A true blockbuster (shoe division)
Nothing could have rivaled the aftershocks caused by Cleveland trading for Donovan Mitchell ... but the sudden return of a John McEnroe shoe from the 1980s was also quite seismic on this scorecard
It was somewhat lost late last week amid the hoopla of a megatrade. Understandably so, frankly.
There was never going to be much oxygen left for anything else in the Transaction Game sphere we all share after the Cleveland Cavaliers swooped past the New York Knicks to win the trade race for Utah's Donovan Mitchell.
Yet there was also an absolute blockbuster from the shoe world that dropped amid all the fallout from Mitchell-to-Cleveland. And, yes, this particular sneaker means so much to me that it gets top billing in a Tuesday Newsletter Extravaganza that unavoidably got pushed to a Wednesday by breaking news as well as some technical difficulties out of our control.
I have been waiting for this day for as long as I can remember. There is really only one tennis shoe in the history of the sport that I would dare put in the same zip code as 1987's groundbreaking Nike Air Trainer: 1984's delicious Nike mid-top Mac Attack in light gray with a black swoosh and sexy swaths of gray and black mesh stitched in.
The vintage Nike checkerboard logo on the tongue that was synonymous with McEnroe at his mid-1980s best?
To my great regret, Nike has never reissued this beauty. To my far, far greater regret, I am still haunted by the scene that is burned in my brain from my senior(ish) year of high school and will never leave: Seeing a stack of Mac Attack boxes on the floor in the shoe department at the local Chick’s Sporting Goods on my many trips to visit my lifelong pal (and head Chick’s stringer) Dave Casarez. The Mac Attacks were being sold on clearance for $20 each. I certainly didn't have a brain wired for shoe collecting back then and didn't think I could spare what little I stacked up of my own money as a high schooler to stock up after the Air Trainers took over. I also most certainly wasn't smart enough to do the math and anticipate that, once that stack either sold out or got removed from the floor, I would never have affordable access to Mac Attacks again.
Go on eBay now and you can find a vintage pair selling for $5,000.
It took celebrities on the level of LeBron James and Travis Scott to bring the shoe back to prominence. LeBron wore them on his tunnel walk for a Lakers home game in January 2021. It was a Sunday night game and I can still remember the flood of messages I got, from old school sneakerheads who know of my Mac Attack obsession, alerting me to LeBron's kicks.
As Brendan Dunne's glorious writeup for Complex explains, Scott was then seen twice wearing Mac Attacks in subsequent months. Momentum was seemingly building for a formal Nike reissue announcement.
The problem: When I checked with various insiders in the shoe game with far more reliable intel than me, no one was suggesting that a reissue was forthcoming. LeBron obviously has the wherewithal to get Nike to make pretty much any shoe in its museum. You and I don't.
But then it happened without warning Friday: Dunne, my new favorite sneaker scribe, tagged me in his tweeted blast that Mac Attacks are said to be coming back in May 2023.
For this ubernostalgic tennis nerd, it will be 1985 all over again when those Mac Attacks drop. I will be absolutely, positively counting the days.
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I really wish I were a better photographer. I have wished it since my college days, when photography was a required subject for my journalism degree. I'm still not sure how I passed that course when I finally had to take it.
One of the beauties of this Substack, though, is the ease with which pictures are added to any story ... no matter how good they are. I certainly don't take great ones, even when modern iPhones make it so simple, but I especially look forward to writing the captions that accompany the pictures to tell tales from my sporting travels. I've never worked with a platform before that helps me more readily embrace photography.
Here, then, is five rows' worth of my trademark (kidding) three-shot slides from various adventures during last week's four nights on the ground in Cologne, Germany, for EuroBasket 2022 — my first-ever EuroBasket in person.
And, lastly, here’s a couple tweeted entries for the album:
Eight of the 24 teams in the EuroBasket tournament have no current NBA players: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Great Britain, Holland, Hungary and Poland.
There are 33 active NBA players on the other 16 teams as broken down here by The Sporting News. (TSN actually listed 36 players, but Dallas’ Frank Ntilikina did not make the France roster due to injury, Germany’s Dennis Schröder is an unsigned free agent and Toronto waived Ukraine’s Svi Mykhailiuk on Aug. 29.)
France has the most NBAers with four: Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert, New York’s Evan Fournier, Atlanta’s Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot and Oklahoma City’s Théo Maledon. Five countries have three current NBA players: Croatia (Utah’s Bojan Bogdanović, Phoenix’s Dario Šarić and the Clippers’ Ivica Zubac), Greece (Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Dallas’ Tyler Dorsey), Slovenia (Dallas’ Luka Dončić, Chicago’s Goran Dragić and Denver’s Vlatko Čančar), Spain (Houston’s Usman Garuba, Toronto’s Juancho Hernangómez and New Orleans’ Willy Hernangómez) and Turkey (Philadelphia’s Furkan Korkmaz, Cleveland’s Cedi Osman and Houston’s Alperen Şengün).
Pool play at EuroBasket requires teams to play five group games in six days, prompting Greece to rest Giannis Antetokounmpo — reportedly at the Bucks’ behest — for Monday’s victory over Great Britain.
Danny Ainge made only one trade with the Knicks in his 18 seasons in Boston’s front office, according to research from The New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy. Ainge made eight trades with Cleveland while running the Celtics’ front office, per Bondy, including Boston’s acquisition of Kyrie Irving in August 2017 when Koby Altman had just ascended to the GM post. Altman and Ainge combined last week on the Donovan Mitchell blockbuster that stunningly landed Mitchell with the Cavs.
I had it wrong in a tweet last week: You actually must rewind to 1993 rather than 1998 for the last time Cleveland, under then-coach Lenny Wilkens, won a playoff series without LeBron James in uniform.
I promised in the Photo Album section above to expound on the soccer picture in Row 4. German soccer was far more accessible than English soccer in my early youth thanks to the groundbreaking PBS program Soccer Made In Germany, which allowed me to watch my first Bundesliga game — as called by the legendary Toby Charles — in 1978. On Saturday, more than 40 years later, I finally attended a Bundesliga game on my last afternoon in Cologne for EuroBasket, making the short journey to the BayArena to watch Bayer Leverkusen lose 3-2 at home to SC Freiburg. Three second-half goals for Freiburg sent them to the top of the Bundesliga table.
Three more days, as of this Newsletter Tuesday, until Season 5 of Cobra Kai! (Sept. 9 is the precise debut.)