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: The Air Jordan XI Low

A Look Back: The Air Jordan XI Low

Few can deny the impact the Air Jordan XI has had on the sneaker community over the past 25 years. From the very first moments we saw Michael Jordan rocking the XI’s, we were mesmerized by them. Tinker Hatfield’s genius design made them look super-sharp on and off the court. The Air Jordan XI was one of the most popular sneakers MJ ever wore, to the point that Jordan Brand started retro’ing them just five years later beginning in the late fall of 2000. We just couldn’t get enough of that patent leather goodness. 

Although Jordan Brand did release a low-cut version of the XI back in ‘96 in both a white and black colorway, these silhouettes had a different design compared to the mid-cuts. The OG lows were meant more for off-court styling, with breathable mesh weaved into the upper. It almost seemed strange at the time that Jordan Brand and Nike didn’t drop a low-cut version with the patent leather mud guard. That all changed in the Spring of 2001.

 

Drew Hammell Look Back Jordan Retro XI Low

In April and May of 2001, Jordan Brand released low-cut patent leather and super-stylish snakeskin versions of the Air Jordan XI. These shoes were meant to be rocked right away for the warm summer months. They were flashy and looked great with shorts. This low-cut version featured the same full-length encapsulated Air-Sole unit and composite shank-plate, just like the mids. There were also matching Jordan Brand shorts, caps, tees, and beanies – because back in the early ‘00s, your whole fit had to be color-coordinated from head to toe. 

In April 2001, the white/silver colorway dropped for ladies, the white/columbia and white/red dropped for men, and the white/pink dropped for girls. Then in May ‘01, the white/pink snakeskin dropped for women, and the white/navy snakeskin dropped for men. There was also a white/citrus and white/zen grey version.  

Though Michael Jordan was famous for rocking the AJ XI mids, he also wore the lows with patent leather as well. During the NBA Finals versus the Sonics in ‘96, he briefly wore the low-cut “Bred” colorway. He also rocked a low-cut patent leather “Concord” colorway during the trophy ceremony after the Bulls defeated the Sonics that year. It would have made sense for Jordan Brand to bring these classic colorways back in low-cut versions right off the bat, but we had to wait years for them to finally release to the public. 

While the holidays have always been about the AJ XI mid releases each year, the summer belongs to the lows. This spring, Jordan Brand is bringing back the white/citrus colorway, along with a low-cut version of the classic “Legend Blue”. The love for the XI’s is not going away anytime soon, so once again these models will be instant sell outs.

The Jordan Retro XI Low drops 5/7 on eastbay.com

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

Game Recognize Game: Antelope High School’s Jzaniya Harriel is our March Winner

Game Recognize Game: Antelope High School’s Jzaniya Harriel is our March Winner

Each month Eastbay is highlighting a top high school athlete by spotlighting their accomplishments both in and outside the game. This month’s winner is basketball standout Jzaniya Harriel from Antelope High School in California.

Ranked 14th overall at her position, Jzaniya is a talented point guard with big goals for her future and the work ethic to achieve them. The Stanford commit has a list of accolades that prove just how much hard work can pay off: Sacramento Area (Sac Bee Newspaper) Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019, three-year varsity starter, League MVP in 2018, 2019, and 2020, over 2,000 career points as a junior, and a full-ride scholarship to the college of her dreams – just to name a few.

“It’s very clear that Jzaniya is someone that is passionate about the sport of basketball. Every time I call her, she’s in the gym. We love her speed and athletic scoring ability and also believe she has what it takes to be a top defender.” – Tara VanDerveer, The Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women’s Basketball Stanford University (source: Stanford Athletics)

Jzaniya doesn’t just push herself on the court. In the classroom she’s earned a 4.4 GPA while balancing 11 Advanced Placement and Honors courses. She’s set to graduate 9th in her class and has dreams of one day attending law school and becoming a judge.

“Jzaniya is constantly under extreme pressure and she always presents herself with calm and puts her team first. She only knows competition and hard work, growing up with seven competitive siblings, and this has been the foundation to her 4.4 gpa and numerous basketball accolades.” – Sean Chambers, Antelope High School girls’ varsity basketball coach

Jzaniya was nominated by her former principal and current Executive Director of Student Engagement John Becker. He’s seen Jzaniya’s competitiveness and dedication first hand, including her commitment to her teammates and the younger student-athletes around her.

Here’s what Jzaniya had to say about being a student-athlete, her role models and support system, and her future goals:

What is your definition of a successful student-athlete?

My definition of a successful student athlete is someone who takes their studies just as serious as the sport they play. Someone who wants to excel in the classroom just as much as they want to on the court or field.

What has been the highlight of your athletic career so far?

There are many memorable moments from my athletic career, but the highlight of my athletic career so far has to definitely be signing my NLI to attend my dream school, Stanford University. It felt good to turn my dreams into a reality and it showed me that hard work does pay off.

Who is your role model in athletics?

My role model in athletics is my father. He used to play and is the reason why I got into basketball. As he taught me everything he knew, we bonded and that made me love the game even more. Many people ask me who I model my game after and the answer to that is my dad. I play just like him.

What do you love most about competing?

What I enjoy most about competing is winning. I love to win, but I hate losing more and that fuels my competitive nature. I will do whatever my team needs me to do in order to win and that allows me to perform at my absolute highest level.

What are some of the goals you’d like to achieve after high school?

After high school I hope to win multiple championships with my teammates at Stanford and hopefully play professionally. I also plan on going to law school in hopes of eventually becoming a judge.

 

 

To nominate a deserving athlete for Eastbay’s Game Recognize Game series, fill out the form here.

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