It's funny. In the years I've been involved with kicks, I've been flown out to events many times by damn near every shoe company, seen many shoes well before their release dates. My favorite, by far, was getting a pair of the Penny Hardaway Nike Foamposite Ones a full six months before their release and absolutely blowing minds everywhere I went. At most of the events, I sign non-disclosure forms, promising not to tell anything about what I'm about to see until some arbitrary date, usually a month or two in the future. Understandable, as the company doesn't want the promise of some future shoe to affect sales of the product currently on the shelves.

The funny part is this—whatever I've been flown out to see is usually old news already. Either drawings or photos have already been posted on the Net, or samples are already available on eBay or elsewhere. Right now, if you wanted to find photos of the Air Jordan XXII, it would take mere seconds on the search engine of your choice to pull them up. They won't be "officially" unveiled for a while, but, as usual, that will just be a formality.

It's frustrating, both for the sneaker company trying to keep their newest product under wraps, and for us magazine types who have to wait to show a shoe that's already up all over the internet. In the days of messageboards and Sidekick cameras, it's pretty much impossible to get a scoop in print.

And there doesn't seem to be an answer. Companies limit samples, laser-engrave numbers into them, keep track of who gets each and every pair, but somehow they still get out. They don't let the shoe out of their offices, and the photos show up anyway—either taken by an overeager employee or a sneaky visitor. So the next shoe I get to see "first," will have probably been on the 'net for months. Or at least weeks. Happened with the LeBron IV.

We'll see what happens next.