A Look Back: Nike Basketball Holiday ’96

A Look Back: Nike Basketball Holiday ’96

Happy Holidays! It’s the most wonderful time of the year – when kids and adults start making their wish lists for all the sneakers and gear they love. I remember wanting A LOT of the sneakers and apparel just in the Nike Basketball section alone back in December of 1996. It was a different era back then – when you waited every day for the Eastbay catalog to arrive in the mail. Then when you opened it, you literally saw all the new sneaker models for the first time. It was overwhelming to say the least!

I still have two of the original Eastbay Holiday ‘96 catalogs – one with a cover displaying a Christmas tree with stars like John Elway and Shawn Kemp displayed as ornaments, and another cover with a cartoon of a basketball-playing elf that forgot his shoes. Fortunately, Eastbay came to the rescue!

Every Eastbay catalog had an introduction paragraph from founders Art Juedes and Richard Gering with a little inspirational message. “Make two wish lists this holiday season. On the first, list the athletic accomplishments you plan on achieving in your present sport and during the new year. On the second, include the finest shoes, clothing and equipment from Eastbay necessary to help you achieve these goals,” wrote Juedes and Gering.

It was cool to see the founders of the company still so involved with the catalog publications. It felt like a mom and pop shop that had everything you could ever imagine. With that in mind, here’s a look back at the Nike Basketball pages from 25 years ago.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Nike Air More Uptempo basketball shoe

Air More Uptempo

A sneaker that is still as popular as it was 25 years ago, the Air More Uptempo continues to retro every year in both OG and new colorways. For the holidays in 1996, Nike released a black/white/chili red colorway that has yet to ever see a retro. Designed by Wilson Smith, the More Uptempo was a revolutionary sneaker in terms of design and technology. It was one of the first basketball sneakers to feature visible Air throughout the shoe. Scottie Pippen made the shoe famous when he rocked the black/white colorway in the ‘96 Playoffs. Unfortunately, he never wore this particular colorway on the court.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Nike Air Much Uptempo Basketball Shoe

Air Much Uptempo

The “takedown” version of the Air More Uptempo, the Much Uptempo featured virtually the same design but with a different sole. For Holiday ‘96, Nike dropped a sleek white/black colorway for men, along with a white/navy/royal and white/obsidian colorway for the ladies. Sadly, the Much Uptempo has yet to retro.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Nike Air Penny Mid, Air Money Lo and Air CB 34 Mid

Air CB 34

Also designed by Wilson Smith, the Air CB 34 was made for Suns superstar Charles Barkley. After being traded by the Sixers to the Suns in 1992, Barkley started rocking a ton of Nike heat. He became so popular, he earned his own sneaker line. Like the Air More Uptempo, the CB 34 also featured visible Air throughout the sole. The CB 34 last retro’d in 2016.

Air Money Lo

The Air Money was a wild design, even by ‘90s Nike basketball sneaker standards. With a fascinating lacing system and shroud covering with the large NIKE AIR lettering covering the top of the sneaker, the Money was a bold sneaker in many ways. It was actually worn by players like Reggie Miller and Eddie Jones in the NBA, so clearly it was meant for serious hooping. The Money also featured the same exact sole as the Much Uptempo. Interestingly, the Money came back in 2018, but with the More Uptempo sole instead.

Air Penny 2

Nike was cranking out one epic sneaker after another for their newest star, Penny Hardaway. The Air Penny 1 was nice, and the Air Zoom Flight was amazing as well. Then, Nike released the Air Penny 2. Incredibly, this shoe was $5 more than the Air Jordan 12; that’s how popular Penny Hardaway was back in the day. And, it’s safe to say that the $139.99 price tag was worth it. Featuring a forefoot Zoom-Air unit and a massive Air Max visible heel unit, the Air Penny 2 was packed with cushioning along with its breathtaking design. Also note the outsole shown in the catalogs was all white, whereas the actual sneaker that dropped had blue on the bottom.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Nike  Air Zoom Flight, Air Flight Mid, Air Jordan XXII Basketball Shoes

Air Zoom Flight

Arguably Nike’s most responsive sneaker at the time – the Air Zoom Flight (now known as the Air Zoom Flight 96) featured Tensile-Air, aka Zoom Air, in the forefoot. It also had a large-volume heel Air Sole unit. The Zoom Flight had incredible cushioning, plus it had a TPU midfoot stability plate that helped propel your foot off the ground. Magic star Penny Hardaway wore the white/navy/gold colorway when he played for the Team USA basketball team in the ‘96 Olympics.

