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

A Look Back: The Ten Greatest Back to School Sneakers of 1996

A Look Back: The Ten Greatest Back to School Sneakers of 1996

During the month of August, I always get nostalgic about how I used to count down the last days of summer as a kid – it was exciting to go back to school and see my friends again, but it was a bummer to have to sit in class instead of playing sports outside all day. This year will look a lot different for most students, with virtual learning and face coverings the big issues in 2020. Back in the ‘90s, we wouldn’t even know what a “Zoom class” meant – we were just starting to “surf the web.” The ‘90s felt a lot simpler in a lot of ways. I was flipping through an old Back to School Eastbay from 1996 the other day and couldn’t believe how many classic sneakers were available to us back then. Of course, for kids like me, we could only have one pair. And they better last us at least 6 months. Here’s a look back at the kicks I used to stare at as a 14-year-old kid: the 10 Greatest Back to School Sneakers of 1996:

10. Air Jordan XI Low

Michael Jordan wore the black/red version in a few games back in the ‘96 Playoffs. He never wore the white/cobalt grey version in a pro game though. Fun fact: for some odd reason, the original boxes of the white/cobalt grey say “IE” on them, but the black/red version doesn’t have that on the label. Nobody truly knows what “IE” stands for, though most assume it stands for “International Exclusive.”

9. Air Griffey Max

Back in ‘96, baseball trainers were becoming as popular as basketball shoes mostly because of Ken Griffey, Jr. “The Kid” was crushing it with the Mariners and had plenty of great ads and commercials thanks to his partnership with Nike. His first official sneaker was also a hit and led to many more classics the next few years. Nike even launched some ads in the fall of ‘96 featuring Junior running for president. 

8. Air More Uptempo

The Team USA colorway that Scottie Pippen wore in the summer of ‘96 was a huge hit as Dream Team III easily won gold in Atlanta. I had the Air Much Uptempo, which was basically the same sneaker but with AIR only in the heel as opposed to the whole sneaker. The More Uptempo has retroed countless times, but we’ve yet to see a Much retro. 

7. ASICS GEL-Kayano

If you’re a serious runner, chances are you’ve messed with a Kayano. ASICS has been a trusted running company for decades, thanks to their patented GEL cushioning technology, and the Kayano was the top-of-the-line model with GEL in the heel and forefoot. 

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

I ran in these back in high school. They were my first serious running sneaker and I absolutely loved them. I loved how they looked, how they fit, and the 3D G.R.I.D. technology inside. They were also the first sneaker I wore that had “motion control,” which basically meant they propelled your foot forward as you ran.

5. adidas Response Trail

I remember a lot of kids rocked these in school. I loved the design and I’m surprised adidas hasn’t brought them back yet. They were comfortable, had great traction, and were even water resistant. I would definitely rock a pair today. Over the next few years, adidas would continue to tinker with the Response Trail for successive models and they were all designed very well.

4. Converse All Star 2000

In 1996, Converse brought back the classic All Star model with a modern take. It featured visible REACT cushioning in the heel and tumbled full-grain leather. I remember some pro players wore these, including Chris Webber after he left Nike. A lot of people wish Converse would bring these back.

3. Fila Grant Hill II

Detroit star Grant Hill was super popular his first few seasons in the league, and was even compared to Michael Jordan. He had some nice signature sneakers with Fila, and the Grant Hill II was one of their best sellers. This is a model that has returned recently and is still popular today.

2. Reebok Icepick

Seattle’s high-flying forward Shawn Kemp rocked the all-white Icepick in the league Finals versus the Bulls. Kemp was the kind of player that basically made any sneaker look good, and I will always remember The Reingman giving the Bulls all they could handle in that series rocking these.

1. adidas EDT Top Ten 2000

adidas EQT Top Ten 2000 – This is a sneaker that a young Kobe Bryant wore. Featuring “Feet You Wear” technology, adidas was definitely ahead of the game when it came to designing sneakers with that “low-to-the-ground” feel. Bryant would continue to rock “Feet You Wear” adidas models for his first few seasons.

Sneaker Showdown

Sneaker Showdown

March is the month of underdogs and Cinderellas. It’s a time to celebrate buzzer beaters and get emotional as you watch seniors walk off the court for the last time. More importantly though, it’s a time to fill out brackets and get into dumb arguments with your friends. Here at Eastbay we’re giving you the gift of another bracket for you to fill out and vote on. Only instead of college basketball teams, this bracket is filled with popular basketball shoes from the ’90s. Make sure to follow along on our social media channels to vote for your favorite shoe from that decade.

