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A Short White Kid’s Best Toy Ever: Honoring the Jordan Jammer

Seven Feet of Pure Heaven

You can wear Michael Jordan shoes…

You can wear a Michael Jordan shirt…

But you’re never gonna feel like Michael Jordan…

Until you can jam like Michael Jordan.

Words that helped define a generation. As we stand days away from the 2008 Slam Dunk competition, we felt obliged to honor a true legend.

All due respect to the human highlight film, Dr. J and dunk champions of yester-year from Spudd to Dee to Sky, but they are mere blips on the radar screen of dunk history. One single moment outshines them all. A solitary debut of such magnitude that it shaped the pre-pubescent lives of millions of white kids in America. We are of course referencing the Lil’ Sports launch of the “Jordan Jammer” in 1987.

Ahhhh, what a glooorious year. Bless you, Ohio Art. Check out Retro Junk for the stand-alone clip or to see the commercial that changed it all you can also hit up the YouTube video below (just FF to the 1:13 mark and/or enjoy the My Little Pony ads for added non-sports-related entertainment).

The Jordan Jammer, if you are not a Gen-X/Yer or were locked in a closet during those decades, was a gift from the heavens to millions in the late 80s. I was ten years old at the time and couldn’t wait to have at my Jordan Jammer. Without perpetuating stereotypes irresponsibly, the 7-foot Jordan Jammer (that distinction is quite important, as many of my friends actually referred to their hoop as the 7-ft-jammer and ignored the endorsement of his airness) was marketed to sports-crazed little white kids who would never approach the rim on a 10-ft hoop in their lifetime and whose basketball careers would undoubtedly fail to extend beyond high school.

Don’t believe us, just watch the commercial again and behold the awkward pasty-white lefty soaring through the air with whatever is the opposite of grace. Hopefully, those 80s marketers got their due, because the Jordan Jammer done blew the f up. Every one of my vertically-challenged friends had one. It was the toy around which playdates were arranged, kept and cancelled (busted Jammer? forget you, I’ll go to some other kid’s crib). All around my suburban NYC community, there were heated one-on-one match-ups taking place in basements and dens multiple times per week.

Those who chose to show off their game by tossing the little orange rubber b-ball from the perimeter? Pansies. Bona fide sissy-pants. You went strong to that seven-foot goal or you didn’t come at all. After all, it was the Jordan Jammer not the seven-foot-work-on-your-outside-game-toy.

I’d pay top-dollar to go back in time and watch a video reel of my dunk repertiore. It was breathtaking. I was less of a glider than MJ, so I rarely took off from the foul line (or that arbirtrary line at the end of the couch deemed the foul line). No, my game was more of a bullying tomahawk-infused style. I preferred to always go to the rack with two hands and finish it off with a stare down over my feeble four-foot-nothing opponent. Regardless, it was still a thing of beauty.

However, one dunker in our neighborhood was without a doubt the most feared. We will call him only “Jesse” to prevent further misguided ill-will aimed at his childhood actions. Simply put, Jesse was our White Chocolate Thunder. J-Man eradicated Jordan Jammers. He was our ‘Nique, combining a level of strength and serious hops that none of us could come close to rivaling. Years later, Jesse is by far the best streetballer among us. Back then, he was a painful dilemma. Invite him to your house and be witness to a spectacle unlike we had ever seen. But, at the same time, put your beloved Jordan Jammer very clearly in harm’s way.

For many of us, the chance to see Jesse unleash his fury was too strong to resist. And, unfortunately, many of us paid the price for the indulgence. Legend has it J took down anywhere from 5-10 of our Jordan Jammers. And that was in our little neighborhood alone. There’s not telling what he did outside of our town, in greater NY or even out of state. Neither sand, nor water-filled plastic bases could stop him. Any other props aimed at strengthening the Jordan Jammer were similarly rendered useless. How many he ultimately destroyed is something we may never know.

But all of it…the arrival of our very own Jordan Jammer…the battles waged…the memorable dunkers of our youth…and J-Man…ahhh, we will forever cherish the memories.


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