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: The Story Behind Andre Agassi’s Iconic ‘A’ Logo

A Look Back: The Story Behind Andre Agassi’s Iconic ‘A’ Logo

What’s your favorite Nike logo of all time? The Swoosh and Jumpman logos are obviously number one and two, but after that there are plenty more up for debate.  

For me, the Andre Agassi ‘A’ logo ranks in the top five greatest Nike logos of all time. Agassi was my favorite tennis player growing up in the ‘90s, and I wore several of his sneakers, shorts, and tees while playing varsity tennis in high school. I stared at that logo for years and always felt it was a work of art.

I’ve been following legendary Nike designer Tom Andrich for a while on Instagram, and recently learned he was the one who designed the ‘A’ logo. I figured I had to see if he’d be willing to share the story behind the logo and how it came about.  

Featured on models like the Air Zoom Challenge 1 and 2, the Air Zoom Ablaze, the Air Zoom Pounce, Air Assailant, and tons of Dri-F.I.T. shirts, shorts and hats, the Agassi line in the mid to late ‘90s was edgy, fashion-forward, and functional for those who wanted to stand out on the tennis court. Here’s what Andrich had to say about how the logo was created:

Drew Hammell Andrew Agassi Hat Logo

DH: Can you tell us when you first started at Nike and what your first role was?

 

TA: I graduated from Oregon State University in the summer of ’83, moved to Portland in January of ’84, and was hired by Nike in February. I was hired to be an in-house graphic designer for apparel. I was 23 years old. The apparel design team was very small, so in that first year everybody had several roles; a lot of screen print production work, presentation work, catalog work, and some graphic design apparel projects. It was pretty entry level graphic design work with a handful of meaningful projects here and there.

 

DH: The Agassi ‘A’ logo is one of my all-time favorites – what do you remember about coming up with that design?

 

TA: Thank you. It is also one of my favorites. The logo, and how it came about, is something that I remember vividly. But the actual product around that time, not so much. After working on tennis from ’85-95, I was transitioning to another assignment within Nike and moved to Hong Kong in July ’95. In fact, I never had a hand in the implementation of the logo on the actual apparel from that point on.  

Andre had won the Oz (Australian) Open in January of that year. He had also remade his physical appearance by cutting the iconic hair. Because of this makeover, there was heightened interest in this project internally at Nike. The two highest creative leads within Nike had a difference of opinion around the logo style and what aesthetic would best represent Andre. One director thought that Andre was still a rock-n-roll rebel at heart, while the other thought he was a rejuvenated man and that the logo should look sleek and ultramodern. At the beginning of the project, I was into the abstract paintings of Franz Kline. I just thought the idea behind that art, being fluid and dynamic, matched with the persona of Andre, himself. So I was leaning towards this bold, more abstract concept. I worked on both directions. We presented to Andre (and Brooke Shields), during the Lipton Championships, late at night in Key Biscayne in March ’95. He picked the rebel direction. I came back and worked on a new version. I drew the new ‘A’ on a paper towel to get that bleeding effect. It was intended to be somewhat abstract but, at the same time, be recognizable as a letter form.

Drew Hammell Andrew Agassi Logo Tennis Apparel

DH: How often were you able to meet with Andre? What did he think of the logo and his footwear/apparel?

 

TA: For the logo project, I only met with him the one time when we presented to him in Key Biscayne. He gave great feedback, I went back to Beaverton, designed the revised version, and then I moved on. I believe the tennis apparel product designer, Devon Burt, presented the final version to him. There were no revisions requested, so I feel he must have been satisfied. When Andre came to campus last year to shoot the 30th Anniversary Promo for Challenge Court, I noticed he was wearing a custom pair of sneakers with the ‘A’ logo and that made me feel pretty good.

Drew Hammell Andre Agassi Logo Nike Air Assailant

DH: Wilson Smith designed Andre’s sneakers during the mid to late ’90s – what was it like partnering with him?

 

TA: Wilson, of course, was an amazing designer for Nike. He is such a positive and energetic force of a person. Footwear and apparel designers had a mutual respect for each other’s work. There was some ideation at the beginning of the season but the real collaboration was mostly around color. Any graphic placement on footwear was usually done by Wilson himself. The only footwear that I worked on heavily that had a real visual impact, was the Air Tech Challenge IV.

Drew Hammell Andre Agassi Logo Air Zoom Challenge

DH: What was your all-time favorite project to work on while you were at Nike?

