The original Ebay-inspired colorway of the Nike SB Dunk, a rainbow of patent leather from 2003 with a Nike logo on the heel made to look like Ebay’s, is one of those sneakers so rare that it barely exists. The sample pair was sawed into pieces to preserve its rarity. The one set that Nike did actually sell, during the Action Sports Retailer trade show in California in 2003, was available exclusively via charity auction and fetched over $30,000. Its owner was unknown to the public then, and seldom flaunted the sneaker in the decades after he acquired it.
The shoe will be less mythical this month with the arrival of a retro version that draws on the 2003 pair’s history. The new Nike SB Dunk dressed in Ebay’s color scheme is a Humpty Dumpty update, made to look like the sawed-apart shoe was put back together again. There are clear sections holding it together, which render it one of the weirdest designs in the deep catalog of Dunks from SB, the skateboarding division at Nike.
The 2022 SB Dunk was made to honor the story of the original charity shoe while also preserving its sanctity. You can participate, but you can’t quite own the true original.
For Hunter Muraira, who started at Nike SB in 2003 and now works on Ebay’s sneaker business, the value around exclusivity is shared between collectible sneakers and skateboarding. He operated at that juncture during his 14 years working on Nike SB.
“There’s this idea that not everybody can get it, or not everybody should get it,” says Muraira, who left Nike in 2021 after spending the last years of his tenure at Jordan Brand.
The Dunks will be released first on Dec. 7 via Ebay, which will hold charity auctions for 10 limited edition box sets that include the new pair, a tribute pair featuring one whole shoe and one pre-cut shoe, and a commemorative saw. (Full disclosure: Ebay spends money on advertising at Complex and sponsors the Complex Sneakers Podcast, a show I co-host.) The co-branded boxes are skateable, like a box in a skate park. After Ebay’s auctions, the shoes will be released at Nike SB retailers on Dec. 15 and via the SNKRS app on Dec. 17 for $130.
The sneaker’s tribute to the history of SB is twofold. The project celebrates Nike SB and also Sandy Bodecker, the late founder of Nike’s skateboarding division whose initials are embedded in its name.
Bodecker started at Nike in 1979 as a footwear tester and ascended through its ranks, eventually helping the brand establish itself in skateboarding in the 2000s. He was the brilliant gonzo leader for the group of misfits that made up Nike SB. For many who worked on the team, it was more like a family than a group of employees, with Bodecker the eccentric father leading their way with his middle fingers up. He died in October of 2018 after a long battle with throat cancer. Bodecker was 65.
When Nike SB auctioned the first Ebay Dunk in 2003 to raise money for the Tim Brauch Foundation and skateparks in Portland, Oregon, Bodecker was the one quietly driving the price up. He won the auction and kept the shoes—one whole pair and the cut-up pair—tucked away in his office at Nike’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
Bodecker’s space at Nike HQ was crammed with trinkets, mementos, and art pieces accrued from his decades in the industry. For years the shoes stayed right there; his ownership of the rare SB Dunk wasn’t public knowledge.
“That was a hard secret to keep,” says Muraira, who would see them on display during late nights spent strategizing with Bodecker.
The SB founder made himself known as the winner of the original Ebay Dunk auction on a few separate occasions. In 2013, when he moved on from SB to become Nike’s VP of special projects, he showed up to the send-off celebration donning the 2003 pair.
“Sandy just came through in some crazy turquoise tight pants, all the bracelets that he runs, with the bleach blonde hair, and then, boom, he let everybody know,” Muraira remembers.
He let everybody know again in 2018, when he posted a photo of the full, uncut shoes on his Instagram. In the comments section of his post, Bodecker finally revealed himself as the winner of the Ebay Dunk from 2003.
“I’m the dude that paid the auction money, it went to the Tim B memorial fund,” Bodecker wrote.
The Ebay Dunks that Bodecker won, designed by John Martin in a color scheme matching the logo of the online auction site, feature details unique to him. There is a special insole graphic, a “one of one” mark on the outsole’s pivot point, and the shoes came in Bodecker’s size, 8.5.
Nike SB has never confirmed the existence of any other pairs, and the couple others in the wild are of uncertain origin. Boisterous sneaker collector Ben Baller once posted a pair; Cam’ron wore a pair in 2004 that was extremely dubious.
