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: Top 10 Mules That Changed The Game

A Look Back: Top 10 Mules That Changed The Game

A funny thing has happened the past few years that cannot be overlooked: the mule has become a very popular piece of footwear. What is it about the mule that makes it so appealing? Is it the Instagram feed @muleboyz, which has brought to light the style and beauty that a mule can provide? Is it the fact that Birkenstocks in general have come roaring back, and in particular the Birkenstock Boston, which is arguably the greatest mule of all time?

It’s difficult to deny some obvious reasons why the mule has become so desired again: the natural ease of sliding your foot right in, instead of having to sit down, tighten up your shoe, and lace it. But what exactly is a mule, and how does it differ from, say, a clog? Technically, a mule is a shoe that doesn’t have a backing or constraint around the heel, whereas a clog can have a slight back to it. Either way, mules and clogs have come roaring back the past few years. This is nothing new though. Historically, the ancient Romans rocked the mules, which means they have always been at the cutting edge of style and sophistication. More recently in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, it seemed like every brand was dropping at least one or two mules. Here’s a look back at the top 10 mules that changed the game.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Top 10 Mules Kappa Longbeach Sandal

10. Kappa Longbeach Sandal

Italian sportswear brand Kappa, famous for their “Omini” logo of a man and woman sitting down leaning up against each other, has always been known for their fashionable clothing and sneaker styles. In 2000, they dropped the Longbeach mule sandal, which, as the name suggests, was perfect for rocking at the beach after an invigorating surf. It would definitely be cool to see Kappa revive this model or something similar.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Top 10 Mules ASICS Tiger Chic LE

9. ASICS Tiger Chic LE

Running sneaker brand ASICS got in on the mule momentum by dropping the Tiger Chic LE. Inspired by the classic Onitsuka Tiger line, this mule was a great option for those loyal to the history and heritage of the Japanese brand. ASICS also made a modern mule called, appropriately, the Modern Mule.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Top 10 Mules Phat Farm Ave

8. Phat Farm Ave

Who remembers Phat Farm? Created in 1992 by hip hop legend Russell Simmons, Phat Farm became incredibly popular by the late ‘90s and early 2000s. They even made their own mule, called the Phat Farm Ave. It’s hard to tell which direction this mule was going in; was it like a dressy boot? Or a sneaker? Whatever it was, it was out there. A little pricey too ($79.99).

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Top 10 Mules Nike Air Osaka

7. Nike Air Osaka

Tennis star Naomi Osaka was only 2 years old when the Nike Air Osaka dropped in 2000, so it definitely wasn’t named after her. She could definitely rock a retro version of them today, though. With soft, supple full-grain leather or a durable suede upper, the Osaka had a full-length Phylon midsole with an Air-Sole unit in the heel. They were perfect for slipping on after a tough soccer or tennis match.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Top 10 Mules Saucony Jazz Slide

6. Saucony Jazz Slide

Running sneaker brand Saucony has made some classic sneakers over the years, and arguably one of their best is the Jazz Original. But did you know: they made a mule version too called the Jazz Slide? If you were wearing baggy jeans with these mules, no one would be able to tell the difference between them and the Originals. These mules were basically complete replicas of their famous counterparts, sans the heel support. These definitely need to come back.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Top 10 Mules Puma Frankenclog

5. Puma Frankenclog

This mule gets bonus points for the name alone. Channeling the classic Puma GV and California vibes, the Frankenclog was a mashup of cool classic sneakers that were turned into a mule. Featuring the patented Puma logo on the side and a suede upper, the Frankenclogs were super dope and definitely deserve to make a comeback.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Top 10 Mules Nike Cortez Mule

4. Nike Cortez Mule

The Nike Cortez, one of Nike’s oldest and most beloved running sneakers, was enjoying a renaissance in the early ‘00s. It was one of those retro sneakers that was easy to add to your collection because of its value and classic look. It only made sense for Nike to take advantage of this popularity by incorporating a mule silhouette as well. This particular Cortez featured a perforated Swoosh and was definitely one of the cozier mule options.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Top 10 Mules Merrell Jungle Slide

3. Merrell Jungle Slide

Attention all dads and wannabe dads: if you wanted to perfect the low-maintenance dad-vibe look, the Merrell Jungle Slide was for you. Known for decades as a go-to for hiking shoes and slide-on mocs, the Jungle Slide took it to the next level of comfort and utility by getting rid of that annoying heel support. The Jungle Slide is still available today, so it’s good to see Merrell understands their market.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Top 10 Mules adidas Superstar Clog