 

TA: I had an almost 37 year career at Nike. I was in apparel the whole time, so there were probably hundreds of projects but not many had the staying power of the early tennis work. My favorite has to be the Challenge Court line from ’90. I just really like the story of the ball logo coming from the ink cap. I like that the whole line looks like a tribute to art from the 80’s/90’s, while still holding up as something modern and unique. It looks like ’Nike’ to me.

 

DH: What are you up to these days?

 

TA: I’m freshly retired from Nike, so that’s a new feeling for me. I still have a passion for sports and intend to keep following my favorites. I paint for a creative outlet. It’s a hobby for now but I’m into it and I did quite a few canvases last year. I’m also a fairly new grandfather and that is very exciting.

Drew Hammell Andre Agassi Logo Air Zoom Ablaze
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: A Brief History of Zoom Air

A Look Back: A Brief History of Zoom Air

If you’ve ever run, jumped, zigged, zagged, cut, or just plain walked on Zoom Air, you know the feeling. If you’ve tried on a sneaker designed for KD, or Kyrie, or PG, or Giannis, or the Brodie, you’ve felt it. You’ve experienced the ultra-responsive, super-lightweight cushioning cradling your foot and then springing it forward with every step. It’s been over 25 years since Zoom Air first made its way onto the sneaker scene, and it’s pretty impressive that a once radical technology we now take for granted has been so prevalent in sneaker design for this long. Zoom Air was certainly a risk when Nike started utilizing it in 1995. After all, everyone wanted Air Max sneakers – and the more Air, the better. Why would I want a skinnier Air bag that you couldn’t even see? Why would I want my foot lower to the ground?

Like everything else Nike does, Zoom Air came as a response to the athlete’s needs. Sure, Nike Air Max cushioning was great, but it was also bulky and heavy. Smaller, quicker athletes needed something lighter and more responsive – something that would give them an edge over their competitors. Zoom Air solved that problem by introducing an ultra-thin Air bag with hundreds of tiny synthetic springy fibers inside that cushioned the foot and provided better responsiveness than Air Max. The thin yet bouncy Zoom Air allowed the athlete’s foot to be closer to the ground for quicker movement.

At first, Zoom Air was called ‘Tensile Air.’ I was first introduced to the new technology in 1995 with sneakers like the Air Go Flight LWP (for basketball players like Penny Hardaway and Mitch Richmond), the Air Challenge LWP (for Andre Agassi), and the Air Zoom LWP running sneaker. LWP stood for Lightweight Performance and featured Tensile Air cushioning inside rather than the bigger Nike Air bags. Another early basketball sneaker that featured Tensile Air was the incredibly popular Air Zoom Flight 95, which was worn by players like Jason Kidd and Tim Hardaway. Clearly, implementing the word “Zoom” in the shoe’s name was a hit, and Nike quickly changed the name of the cushioning from ‘Tensile’ to ‘Zoom.’

In 1996, Nike released models like the Air Zoom Alpha for running and the Air Zoom Flight 96 for basketball. With the ‘96 Summer Olympics in the USA, it was the perfect opportunity for Nike to showcase their newest technology with models like the Air Zoom Flight ‘96 (worn by Penny Hardaway).

In 1997, Zoom Air was incorporated into pretty much every sneaker category – from Ken Griffey, Jr.’s cleats, to Andre Agassi’s Air Zoom Ablaze, to Barry Sanders’ turf trainers, to Penny Hardaway’s Foamposite. Zoom Air was even featured in soccer shoes and hockey skates. Because you couldn’t actually see the Zoom Air through a window like you could with Nike Air Max, designers got creative and added hypnotizing circular patterns on the bottom of the sneaker soles to give you a visual idea of what Zoom Air looked and felt like.

The Air Jordan line actually took a few years to incorporate the low-to-the-ground cushioning into the soles of their shoes, but once MJ started rocking Zoom Air, he never went back. Starting with the Air Jordan 12, designer Tinker Hatfield swapped out full-length Air soles for Zoom Air. Jordan loved the cushioning so much, he convinced teammate Scottie Pippen to try them out. Scottie also loved the cushioning so much, he asked Nike to swap out the Air Max cushioning in his Air Pippen 1 for Zoom Air, which they did for him during their ‘97 playoff run.