Air Flight Mid

The Air Flight Mid was a takedown version of the Air Zoom Flight. It was not nearly as comfortable as the Zoom Flight, but still looked cool. The Flight Mid featured Nike Air in the heel, but lacked the Tensile-Air in the forefoot. It still had the shank plate to enhance stability, and also had full-grain leather with a “super skin” reinforced rand. Most notably, Kings guard Mitch Richmond rocked the Air Flight Mid when he was on Team USA.

Air Jordan 12

One of the most breathtaking designs ever – the Air Jordan XII was the best for the best – Michael Jordan. Featuring full-length Air and a reinforced carbon fiber plate, the Air Jordan 12 was one of the sleekest, most stylish basketball sneakers ever seen on the basketball court. To go along with the sneaker was the iconic Nike Phone Ad plus the “Frozen Moment” commercial where MJ takes on the LA Lakers. Now known as the “Taxi” colorway, OG sneakerheads typically refer to this model as just the “White/Black” AJ12.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Nike Air Adjust and Air Modify Force Basketball Shoes

Air Adjust and Air Modify Force

Yet another revolutionary model for Nike – the Air Adjust and Air Modify Force sneakers came with a pair of FitWrap straps that you could put on the shoes. There were also 11 different team colors available, so you could all match your jerseys and your shoes. Color coordination was very important in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, so these straps were everything for high school and college teams. The Air Adjust and Air Modify have never retro’d, however designer Yoon of AMBUSH has teased a potential retro on her social media recently.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Nike Basketball Apparel

Apparel

It’s definitely worth highlighting all the Nike basketball apparel available that holiday season, including Nike Jumpman practice tanks, tees, sweatshirts and warm-ups. The main color schemes were black, red, white and taxi, which matched the Air Jordan 12 perfectly. Also of note were some very stylish Durasheen shorts and tees. Durasheen would be Nike’s go-to mesh material for a solid 5 years. There was something about that shimmery shine that everyone loved.

Drew Hammell A Look Back

Drew is the creator of @nikestories on Instagram. Growing up in the ’90s, Drew loved playing soccer, basketball, tennis, and even dabbled in cross country running. He ended up focusing on tennis in high school and helped lead his team to multiple state titles. His favorite athletes growing up include Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Andre Agassi, and Ken Griffey, Jr. He was smart enough to save all his old Eastbay catalogs from the ’90s and loves sharing them with the sneaker community. Follow him at @nikestories or read more of his work here.

A Look Back: June 1996

A Look Back: June 1996

If you were a kid growing up in the ‘90s, the Eastbay June ‘96 catalog captured the magic of those long summer days perfectly.  

Remember when…We played from sunrise to sunset. Occasionally, someone would ask the score. No one knew. No one cared. Just friends who love the game,” read the caption on the front cover. 

This really was my childhood and how I spent my summer in 1996. I had just wrapped up the 8th grade, and literally played sports all day into the evening everyday without a care in the world. I had two, maybe three pairs of shorts. I had one pair of sneakers. I had no cell phone. It didn’t matter.  

Aside from no one owning a cell phone, the World Wide Web was also in its infancy. At least half the country didn’t even have a modem yet. Michael Jordan and the Bulls were on their way back to the NBA Finals vs the Seattle Supersonics, and we were all buzzing about the summer Olympics kicking off in Atlanta in a few weeks.  

It’s safe to say that June 1996 was the start of one of the most epic summers of all time. Here’s a look back at some of the footwear we were rocking back then.