2. adidas Superstar Clog

We should all be familiar with the Superstar, aka the “Shell Toe.” The Superstar is one of the most popular adidas sneakers of all time, and has been for decades. But, did you know adidas made a mule version as well? These pairs dropped in 2000, and obviously had a lot of similarities to the classic Superstar version, except for the lack of a heel and laces. adidas has been smart enough to bring back this clog version, and it is still available today.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Top 10 Mules Birkenstock Boston

1. Birkenstock Boston

One of the most popular mules of all time is the Birkenstock Boston. Back in the mid ‘90s, the Birkenstock Arizona and Milano were also super popular, but the Boston gave your foot that extra coverage in case you didn’t want your toes exposed. Featuring an orthopedically-correct footbed which got more comfortable with every wear, the Boston also had soft premium leather and was able to be re-soled if necessary.

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: A Breakdown of the Best Running Sneakers From Fall ’97

A Look Back: A Breakdown of the Best Running Sneakers From Fall ’97

24 years ago, it seemed like every major sneaker brand was churning out a classic sneaker model. Most remember 1997 as an epic year for shoes like the Air Max 97 and the Adidas Equipment Salvation, but every brand was bringing a sleek new design or a new technology to the table. If you were a runner, how could you decide between all these incredible silhouettes? It was definitely a daunting challenge, which Eastbay was up for.

To make it easier, Eastbay broke down each running sneaker into one of four different categories:

Support: Shoes with special features that help runners who either overpronate (roll inward), have a low arch, are hard on shoes, need a straighter last, wear orthotics, need more midfoot and heel control, or need firmer midsoles.

Cushioned Support: Shoes with features that combine cushion and support for runners who slightly overpronate (rolling inward), have low to normal arch, are a heel striker or need some motion control yet want a cushioned ride.

Cushioned: Shoes with features that emphasize cushioning with some support, for runners who under pronate, supinate (roll outward), need curve last, high arch, are a heel, mid or forefoot striker, have rigid feet, need flexibility, or run efficiently.

Lightweight: Shoes designed with little support and good cushioning for runners who are efficient, train at faster speeds, have normal to rigid arch, are not susceptible to injury, or need flexibility.

On top of that, Eastbay also sold Trail Runners and Road Flats. Here’s a breakdown of the best sneakers from each category back in 1997:

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Supportive Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Support

adidas Lexicon Extra

The Adidas Lexicon was a beautifully-designed sneaker that doesn’t get enough love. Retailing at $99.99, it was on the higher end of the spectrum for Adidas runners. The Lexicon Extra featured Point of Deflection System technology in the heel, an EVA midsole, a full-length medial post, and Support Torsion system.

Saucony G.R.I.D. Procyon

Saucony’s most supportive runner was the G.R.I.D. Procyon, which featured their patented heel G.R.I.D. system for cushioning, along with a rearfoot medial support device. Retailing at just $74.99, it was a bargain for those needing that extra support without the added cost.

Nike Air Equilibrium

The Equilibrium was Nike’s state-of-the-art support sneaker for those with flat feet. You can’t see the medial side of this shoe in the picture, but the amount of support provided was off the charts. Featuring a Phylon midsole, the Equilibrium also had Zoom-Air units in the heel and forefoot with individually tuned pods. The BRS 1000 carbon rubber outsole featured a sculpted central guidance channel with a lateral Duralon forefoot.

New Balance 585

New Balance has always been loved by flat-footed runners, and the 585 was a reliable model for the brand. Made in the USA, the 585 featured a synthetic upper with 3M Scotchlite Reflective trim, a 4-density polyurethane midsole with a Rollbar Stability System. Runners got all this tech for under $100.

ASICS GEL-MC 126

ASICS was another trustworthy brand for flat-footed runners, and the best model back in ‘97 for them was the GEL-MC 126. Featuring a motion control system for heavy overpronators, the GEL-MC 126 was semi-curved and built on a EE last for wider feet. It had a compression-molded EVA midsole with extended Duomax, and ASICS GEL cushioning in the heel.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Cushioned Support Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Cushioned Support

adidas Response

The adidas Response line was incredibly popular throughout the ‘90s. The sleek yet simple designs and affordable price points made them a great option for many runners. The Response featured exceptional cushioning with added stability, a dual density compression-molded EVA midsole, visible adiprene cushioning in the heel, and a new Torsion system for stability.

