words // Nick Engvall
With Reebok teaming up with music producer and recording artist Swizz Beats on the upcoming Reebok Kamikaze 2011, there has been a lot of talk amongst the sneaker community about what the greatest Reebok Basketball designs are. In most cases, it’s easy for me to say that the era of the late eighties to early-nineties is my favorite time period for sneakers in both design and in the very competitive nature of the marketing behind sneakers. Reebok definitely had some of the most memorable marketing of this era with the “Pump Up and Air Out” campaigns. The competitiveness was the necessary push for all companies to be better during that time period and many unforgettable styles that are still favorites for sneakerheads today came from that cut-throat competitiveness.
As much as I love some of the styles Reebok created during this era and slightly thereafter with the Original Kamikaze and Kamikaze II, I’d argue that Reebok’s greatest creations came with the arrival of Allen Iverson to the NBA. From his Reebok Question, which has remained a popular model amongst sneaker collectors and collaborators since its beginnings in 1996. Even in this week’s Eastbay Memory Lane, the Question was still going strong, and released in a white colorway with icey blue outsole that could have been one of its best colorways. Iverson’s Answer signature line was also in its strongest phase during the late nineties with the first five models, including the third seen in this catalog, basically the best AI ever wore on court, and the best commercials he ever had thanks to Jadakiss.
This era wasn’t just about Allen Iverson though. In 1998 Reebok still had Shawn Kemp, who wore the DMX 6, with its “transfer pod system” was the ultimate in heel cushioning according to Reebok, which was a much needed feature for the weight-challenges Kemp faced while a Cleveland Cavalier. Reebok had also signed athletes like Yolanda Griffith, who helped launch the WNBA in its early years. One of the most memorable of the Reebok designs to me from that late nineties era was one that was seen on the pages of Eastbay in a number of colorways, the Reebok Shroud with its zippered spandex covering the laces was surprisingly lightweight compared to other models of the time thanks to use of 3D Ultralite technology that still makes its way into a lot of Reebok designs.
Would you consider the late nineties Reebok Basketball’s best era?