seasons. Presnel Kimpembe has been inconsistent at times, so Ramos’ presence next to Marquinhos would allow for a much more stout PSG back four.

Manchester United – 7/10

Similar to their rivals Man City, the Red Devils boast a lot of young talent in their squad, so another veteran presence could be a huge assistance for the club as they look to get back into the Premier League title race.

Harry Maguire has established himself as one of the best central defenders in England, but he’s lacking a consistent partner in the heart of the United defense.

Ramos could elevate the Old Trafford side to another level and allow United to win their first league title since 2012/13.

Categories
Consoles Gaming

The Biggest Games Releasing in July 2021

This year feels like it’s on fast forward, doesn’t it? It was March about a week ago! We kid, we kid – the summer months are rolling along at a nice pace and now we have arrived in July. While this month doesn’t have a whole lot of AAA games to mention here, there’s still a cool lineup of titles worth keeping an eye on. If you’re in the mood for a brand new RPG and also want to delve into some visual novel mystery-solving, then the titles featured on this list should be right up your alley.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin – July 9 (Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam)

Capcom is eatin’ good due to the critical and financial success tied to the Monster Hunter series. Monster Hunter: World and Monster Hunter Rise present the more traditional mechanics the series is known for, while the Monster Hunter Stories spinoff presents a more traditional turn-based RPG experience. The latest release in that sub-series puts you in the role of a Rider named Red who, due to a chance encounter with a Wyverian girl entrusted with a fate-changing egg, must embark upon a grand journey. Monster collecting is the name of the game here – you’ll call upon the assistance of Monsties and fight alongside them as you explore a nice variety of gorgeous landscapes.

Cris Tales – July 20 (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam, Google Stadia)

After a series of unfortunate delays, Cris Tales is finally ready to drop this month. Columbian indie game studio Dreams Incorporated and SYCK have been putting the finishing touches on this ambitious RPG for a good while and it definitely shows. Cris Tales employs turn-based RPG combat and the ability to implement time jumps during gameplay. The screen is split into three sections (the past, present, and future), which plays a part in altering your foes and looking at the impact of your many actions. Cris Tales’ striking art design and clever approach to exploration & battles make it worth seeking out.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles – July 27 (PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam)

OBJECTION! If that word brought a smile to your face, then chances are you have a deep appreciation for the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney franchise. Capcom’s visual novel/courtroom simulator is equal parts hilarious and serious when it comes to prevailing in its epic criminal cases. The formerly Japanese exclusive entries The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures and The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve are finally coming stateside in The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. Instead of solving cases in the current day, players will step into the role of a rookie lawyer named Ryunosuke and solve murder mysteries within late 19th century Japan and England.

NEO: The World Ends WIth You – July 27 (PS4, Nintendo Switch)

Square Enix has been on a roll lately when it comes to their JRPG output. The next potential gem to come from their Japanese development studios is NEO: The World Ends With You, which is a follow-up to the original Nintendo DS sleeper hit. You’ll be forced to play the dreaded Reaper’s Game once again with a lead hero named Rindo Kanade and a new set of allies. As you fight for survival against rival teams and ferocious monsters, you’ll explore the real-world locale of Shibuya. Prepare yourself for a stylish trek through a Japanese locale filled with familiar locales that are backed by a lengthy adventure. Oh, and the music is Godlike!

The Ascent – July 29 (Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC – Steam)

Xbox Game Pass subscribers get plenty of heat on a monthly basis and July will do just that. One of the biggest additions coming to the super successful game subscription service is The Ascent. This upcoming cyberpunk-themed experience puts forth top-down exploration and action RPG gameplay mechanics. Taking down the opposition means you’ll need to become a pro with the game’s twin-stick shooter controls and utilize a dedicated cover system to stay alive. The fall of The Ascent Group and the competing factions looking to take its top spot lies at the heart of this futuristic dystopian expedition.

Console Ports

A Plague Tale: Innocence – July 6 (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch)

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox – July 6 (Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam)

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD – July 16 (Nintendo Switch)

Microsoft Flight Simulator – July 27 (Xbox Series X|S)

Categories
Sneakers Style

33 of the Best Air Jordans

It won’t be hard to find a ranking of the best Air Jordan sneakers and that’s because the brand’s comprehensive catalog of signature silhouettes is unparalleled in the world of sneakers. The Air Jordan started off as Nike’s first sneaker for Michael Jordan, the up and coming rookie out of the University of North Carolina who was destined for stardom before he ever laced up his first pair. Now, years later, the demand for retros and highly coveted colorways is a perpetual cycle that constantly pumps out sneakers to a point where the brand’s annual calendar releases have become a yearly tradition, subject to the commentary of the brand’s fans, its adversaries, and of course, the sneaker blogs. 

