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: 10 Nike Air Max Running Shoes You Probably Forgot About

A Look Back: 10 Nike Air Max Running Shoes You Probably Forgot About

Happy Air Max Month! A time when we look forward to fresh new releases from Nike and reminisce about the great Air Max running sneakers from years past. Personally, I love flipping through my old Eastbay catalogs to look for models most of us have forgotten about. The ‘90s and early 2000s were chock full of breathtaking new designs and colorways. There were so many great sneakers dropping, a lot were overlooked as the years passed by. I asked some friends what they thought of some of these models, and it’s clear I’m not the only one who would love to see some of these gems come back. Here’s a list of 10 you probably haven’t seen in a while. None have ever retroed, but hopefully we can change that over the next few years.

Drew Hammell A Look Back Nike Air Max 2002

10. Air Max 2002

As time goes by, I find the Air Max 2002 more and more intriguing. Though the upper was nothing all that special, that Tubular Air sole was very different.  The Air Max 2002 was definitely polarizing, however.

“I’d love to see Tubular Air return somehow even if it’s just as a one-off. To me, it symbolizes a time where experimentation was at an all-time boom and Nike was pumping out some incredible looking models. The quality was there and most importantly, the care was there too.” – @airmaxarchives

“These were horrible then and horrible now lol The tubular Air was funky/cool, but those uppers always killed it for me. That entire early 2000s Air Max era was kind of rudderless in my opinion. I think many ignored that era, it’s funny but there are very scarce DS examples of sneakers from that era.” – Complex Associate Creative Director @kevonmylevel

Drew Hammell A Look Back Nike Air Max Slip On

9. Air Max Plus Slip On (2002)

I don’t know why Nike hasn’t brought the Air Max Plus Slip On back yet, but it seems like a no-brainer to me.

“Slip-on TNs would go crazy. Those Stussy/Kukini/Spiridon hybrids ended up being one of my most worn pairs last year. It’s so good to have a slip-on with real cushioning/tech in the rotation.” – collector @jackzurier

I couldn’t agree more, especially since the Air Max Plus continues to be a sneakerhead favorite.

Drew Hammell A Look Back Nike Air Max 2001

8. Air Max 2001

After switching to a Tuned Max sole for the Air Max 2000, Nike reverted back to the traditional dual-pressure, full-length Air-Sole unit for the AM 2001. The Air Max 2001 is definitely not one of the more memorable Air Max models. I completely ignored this shoe when it released, as I wasn’t really feeling the design. Seeing OG pairs 20 years later makes me wish Nike would have brought them back for their anniversary, though. The white/orange/silver pair would definitely stand out today. Maybe we’ll see them in 2026 for the 25th anniversary.

Drew Hammell A Look Back Nike Air Max 2000

7. Air Max 2000

Talk about pressure. It’s 1999. Nike’s been crushing it with Air Max running designs for over a decade. Everyone is waiting with anticipation to see what they’ll come up with for the 2000th year of the Common Era and they drop….this? The Air Max 2000 was another underwhelming design with zero new breakthroughs. The only interesting feature was the fact they swapped out the Air Max sole for a Tuned Max one. As with all these models, I kind of like it now and would be intrigued to see how it would do in today’s market.

Drew Hammell A Look Back Nike Air Max 98 TL

6. Air Max 98 TL

Whenever I post these on Instagram, they are by far the most beloved. This was my first pair of running shoes back in high school, and I was obsessed with them. So much so, I wore them to gym class and ended up severely spraining my ankle while playing basketball in them. Never play basketball in Air Max sneakers.

“The Air Max 98 TL has always been one of my absolute favorites. The colorways were bright, the Air unit was massive, and the mini swoosh always caught my eye. They always stood out to me at that time as the most comfortable pair of Air Max I had/that was out. Even the insoles were different and gave additional cushioning. I think these were overlooked at that time, making them a nice change from a lot of the more mainstream pairs. Need to push that pair, and we can’t settle for AM97 soles lol.”@lemon_diesel

Drew Hammell Look Back Nike Air Max TL 99

5. Air Max 98 TL (1999)

This sneaker is near and dear to my heart, as well, because I also owned this one. Nike pumped out three different Air Max models in 1998, and to make it super confusing, they all had the same name: the Nike Air Max. This particular model released at the end of ‘98 and during the first half of ‘99, but it is still known as the Air Max 98 TL (or Total Length). I wore this sneaker to school and during my shifts at Foot Locker back during my senior year of high school. I beat them into the ground, and I’m kicking myself for throwing them out years ago.

