Performance Revisited: Nike Air Max CB 34

Performance Revisited: Nike Air Max CB 34

Performance Review Revisited: Nike Air Max CB 34

words & images // Nick Engvall

Performance basketball shoes have come a long way in the last 2-3 decades. From relatively no cushioning in the early ’80s, with solid rubber being the only thing between you and the hardwood, to relatively no weight in 2011 with a wide variety of superb cushioning options to choose from. So with all of the choices for tested and proven technologies, do we always see players in the NBA opting to wear retro models? Perhaps a better question is how do these retro models actually perform against today’s standards of lightweight and superior cushioning?

For some models, like the Nike Air Go LWP, they were so far ahead of their time that they still remain a competent performance choice in retro form. For others, we’d like to take a closer look. In the same manner that we take a look at current models in our Performance Reviews, today we take a look at one of the performance aspects and back-story of a returning retro model, the Nike Air Max CB 34, in a new series called Performance Revisited.

In the early to mid-nineties, Charles Barkley was a beast on the boards. Earning himself the nickname the “Round Mound of Rebound” due to his abilities on the court, and also, due to his less than conventional body type. After being awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player award in 1993, Nike took Barkley’s footwear to the next level. Charles’ signature sneaker line was one of the early adopters of Air Max2 technology, arriving in the 1994 release, the Air Max2 CB. The follow up to that design was the Air Max2 CB 34 that Barkley not only featured the same cushioning, but also helped establish Sir Charles’ place in the memories of sneakerheads for years to come.

Today’s version of the Air Max2 CB 34 may not be cutting edge technology, but after playing it a few times, aside from my own personal preference to play in a lighter more agile basketball shoe, I think it would be perfectly suited for Charles to make a return in. After all his requirements would probably remain similar, stability and cushioning able to support his oversized frame being the priority.

Performance Review Revisited: Nike Air Max CB 34

The Nike Air Max2 CB 34 has some slight changes, most notable being the change from full-grain leather to synthetic leather used throughout the upper. Despite the switch, the quality is solid for a synthetic, it still does what it needs to, and it serves as a placeholder for one of the most memorable details of the embossed ‘CB34’ throughout the side panel nicely.

Cushioning may not be the same, as full-length Air Max shoes of today like the line of LeBron shoes, however the Air Max2 and Phylon midsole combination does a great job still to this day. In my opinion, the rubber surround of the design actually feels more stable, and more responsive than a full-length Air unit without the exoskeleton-like support. The trade-off is obviously weight. Barkley’s shoes might be just as deserving of the Round Mound of Rebound nickname compared to similar designs of today that weigh nearly half as much.

One of the most noticeable aspects of the CB 34 compared to today’s basketball shoes is the traction. Now, taking into account that Charles wasn’t exactly a quick mover, I can understand that it probably wasn’t much of a thought back when this shoe was originally designed. The reinforced and rugged toebox on the other hand, probably withstands battles in the paint better than many of today’s designs, appropriate considering the amount of time Barkley spent scrapping for rebounds.

Performance Review Revisited: Nike Air Max CB 34 Toebox

Overall, revisiting the performance aspects of the Air Max2 CB 34, it would probably land somewhere in the middle of the pack compared to today’s performance shoes. It’s two biggest shortcomings, being heavy and having less than desired traction, ironically are things that most of us probably associate with Charles Barkley and his style of play. What is impressive about the Air Max2 CB 34 is what it led to. The development of the Air Max2 cushioning system is the roots of today’s full length Max Air cushioning systems found in shoes like the LeBron 8 and Air Max 360 BB. Out-dated performance hasn’t stopped all players in the league from lacing up a pair of retro models though. Whether we’ll see this pop up randomly on an edition of Sneaker Watch will remain to be seen, I guess the same could be said for the NBA season at this point.
Performance Review Revisited: Nike Air Max CB 34 Performance Review Revisited: Nike Air Max CB 34 TonguePerformance Review Revisited: Nike Air Max CB 34
Nike Air Max CB 34 White/Purple/Orange Blaze

Nike Air Max CB 34 White/Purple/Orange Blaze

words // Nick Engvall

Sir Charles has been getting a lot of heat lately for voicing his opinion but with signature shoes like the Nike Air Max CB 34, it seems like Chuck is equally responsible for dishing out the heat as well. The original Phoenix Suns inspired colorway of the CB 34 was the feature of one of our recent Eastbay Memory Lane posts that revisited some of Barkley’s accomplishments on the court throughout the nineties but the return of this classic really doesn’t need much explaining.

The Nike Air Max CB 34 in this combination of White, Varsity Purple, and Orange Blaze is what Barkley wore in his Phoenix Suns days. The fact that Charles came the closest to an NBA Title in Phoenix, and also wore the Air Max CB 34 as a member of the Dream Team in the Olympics, makes it a must have for many collectors and especially fans of “the round mound of rebound.”

Available now: Nike Air Max CB 34

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Eastbay Memory Lane: Air Max CB 34 Revisited

Eastbay Memory Lane: Air Max CB 34 Revisited

words // Nick Engvall

With the return of the Nike Air Max CB 34 in a new Wolf Grey colorway, it seemed appropriate to revisit the origins of one of Charles Barkley’s most memorable sneakers. A look back through some of the 1996 catalogs revealed, not only the original colorways of the Nike Air Max CB 34, but also a couple of interesting statistical facts about Sir Charles.

At the time Barkley had used the Air Max CB 34 to move into an elite group of players with over 20,000 career points and 10,000 career rebounds. Charles also helped the Dream Team 2 take gold in the 1996 by leading the team in scoring, rebounds, and field goal percentage, while wearing the Air Max CB 34 among some of his other unforgettable signature models. As time goes on, Barkley seems to become more popular thanks to his colorful commentary on television, and that seems to only make his signature sneakers that much more popular.

Of course, anytime you revisit the unforgettable catalogs from Eastbay that helped most of us find our love for sneakers back in the day, you are bound to find something epic like the Nike Air Money Lo, or the Air School Force, that will bring back once forgotten memories.

For more classics revisited, check out our Eastbay Memory Lane Archive.

Eastbay Memory Lane: Nike Air Max CB 34Eastbay Memory Lane: Nike Air Max CB 34

 

Nike Air Max CB 34 Wolf Grey Detailed Look

Nike Air Max CB 34 Wolf Grey Detailed Look

words // Nick Engvall

Although there is now word on whether or not Sir Charles will be seen wearing his signature sneaker line while trying to further advance his budding rap career, thankfully for Chuck, his skills on the court throughout the nineties was more than enough to carry his signature line.

The “Round Mound of Rebound” rocked the Nike Air Max CB 34 originally in 1995. The Max Air cushioned basketball shoe was just one of the many Charles Barkley signature models that solidified him not only on the court but in the hearts of sneaker lovers as well. This new combination of Wolf Grey and Varsity Red with Black accents may not have ever been seen on Barkley’s feet back in the day but it’s definitely more tasteful than his rapping skills.

Available now: Nike Air Max CB 34

Nike Air Max CB 34 Wolf Grey Detailed LookNike Air Max CB 34 Wolf Grey Detailed LookNike Air Max CB 34 Wolf Grey Detailed LookNike Air Max CB 34 Wolf Grey Detailed LookNike Air Max CB 34 Wolf Grey Detailed LookNike Air Max CB 34 Wolf Grey Detailed Look