Basketball

A Look Back Eastbay Catalog June 1996 Basketball
A Look Back Eastbay Catalog June 1996 Basketball 2

With the Bulls and Sonics facing off in the NBA Finals, everyone was talking about Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. On these pages you can see some of the gear they rocked, including Pippen’s Air More Uptempo and Rodman’s Air Shake Ndestrukt. Dennis Rodman was so influential, he even had another shoe called the Air Worm Ndestrukt. Plus, the Air Rattle Ndestrukt and Air Roll Ndestrukt dropped as well. Charles Barkley’s Air CB 34 dropped in a new black/purple colorway, and Jason Kidd’s Air Zoom Flight was available in a white/royal/emerald color. Many consider this the peak of ‘90s basketball because there were so many revolutionary models to choose from.

Shop eastbay.com for today’s top Nike Basketball Shoes.

Running

Look Back Eastbay Catalog June 1996 Running Shoes

The Air Max 96 and Triax were big that summer. If the Triax looks familiar, it’s because Nike just brought them back last year in the classic white/royal and the USA edition colorways. I remember a lot of moms and dads were rocking the Air Structure Triax and Air Windrunner back in the day too. Plus, Nike was debuting some really dope Team USA apparel for the Olympics in Atlanta. Featuring hats, tees and shorts, the USA Track & Field gear from that summer Olympics is highly coveted today by vintage collectors.

Shop the lnewest Nike Running Shoes & Apparel at eastbay.com.

Trainers

Look Back Eastbay Catalog June 1996 Training Shoes

So many trainers to choose from! Nike cross trainers were clutch because you could play multiple sports in them. The Air Slant, Air Vapor and Air Barrage were designed for football, and the Air Diamond Fury 2 and Air Griffey Max were for baseball. Plus, Nike dropped the all-new Air Muscle Max – the most cushioning ever in a cross trainer. All these models could be used for other sports like outdoor basketball as well.

Shop eastbay.com. for today’s top Nike Training Gear.

Tennis

Look Back Eastbay Catalog June 1996 Tennis

Andre Agassi’s Air Alarm was a big hit, as he won the gold medal for team USA in the Olympics rocking them. The Sonics’ Gary Payton also rocked the Alarm for a few games in the NBA. Plus everyone loved the durability of the Air Resistance II+, which was worn by Jim Courier as well as dads at every country club around the globe. Even Reebok and Adidas had some cool silhouettes like the Vindicator and Integral Lo.

Hiking

Look Back Eastbay Catalog June 1996 Hiking Shoes
Drew Hammell A Look Back

Drew is the creator of @nikestories on Instagram. Growing up in the ’90s, Drew loved playing soccer, basketball, tennis, and even dabbled in cross country running. He ended up focusing on tennis in high school and helped lead his team to multiple state titles. His favorite athletes growing up include Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Andre Agassi, and Ken Griffey, Jr. He was smart enough to save all his old Eastbay catalogs from the ’90s and loves sharing them with the sneaker community. Follow him at @nikestories

Introducing The Dame 4 ‘Glow in the Park’

Introducing The Dame 4 ‘Glow in the Park’

The newest Dame 4 colorway is an eye-catching shoe that was grabbing plenty of attention well before it even released. The ‘Glow in the Park’ colorway went viral when Lil Wayne was spotted wearing the shoes courtside at one of Damian Lillard’s games earlier this month.

The ‘Glow in the Park’ colorway takes inspiration from Dame’s memories and love for skate culture. Along with music and basketball, skating became a passion of Lillard’s during his childhood in Oakland. He would skate at his grandmother’s house and spent weekend nights at the local skating rink with his friends.

The shoe embraces iconic elements of skate culture that are found in skating rinks with a glow-in-the-dark outsole, and dark gray upper that features burgundy and neon blue accents. As someone who spends so much time working on their game, Lillard said he likes to pursue his other interests, like skating and rapping, to keep his life balanced.

The Kicks Of The Finals

The Kicks Of The Finals

Golden State and Cleveland have been on a collision course all season long. The Trilogy is finally underway as the league’s two best teams and biggest stars battle it out in the championship for the third straight year.