Drew Hammell A Look Back Air Max Tuned Precision

4. Air Tuned Precision (1999)

The Air Tuned Precision was the ladies’ version of the Air Tuned Max, which dropped in 1999. While we are definitely excited to see the return of the Air Tuned Max this year, it would be cool to see the Precision return as well. 

“The Air Tuned Max is my favorite Air Max running model from the Alpha Project Era. Everyone is excited for the celery colorway, but I’m hoping for a retro of the firefly/storm grey colorway. Not to mention the shoe had one of the most controversial/memorable print ads of all time. The shoe is just criminally underrated, which speaks to the Alpha Project era in general.”@nikealphaproject

Drew Hammell look Back Nike Air Max Light

3. Air Max Light III (1997)

A sneaker that was highlighted in both the men’s and women’s colorways on the iconic Nike phone ads, the Air Max Light ‘97 has a cult following and would certainly do well if retroed properly. I always thought it was cool that the Air Max Light featured Zoom Air in the forefoot and an Air Max sole in the heel. It also has a similar upper to another favorite of mine – the Air Zoom Pounce, which was worn by tennis star Andre Agassi. In my opinion, this is the coolest Air Max Light that ever dropped.

Drew Hammell Look Back Nike Air Max Tailwind II

2. Air Max Tailwind II (1997)

A nice, clean runner with plenty of cushioning and a solid follow-up to the ‘96 Tailwind. Unfortunately for this model, it dropped the same year as the super-iconic Air Max 97, so it easily got overlooked. In the current dad-shoe era, I feel like the Tailwind II would thrive – especially in that crispy white/citron/black colorway. There was also a great matching track suit that paired perfectly with this model.

Drew Hammell A Look Back Nike Air Max Tailwind

1. Air Max Tailwind (1996)

I really have no explanation as to why this Tailwind hasn’t come back yet. Nick, aka @ogorbust had a pair and loved them.

“They were technically my first ‘Air Max’ I got for track. Previous years were always the Pegasus or Icarus. I was really excited to see larger open Air units and would push on them quite a bit lol. (I got them when) they were a year-old model and colorway in blue/yellow hitting the sales rack, but I loved them nonetheless.”

Also of note is that there is an iconic photo of The Notorious B.I.G. rocking them. So if Nick and Biggie were wearing them, you know they were dope.

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

Q&A with Catalog Cover Artist, Destyni Swoope

Q&A with Catalog Cover Artist, Destyni Swoope

It’s 2020. You’d think by now we’d have flying cars, alien best friends, and gender equality, but before those dreams come true, science has more to discover, and we’ve got more to conqHER.

In the meantime, Eastbay continues making history of its own. For Women’s History Month, Destyni Swoope designed our March catalog cover, becoming the first external artist to do so. If you’re on our catalog mailing list, you’ll be able to see her cool art in person, but her inspiration and her story are equally amazing, so we decided to talk with her about Eastbay, her art, and women’s empowerment. Here’s what she had to say:

Destyni Swoope, artist, leans against a graffit wall.

Q: What was your experience with Eastbay growing up?

A: Growing up as a young athlete, I anticipated getting the Eastbay catalogs in the mail. It was like the sneaker bible! Back then, my brother and I would circle and star all the things we wanted and leave it out on the table in hopes that our mom would feel generous and buy us something. Haha! It was fun to see the gear that our favorite players wore and then be able to copy their swag. Eastbay catalogs have always been a huge part of the culture; I don’t know too many people who didn’t love flipping through them as a kid.

Q: You said you were a young athlete, what sports did you play growing up?

A: My love for basketball began when my older brother introduced it to me. We shared a room most of our younger years, so I naturally took after him and embraced hoop culture. I started playing with the kids on my block, and eventually my family signed me up at the rec center where I played through high school. I had coaches, but my father was the one who really pushed and supported my desire to play – we practiced and worked on my game constantly. When I got older, he even took me to the gym to play games of 21 with grown men on the courts to really put me to the test. That’s where my drive and love for basketball flourished.