Some of those blogs, I’ve written for. Mostly covering sneaker news and lifestyle, studying and writing about sneakers has been my preferred occupation. Penning pieces for both Footwear News and Complex’s sneaker blogs Sole Collector and Complex Sneakers I can’t help but feel like a sneaker anthropologist, constantly internalizing releases, ranking them as a reflex, and considering the impact they might have on the subculture as a whole.

Whether you’ve just picked up your first pair or have been a collector for years, everybody has their own opinion on Air Jordans and more specifically which ones are the best. From the point of view of not only a tried and true sneakerhead but a true enthusiast, this is my calculated list of the 33 best Air Jordans of all time. 

1. Air Jordan I x Union LA “Blue Toe”
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I did my best to avoid collabs and instead focus on the iconic heritage of the brand but instead came faced with the easy choice of copping to the greatness of 2018’s sneaker of the year; the Union LA “Blue Toe.” One of two colorways released in partnership with the LA boutique, the execution on these was unlike what sneakerheads were used to seeing, I mean we’re talking about hand-painted edges here people. Even for a limited release, that level of craftsmanship is truly exceptional. Besides the hype, (finally spent on a worthy cause) what really gets me is the tongue in cheek antics of the brand before the release. Purely to fuck with sneakerheads, the brand set up a booth at LA’s famous vintage market, Rose Bowl, and let the hilarity ensue. Shoutout Union LA’s head, Chris Gibbs, for two perfectly executed concepts on the greatest basketball sneaker of all time. 

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2. Air Jordan XI “Bred”
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The Air Jordan XI “Bred” brings up a lot of thoughts. It’s reputation as the “murder shoe.” It’s a revolutionary combo of patent leather and top-level performance. The relentless hype that continues to dominate holiday releases and of course the time in 2012 when my Mom wouldn’t let a young me camp out to try and buy it. I’m not one for a grudge but when it comes to a sneaker this good, let’s just say I’m still waiting for an apology. 

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3. Air Jordan III “Black Cement”
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The Air Jordan III is a silhouette worth taking up two spots on this list on the pure strength of the “Black Cement” colorway alone. Just as famous and noteworthy as the line’s “Bred” aesthetic, the combo is a forever popular look that continues to sell out on drop day and grab headlines when rumors about a forthcoming release hit the internet. It was a hard choice to not slot the III in the number one spot but as a consolation, it’s included here twice, my best effort to give an iconic silhouette the respect it so obviously deserves.

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4. Air Jordan 1 “Chicago”
GOAT

The catalyst for the most dynamic and famous line of sneakers ever, the Air Jordan I isn’t just a sneaker, it’s a movement. From Jordan on the court to Kanye West at Paris Fashion Week and Nigel Slyvester tearing up the streets of NYC, there’s not enough time or words to give this sneaker its proper due. The genesis of modern sneaker history, the AJ1 has seen countless collabs, iterations, and colorways. The OG “Chicago” is a grail unlike any other, coveted and sought after the I has essentially become a hieroglyph, a symbol that connotes greatness, understood by all who know its legacy and continue to feel its impact.

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5. Air Jordan XI “Concord”
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Of all the Air Jordans to pick from, there’s something especially eye-catching about the XI. Soaring to the heights of the line’s popularity, the touch of patent leather (first time for a basketball sneaker) to the stark mesh upper and icy sole on the bottom, the XI is a legend through and through. Perhaps the perfect hybrid between “formal” sneaker and performance model, the inspiration for the design was to give MJ something that paired well with a suit as well as his on-court performance. While some may disagree with this style choice, there’s plenty of advocates for the decision to dress up the Concord with a suit. The XI has seen numerous iterations with different design details like a “45” on the back for the 2018 retro and the clear sole on the 2013 release.

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6. Air Jordan IV “Bred”
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​​​​​​The Shot. Do The Right Thing. The Air Jordan IV is a certified classic. One of the more comfortable sneakers from the line, the 2019 retro of the “Bred” colorway had sneakerheads unflinchingly copping multiple pairs as a necessity rather than an opportunity to make some money. The IV also brought the brand to a higher plane as the first Jordan to have a global release. The “Bred” colorway is an Air Jordan calling card unlike any other and looks just about perfect on the IV. 