Saucony 3D G.R.I.D. Hurricane

This was my first ever running sneaker in high school, and they were a lot of fun to run in. The 3D G.R.I.D. had a sleek design and a ton of tech inside to match. The visible 3D G.R.I.D. system wrapped the midsole with Hytrel filaments that cushioned and absorbed shock, while adding stability and motion control. At $99.99, it was Saucony’s top-of-the-line running sneaker at the time.

ASICS GEL-Kayano

This was ASICS’ best shoe for high-mileage runners. With a DuoMax compression-molded EVA midsole, a mesh reinforced upper with synthetic leather, the Kayano featured a blown rubber forefoot with DuoSole insert and AHAR heel plug, along with forefoot P-Gel and heel T-Gel. Basically the Kayano had really great cushioning and a lot of Gel inside. At $124.99, it was one of the most expensive runners at the time, but well worth the price.

New Balance 999

Basically anyone who’s ever tried on the 999 falls in love with them. This was and still is one of New Balance’s most iconic silhouettes. Featuring a pigskin leather upper with 3M Scotchlite reflective trim, the 999 had ABZORB cushioning in the heel, along with ENCAP cushioning in the heel and C-CAP cushioning in the forefoot. Made in the USA, the 999 retailed for $125.

Nike Air Structure Triax

As for Nike, their top cushioned support model was the Air Structure Triax. For the runner who wanted a well-cushioned ride with added stability, the Structure Triax featured a Phylon midsole with two key stability features: a Footbridge stability device and a patented Heel Hinge feature. The Structure also had Nike Air in the heel and forefoot.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Cushioned Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Cushioned

Nike Air Max 97

It doesn’t get much bigger than the Air Max 97. That fall, we were blessed with one of the biggest breakthroughs in sneaker cushioning of all time. The new anatomically designed dual-pressure Air-Sole unit with a lateral crash pad system cushioned and guided the foot like no sneaker ever had before. Designed by Christian Tresser, the unique upper was inspired both by water dropping into a pond, as well as the metallic finish of mountain bike components. Next year will be the 25th anniversary of this hallowed silhouette.

 Reebok DMX 2000 

Reebok was turning heads and pleasing feet of all shapes and sizes with their revolutionary DMX cushioning technology. With the Reebok DMX 2000, runners actually felt the air flow from their heel to their forefoot as they ran. This was an incredible breakthrough in technology, and transitioned well to Allen Iverson’s The Answer 1 basketball sneaker as well.

adidas Equipment Salvation

To compete with Air Max and DMX cushioning, adidas was launching their “Feet You Wear” technology, which allowed the runner’s feet to function more naturally. The semi-curved last, compression-molded EVA midsole and adiPRENE inserts in the Salvation provided plenty of cushioning and responsiveness for runners.

Puma Cell Speed

Puma featured their own state-of-the-art cushioning system with the Puma Cell Speed, which featured a PUMA CELL midsole with polyurethane frame. Touted as the ultimate training shoe for high-mileage runners that require a stable, well-cushioned ride, the Cell Speed was a somewhat niche running sneaker. CELL technology was similar to Reebok’s Hexalite technology, in that the cushioning was designed like a honeycomb pad filled with air.

Fila Silva Trainer

Another very niche runner was the Fila Silva Trainer, which provided outstanding cushioning for high-mileage training. The Silva Trainer featured a Filabuck and Ripstop nylon upper, and a compression-molded EVA midsole with 2A technology in the heel and forefoot. Fila’s 2A technology was very similar to Nike Air in the fact that it featured separate “pods” of air to provide cushioning to the foot.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Lightweight Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Lightweight

Nike Air Zoom Spiridon

The ultimate shoe for a fast, responsive ride. Featured in the “It’s OK to be fast” ad campaign with sprinter Michael Johnson, the Spiridon was another revolutionary sneaker because of its full-length running specific Zoom-Air cushioning. The Spiridon was one of the first running sneakers to feature Zoom Air, and it would set the stage for the many more iconic running sneakers for decades to come.

Nike Air Max Light III

A responsive, lightweight, low-profile, fast-paced trainer! The Air Max Light III has yet to retro, which is a shame because it was ahead of its time as well. Not only was there a dual-pressure visible Air-Sole unit in the heel, there was also Zoom Air in the forefoot. This was one of the very first sneakers to feature both Air Max cushioning AND Zoom Air in the same sneaker, and definitely doesn’t get enough love from sneakerheads.

