words & image // Zack Schlemmer
March Madness in the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament will soon be upon us, so up for the card of the week are a couple of college basketball sneaker sightings. It seemed like Michael Finley had been in the NBA forever before retiring in 2010, but this card is proof that he was once young and played for the Wisconsin Badgers (ranked #4 in this year's East Region of the bracket). Finley was a Jordan Brand ambassador for much of his pro career and wore his share of classic Air Jordans including many great PE's. However, we see him here in a classic Nike model, the Air Up. The Air Up released in 1994 and was a staple shoe for many guards in both the NCAA and NBA. Worn most notably by Scottie Pippen and Penny Hardaway, the Air Up was worn by any number of players from Mark Price to Eddie Jones. The Air Up is a true classic that is, in my humble opinion(and Air Command Force fans might disagree, but), the greatest Nike basketball shoe to never yet be retroed.
The second shoe spotted on this card is the Nike Air Max Uptempo 2, worn by an unidentified Michigan player. The Uptempo 2 was one of the first basketball shoes to utilize the Air Max 2 technology, an updated version of Air Max. For whatever reason, the Uptempo 2 was never worn much by NBA players, so it is one of the Nike basketball shoes more closely associated with college ball than the NBA. It was made popular by schools like Duke and Michigan's Fab Five. Even its most popular colorway (Black/White/Blue, seen here) is nicknamed "Duke" for, of course, the Duke Blue Devils.
By now many of you have filled out your brackets for the 2012 tournament, so who do you have taking it all this year?