In ‘99, Nike began incorporating visible Zoom Air into their sneakers. This way, we could see the ultra-thin fibers that were packed inside and provided the springy feel. By this time, Nike’s Alpha Project was well underway. Alpha Project was an opportunity for Nike to further test and experiment with new designs and technologies like visible Zoom Air in sneakers and DRI-F.I.T. in clothing. Some of the more popular sneakers featuring visible Zoom Air were the Air Vis Zoom Uptempo (worn by Allan Houston and Patrick Ewing), the Air Zoom Citizen running sneaker, and the Air Zoom Beyond (worn by Agassi).

For the next 20 years, Zoom Air would be incorporated into the Air Jordan line, as well as Kobe and LeBron sneakers. Basically, all the signature basketball sneakers today – from the PG’s to the KD’s to the Kyrie’s – feature Zoom Air. For running, Nike continues to tinker and improve upon Zoom Air from modest running sneakers like the Air Zoom Pegasus line to flashy and aggressive runners like the Air Zoom Alphafly Next%. Zoom Air is simply the best cushioning money can buy and has more than lived up to the hype it created over 25 years ago.

A Look Back: Holiday 2000

A Look Back: Holiday 2000

Back in 2000, the Eastbay Holiday catalogs were very, very lit. 2000 was a pivotal year in sneaker history, as we were beginning to see Nike retro some of our favorite shoes like the Air Jordan V, VI and XI for the first time. On the flip side, sneaker brands were dropping innovative new technologies and designs. Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson were dominating the NBA, but Air Jordans were still as popular as ever. Flipping through the old holiday catalogs, there are way too many sneakers to write about in just one blog post, so here are some of the highlights I think are the most memorable from the three Eastbay Holiday catalogs that dropped back in 2000:

 

Air Jordan XI Retro

It has become a yearly tradition for sneakerheads around the world to pick up the latest Air Jordan XI retro that drops every holiday season. Back in 2000, the Air Jordan XI returned for the first time since its debut in ‘95-’96. The classic ‘Concord’ colorway dropped in late October that year, and then the ‘Space Jam’ color released December 13th. I was extremely hyped, and I made sure to secure a pair of the Concords. It’s my favorite sneaker ever, and the retro was as nice as the OG in my opinion.

Air Jordan VI Retro

Along with the AJ XI retro came the first retro of the Air Jordan VI in both the black/infrared and white/navy colorways. The sample pair of black/infrareds featured in the Eastbay catalog is notoriously nicknamed the Butchered 6,’ because it features reverse infrared colorblocking on the outsole. The white/navy color was not an OG colorway, so it was the first time this version released.

Air Jordan V

As you can see, it was quite a season for Air Jordan retro releases, as the AJ V returned as well in a new white/silver/black colorway and a white/maize/royal color, which was inspired by Michael Jordan’s high school jersey. Before the ‘Laney’ 5’s came out, I had no idea where MJ went to high school, so this was a great storytelling colorway for Jordan Brand.

Jordan Jumpman Super Freak

One of the greatest wide receivers of all time – Randy Moss – was one of the first Jordan Team members. His sneaker, the Super Freak, featured a full-length Zoom Air sockliner and a zip-up upper. It was a gorgeous sneaker that a lot of people would love to see retro.

adidas The Kobe

By 2000, Kobe Bryant was a massive star in the league and had his own sneaker line with adidas. Designed by Eirik Lund Nielsen, the sneaker was inspired by the sleek, sporty Audi TT. At the time, adidas utilized adiPRENE+ cushioning and a 3D Torsion system for stability. The Kobe released November 3rd for $124.99. Sadly, the Kobe 2 would not fare as well and ultimately led to Bryant leaving adidas and eventually signing with Nike.

Reebok The Question

Even though Allen Iverson’s first signature sneaker had dropped four years earlier, it was still as popular as ever in the year 2000. High school and college teams could get the sneaker for a discounted price of just $79.99, and the Question came in basically every colorway imaginable. There was also a low version available for $69.99. 

Nike Shox

One of the greatest advancements in technology was Nike’s Shox line, which debuted in 2000. Nike unveiled a running sneaker called the Shox R4, a basketball sneaker called the Shox BB4, and a training sneaker called the Shox XT4. All three silhouettes featured urethane columns, aka “Shox,” for impact protection and energy return. Most notably, they were worn by Toronto star Vince Carter initially, and over the next few years most college and pro players rocked them at some point. 

Test Your Sneaker Knowledge

Test Your Sneaker Knowledge

Have you ever wondered how much you actually know about sneaker culture? Well here is your chance to test your knowledge. This ten-question quiz will cover some sneaker history as well as sneakers in pop culture. Click the link to get started.