When you think of mega sneaker collections you immediately picture Jordans, SB Dunks, Air Force 1s or mountains of Air Max. Kentucky’s Dustin Bowers however has made it his life mission to acquire all things Allen Iverson! Boasting game-worn and signed kicks, player exclusive colourways and other one-off pieces, this AI arsenal is truly impressive. We caught up recently with the kid who spends more time searching for Questions than Alex Trebek!
How many pairs of Iverson sneakers do you own?
I have 110 Iverson shoes. I’ve had more over the years but they got too small. I only collect sizes 10-10.5 and sometimes 11. I have a few pair of Air Jordans and John Walls, but it’s mainly an Iverson thing.
Were you collecting the Iversons from the first time you saw the Questions?
I'm 21 so I was too young to really start collecting when the Questions came out in 1996, but I saw AI play in 1999. I was nine and I was amazed at how fast he was! The way he could just crossover anybody, even the greatest player ever – Jordan. The first AI shoes I fell in love with were the Answer 4s. I would go to Foot Locker every day just to look at them. I was only nine years old at the time, I had no money to buy them, but one day my Mom came home with a pair of the Answer 5s! She told me she found them, they were like new, but she didn't even know they were AI shoes. I thought to myself, ‘it’s meant to be!’ They were even my size! From that point on I would only buy Iversons. After the 5s I started collecting Iversons. I went back and got the shoes I needed. It took me forever to find the original Questions in my size and in good condition, but the Questions are one of my favorites. I had to have the OGs! My friend Larry who passed away in 2007 was a huge AI fan. He was buried with a Denver Iverson jersey.
Most people collect Jordans, Nikes etc. What is it about the Iversons that you like so much?
I always liked the look of the Iverson shoes; they just stood out to me. Iverson is my favorite player so whatever shoes Iverson was wearing, I’d want. Also, AI wears the same size I do now so I can wear his PEs if I want to. I also just wanted to be different; I didn’t want to wear what everyone else was wearing. I wanted to stand out.
How do you think Reebok’s Iverson range compares to Nike’s Jordans, Kobes and Lebrons?
I really like Jordans, but I think the Reebok Iverson line is right up there with Air Jordans. I'm not much of a fan of the Kobe or LeBron lines. I think the quality of the Reeboks is better than the Jordans too. Most of my Iversons are DS because I like keeping the collection new, but I hoop in the Iversons that I do wear, and they hold up real good. I just tried to play in a pair of the Jordan 7s from the countdown pack. They hurt my feet and bent up too fast. I’ve also tried out the Zigs... I mean, I’m from Kentucky, I’m a John Wall fan, and they’re Reeboks! I just copped two pairs of the new John Wall Encore 2 shoes. The first pair of the John Wall shoes looked good and were great to ball in.
You have a lot of signed sneakers and memorabilia in your collection, how did you get so much stuff signed?
AI's friend has an eBay account and sells a lot of rare AI stuff. The money goes to AI's charity, so I just bought whatever I could from him. It’s awesome because I’ve been able to talk with AI's best friend and get some rare game-worn stuff! Most of it he will sell in lots like a practice-worn pair of shoes with a shootaround shirt and sleeve etc. That's how I got my game-worn AI collection.
Have you ever met AI?
No I haven't yet, I hope I can one day. I went to a game when he played for the Denver Nuggets... they played LeBron and the Cavaliers. AI had 25 points and the Nuggets killed the Cavs by like 40. I was really happy about that. I also got to meet a lot of the Denver players and George Karl. I got some autographs, which was great, but I asked George Karl ‘where’s AI?’ He told me Iverson likes to sleep before games!
Are there particular Iversons you're still hunting for?
Any PE Iversons! I can’t get enough player exclusives. Some of the best colors are player exclusives, and they make up most of what Iverson wears on court. When I was younger I was always mad when I'd see Iverson playing in some cool color Answers but they weren't at the store. I didn’t know about PEs back then, but I do now! Haha.
Which is your favourite model?
It's kinda hard to pick a favorite... I like all the Iversons the same. The Answer 4s were the first shoe I fell in love with, that’s what started it all for me, so I guess it'd be the Answer 4s.
What are your thoughts on AI's career?
I feel that he had a great career, which would have been perfect if he had won a ring. People are too hard on AI though. He’s human, even though at times he seemed to be Superman. I hope he gets another chance in the NBA. I’d love to see him come back and play for the Boston Celtics and win it all. All I can do is hope it happens, but I’ll always be a huge fan of AI and he will always be my favorite player. Thanks for this chance to show my collection to the world!