Basketball Shoe Shopping Nightmare…

It’s been awhile since I bought a pair of basketball shoes. I know I live in a state – Indiana – where hoops is religion. Every man, woman and child who lives here should have the bare essentials – a basketball, a basketball goal and of course basketball shoes.

I hadn’t played basketball on a regular basis in years. I am looking back through my journals to figure an exact date but I know for a fact it had to be pre-Fabulous Rueff Boys. If that’s the case then the last time I picked up a basketball to actually play a game – pick-up or league was sometime before July 23, 2001 when my oldest son, Andrew, was born.

Recently my neighbor saw me out in the driveway playing on my goal with my sons. I am quite proud of this goal. It’s an old-school Goalith goal. You have to manually move it up-and-down the pole. I repainted it “Butler Blue” to match the shutters of our new house. I have the letters to spell out B-U-T-L-E-R down the pole and on the sides of the standards but haven’t put them on the goal at this moment. I also repainted the rim. I had a good laugh when I went to Lowes to have the paint made and I told the clerk I needed it in “basketball-rim orange” and he stared at me for a couple of moments.

Anyway my neighbor messaged me and said he had put together a team for the summer adult basketball league at the Mount Pleasant Church Community Life Center. He said he had been watching me play with my sons and was wondering if I would be interested in playing.

The issues from suffering deep peroneal nerve neuritis seem to have subsided for the most part from earlier this year. There are times my foot feels numb or it’s on fire but not as bad as it was from about Thanksgiving to the Super Bowl. There were some logistics which needed to be worked out because two of my sons have Bible Bowl practice on Thursday nights. My wife goes with them to practice and I stay with our other two sons. Wendy and I figured out if Micah and Ryan took the iPods or Nintendo games all should be alright.

So I told my neighbor yes I would be glad to play with his team.

For the past four weeks I played in the shoes I usually wear when I go out and about – Nike Air Monarchs. Each Friday after Thursday night game my legs have been hurting – even more than after a long run. Finally after last Thursday’s game I came home and told my wife – “That’s it. I am going basketball-shoe shopping tomorrow.”

Friday morning I left the house and began my quest to find a pair of basketball shoes so I would not risk anymore chances of possibly breaking an ankle or blowing out a knee. A friend of mine called wanting to know what I was doing for the day and if I would be interested in meeting him for lunch. When I informed him what I was doing his reply was – “SERIOUSLY! Rob Rueff! Even at your age. Of anyone I would have thought YOU would always have a pair of basketball shoes!”

I went to the Shoe Carnival, which is now located where the Borders was, and walked in and looked at the various shoes they had. None of the styles looked like something I would wear, but the prices were reasonable.

I wanted a decent looking shoe – I don’t need a LeBron, Kobe, Derrick Rose or whatever else shoes are the rage now – heck I never owned a pair of Air Jordans. Price is somewhat a concern I thought somewhere between $50-$70 would suffice for what I need the shoe to do. Right now I am only playing Thursday nights and then whenever I take the boys over to shoot around on a 10-foot goal (that’s another blog post to be written soon).

I then ventured to the Greenwood Park Mall. As I am trying to relive my golden age of pick-up hoops I suddenly felt like I was a teenager again as I walked into the mall. This time though I realized how my father must have felt during his trips with me to the mall. Every single store – Champs, FootAction, Finish Line and Footlocker were all blaring music. It was hard to concentrate and even think about making a purchase with any of these stores. Of course the clerks approached me and per usual I just told them I was looking around.

The one thing I noticed compared to the last time I went basketball-shoe shopping was there were predominantly only two brands to choose from – Adidas and Nike. The last time I was in the market to make a such a purchase there were the aforementioned two along with Converse and Reebok. I did notice Under Armour had entered the shoe race but to me still an unknown in the shoe market.

The shoes to choose from came in so much variety. There were solid colors. There were neon. There were ones which looked like Leroy Neiman had designed with one of his paintings.

