[Update: The links actually work now!]
A large portion of people in this country collect something. Comic books, spoons, DVDs, concert posters, eyeballs. An even larger portion of sports fans find themselves accumulating trinkets that supposedly connect them with the team, player or sport they follow. Who among us has never opened a pack of trading cards? (Hell, I still remember that the last card I needed to complete my 1987 Topps set was Rickey Henderson.) Ticket stubs, jerseys, autographed photos, programs. If it's a limited edition and shiny, somebody will buy it.
But shoes, specifically basketball shoes, have transcended the typical nature of collectibles. Why? Because the players actually care about shoes and some of them are collectors themselves. And it's actually hip to own a million pairs of sneakers. You'll never see Missy Elliott on MTV Cribs flaunting her collection of Beanie Babies. But her 75 pairs of Adidas? Front and center.
Almost as important as the shoe itself is the sneaker ad; in fact, more people probably remember Barkley's "I am not a role model" commercial than what the shoe actually looked like. Mars Blackmon. Little Penny. "That's Tyra Banks fool!"
It's part of The Game now; as much as sky hook, short shorts and the afro.
Ziller over at SacTownRoyalty had the great idea to determine the best ad of this NBA season. In the First Possibly Annual SBNation Air Jordan Invitational the nominees are:
I am hosting the first round match-up of Lebron vs. Tracy McGrady. You can watch the commercials below and vote in the poll on the right.
Voting is open through Wednesday night. My fellow SBNation bloggers will be hosting the other first round contests:
The second round starts next Monday.