Chris McCord wandered into the House of Hoops at Penn Square Mall with no intentions of purchasing anything. And he didn’t.
But during that random trip two Junes ago, McCord entered his name in one of those one-in-a-no-chance mall raffles, holding about as much hope of winning as he had of scoring a new Lexus at one of the nearby kiosks.
“I just put my name on the paper,” he remembered. “Didn’t really know what was going on.”
Two days later, McCord got a call. Surprise: he had been selected. His prize? McCord had earned the right to purchase a pair of shoes at retail price.
On the surface, doesn’t sound like much of a reward. But these were the KD VI Preheats, the first colorway release of Kevin Durant’s latest Nike shoe. McCord returned to the store and, for $130, bought a pair of flashy neon green and black-and-white striped shoes that he has never worn.
But he doesn’t regret the purchase. Just the opposite. It’s one of his favorites in a collection that’s now 25 deep. McCord owns every available colorway (or color scheme) of the KD VI line.
“This is the one that kind of set it on fire,” McCord said, fondly pointing through his sea of shoes toward that initial pair. “Which is kinda funny, because they call it the Preheat.”
Kevin Durant is a rich man who got a whole lot richer this week. Under Armour shocked the apparel industry last month with a monstrous offer for Durant’s services as a shoe endorser. After some debate, Nike matched. And now, counting all the incentives, Durant will be making around $30 million a year endorsing the Swoosh. That’s nearly $10 million more than the Thunder will pay him on average the next two seasons.
The shoe game is big business, and Durant is one of the hottest names. His sneaker sales jumped from $35 million to $175 million last year alone. Kids want all his gear. Casual basketball players idolize him. His low-tops are widely considered some of the most comfortable on the market. All play in his favor.
But some of the biggest consumers of Durant merchandise — and main reasons he just cashed in so big — are the Sneaker Heads. The Sole Collectors. The guys that Chris McCord had to digitally battle at 7 a.m. during a number of Saturdays the past year.
Once McCord cashed in that raffle ticket for his first pair, he did more research. He’d always liked basketball sneakers, dating back to when his dad got him his first Nikes. And the OKC native loves Durant, watching Thunder games “religiously”.
So when he found out there were some more unique KD VI colorways on the way, he figured “wouldn’t it be cool to have the full collection?”
“But I thought there’d maybe be 10,” McCord admits. “At the most.”
“I thought it’d be one or two,” his wife, Celena, joked. “But he just kept buying them.”
McCord started regularly checking sneaker websites, mapping out the release dates and figuring out shoe collection strategies.
Some of the early ones, the mass-produced pairs, were easier to get. But many of the special occasion sneakers — the Christmas edition, the All-Star Game pair — were much tougher, often selling out within an hour of their release.
McCord, though, was always prepared: Up by 6:30 a.m. on those Saturday release dates and online, with multiple windows and computers going, by the time it went live. Typically, he never had an issue.
But then the Aunt Pearls came around. The light blue and pink flowery sneakers — an ode to his aunt who died of lung cancer in 2000 — were hyped online for more than a month before the release. The demand was high and the supply was limited.