Q: So, as a former youth athlete to now being an artist, what life advice would you give to young Eastbay athletes?

A: I’d say, always let the passion you have for your craft lead the way. Be open to learning experiences and remain a student of the game, because, outside of the game, you’re a student of life. The fundamentals and skills you learn in your craft follow you into life. Embrace your inner beast and constantly reach for perfection. A great high school coach of mine drilled this into my head saying, “MTXE,” which stands for “Mental Toughness, Extra Effort.” I found that this follows me outside of athletics in my journey as an artist. I strive to always reach higher and put my all into each opportunity.

A Look Back: June 2003

A Look Back: June 2003

By Drew Hammell

Summer 2003: Beyoncé, Lil Jon, Lumidee, and 50 Cent were heating up the music charts, while The Matrix Reloaded, Bruce Almighty, and Finding Nemo were hits at the Box Office. The era of baggy/bootcut jeans was coming to an end, with the skinny jeans trend on the horizon. Meanwhile, on the sneaker scene, Nike and Jordan Brand were sizzling with a ton of hot summer releases. There were plenty of brand new models, along with some classic retros. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights from fifteen years ago.

Air Jordan 18 1

Back in April of ’03, Michael Jordan wrapped up his final season in the NBA by playing in all 82 games as a 40-year-old. He would wear several different Jordan models that season, including the Air Jordan 18 Mid. Featuring double-stacked Zoom Air units and a magnetic shroud, this model is not one of his most famous. In the past year, however, Jordan Brand has been bringing back the 18 in both OG and new colorways, and the reception has been strong.

A Look Back: The Air Jordan XI “Playoffs”

A Look Back: The Air Jordan XI “Playoffs”

Black socks, black sneakers: a big no-no in the basketball fashion world back in the early ‘90s. The combination just looked strange, until Michigan’s Fab 5 flipped the script and rewrote fashion history with their baggy shorts, black Nike socks, and black Air Force Max sneakers in ‘93. A few years later in the ‘96 NBA Playoffs, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls would pull off the same look on their way to winning the Championship. The Fab 5 started the black sock/black shoe trend. The Chicago Bulls mastered it.

In 1995, Michael Jordan returned to the League after a brief retirement. The Bulls would make the playoffs, and together would don black sneakers on the court (except for Jordan, who liked his new white/black Air Jordan XI so much, he decided to rock them instead of an all-black sneaker. He’d later be fined and ordered by the NBA to wear sneakers that matched his teammates, so he switched to Penny Hardaway’s Air Flight One for one game, and then to his Air Jordan XI “Space Jam” colorway).

The Bulls would come up short that season, but it was only fuel for the ’95-’96 campaign. Jordan would wear his AJ XI “Concord” colorway the entire regular season, but then break out a new color for the playoffs: the Air Jordan XI black/white/red. The Bulls as a team also switched to black shoes and socks for the playoffs. Along with Jordan, Scottie Pippen wore an all-black Nike Air More Uptempo, and Dennis Rodman sported an all-black Nike Air Shake Ndestrukt. Pippen’s Uptempo and Rodman’s Ndestrukt are now both considered classic ‘90s Nike basketball shoes, but Jordan’s XI stood out the most.

Touted as “the best performance basketball shoe for the best player on earth – Michael Jordan,” the AJ XI featured a lightweight, supportive, and breathable combination of ballistic mesh, full-grain leather, and reinforced patent leather with a nylon speed lacing system. A Phylon midsole with a full-length Air-Sole unit was supported by a full-length carbon fiber spring plate to encourage elevation. The outsole was a combination of clear gum rubber and solid rubber herringbone traction inserts. This sneaker was truly a work of art, and MJ would wear it during one of the greatest runs by any team in the history of sports.

During the regular season, the Bulls went 72-10, and then crushed their competition in the playoffs. The Bulls would win their fourth championship on Father’s Day – an emotional day for MJ. After the game, he ran straight into the locker room and collapsed onto the floor – crying and thinking about his father who died several years earlier.

Back in the ‘90s, not many shoes sold out as fast as they do today. But sometimes, a shoe was so popular that Eastbay couldn’t keep them in the warehouse long enough to edit the newest catalog. This was the case with the AJ XI black/white/red.  The shoe was featured in two Eastbay Spring ’96 catalogs, but was gone by the time the second catalog went to the printers.