While I was looking at the various shoes at Finish Line I remembered how much simpler it was when I was in high school. My high school coach, Dick Harmening, always had us outfitted in Converse. During the summers at his camp he had the Converse representative, Jack Noone, come in and give a talk. Noone would then tell us what the team shoe was going to be for the upcoming season and usually it was already athletic-shoe stores like the ones I was at on Friday. I would buy a pair for the summer and use them up through tryouts. Then if I made the team I would get another pair through Noone for the season.

Even the two years I didn’t make the team and was a manager Harmening let me get a pair of shoes at the team-discounted price. During my junior year Converse had developed a problem with its team shoe for that season – Energy Wave. Before we had got the shoes other coaches were informing Harmening the shoes were coming apart at the heel where the “energy wave” was located. All the players ended up returning the shoes. Harmening said they could go with any brand they wanted. Several of the players went with Adidas – mainly because that was the brand the Indiana University team wore.

I decided to go with a pair of Nikes and wore those until they finally fell apart while I was playing in a spring break pick-up game at Arizona State. I got another pair of Nikes and wore those until about the middle of summer before I had to purchase another pair of shoes. I was thankful when it was October and Harmening was placing his shoe order because I again needed another pair of shoes.

In the summer between by senior year at Center Grove and my freshmen year at Butler Converse had supposedly fixed it’s energy wave issue and I again was back wearing the best basketball shoes. Those Nikes I traded in for lasted five months. I got at least eight out of Converse shoes. Through the years Converse redeveloped its cushioning in its shoes and called it “react juice.” The last pair of Converse I bought were the Chuck Taylor All Star 2000. My last pair of basketball shoes were given to me by Chris Wood, who had an extra pair of Nikes, from one of the teams he had coached that year.

Enough of the history lesson.

Finally after not finding any shoe to my liking I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods. I was going to buy through Dick’s Sporting Goods anyway because I can use my scorecard. If I bought the shoes there I would also gain enough points for a $10 credit.

Dick’s Sporting Goods had some pretty basic styles and were right in the price range I had intended to pay. There was one glaring problem – NOT A SINGLE STYLE WAS IN MY SIZE!

What? Did suddenly EVERY man on the southside of Indianapolis need a pair of basketball shoes in a size 12? I spoke to a clerk and he looked up the other stores in the area. They too were out of size 12’s in all the styles I was interested in possibly purchasing.

I was beyond frustrated at this point. What are the chances though NONE of these stores would have my size? OK, it’s summer maybe they’re clearing things out getting ready for the “Back to School” season at the end of July. How could it be though I thought. I mean basketball pretty much goes year round now with the school ball season and now the various AAU teams playing. And adults like myself the leagues seem to play year round now as well. I was shocked the choices were so slim.

I contemplated contacting my friend, Carl Daniels, as he works for Adidas and seeing what he might be able to do for me. I didn’t want to come across like I wanted a freebie. I was willing to pay for the shoes I just wanted it in a style I liked in my size.

But I was in full desperate mode at this point. I wanted to get a pair of shoes in time to have them broke in by next week’s game. Mentally too I thought having basketball shoes might help my game as I continued to make baskets on a consistent basis.

I left the mall and made a couple of more stops to pick up somethings for our usual Friday ‘za and movie night. I got home and Wendy could tell I had wasted the day trying to look for the right shoe. I had never bought shoes on line. I don’t mind buying T-shirts off the internet but shoes are different. I really want to be able to wear them and see how they feel before purchasing.

She had a party to go to that evening so I decided to go on line and see what might be available. I again went on the Dick’s Sporting Good website. Then I went on the Adidas website. I clicked on basketball shoes and then filtered for the lowest to highest price.

There was a pair in a style I liked and at great price – Regularly $65 on sale for $39 and an additional 15% if you registered with the website. Even better THEY HAD MY SIZE!

So I wait for Wednesday to get here when the Adidas NXT LVL SPD 2.0 shoes (shown below) are scheduled to arrive at Stately Rueff Manor

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