First, some background. In 2011, the following video hit the internet.
In it, Instagram user Brandon Moore confronts a police officer and loudly asks, “What are those?” before panning to his black shoes. The implication is that the shoes are unkempt, ugly, and/or off-brand.
Internet meme-makers got to work, producing a video remix and a series of parodies. “What Are Those” entered the meme hall of fame.
It’s okay. We don’t get it either.
And apparently, neither does Michael Jordan. Jordan was taken unawares during a visit to his youth basketball camp, Michael Jordan Flight School.
One of the kids attending the camp was given the opportunity to ask Jordan a question. Instead of fanboying or otherwise professing his undying love for the basketball icon, the kid took a page out of the book of Internet bravado.
He pointed to Jordan’s shoes and said, “WHAT ARE THOOOOOSE?” and the crowd, being full of young people with an endless knowledge of Internet culture, burst out laughing.
Jordan was understandably confused, but once someone kindly explained it to him, he was hip enough to make this rebuttal.
"Hey, look man, I'm lost on that Vine stuff. What are those? These are XX9 Lows."
I.e. “I have a line of shoes that’s going to make me billions. Do you have a line of shoes that’s going to make you billions?”
But, you know, nicer.