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7. Air Jordan V “Grape”
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Decked out in a purple and aqua color scheme, the “Grape” colorway was the first time those colors appeared on a performance silhouette. Furthering the ethos of shattering records and setting precedents, Michael’s fifth shoe, like his game, turned heads and captured the attention of a fan base hooked on the sheer celebrity and greatness they were witnessing. The V seems clunky, a Frankenstein of the past four sneakers with new details like the fat, sometimes reflective tongue, and a shark tooth design on the midsole that referenced the artwork of WWII fighter planes.

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8. Air Jordan VII “Olympic”
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What was once one of the lightest basketball sneakers of all time, the Air Jordan VII was a marvel. Keeping pace with Michael’s on-court excellence, behind the scenes, toiling hard to keep up with Jordan was Tinker Hatfield. The VII did away with the Nike Air branding and introduced a new era for the Jumpman logo. The VII is known for its American color scheme that pays homage to Jordan’s prominent position among one of the best athletes ever assembled, the 1992 “Dream Team” who stood tall on the podium in Barcelona after taking home the gold.

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9. Air Jordan VI “Carmine”
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The VI is synonymous with Jordan’s first championship in 1991, as he clutched the Larry O’Brien trophy in the locker room the sneaker he wore was an important part of his legacy. The “Carmine” colorway stands out with a bright red upper that really pops, separating it from the other toned-down reds like “University Red” and “Bred” that we saw from previous colorways. Fans of the VI also hold the sneaker to be special because it was the last of the Air Jordan line to bear the “Nike Air” logo, recent retros jump between the Jumpman and Nike Air stamp on the heel. After one championship, with several more to follow, the emphasis was now on the Jumpman, arm outreached soaring to the heights of greatness the basketball world had never seen before.

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10. Air Jordan III “White Cement”
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The year is 1988 and Tinker Hatfield, the iconic architect turned designer, debuted for Nike the Air Jordan III. Keeping with the bold move of going no Swoosh, the III was a smashing success. The minimalist and high-quality design was underlined with elephant print on the heel and toe rounding out the design and bringing the sneaker to the forefront of the Jordan product line. MJ was a sensation on the court back then and the III really came to life when Jordan dunked from the free-throw line, tongue hanging out, IIIs tied tight, ready for liftoff. The brand even commemorated the legendary moment with an outsole detail that showed exactly where Jordan planted his foot on the line and sprang into basketball lore forever. 

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11. Air Jordan XII “Flu Game”
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​​​​​​​As far as marketing goes, there’s almost a lesson in every sneaker Air Jordan ever put out. Always capitalizing on current moments and iconic instances, there’s no better example than the history of the Air Jordan XII “Flu Game.” What started as a simple “Bred” colorway evolved into one of the brand’s most storied sneakers, all thanks to the Flu, or a hangover, or some bad Utah pizza, depends on what you want to believe. Despite the actual circumstance that brought Michael Jordan to that iconic moment, the Flu Game XIII was forged from Michael Jordan being Michael Jordan, giving us another example of greatness personified. 

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12. Air Jordan VIII “Bugs Bunny”
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Maybe one of the greatest marketing crossover events of all time is that of Jordan brand and Bugs Bunny. The advantageous partnership brought us Space Jam, this Air Jordan VIII colorway, and more. The “Bugs Bunny” colorway graces the silhouette from 1993 and brings a carpeted tongue (the first of its kind) to complete the color scheme of red, gray, and white. The iconic double velcro strap and booty sock insert take inspiration from Nike’s Huarache line and makes the VIII a standout both visually and technically. The sneaker’s only fault is its weight, slap a gray and white speckle on the upper and you’d have a true “Cement” colorway.

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13. Air Jordan XIII “He Got Game”
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The Air Jordan XIII was a legend in its own right, but the story goes far beyond MJ’s on-court feats with this sneaker. In 1998 Spike Lee released “He Got Game” a basketball film for all time that features Jordan athlete Ray Allen. The sneaker is almost a subplot in itself, I can still hear Denzel Washington questioning the $150 price tag in the sneaker store scene. The color scheme is all but masterful, a simple white and black with red accenting. A recent retro saw the famous colorway again in 2018, but if you’re looking to come down with a pair it’ll cost you much more than what Mr. Shuttleworth paid.

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14. Air Jordan IX “Cool Grey”
Flight Club

The Air Jordan IX first hit stores in 1993, a strange year that saw Michael Jordan driving the ball to the outfield instead of through the lane and into the paint. Nevertheless, the Air Jordan IX was born with its nubuck construction, leather, and reflective accents on the heel; the bulky silhouette worked well for the cleats he wore and included some eye-catching colorways worn by athletes like Penny Hardaway, Kendall Gill, and B.J. Armstrong who ran the hardwood in the IX in MJ’s absence.