A Throwback to the Future with A’ja Wilson

A Throwback to the Future with A’ja Wilson

A'ja Wilson - Be strong.

Less than a year ago, A’ja Wilson moved from her home state of South Carolina to the desert lands of Nevada to begin her professional basketball career. Since then, she’s allowed nothing to deter her from rising to the top. Her journey has not been without struggle, but Wilson has learned to celebrate her successes along the way and use her experiences (both good and bad) to shape the future.

Respecting the Past

Although twenty-two-year-old Wilson is a new name in the basketball biz, she’s already rubbing elbows with elite basketball icons, broadcasting college games on television, and judging professional dunk contests. However, there was a time when she could barely get on the court to log any minutes at all.

“When I was 13 or 14 years old, I was absolutely horrible at basketball,” Wilson said. “My dad was the assistant coach, and I still didn’t get in.”

Though times have changed, Wilson remains grateful for those moments that shaped her into the athlete she is now. She fondly remembers the first time she made it off the bench with only 20 seconds left in the game.

“That was my defining moment,” Wilson said. “From that experience I really wanted to get more time on the court with my teammates. It motivated me to work hard and focus on my craft, and it’s helped me become the player I am today.”

But while her road to stardom was influenced by key moments on the court, her path to leadership was influenced by a specific person. Without hesitation, Wilson will tell you that her biggest role model and shero was her grandma.

“She was so special to me,” Wilson said. “And the beautiful thing is she never watched me play basketball, but she always had a listening ear and led me in the right direction. I hope I’m half the woman she was.”

Acknowledging the Present

Wilson’s college career with South Carolina ended in 2018 after making it to the quarter finals of the national basketball tournament. Although it ended sooner than she would have liked, it didn’t hinder her move to the pros. She was the first overall draft pick in 2018 and was selected by the newly formed Las Vegas team.

A'ja Wilson - Be proud.

Less than 10 games into the 2018 season, Wilson set a record with 35 points and over 10 rebounds in a single game (only the second rookie in league history to do so). By the end of the season, Wilson led her team in points, rebounds, and blocks making her an obvious contender to win Rookie of the Year, which she did. But despite the addition of the young superstar, the team finished in ninth, one spot short of the playoffs.

During that inaugural year, the Las Vegas team faced challenges adjusting to a new coach and a new city, but Wilson looks forward to the potential of the upcoming season.

“We know each other now,” Wilson said. “We know how each of us plays, and we can feed off each other, so I’m excited to see our chemistry in the game.”

Embracing the Future

Wilson’s past has impacted who she is today, but those are only the early chapters of her story. There are records to be broken and glass ceilings to shatter, and Wilson is prepared to forge her own way.

“I think mentally I’ve changed the way I approach certain things in life, not just on the court, but off the court as well,” Wilson said.

She’s looking forward to her future playing professional basketball and seizing opportunities to advocate for female empowerment.

“I didn’t understand the voice I had until I got to the professional league, and I saw how people listened,” Wilson said. “So, I’m not going to just sit here. I’m going to speak on empowering women because we deserve a change. There has to be a change.”

Wilson also looks forward to seeing her non-profit organization, the A’ja Wilson Foundation, grow and make a difference in the lives of kids struggling with learning disabilities and bullying.

“I was diagnosed with dyslexia in high school, and I absolutely hated it,” Wilson said. “It took a long time for me to come to terms with it. Once I found the resources, they really helped me overcome the fact that I had a learning disability. So, I wanted to start the A’ja Wilson Foundation to ensure schools have those resources.”

The foundation is still young, but, working with her parents, Wilson is excited to be raising money and dreaming of the impact it’ll have down the road.

A'ja Wilson - Be you.

Wilson understands that the moments and mentors of her past have helped bring her to where she is now and that, by investing in the lives of the next generation, she can pass on the torch.

“The reason I play, and the reason I am who I am is because I want young kids, both boys and girls, to look up to me and say, ‘Okay, she did it the right way. She succeeded, and it can be done,’” Wilson said.

Wilson has only begun writing her story and making a difference in the world around her. And as she continues to be a leader, on and off the court, you won’t be able to ignore this superstar.

To shop A’ja Wilson’s looks visit eastbay.com.