Reebok Electrolyte

A sneaker that most have forgotten about by now, the Electrolyte was Reebok’s take on the fast-paced, lightweight running sneaker. The Electrolyte featured 3D UltraLite cushioning, which combined the outsole and midsole into one injection-molded unit. This resulted in lighter weight and greater flexibility, along with an enhanced road feel. Reebok boasted that the 3D UltraLite reduced shoe weight by up to 10%. The Electrolyte was a feathery 9.8 ounces.

Saucony 3D-G.R.I.D. B-Gone

Saucony really made some bold sneakers back in the ‘90s – the B-Gone was a flashy lightweight trainer for fast-paced workouts or races. Featuring a dual density Maxlite EVA midsole with a visible heel 3D G.R.I.D. system, the B-Gone is another Saucony model that deserves a proper retro release at this point.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Road Flats Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Road Flats

Nike Air Rift

Nike was dropping some ridiculous models, even in the road flat category back in ‘97. One of the most outlandish was the Air Rift, which featured a minimalistic upper and split toe. There was Nike Air in the heel, and they came with a special pair of split toe socks.

Nike Air Zoom Streak

Nike also created a low-profile racing flat for 5K to marathons called the Air Zoom Streak, which featured Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot. There was a Air Streak Light version as well, which only weighed 6.6 ounces and was available from size 3 all the way up to size 15. This was an incredible value for such a lightweight, responsive racing flat.

ASICS GEL-Magic Racer

ASICS also made a technology-packed racer called the GEL-Magic. Described as a performance racing flat for all distances, the GEL-Magic featured a dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole with rearfoot HEXGEL. It also had a Magic Sole forefoot with AHAR heel plug.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Trail Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Trail Runners

adidas Response Trail

The Response Trail is a line adidas could keep bringing back again and again, and loyal followers would never lose interest in them. The mist/lake/slime colorway is just as fashionable now as it was back in 1997. The Response Trail was a versatile training shoe that was great for on and off-road use. It featured synthetic leather and a water-resistant mesh upper, along with adiPrene cushioning in the heel. At $79.99, it was a great value for a comfortable, fashionable trail shoe.

Nike Air Terra Sertig

The Terra Sertig was Nike’s top-of-the-line trail shoe back in ‘97. The Sertig had all the bells and whistles, including a very low profile Phylon midsole with heel and forefoot Zoom Air units. Its three-quarter height was designed for the demands of alpine running. There was a protective fabric web between the midsole, and a bi-directional waffle outsole that protected against stone bruises.

Nike Air Terra Albis

Basically a low-cut version of the Sertig, the Albis was also a low-profile trail shoe with exceptional cushioning. The Albis featured most of the same tech as the Sertig, except it had an Air Sole in the heel instead of Zoom Air. Regardless, it was a gorgeous, aggressive design that showed how serious Nike was about trail runners.

Nike Air Humara

Back in the late ‘90s, the Humara line enjoyed a very popular run. This particular Humara boasted a ton of tech, including a heel Air Sole unit and a Zoom Air unit in the forefoot. It was the ultimate low-profile cushioned trail shoe, with a lightweight breathable mesh upper and non-absorbent synthetic leather overlays. The traction was excellent as well, with a rubberized, abrasion-resistant tip and heel overlay.

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: Nike Sneakers At The 2000 Summer Games

A Look Back: Nike Sneakers At The 2000 Summer Games

After an extra year-long wait, the Summer Games are finally here. We didn’t have to wait a full year for the games to begin back in 2000, but we did have to wait until September. The Summer Games were held in Sydney, Australia in the Southern Hemisphere, which meant it was too cold to hold them in July and August, since it was technically still winter down under. For reference, the coldest month of the year in Sydney is July, when it averages around 60 degrees outside. Who would want to swim in a pool when it’s that cold?

Though it made sense to delay the games until it got warmer, it was kind of a bummer for kids in the US, since September was the beginning of the school year. Plus, the time difference meant we couldn’t watch anything live. There were still some memorable sneaker moments worth reminiscing about though, and it was certainly an entertaining competition, so here’s a look back at some of the kicks featured during the 2000 Summer Games, along with a few USA-themed sneakers that dropped that month, as well.

