The Wait Is Finally Over

Well, almost. In a letter to his younger self, a Bleacher Report sneakerhead travels back in time to share the highs and lows leading up to the highly anticipated Nike Mag release

By C.J. Toledano

October 12, 2016

Dear Young C.J.,

The trips to Blockbuster Video. The rental of the same movie, over and over, while your family wonders, “Is this an obsession?”

Well, yeah, you’ll admit. It is. Even if you don’t, the astronomical late fees on your family’s account will say it for you. By the way, words of wisdom: Don’t pay those. Blockbusters in the future just become seasonal Halloween costume stores anyway. If only the movie could’ve predicted that.

But Back to the Future Part II is not just some time-traveling adventure flick. It’s a film with real cultural impact and got you hooked on Michael J. Fox’s kicks—the sneakers that are way before their time and the real reason you think this movie is great. The sneakers seem otherworldly and unattainable. But I write this letter today to assure you that you will get a chance to walk in Marty’s auto-lacing shoes. Trust me. Just listen for a bit.

Ever since I’ve known you, which is the whole time (obviously), you’ve had two constant passions: movies and sneakers. Both have provided an escape. So when Marty lands the DeLorean in the year 2015, then proceeds to release those glorious sneakers from a futuristic Nike tube, it’ll be the first time your two loves intersect. But great news: It won’t be the last.

The sneakers seem otherworldly and unattainable. But I write this letter today to assure you that you will get a chance to walk in Marty’s auto-lacing shoes. Trust me. Just listen for a bit.

For years, you’ll fantasize about these fictional sneakers, later named the Nike Mags. In that time, you’ll also collect all kinds of real shoes: mostly Jordans, which are coincidentally designed by Tinker Hatfield, the same genius who made the Mags. But they all will just temporarily satisfy your desire for that special pair.

Growing up on the internet, which is an amazing invention that allows you to argue with people from high school in the privacy of your own home, will help you understand there is a community of sneakerheads. There, you’ll also discover sneaker message boards, where you’ll discuss and share your penchant for footwear with people all over the world. Once you settle into this newfound community, you’ll all finally cut to the chase.

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Photos courtesy of Nike

You sneakerheads want the Nike Mags, and you want them, well, now. This coalition will create petitions, where hundreds of signatures will garner the attention of Nike. And then, the teases from Nike will begin. You could probably deal with this by going outside, breathing fresh air and living your life, but you won’t. Discussing a potential release with strangers is more fun to you.

In 2008, a guy named Kobe Bryant (who is a Michael Jordan imposter) will step out of a DeLorean—not flying, unfortunately—wearing brand-new sneakers. They’re the “Nike Hyperdunks.” While not exactly the Mags, they’re decked out in an inspired colorway and will be the closest you think you’ll ever get.

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The 2008 release of the Nike Hyperdunk in the "Marty McFly" colorway. (Getty Images) 

Until September 2011, that is. Nike’s announcement of the Nike Mags will be the best thing you’ve heard since Barack Obama was first elected president. You don’t know who that is right now, but you will, and you will cherish him forever. Believe me. But I apologize, that’s beside the point. What amazing news about the Mags, right? You’ll rejoice. You’ll jump up and down. The wait is over.

Nike will release a commercial spot that brings your excitement to new heights. By showing these kicks, and even giving the slightest hint of the possibility you can own them, Nike will make other shoes look like a bland pair of Chucks or—even worse—Teva sandals.

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The 2011 release of the Nike Mag remakes were auctioned off in 10 days and raised $4.7 million for The Michael J. Fox Foundation. (Photo by Amaka Obaze)

But there’s a catch. Ah, yes, of course there’s a catch. Now, it’s 2011. In Back to the Future time, you’re four years away from experiencing the kicks. There’s no way they’d arrive this early in reality. So what is Nike up to? And what, if any, hurdles do sneakerheads have to jump over to get the Holy Grail of the sneaker world?

By showing these kicks, and even giving the slightest hint of the possibility you can own them, Nike made other shoes look like a bland pair of Chucks or—even worse—Teva sandals.

No one said getting these kicks would be easy. And Nike will prove that. Only 1,500 pairs will be released, and they’ll only be attainable through auction. Oh, and on top of that, they don’t auto-lace. You know the feature that makes them cool in the first place? I don’t need to tell you this, but you’ll be very disappointed. You will, however, find out that all proceeds from the auction will go to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, so you’ll understand and you’ll move on.

At this point, you will begin to outgrow your obsession. You’re adulting now. That means paying rent, bills, student loans and overall just being a responsible human being. I mean the year 2015 came and went. No Nike Mags in your possession. So what, right? Not so fast.

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Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) tries on the sneakers for the first time in a scene in Back to the Future Part II in 1989. The pair used in the movie were attached to a prop floor, below which a production assistant pulled the laces down to simulate the power-lacing effect seen in the film. (Photo courtesy of Universal)

When Tinker announces they are still working on the auto-lacing technology, your interest is piqued again. Mag stock in your brain and your heart should be higher than ever. But you’re grown up and over it.

Besides, from simple observation, it’s pretty clear that the only people in the world who get to own these shoes are celebrities, athletes and rappers such as Kid Cudi, who respectfully acknowledge their significance by wearing them on big TV shows such as Conan. But again, who cares, because they don’t auto-lace, right?

That is, until a week ago. Because like they tend to do, Nike and Fox, out of nowhere, announced they would finally be releasing the Nike Mags with, yes, auto-lacing technology. And just like Jordan in 1995 (I’ll explain this whole thing another time), you’re back. I mean let’s be honest. Did the desire to own a pair ever leave you? The LeBron Soldier X’s you recently NikeID’d in a Mag colorway and tucked away in your closet insist that it never really did.

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A close-up look at the details on back of the 2016 auto-lacing Nike Air Mag. (Photos by Ishaan Mishra) 

But among all the returned excitement, there’s a catch. Because there’s always a catch. So here it is: There will be 89 pairs released, and they will be given away through lottery. Winners will be notified October 17.

You’ll take this news with immense defeat once again, but after a bit of thinking, you’ll pay the measly $10 lottery entry cost. Because, again, it’s for Fox’s nonprofit, and also, hey, who knows, right?

I mean yes, there are going to be millions of entries, but guess what? Coincidentally, just like in the movie, the Chicago Cubs have a real shot at winning the World Series this year, and if that’s not a sign that anything can happen, then I don’t know what is.

Good luck, young friend.

— C.J.

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