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15. Air Jordan II “White/Red”
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 The Air Jordan II had a similar job to the XII (or vice versa) – follow up an extremely popular and successful silhouette. A criminally underrated sneaker, the II had a full plate of continuing to bring the hype that the I had started. A bold move to go sans Swoosh, the II channeled the aesthetic of high-end luxury Italian boots and was the first performance basketball sneaker to be considered luxurious. The II was successful in its own right and laid the foundation for the III, a widely popular sneaker that is an easy Top 3 Jordan of all time.

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16. Air Jordan X “Steel”
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Like most Air Jordan models, students of art and design could learn a couple of things. With something as simple as a basketball sneaker, Jordan really set the tone for above and beyond design (obviously Tinker Hatfield is largely to credit). The Air Jordan X gives a free lesson in repetition, similar to Michael’s greatness, and the brand’s relentless retros, repeating something over and over again is a testament to the pattern of greatness the brand continues to perpetuate. “Steel” gives the sneaker a simple black and white colorway with the repeating colors on the tongue and outsole which also features the special detail of Michael’s numerous achievements engraved in the rubber.

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17. Air Jordan XII “Michigan”
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The predecessor of the iconic XI, the XII was a follow up of epic proportions. The sneaker quickly became a popular on-court model that’s widely regarded as one of the brand’s best performance models. The “Michigan” colorway is just another shining example of the perks of being a big-time Jordan sponsored school. The leather upper gets swapped out for a rich suede and features a bold yellow “M” branding hit on the tongue.

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18. Air Jordan VI “UNC”
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The Air Jordan VI is mainly important for it’s introduction to a two-hole pull system on the tongue and rear loop for Michael to put his sneakers on easier. The lacing system features a cinch for extra tightening but the sneaker’s real glory comes in the form of this colorway honoring his alma mater. As opposed to other bright powder blue and white colorways that reference the Tar Heels, the upper is drenched in black with baby blue on the silhouette’s accents instead of taking center stage. A delicate balance between bold and understated, the VI is a model that any fan of the brand has to have.

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19. Air Jordan XIII “Ray Allen PE”
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While trying to stay away from PEs and collabs for this list, I thought it would only be right to mention the Ray Allen PE when speaking on the XIII. A sneaker some point to as the end line of worthwhile Jordan models, it’s oddly luxurious and seemingly inflexible. Despite Jordan’s penchant for the model during his 1997-1998 season, the sneaker is sometimes hard to look at. It’s chunky design, small tongue, and weird marbled branding hit on the ankle collar are just some of the details leaving you both curious and confused. Overall it’s a sneaker that pushes boundaries and in this particular colorway comes with a hefty price tag.

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20. Air Jordan XIX “Flint Grey”
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Late-model Air Jordans were known for pushing the boundary of sneaker design. With some of the loudest and daring design aspects, what some would call “ugly” is what most now describe as “daring” and “brave.” The Air Jordan XIX kept up a long-running streak of bold design by introducing elements of patent leather (seriously take a look at that toe box), a velcro strap, and mesh screen on the upper covering the laces. Other strong technical elements made the sneaker a performance model, but as time goes on, and our definition of performance changes, the XIX looks more and more like something you’d see in a museum than on the foot of a basketball player. The 2019 retro brought the sneaker back into the headlines, this time loaded with nostalgia, a special “Melo” branded insole rings familiar to those following Carmelo Anthony’s career and relationship with the brand.

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21. Air Jordan XX “Laser”
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The Air Jordan XX is both simple and complex. The line’s 20th signature sneaker works in a creative ankle strap and lock-in system at the forefoot covering the laces (the latest of the past five sneakers to do so). The silhouette is decked out with important numbers and symbolic graffiti lasered onto the upper. The sneaker experimented with a new midsole technology called Independent Podular Suspension – I.P.S. for short which put pods on key parts of the foot for support.

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22. Air Jordan XX8 “Green Camo”
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The Air Jordan XX8 takes inspiration from military boots – their high and tight construction was ideal for performance, the key element was a zipper which almost spanned the entire sneaker. For a more casual look, the unzipped version revealed the tongue and ankle collar for a different type of wear. The sneaker gave a locked and loaded feel for performance and set a foundation for the next Air Jordan superstar, Russell Westbrook. The brand’s been picky with people not named Michael Jordan but with Westbrook’s OKC Thunder performance on the rise, the brand rewarded him with a sponsorship in 2012. The silhouette saw a wild variety of wacky colorways, some of which dressed in the blue, orange, and white, of the Thunder.