Eastbay Catalog Summer 2000 Olympics Nike Air Flightposite II

Nike Air Flightposite II

Nike was really onto something with the ultra-futuristic Foamposite that dropped in 1997. They followed that up with the introduction of the Flightposite in 1999. The successful run of foam-based sneakers continued with the introduction of the Flightposite II in 2000. Featuring a hyper-thin (2mm), fully integrated Foamposite construction upper with dynamic fit Lycra full-length inner sleeve, the Flightposite II also boasted an external forefoot “shroud” construction along with forefoot and heel Zoom Air units. Worn by Kevin Garnett, the Flightposite II would be the last sneaker he wore while with Nike before signing with AND1.

Eastbay Catalog Summer 2000 Olympics Nike Air Zoom GP II

Air Zoom GP II

It’s kind of crazy that this model doesn’t get more love. Personally, the Air Zoom GP II is a sneaker I’d love to see retro. At the time, the Air Zoom GP II was Gary Payton’s latest state-of-the-art sneaker. Gary Payton was on a roll with one successful sneaker after another. I remember testing out the Air Zoom GP II when it dropped and finding it a bit more rigid than the Air Zoom GP, but it was still an incredible sneaker. Featuring a lightweight synthetic leather “shimmer” upper, and a fully internalized Phylon midsole with forefoot and heel Zoom Air units, the Air Zoom GP II was Gary Payton’s go-to sneaker during the 2000 games.

Eastbay Catalog Summer 2000 Olympics Nike Shox BB4

Nike Shox BB4

In my opinion, the Nike Shox BB4 defined the 2000 Olympic Games, thanks mostly to Vince Carter and the “Dunk of Death.” I remember watching the highlights in shock as the Raptors star literally jumped OVER 7’2” French Center Frederic Weis. It was the moment that people still talk about today, and on Carter’s feet were those futuristic new sneakers, the BB4. Described in Eastbay as built “for the player who demands a high level of responsive cushioning and lateral stability,” the Shox BB4 featured a molded, lightweight synthetic upper with a futuristic, durable shell surrounding a form-fitting, performance-proven, internal bootie. The Nike Shox cushioning system in heel featured urethane columns for impact protection and energy return and an engineered thermoplastic plate to support the columns and provide a stable “footprint”. Plus, they even had Zoom Air in the forefoot. A few other players also rocked the Shox, but for most people the most memorable one to do it was VC. Carter debuted them at the Olympics, but they didn’t officially release until November.

Eastbay Catalog Summer 2000 Olympics Nike Air Max Tailwind 5 and Nike Air Presto

Air Max Tailwind 5

Although the Air Max Tailwind 5 may not be the most famous Tailwind, it was certainly a well-crafted runner packed with awesome features. For the runner seeking great cushioning, durability and support, the Tailwind 5 was designed with lightweight mesh and a synthetic upper. The Tailwind 5 also had a full-length polyurethane midsole with a heel Tuned Air unit and visible forefoot Air-Sole unit. They were good enough for Team USA basketball star Tim Hardaway to wear. Though the Tailwind 5 has not gotten much retro love over the years, Nike did bring them back this year in the OG white/navy colorway.

Air Presto

Everyone loved the Presto back in 2000. Nike marketed the quirky silhouette as “Simply irresistible comfort for runners – like a t-shirt for the feet.” The Presto was unique because it came in small, medium, and large – not numbered sizes. It had a dynamic stretch mesh upper for a sock-like, ultra-comfortable fit, along with an engineered support cage which provided midfoot security. The full-length Phylon midsole included an encapsulated heel Air-Sole unit and expanding arch. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Presto, Nike released a USA retro version last year.

Eastbay Catalog Summer 2000 Olympics Nike Air Max Plus

Air Max Plus

Back in 2000, the Air Max Plus was enjoying one heck of a run. Everyone loved the smooth, wavy lines along the upper and the bouncy, supportive Tuned Air cushioning system. It seemed like everyone had a pair of Air Max Plus sneakers back then. With a synthetic one-piece upper with TPVR ribs for glove-like fit. There was also a visible forefoot Air Sole unit and Tuned Air pillars in the heel to produce maximum cushioning. Nike dropped a USA-themed colorway just in time for the Summer Games in a striking obsidian/red/gold silhouette.

Eastbay Catalog Summer 2000 Olympics Nike Air Max International

Air International Max

For the runner who wants cushioning, durability and value, Nike offered the Air International Max. Originating from the successful Nike Triax line, the Air International Max featured a synthetic leather upper with breathable mesh. It had a full-length, low-density polyurethane midsole with low-pressure heel Air-Sole unit and a visible forefoot Air-Sole unit. It came in an obsidian/red/white colorway with a USA logo on the tongue for all the patriotic runners out there.

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

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