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: 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

Q&A: Talking Shoes With The Man Behind @NikeStories

Q&A: Talking Shoes With The Man Behind @NikeStories

There’s nothing quite like a good throwback. Ask Drew Hammell, the man behind the popular @NikeStories Instagram account, and he’ll say the same thing. There’s just something special about the old school stuff.

According to the accounts bio, @NikeStories offers commentary on Nike kicks and culture. From everybody’s favorite classics to forgotten gems, @NikeStories uses throwback catalogs, ads, and iconic images to bring out the history behind sneakers and sneaker culture.

Nike Stories Drew

A Sneaker Historian: Drew Hammell has turned his love for sneakers into the popular @NikeStories IG account.

We chatted with Hammell to get the inside scoop on @NikeStories, how he started the account, his favorite shoes, what shoes he wants to see make a comeback, and more in our Q&A.

Let’s start at the very beginning. How did you first get into shoes?

“I grew up in the ’90s and I remember kids in elementary school walking around with Jordan 5’s, 6’s, 7’s. And I just really admired the design of the sneakers. The Jordan line was totally different from any other sneaker I’d ever seen and Nike was too. Whenever a kid walked in the classroom with a visible air bubble, I just thought that was the coolest thing ever.”

Did you start rocking those shoes then as well?

“At the same time, my parents didn’t have much money, so I really couldn’t afford the Jordan models or even Nikes with visible air. It created this fascination with the desire to get them, but I just couldn’t afford them at the time growing up. I was really into sports and I played everything, so I really needed sneakers that would work for me on the court, and that’s where Eastbay started to fit in for me.”

Yeah, so you racked up a pretty serious collection of Eastbay catalogs, right? How did that happen?

“Yeah, I definitely remember in 8th grade, it was the age of Nike Basketball sneakers. Air Max technology was taking off and my friends would all be in the lunchroom looking at these amazing shoes from an Eastbay catalog. I’d never seem them before. I was like, ‘Wow, here’s a catalog with everything in it.’ I would sit in the lunch room and study them. I always wanted all of these shoes. Then we’d talk about sneakers all the time in high school. The minute I turned 16, I got a job at a shoe store so I could start buying shoes at a discount.

Nike Stories Eastbay

A Serious Collector: You name the classic Eastbay catalog, Drew Hammell probably has it.

At the same time, I collected every Eastbay catalog. I would keep them in my room and study them. It really helped for work, because then I knew what I was talking about in the store. I could provide specific information on Air Max, which shoes had Zoom Air, and things like that.”

Let’s fast forward a little bit to when you decided to create @NikeStories and how that happened.

“I figured over the years that my sneaker obsession would just kind of go away. I got married, I have a daughter, I don’t work in retail anymore, I’m not in the sneaker industry, so I was pretty detached from the sneaker world. But the fascination has just never gone away. And I am a collector, so I still had all these Eastbay catalogs and magazines and all of my shoes that I just never threw away. My mom kept them in my bedroom even after I moved out.

Eventually, I saw how easy it was to post a picture on social media, give a quick description, get feedback from people, and I saw how quickly other people’s accounts could grow, so that’s when I decided to start @NikeStories.  People were using Instagram to post their own sneakers, but not really saying much about them. And honestly, kids in their teens or early twenties didn’t even realize the history  behind their shoes.  So I would go through some of my old magazines and started posting pictures. People pretty early on would start commenting and liking when I would post throw-back Eastbay pictures and ask where I found them. I realized nobody really saved these catalogs from the ’90s, so I thought I was really onto something and just kept posting for fun and to share this history.”

Did you think @NikeStories would grow to be this popular?

“I’m definitely surprised. I thought if I could get to 5,000 followers, that would be quite an accomplishment. I’m approaching 50,000 now, so it’s just been really fun. I thought in the three years since I started it that I would for sure be out of information, but I definitely have plenty more. It’s been really fun and it’s given me a lot of opportunities. I’ve gotten to write for a few magazines. I’ve written pieces about Eastbay and ’90s shoes and ’90s culture and music. I just contacted Scoop Jackson this week, who wrote the book Sole Provider, and I’m writing a piece about him. So it seems like every week I’m talking to someone who influenced the culture and is a personal hero of mine.”

It sounds like you get a lot out of running the account. What do you hope everyone gets out of following the account and seeing the stuff you post?

“I just want it to be a place where people can talk about some of the old school stuff that they really love.”