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23. Air Jordan XV “Obsidian”
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While some might argue that Air Jordan fell off after the XII, there’s something to be said for MJ’s late models. Taking a dip into the world of weird and experimental design, the XV is one of the better avant-garde performance models. Even though it looks more like a Parsons conceptual design project than a basketball sneaker, there’s something about this unique shape and concept that speaks to the bravery of the Nike designers responsible for MJ’s post-retirement sneakers. The XV took a giant leap into the unknown of the sneaker world and took fresh risks with design elements and materials, for better or worse.

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24. Air Jordan 1 Retro High “University Blue
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Air Jordan 1 Retro High “University Blue

This may be a newer release, but the “University Blue” 1s are steadily gaining steam and traction, selling out instantly upon its release. One of the most highly coveted Jordan 1s out there, the “University Blue” iteration of the 1s is known for its cloud white upper and baby blue overlays, and remains a tough buy for common sizes.

BUY NOW, $130
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25. Air Jordan 25 “Black Red”
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Air Jordan 25 “Black Red”

Nike dropped a killer at the start of 2021 with the Air Jordan 25 “Black Reds.” The “Breds” have been among the most popular J’s for a while, and this has slight potential to possibly be top 10 in terms of Jordan releases for the year 2021. Modeled after the Chicago Bulls team colors, the shoe included suede overlays in the back, the classic Jumpman tongues, and a white midsole. 

BUY NOW, $140
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26. Paris Saint-Germain x Air Jordan 1 “Zoom”
GOAT
Paris Saint-Germain x Air Jordan 1 Zoom

Releasing earlier this year, the Paris Saint-Germain Jordan 1s were collaboration between two powerhouse brands, and featured a tie-dyed purple and pink collar, a cream suede upper, and black overlays. The PSGs are an incredibly versatile shoe, that will go down as one of the best Jordan 1 collabs in recent years.

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27. Air Jordan 3 “Cool Grey”
GOAT
Air Jordan 3 “Cool Grey”

Who could forget this classic from 2007? Re-released in February, the Cool Grey AJ3s sport an all-grey colorway with an elephant theme design in the overlay, and were one of the most successful recognizable Jordans of the late 2000s. 2000s culture does seem to be making a comeback, so this re-release was just in time.

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28. Jordan 5 Retro Alternate Bel-Air
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Jordan 5 Retro Alternate “Bel-Air”

These sneakers were self explanatory. When you think of “Bel Air,” your mind automatically goes to the bright vibrant colors that were associated with the Fresh Prince of Bel Air logo. Drawing inspiration from that very logo, this iteration of the 5s featured the slightest hints of blue, green, purple, and pink, giving you a major throwback to the early 1990s.

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29. Air Jordan Retro High OG
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Air Jordan Retro High OG

There was absolutely no way this shoe could be left off the list. The Retro High OGs have by far been one of the most popular shoes of the last year, with just about every major sneaker influencer rocking a pair. The shoe itself is very simple—it’s just a regular black and white colorway that happens to be very eye-catching. These OGs don’t come cheap, however, as the starting price seems to be roughly $1,000, but apparently they are very much worth the investment.

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30. Jordan 3 “Midnight Navy”
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Jordan 3 “Midnight Navy”

This may be a debatable choice, but the Midnight Navy Jordan 3s deserve some love. They can definitely be classified as a top sneaker in terms of recent releases, and they were extremely hyped. The blue and grey overlays really added to the appearance of the shoe, giving this Georgetown inspired university silhouette a memorable look.

BUY NOW, $218
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31. Air Jordan 3 “Retro UNC”
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Air Jordan 3 “Retro UNC”

You can never go wrong with the Retros. One of the best releases of 2020, the “Retro UNCs” are still in pretty high demand. Obviously anytime you see Jordans labeled as “UNC” you can expect for the shoe to be a blue and while colorway, and while there have been different variations over the decades, something about this shoe stands out in comparison to others.

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32. Travis Scott X Air Jordan 6 British Khaki
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Travis Scott X Air Jordan 6 British Khaki

By now you all know just how influential Travis Scott is, and how everything he touches turns the gold. While the “British Khaki” shoes may not be sneakerheads’ favorites in terms of 6s, they are pretty unique. The taupe cargo military theme really helped take the shoe to the next level, and the suede element makes it suitable for the cooler seasons.

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33. Air Jordan 1 Mid GS SE “Fearless”
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Air Jordan 1 Mid GS SE “Fearless”

Not much needs to be said about these—the Air Jordan 1 “Fearless is hands down one of the hottest AJ1s ever. Maybe it’s the slight outline of red against the black suede? Whatever the case, the Fearless AJ1s are a must-have for any sneaker collector.

BUY NOW, $76
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