The story begins on the morning of Friday, 7 February, when I found myself killing time in front of my computer. About an hour before I planned to head out to the Sounders' final weekday training session here in Tucson, I thought that goofing around on Nike's website to create some custom boots. By now you should all know that I kind of have a thing for boots, so yea, just go with it.
So as I sat there thinking about what boots to customize, Obafemi Martins and his love of Mercurial Vapors came to mind. Since his arrival to the Sounders, Oba has been wearing an off the shelf colorway of Fireberry and Sunset, which was basically pink and black. I thought he needed a change. Something to kick off the new year with. So that morning I created multiple pairs of Vapor IXs for our #9, and posted them on twitter for the world, and for Oba, to see. I really didn't expect anything more than possible a few re-tweets, so I set off to training. (If you want to see the boots, check out here)
So as I'm driving to training I get an alert on my phone, and it just so happened to be a response from Oba asking where he could get them. I was super excited to see that I was able to elicit a response from Obafemi Martins, so I responded, letting him know they could be ordered through the Nike site. At this point, I expected nothing more.
Well as the day went on, I didn't think it could really get any better. I mean, I experienced watching Gonzalo Pineda train with the club for the first time, and shared some quality time with a topless Alan Hinton. A pretty good combo, am I right?
Well at about 5pm that evening, as I was getting ready for my rec league match, I received a direct message from an unexpected person. When I looked down at my phone, my immediate reaction was laughter, because I couldn't believe at what I saw on my screen. At some point during that day, somehow, and someway, Obafemi must have followed me, and decided to reach out. I was in shock. I walked over to my wife, and read his message out to her, as if I couldn't understand it myself. Over the next few minutes Oba and I discussed how I could go about getting my designs on his feet because he wanted ALL OF THEM. Yes, all of the designs. I then informed Oba that I would do my best to get the designs to the club so they could assist in the process, as I was not my own Nike production facility, and was in no way capable of sending the boots to him. The club has an equipment manger and he would be the guy to assist in the process. With that in mind I reached out to a member of the PR team for the club who was willing to help in passing on the designs to the equipment manager. I informed Oba of this and left it at that. I alerted Oba to the fact that per Nike's site, the processing time would be approximately 36 days for all custom orders, which would have put the expected delivery around 12 March if they were ordered that weekend.
To be honest, I never expected Oba to actually order them, I was simply on cloud 9 for the simple fact that he really liked them. Then, Thursday's training happened. I wrote about it here.
So the morning of Match Day I told my wife that Oba may just in fact be wearing a pair of Vapors that I had designed for him. I was on the edge of my set as the procession began, hoping the camera would pan low enough to get a glimpse of what was on his feet. Throughout the match I couldn't get a great view, but thanks to @chiprogers on twitter, I was able to get the confirmation I wanted. Yes, they were the design.
From the photo you can see that Oba did in fact get a customized pair of Mercurial Vapor IXs, all blacked out with the leopard print and orange numbering and lettering. Compared to my design below, the only adjustment Oba made was the color of the "9 Oba."
The point of this post more than anything is to tell a small story about how a fan can take a chance and reach out to a player they admire, and for that player to reach back. I fully acknowledge the fact that anyone can design a boot using an available program, and there is nothing trademarked about it, etc. To me, it was more about how out of this world this whole thing has been. What started out as a great day, that 7th of February, it has really now transformed in to an amazing season, and its only March. Also, I was never a huge fan of Twitter in the past but I cannot ignore the fact that it has put me in contact with people, players, and personalities (I'm talking about you Ray Hudson) that I adore. So, a massive thanks Oba for giving it a go, and I hope that the boots equal more OBAFLIPS and brilliant assists like we saw today.