Cam’s kicks: McGriff’s Jordan collection shows on court

OSU forward Cameron McGriff shoots in pregame of OSU’s win against OU the in 2018 Big 12 tournament in a pair of Jordan XI Cool Grey.

Devin Lawrence Wilber/O’Colly

Cameron McGriff’s Air Jordan collection started in a trunk.

For McGriff’s ninth birthday, his dad, Nathaniel McGriff, took him to Oak Cliff, a neighborhood in Dallas that McGriff referred to as “the hood.” In Oak Cliff, out of the back of someone’s car, McGriff got his first pair of Jordans, the Jordan XI Cool Greys.

McGriff, a sophomore forward on the Oklahoma State basketball team, wore a pair of Cool Grey XIs in both of OSU’s games in the Big 12 tournament after Jordan released another wave of them in 2010. The pair is one of about 10 McGriff keeps in his locker. He also said he has about 15 pair in his apartment and a few at his home in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The 2010 rendition of the Cool Grey XIs retail for $175, but across the past year, the shoes sold for an average of $510, according to StockX, a popular app where users buy and sell sneakers. McGriff isn’t afraid to put his shoes to the test, as he shows up in a different pair in seemingly every game.

“Just take care of your shoes,” McGriff said. “If they break, they break. I know there are a lot of memories that go into each one of them.”

On Feb. 17, Jordan released a new wave of Black Cement Jordan IIIs, a shoe McGriff has a memory with.

McGriff got a pair of Black Cement IIIs out of a different trunk in Oak Cliff when they were released in 2011. McGriff wore them for a couple of days before the paint started chipping.

McGriff’s mother, Octavia Goodman, was irate, thinking the shoes were fakes. She said she even went looking for the guy who sold them to McGriff but didn’t find him.

McGriff said he was also upset until a conversation with his cousin.

“I showed them to my cousin and he was like, ‘Hey, it happens all the time; it’s the shoes,’” McGriff said. “Especially the way kids wore shoes back then, we beat them up.”

Nathaniel McGriff bought a lot of his son’s first Jordans, sometimes a few pairs at a time. He did so, however, with a simple caveat.

“When I used to take him to buy those tennis shoes, I would buy him a couple of pair of them and I’d tell him, ‘Hey man, you gotta keep your grades up,’” Nathaniel McGriff said.

Goodman would use the that same caveat as a disciplinary tool. She would say she was going to take one of each pair away if McGriff got out of line.

“I would threaten him with, ‘If your grades fall behind, you definitely be wearing socks and sandals; I will take those shoes away,’” Goodman said. “He’s been pretty good in that area with school and making sure he did his part.

“He knew I wasn’t playing, so he’d get his act together real quick to make sure he was able to look good in whatever shoes he decided to wear.”

OSU forward Cameron McGriff celebrating in a pair of Gatorade Jordan VIs in OSU’s game against Kansas on March 3.

Shoes have taught McGriff more than the importance of keeping his grades up.

One day in his early high school years, McGriff rushed his mom to take him to the post office as she got home from work.

McGriff had been messaging with someone over the internet about a pair of Jordans McGriff has he didn’t want anymore, and they agreed to trade shoes.

Trading shoes was a fairly common thing among friends, but not many people McGriff went to school with wore a size 14.

“He sent those shoes off and waited and waited and waited and the other kid never sent his shoes,” Goodman said. “That was just shoes that were just given away. He never would respond to Cameron. Oh, Cameron was so mad.

“In life you can’t just trust everybody, so I’m thinking, ‘This is a hard lesson for you to learn, but you put your shoes in the mail and the kid never sent his shoes, now he just got an extra pair of shoes.’ He just couldn’t believe that people would just actually do something so wrong. I said, ‘That’s the world we live in. Everybody is just not as honest as you.’ Cameron was hot; he was very hot. I didn’t have to worry about the shoe trading with him anymore.”

McGriff has advanced past getting his Jordans out of trunks in Oak Cliff. He said he uses Nike’s SNKRS app, where Nike releases its shoes. He said he has also used the GOAT app, where users resell new and used sneakers, and he has used eBay.

The Jordan XIs are McGriff’s favorite of the 32 designs of Air Jordan shoes. Initially released in 1995, the Jordan XIs are what Michael Jordan wore in 1996’s “Space Jam.” Despite the shoe being released nearly 23 years ago, McGriff said he likes the XIs’ grip and the patent leather.

This season, McGriff has also played in Jordan IIIs, IVs, Vs, VIs and XIXs.

The Jordan IIIs, IVs and Vs designs came out from 1988-90 and all have thick soles. Despite the weight that thick sole adds, McGriff said he has found comfort in those designs in recent years because of the padding their air bubbles provide, and he said he doesn’t wear them all for looks.

“Before coming into college, I never thought I could play in a pair of fours,” McGriff said. “Then as time went on, I liked the cushion more in it, especially since I jump a lot.

“Most shoes with an air bubble really responds well with my feet. Anything with like fours, fives and threes, as well. The biggest issue with fours is they may not have as much grip and they may be a little too heavy every now and then, but it just depends on the pair, nowadays.”

McGriff wore the Jordan V Supreme Black, a colorway that was released Oct. 15, 2015, against Kansas State on Jan. 10. In the last year, a pair of Supreme Blacks sold for $1,000, according to StockX

McGriff scored only two points against that game against K-State, but on his next trip to Kansas, McGriff wore them again when OSU upset then-No. 7 Kansas 84-79. McGriff had 20 points and nine rebounds, including an outrageous put-back dunk.

OSU forward Cam McGriff in a pair of Jordan V Supreme Blacks in OSU’s game against Kansas on Feb. 3.

McGriff’s foot has grown a lot since he got his first pair of Jordans on his ninth birthday. Goodman said McGriff wore an 11 in fifth grade and a 12 in sixth grade. McGriff’s foot stopped growing at a size 14.

“He grew out of them, but he really wouldn’t say anything,” Goodman said. “I’m like, ‘I think your foot has gotten bigger than that size 10, 10.5 Jordan.’ He didn’t want to let them go, but they had to go.”

“I was wondering when he was gonna stop growing. His growth spurt was very early on. … When his feet stopped growing, I was very, very happy.”

McGriff said either his Jordan IV Classic Greens or his Jordan IV Mist Blues are his rarest pairs of Jordans. The Classic Greens were released July 24, 2004, for $100 and their average sale across the past year is $344, according to StockX. The Mist Blues were released June 24, 2006, for $125 and have been sold for an average of $412 in the past year, according to StockX.

“I haven’t seen anybody wear either one except celebrities and stuff online,” McGriff said. “Those Classic Greens are beat. The Mist Blues, they’re in pretty decent condition.”

Collecting shoes, especially Jordans can be an expensive hobby, but as McGriff said: “People have their things.”

“He and I have gone round and round for years about him and the tennis shoes,” Goodman said. “He loves his tennis shoes and I told him, ‘Look, you only have one set of feet, why do you need all these shoes?’”

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