Looking for more reads featuring Nike Air models? Check out these Air Max Month blog posts:
Release Report: Nike Air Max 720
A Look Back: Nike Air in the Early ’00s

A Look Back: Nike Air in the Early ’00s

A Look Back: Nike Air in the Early ’00s

Happy Air Max Month! Five years ago, Nike officially declared March 26 Air Max Day, and the entire month of March became known as Air Max Month. Since then, Nike has taken the opportunity to debut new Air Max technologies and showcase new takes on old favorites. Across the globe, Nike celebrates by hosting special interactive events for Air Max fans everywhere, with the highlight being March 26, the day the Air Max 1 first launched in 1987.

This year, I thought it would be fun to look back at Air Max technology from the early 2000s. Usually sneakers come back around and become popular again after about 20 years, but that hasn’t been the case for a lot of the early 2000 Nike running models. For whatever reason, the sneaker community is nowhere near as enamored with these models compared to those from the ’90s, which shows how truly special that decade was for sneaker technology. That’s not to say the early 2000s shouldn’t be revisited – in fact, in such a saturated sneaker market, it’s worth taking a look back at the beginning of the twenty-first century to see if there were any hidden gems that are worth a retro.

2000

The turn of the decade represented a turning point for Nike Air Max running sneakers. There were still some familiar lines, like the Triax series, the Tailwind, Air Max, and the Air Max Plus. Each continued to live on into the 21st century after a strong run in the ’90s. For easy shopping reference, Eastbay catalogs featured technical descriptions underneath every sneaker. For the runner’s information, the sneakers were broken up into different categories: Cushioned, Cushioned Support, Support, or Lightweight. There was also a tiny diagram that showed where the Air bubbles were located – either in the heel, forefoot, or both. For reference, when going through the old pages, Eastbay labeled the month and year in the top or bottom corner underneath the page number. For instance, “0400” stood for April 2000.

In 2000, Air Max Plus technology took center stage with the massive hit Air Max Plus. Nike also released the Air Tuned Sovereign and Air Tuned Precision for women, and the Air Tuned Sirocco and Air Tuned Max for men. The Air Tuned Max and Air Tuned Precision were special because they were the first sneakers to feature full-length visible Tuned Air units. The goal of Tuned Air was to give the runner a more stable ride compared to other Air Max models without compromising cushioning.

The Air Max Tailwind line continued in 2000 with the Tailwind 5, which featured Tuned Air instead of an Air Max heel unit. There was also a visible Air-Sole unit in the forefoot, for the runner seeking great cushioning, durability, and support.

The Air Max 2000 running shoe continued to evolve with both better cushioning and support, and also featured a visible full-length Tuned Air unit. It was part of the Alpha Project – Nike’s multi-year strategy to advance technology and design in thoughtful and creative ways. The Air Max Tailwind 6 again featured Tuned Air in the heel and some pretty flashy colorways, like the glacier/navy/coast for women and the grey/maize/white/navy for men.

2001

The Air Max in 2001 started to look much different, with straight lines instead of the zigzag pattern seen on the AM 2000. Heading into its fourth year, the Air Max Plus continued to be a hit and Nike continued to release new colorways. That year, the Air Max Plus 3 made its debut, featuring Tuned Air in the heel. It was nowhere near as popular as the original, though.

2002

In 2002, we were introduced to the Air Max Glare for women, the Air Max Tailwind 7, the Air Max Plus 4, and the Air Max Plus Slip-On inspired by the OG.

2003

Out of all the models, the Air Max featured in the 2003 catalogs deserves the most attention and is most deserving of retro consideration. The introduction of visible Tubular Air gave the sole a dramatically different look, and while the Tubular Air didn’t catch on it transformed into the fresh and modern sole we know today.

Also of note in 2003 was the Air Max Bambino for women, with a price tag of just $89.99. The Tailwind also returned to Air Max cushioning in the heel as opposed to Tuned Air in ’03, and Nike released a fifth version of the Air Max Plus featuring a double-lasted stretch synthetic upper.

Throughout these catalog pages, it’s worth noting that Nike was not retroing any models yet. It was pedal to the metal, full steam ahead, with all new models every year (except for a few new Air Max 95 colors and the continuation of the successful Air Max Plus). We are definitely in an interesting time period right now, where sneakerheads crave the latest models, but also want sneakers from the past. Only time will tell if consumers will continue to want the old and the new – I’m hoping it’s both.