Rip Hamilton has cemented his rightful spot in the annals of Detroit sports history. During his tenure in the Motor City from 2002 to 2011, he was a three-time NBA All-Star who helped the Pistons hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2005 and compete in another Finals the following year. And who could forget his signature face mask that he wore like a piece of battle armor long after a face injury had healed? It wasn’t just the mask though. Rip’s on-court footwear rotation was also always on point, thanks to his status as a Team Jordan member, and consisted of numerous player exclusive colorways of Air Jordan models like the 2, 5, 12, and beyond.
Given his fan-favorite status in Detroit and his impressive sneaker résumé, it’s no surprise that Hamilton was tapped by eBay to help open up their Hard to Find Gift Shop on Michigan Avenue this past weekend. The two-day pop-up experience was meant to give local shoppers an easier go at purchasing coveted and limited sneakers this holiday season. Popular models like Air Jordan 1s, Nike Dunks, and Adidas Yeezys were all up for grabs. More rare releases such as “Freddy Krueger” Nike SB Dunk Lows or Kanye West Bapestas were also on the shelves for sale. There was even a display of all 50 Off-White x Nike Dunk Lows. The curation was aided by sneaker store Urban Necessities founder Jaysse Lopez.
“I think with all the supply chain disruptions we are having in the holiday season, it’s just getting tougher and tougher for people to find the gifts that they want to give” says eBay GM of sneakers Garry Thaniel. Future pop-ups are also set for Houston and Miami in December. Thaniel hints at these holiday season activations being the beginning of many more community-building experiences that eBay will roll out around the country in the coming months. “We wanted to do the Hard to Find Gift Shop to give people an opportunity to find these really rare and unique gifts.”
Both Lopez and Hamilton were in attendance for the grand opening of the shop on Nov. 19. Hamilton, a veteran in the sneaker game, says it was the perfect initiative to align himself with in the city. After all, sneakers are atop many young kids’ wishlists during the holidays these days. He acknowledges that he isn’t surprised that sneakers have become as big of a commodity with increasingly younger crowds as they have, though.
“As kids, everything was about what you had on your feet, right,” says Hamilton. “I just think that the access is way different than ever before. You know, all the secondhand sites, the consignment market, and people making a business out of it more than anything else. But I like it. I enjoy it.”
We got a chance to catch up with Hamilton over Zoom while he was at eBay’s Hard to Find Sneaker Shop in Detroit on Friday afternoon. The Pistons legend discussed scouring eBay to find his grail sneakers, told us which one of his Air Jordan PEs he would want to see release, his opinion on whether the 2004-2005 Pistons could stack up against today’s NBA, and more.