The new Derrick Rose basketball shoe released by adidas features the phrase "all flights canceled" on the tongue.
It almost seems like a taunting message directed at other shoes, especially when on display next to the Michael Jordan brands. One contemporary Jordan model is called the "Fly Wade," after Miami Heat star and Chicago native Dwyane Wade.
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No, his shoes don't taunt, Rose insisted when he helped introduce the adiZero Rose 2 last weekend.
Rose, the Bulls' star guard and reigning NBA MVP, even pulled the arch support out of his shoe to demonstrate the meaning of the slogan. The drawing on the arch is meant to mimic an airport departure board.
"You've got Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, Denver, Charlotte, Oklahoma and New York got canceled," Rose said, "but we're cleared for takeoff."
Well, every shoe needs a gimmick. The first Rose shoe was marketed for its light weight, which in theory makes the feet quicker.
Shoes with a story should be a familiar concept to Bulls fans -- the idea of shoes being collected and anticipated began with the first pair of Nike Air Jordans, released in 1984. The early Jordan shoes were numbered like Super Bowls and carry their own unique history. The red and black Jordan I was famously banned by the NBA for being too colorful.
Jordan II didn't have a swoosh and was inspired by a 19th-century Italian women's boot. Jordan III was the first to bear Jordan's iconic "Jumpman" logo, and the first to have a television commercial featuring Spike Lee as Mars Blackmon ("It's gotta be the shoes!").
The Jordan IV had a prominent role in Lee's "Do The Right Thing," and that model was on Jordan's feet when he hit "The Shot" against Cleveland in the 1989 playoffs.
The Jordan V was inspired by a World War II fighter plane, Jordan VI was worn during the first championship in '91, while Jordan VII was tied in with the Olympic Dream Team.
Rose is too young to remember the Air Jordan mania of the late 1980s and early '90s, but his older brothers Dwayne and Reggie were right in the middle of it.
"Me and Reggie, I'd get a white pair, he'd get a black pair and we'd switch them up," Dwayne said. "Until my feet outgrew his."
Dwayne pointed out that Rose's adiZero model started with a lower retail price ($100) than the Air Jordan II ($105 in 1986).
Derrick didn't have the money to get caught up in any sort of shoe frenzy growing up.
"I had LA Gears, the ones that light up," he said with a laugh. "You can't hide nowhere. If you want to play 'It,' you have to take them off. I just had the shoes like that."
As Nike proved, a good ad campaign will go a long way toward selling a shoe. Rose and Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard were featured in the "Fast Don't Lie" campaign last year with comedian Ken Jeong.
This time, Rose got to solo in a bullfighting-themed TV spot, filmed on location in Madrid.
"It was very hard, being out there in the sun all day," he said. "It actually took, like, three days in Spain. The experience was great. I'm just happy the feedback was great."
Rose filmed the adidas commercial on his way to a China tour. So he went from Spain to Shanghai to Guangzhou to Beijing to Taiwan and back to his summer headquarters in Los Angeles.
Rose, often described as painfully shy, now enjoys getting in front of the cameras.
"Hopefully, adidas will come up with new ideas, so we'll be out there again," he said.
When it comes to his own shoe, Rose provided some input into its design, including that "all flights canceled" gimmick.
"They just asked me a whole bunch of questions, sat me down for like an hour or two hours," Rose said. "They just picked my brain and asked me a million questions.
"It's a low-top shoe. I've never played in a low-top shoe in my life. It's something new, where I think it's a good-looking shoe. Kids can actually wear it to school. To me, I think this is my best-looking shoe I've had yet. I work out in them every day."
Maybe someday Rose will actually play NBA games in these shoes. For now, though, the lockout lingers on.