Even for someone who wears every one of his 900-plus pairs of Air Jordans, Mark Bostic — better known on the Internet as collector extraordinaire JumpmanBostic — does not have the same policy when it comes to his collection of vintage cereal.
“The Michael Jordan Wheaties boxes and glass Gatorade bottles, those things mean a lot to me,” Bostic told Champs Sports. “I know not many people have them with the cereal still in them and unopened. Those are kind of rare.”
But…doesn’t he get curious?
“I’ve seen with the Gatorade where it’s starting to turn colors,” he said. “I would like to see what the cereal looks like in the box, if it still looks like Wheaties I would eat today. Would it be hard? Would it be soft? Would there be something weird in there?
“That said, I don’t see a reason to open them now. I’ve been offered thousands of dollars for all the boxes I have, 15 of them. But I don’t think I could ever do it. The memorabilia is part of the collection, things I’ve had since the early ’90s.”
I’ve long insisted that the stuff we like is far more than just stuff. For those of us who lovingly cultivate collections like JB’s, they become a part of the fabric of our lives, a way to look back at cherished periods of time and measure how far we’ve come. For those of us bitten by the Air Jordan bug early, our first pair–for me, the Cardinal VIIs in eighth grade–brings you right back to that first time you laced them up and felt like the king of the world.
For JumpmanBostic, the genesis of his vaunted “Basement of the J’s” was the commercial for the original Air Jordan I where our hero went soaring through the air with the Chicago skyline in the background. “They really didn’t show too much of the shoe,” Bostic says, “which only left you wanting more.”
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JB was 22 at the time, the same age as MJ, and playing for the University of San Diego basketball team. He went to the store for a better look at the sneaker, loved the unique color scheme, and headed home with his first pair of Jordans. Thanks to the Toreros’ exclusive deal with adidas, he couldn’t wear the Jordan I on court, not even for practices or pickup games. But the seed was planted for a lifelong love affair with the Jumpman.
At every stop along his personal voyage–from semipro ball in Tijuana to driving a FedEx truck in Cali to working for the Detroit Police Department–Bostic has had J’s on his feet. Between retros, performance shoes, cross-trainers and boots, he has a Jordan Brand shoe for every occasion–most notably his own wedding, to which he wore a crisp pair of red/white XV lows.
Somewhere along the way, his sneakers became a way for him to connect with people who share his enthusiasm. JB made his first YouTube video back in July of 2008; his channel now has more than 56,000 subscribers, while 86,000 follow him on Instagram. Come for the pictures and videos of rare and amazing sneakers, stay for a history lesson the likes of which few can even approach.
For example, Bostic said he’s looking forward to the July return of the Black/Metallic AJ V, specifically so he could put white laces in them to emulate MJ in one memorable playoff performance versus the Bucks in 1990. I’ve been collecting quite a while myself, but I still get the sense Bostic has forgotten more than I know.
Thanks to the notoriety cultivated by his passion and knowledge, JB has seen plenty of opportunities manifest themselves. Sneaker shows from all over the country request that he attend to show off prized pieces from his remarkable collection. This weekend, he’ll head up to Toronto to take in NBA All-Star Weekend.
JB has also been sought out by like-minded professional athletes such as Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and former Pistons All-Star Rip Hamilton. Most recently, former NBA veteran Fred Jones gifted him PE versions of the Air Jordan II and the VIII, his all-time favorite model.
“I met Fred a while back at SneakerCon Chicago, and he said, ‘I already know who you are,’” Bostic says. “I thought, how does a professional athlete know who I am? He said, ‘I know what your favorite shoe is. I’m going to get you a pair.’ It had almost been a year, and he called me and said to come by his store when I went to Indianapolis, and he gave me two pairs. I was just stunned that people like that respect me as a collector.”
Obviously, Bostic’s shoe game has come a long way since that first cherished Air Jordan. But even at 52 years old, that fresh-out-of-the-box feeling never went away. JB believes that the increased frequency of the “Nike Air” branding on retros–this weekend will see the release of the legendary OG Air Jordan IV in White/Cement at Champs Sports–will attract both people who had the J’s in their original form, and people who didn’t have that opportunity. And he insists he’s just as excited for the upcoming release of the Air Jordan XXX at Champs Sports as he was for the 29 that preceded it.
“I look today, and I’m doing the same thing now that I was doing at 22, and I still have the same look on my face, just like it’s my first time buying a shoe,” Bostic says. “It’s just turned into something that I never thought it would turn into. I never thought sneakers would be this popular. It’s just been an amazing journey for me.”
But at the risk of being annoying, the question remains: Isn’t there anything that can get him to rip open just one 20-year-old box of Wheaties and see what’s going on in there?
“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to crack that box open,” JB says. “I just…I can’t do it.”
What if Michael Jordan himself showed up at his house and said–ahem–“You better eat your Wheaties!”
“If he came and asked me to open them…I might,” Bostic said with a hearty laugh. “See, that would be a reason to crack them open!”
images via @JumpmanBostic