Sneaker Grails: Nike Air Force 1 Low Finish Your Breakfast Pays Homage To A Streetball Legend
By Juan Martinez - Mar 7, 2016
‘My homey Strick told me, “Dude, finish your breakfast”‘ – Jay Z from “Public Service Announcement”
Today is National Cereal Day. For today’s Sneaker Grails we’re going to talk about a Nike Air Force 1 Low drop from a few years back that references breakfast and the life lessons it can teach. Because Jay and Strick said so.
“Public Service Announcement” is a song off Jay Z’s classic – and arguably best work – The Black Album. Marketed as the final Jay Z album, Hov knew he had to finish strong and he delivered with songs like “99 Problems”, “Encore”, “Lucifer”, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and much more. It was an event not unlike what Jay and his wife Beyonce and his buddy Kanye West do nowadays for their new albums (or Yeezy Seasons), but with way more lead time and advertisement to get the fans itching with anticipation.
The “Strick” that Jay talks about in the song is John Strickland, a New York City Streetball legend and friend of Jay’s who passed away in his sleep at the too early age of 38. Nicknamed “The Franchise”, Strickland was not your typical streetball star because he didn’t dazzle you with his fancy attire and deft ball-handling, although he could break that out too when it mattered. Rather he destroyed anybody who dared try him in the post. While dominating the NYC scene for two decades, he also played in the CBA and the PBL, taking him to places like Halifax, where he earned quite the following there as well.
“Finish Your Breakfast” is a line that Strickland liked to use to emphasize finishing strong. Whenever you had an easy shot or a lay-up or a dunk, Strick would say that so that you wouldn’t take those points for granted. It stuck with Jay and according to his book Decoded, since The Black Album was supposed to be his final album, it had to be a sure thing like a lay-up. While everybody agrees that “Finish Your Breakfast” is Strick’s most famous catchphrase, the line in the song has been disputed for years, with some saying Jay said it to Strick during a 2003 game or that Strick said to someone who botched an alley-oop. Like most arguments about sneakers, it doesn’t actually matter; Strick’s message is what resonates. Finish strong or don’t even bother.
In 2011, Nike Sporstwear honored Strick’s legacy with a special white version of the Nike Air Force 1 Low. From afar or to the untrained eye, it looks like your run of the mill AF1 Low, but a closer inspection reveals that the swoosh did right by Strick. Premium leather construction, Strick’s “Franchise” nickname embossed on the heel and of course, the line “Finish Your Breakfast” can be found on the tongue tag. It’s a fitting tribute to a man who gave us so much. While I will admit to not knowing much about Strick during his time here on Earth, I could feel the love from the people who knew him in doing research for this piece. RIP, Strick…