In re-creating the shoe for public consumption for the first time ever, Nike SB wanted to ensure that the ones Bodecker owned, which are now in the possession of his namesake foundation, remain for him alone.
“We don’t want anybody to have that,” Muraira says. “That’s Sandy’s shoe.”
The new version of the Ebay Dunk has been two years in the making. Its contributors include Steve Pelletier, a longtime SB designer who left Nike in 2021, and James Arizumi, another tenured SB team member who now heads up special projects at Jordan Brand. The project brief originally called for a take on the “What the Dunk” SB, but the team designing the shoe decided instead to use the Ebay colorway for inspiration.
The new Ebay Dunk is purposefully bizarre, a kind of in-joke design, not unlike the “What the Dunk” mashup. With its see-through sections and chopped look, the shoe is wild and unconventional, a fitting tribute for Bodecker. It was originally intended as a commemorative birthday sneaker set for release around his birthday in March 2021, and then in March of this year to also align with Nike SB’s 20th anniversary, but isn’t landing until this month. The SB hit on the heel and #NIKESBFOREVER on the tongue are intended to honor Sandy Bodecker more than situate the shoe in Nike’s skateboarding line.
The Dunk is distinct from the original in that this time, Ebay is officially involved. The ones bought by Bodecker in 2003 only referenced the auction site in the wink-and-nod way many early SB projects alluded to cultural touch points—some of them getting Nike legal threats for doing so. This time, SB presented Ebay with the design and got the sign-off from them, much to the delight of Nike’s legal team.
It’s a project that’s felt overdue for Garry Thaniel, who manages Ebay’s sneakers and streetwear business. Before Nike ever decided to bring the shoe back, he would use the brand’s custom platform to whip up designs using the same color palette as the first Ebay Dunk. He also kept an image of the legendary Ebay Dunk handy to remind people of the online auction house’s history in the resale market.
“I was like, at some point they’re going to anniversary this thing,” Thaniel says.
When Nike first showed him the design of the retro, it was ready to go. From there, Ebay partnered with them on a rollout that includes this week’s charity auctions, the proceeds from which will go to the Bodecker Foundation in Portland.
“We’ve been speaking with Nike for the better part of this year, just really wanting to be a part of it in any way that Ebay can,” Thaniel says.
In addition to the auctions, Ebay and Nike are opening a “Skate ‘Em Out” store at the Bodecker Foundation space in Portland, where shoppers can buy recent coveted Nike SB Dunks at the model’s 2003 retail price of $65—as long as they’re willing to lace the sneakers up and skate them out of the store. The skate-centric distro plan is a play on how shops have sometimes launched their SB stock, swerving around resellers by forcing buyers to actually put the shoes on their feet.
Muraira, who was crucial in making the Dunk a reality after transitioning to a gig on Ebay’s sneakers team in his post-Nike career, is not shy about the extent to which SB Dunks have been lifeblood for resellers. They’ve even been used as cash injections for SB-affiliated skateboarders, whom he would seed with coveted pairs when he was the manager of the SB team.
“I would send boxes of Supreme Highs, with the stars on them,” Muraira says, “and then I would immediately look at Ebay the day after they arrived to see, alright, which skater posted them.”
Whether he’d call those skaters out for flipping the promo gear was evaluated on a case-by-case basis, he says.
If he let the infractions slide, one could chalk it up to the spirit of SB, a unit that was meant to work differently than the rest of Nike and could hence bend rules a bit more. This place was built by Bodecker, his office the home where after-hours conversations forged some of the most important Nikes of the last few decades. The environment cultivated a relationship among SB employees that made them more than that—and the Ebay shoe shows it.
On its sock liners, tucked on the insides of the new shoe, are crops from two photos. One shows the designer Arizumi stunting in Bodecker’s office in 2012 with the original cut-up Dunk on his feet. The other shows Bodecker cradling Arizumi’s infant son Alika in his hyperbolic Popeye bicep. For the people behind it, for those who can catch in the patent leather upper’s sheen a glimmer of the original’s sneaker’s journey, the Ebay SB Dunk is a family affair.