Rapper-actor-performer-multi-hyphenate Drake has taken on new fame in NBA circles this season as "global ambassador" for his hometown Toronto Raptors. While this relationship is largely ceremonial, Drake has been a presence at various Raptors functions, including a well-publicized and quite official "Drake Night" at the team's home game against the Brooklyn Nets.
The big story out of that event, apart from Drake's handling of the lineup introductions, was that a giveaway pair of Drake's limited edition OVO Air Jordan X sneakers climbed to as high as $100,000 on eBay in the days following the game. With only two pairs handed out, the price seemed possible, if also somewhat improbable and likely the product of false bids and trickery.
Several weeks later, we now have confirmation that these listed bids were not credible. On top of that, the misdirected hysteria over these sales made the seller of the second auctioned Jordans — the white pair, not the black ones — uncomfortable even keeping the shoes in his home. From Tyler Munro for AUX.tv:
Toronto-based photographer Devon Little, one of two people to nab a pair as a giveaway at the Toronto Raptors’ Drake Night, says he wasn’t planning on selling the shoes until a friend told him how much the first pair was going for online. While he calls himself a huge fan of Drake, telling us he listens to Nothing Was the Same daily, the realities of being a broke 22-year-old student with a chance to make a wad of cash too good to ignore. Little put his shoes up for auction and watched bids climb to more than $100,000 throughout the day, and that’s when things got stressful. Devon elaborates: [...]
At this point [when the bidding reached six figures] I was very stressed. I didn’t feel comfortable with the shoes in my house, so we took them out of the city and put them in a safe box. Family members were calling me saying they saw me on TV. People I haven’t talked to since high school were messaging me. Even the head of eBay Canada called us and said how lucky I was and that I hit the lottery. He recommended that I start messaging the top bidders to see if they were serious and comfortable with their bid. So I did. No responses, so I started climbing down the ladder and messaging the lower bidders. Still no response. [...]
The ‘winning’ bidder [at 20k] just messaged us and said that his account had been hacked and it wasn’t him who placed the bid. We messaged the other girl that was selling the shoes. Her auction ended at 100k, and she has received no payment. So based on those few early bids, I think the real value of the shoes is around $3000-$5000.”
Even as a broke 22-year-old student, Devon says that at this point, he’s not concerned with actually selling the shoes; he’s just happy to have the ordeal over with. “I have a great story to tell that started with a gift from one of the the greatest entertainers in the world. I’m very blessed to have amazing friends and family in my life. I had my 15 minutes of fame, and I hated it.”
These insanely high bids seemed credible in the first place because of the obsessive culture surrounding rare basketball shoes, but Little's account of his experience (and that of the other winner-seller) seems way more sensible. As our Dan Devine noted in the initial post on this story, the listed six-figure bids would make these shoes as coveted as those worn by Michael Jordan in his famous Flu Game, which makes no sense given the general form of hero worship and Air Jordan love in particular.
Nevertheless, it's quite relatable that Little, in the midst of this fervor, would feel as if he were in possession of an item so valuable that he could be at risk of burglary or other types of crime. It's a little ridiculous in retrospect, but such possibilities do exist in the absence of a formal auction system and the security and insurance that come along with it.
The good news, I suppose, is that Little fell victim to nothing worse than paranoia and has ended this saga with a cool story and a pretty neat gift from one of his favorite artists. Such things don't beat $100,000 (which translates to 150 beaver pelts in the Canadian barter system, as determined by seven-term prime minister Wayne Gretzky). But it's a pretty nice ending no matter what.
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