With that in mind, we’re taking a look at the signature sneakers. Who wins the title remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt about these championship-caliber kicks.

Nike LeBron Soldier 11

Nike LeBron Soldier 11

King James has plenty of signature shoes to choose from, but the Soldier line has to be considered a favorite after last year’s championship performance. This year, the Nike LeBron Soldier 11 added a fourth strap for an even greater locked-in feel. At the same time, the Soldier 11 utilizes Zoom Air cushioning to provide the explosive abilities that LeBron has become so well known for.

LeBron has said he loves the lighter, faster, sleeker, and stronger feel he gets while wearing the Soldier line. The Soldier 11 is made with that in mind, providing the ultimate locked-down fit without sacrificing explosive abilities, making it perfect for LeBron’s quest for another championship. Read more about it here.

Nike KD X

Nike KD X

Kevin Durant is hunting for his first championship, and has a brand new shoe to do it in. The KD X offers a similar look to its predecessor, but has subtle upgrades that help refine the shoe and ultimately Durant’s game. The KD X utilizes the best Flyknit construction ever to be used on a basketball shoe, engineered specifically for flexibility, breathability, and support where Durant needs it most.

A full-length Zoom Air unit offers responsiveness that’s perfect for KD’s offensive attack and defensive prowess, while the oversized laces provide more lockdown and an original look. The shoe also marks Durant’s 10th anniversary with Nike – you can read more about that here. What better way to celebrate than with a new shoe and a championship ring?

Nike Kyrie 3

Nike Kyrie 3

Kyrie Irving’s late-game heroics helped end the city of Cleveland’s title drought. Now, Irving is back for another championship and to further establish his reputation as one of the game’s most clutch players. His Kyrie 3 sneakers are built with his fancy footwork and hot handles in mind. He needs solid lockdown, plenty of strength and support, and enough flexibility to utilize his entire offensive repertoire.

The Kyrie 3 is a guard’s dream. It’s made specifically for stop-and-go moves at a moment’s notice. The outsole curvature allows for seamless transitions in any direction, allowing Irving to move quicker, cut faster, and blow by defenders with ease. Who knows, maybe it’ll even help Irving hit another game-winner in crunch time.

Under Armour Curry 3Zer0

Under Armour Curry 3Zer0

The back-to-back MVP leads his team into battle, where Golden State looks to recapture the title that was taken from them last year. Curry can run the court like no other point guard, with one of the game’s deadliest shots, most dangerous handles, and passing abilities that are second-to-none.

The Curry 3Zer0 is built to withstand the intensity of the playoffs and all of the crucial moments that will arise. The streamlined sneaker offers the same ankle support, comfort, breathability, and cushioning as the Curry 3, but in a minimalized silhouette that is equipped for the season’s most important stage. It’s championship season, and the two-time MVP is looking to re-take the throne.

Kawhi Leonard Has A Challenge For You

Kawhi Leonard Has A Challenge For You

Once Kawhi Leonard steps onto the court, his laid-back personality fades away and the game’s most relentless defender emerges.

Nobody wants to see the two-time Defensive Player of the Year matching up against them. His lock-down defense gives even the game’s best scorers headaches, and his offensive repertoire rivals anyone’s.

The 25-year-old’s scoring average has improved each season. These days, he puts up 25 points a night while also being tasked with shutting down the opposing team’s best player.

His versatility is a scary thought for opponents, but the fact that he’s still getting better is even scarier. The sky is the limit for Kawhi Leonard, and his rise has only just begun.

Kawhi’s Challenge To You

Kawhi Leonard is finishing up one of the best two-way seasons in league history. The defensive stalwart is easily one of the best defenders in the league, and in recent years he has become the focal point of San Antonio’s offense.

In a game where offense is king, Kawhi Leonard is the rare superstar who works on his defensive abilities as much as his offensive abilities. The mentality to dominate both ends of the court stems from Leonard’s experience as a football player in his youth.