Cardboard Gerald and the Tale of the Jordan XI Cool Greys

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Oh, and Meeting the Real Gerald…

Whoa, I'm totally seeing double

Like many, many of you, I eagerly awaited the release of the Retro Jordan XI “Cool Grey.” I read about the release on various sneaker websites months ago and when I first saw the icy blue sole, I knew that I had to have the shoe. The only problem was going to be where to find it. When I read that the Bobcats Team Store at Time Warner Cable Arena would be getting them, I knew that would be my spot, especially since Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson and D.J. Augustin would be attending. But I was still worried about the line that would inevitably form.

When the Bobcats announced via Facebook and Twitter that they would be handing out tickets at the Raptors home game that would allow for primary selection over those without, I saw my opening – but then it closed very quickly. I remembered I was still in Chapel Hill and it was finals week so there was no way I was getting a ticket. I shrugged it off and kept thinking about other options.

After the Wizards game, the Bobcats once again announced over their social media outlets that they would be giving out the tickets to those who wanted them once more in the team store during the home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. I was going to the game with a friend so we both picked up tickets.

Fast forward a couple days.

With my Social Media Ticket, I was set to go to the arena on the morning of December 23. My friend, Kendall, thought he had a better chance at the Carolina Place Mall Champs store. To make a long story short, he got up around 3 and was left empty-handed along with everyone else. So he met up with me around 8:30 a.m., we grabbed the tickets, Cardboard Gerald, a couple folding chairs and a few bags. Then we high-tailed it to the arena, not knowing what to expect.

When we arrived around 9 a.m., I saw about 40 people lined up by the first door at the 5th Street entrance. I got nervous as I didn’t expect such a line so early. We figured that there was no way that they all had the Social Media Tickets, and upon further inspection, there was a second – and more importantly, empty – line for those with our tickets. There was also a line for Season Ticket Holders that got their own tickets.

The deal with the different lines was this: the first 50 Season Ticket Holders with their ticket to the release were guaranteed a pair of the Jordans; the first 15 of the Social Media Ticket holders were also guaranteed a pair (not necessarily in your size, if they ran out of said size before getting to you); and the rest were just on a first come-first serve basis.

Audible groans arose from the crowded line as we set up our chairs at the front of the middle line and bypassed the whole crowd. All that was left was to wait until noon – and then 2 p.m.

While waiting in temperatures that I can only put as “giving-my-toes-frostbite cold,” we struck up conversations with other people. As we got chummy with everyone, more and more people arrived, stretching the line even farther and even the other two lines starting filling out. The picture below was taken from my spot at noon before entering the building.

A little after noon, we packed up our stuff and filed into the building in an orderly fashion. At that point, we unpacked once more and began another two hour waiting period.

To kill time, conversation with neighboring sneaker-hunters turned to the NBA. I must have surprised a lot of folks, being a short, white kid who was more or less giving lessons on the salary cap and the luxury tax. Then, the discussion eventually digressed and we crossed into the topic everyone has to yell about: Jordan vs. Kobe vs. LeBron. Instantly, everyone tried to talk at once to get their opinion heard, which of course resulted in no one’s opinion being heard. But things quieted down as the conversation wore thin.

Before we knew it, 2 p.m. had arrived. Security personnel and arena employees began handing out wristbands, writing down each person’s desired shoe size on them. Five people at a time were allowed to get their pair of shoes and then proceed from the makeshift shoe inventory dealer to the registers at the team store. A feeling of uneasiness began to fill much of the anxious people in the crowd as word got out that there were only 100 pairs, when there were many more people than that in the arena. Luckily, there were less than 50 Season Ticket Holders and then it was our turn.

Our sizes were still available so we grabbed them and paid. Truth be told, they’re absolutely beautiful shoes. I have never owned a pair of the XIs, but they are spectacular in person. The quality is on point and the sole really sets off the colorway.

After paying for the shoes, I headed back upstairs where the Bobcats players sat at a large table to sign autographs. The line of Bobcats players consisted of Stephen Jackson, then Gerald Wallace and last but not least, D.J. Augustin (or should I say, B.J. Augustin, eh, Tom Sorenson?). I made adequate small talk with Jackson as he signed Cardboard Gerald and then proceeded to the real Gerald Wallace. He signed his cardboard doppelganger and obliged to have his photo taken with Cardboard Gerald. I topped the whole experience off by discussing Jordans with D.J. before leaving. I was on Cloud Nine.

But unfortunately, many others were not. They had waited in the cold for the same shoes like I had but had no Air Jordans to show for it. However, everyone did get complimentary tickets for their choice of one of the next three home games, which is a fine consolation gift, especially for Bobcats fans that don’t have season tickets.

Congrats to those who got their Cool Greys, and to those who, sadly, did not, I wish you the best of luck finding those in the future.

- Cardboard Gerald

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