words & images // Nick DePaula
The next stage of our four-part look at Nike's "Innovations That Changed The Game" display takes a look at what is often considered by all to be the "Golden Era."
While the following five sneakers are absolutely icons of the era, it is insane to actually tally up the shoes that also released during this time that left their mark on the end of the 20th century.
Air Penny II. Air Shake Ndestrukt. Air Pippen. Zoom Glove. Zoom Flight V. Zoom Hawk Flight. Air Garnett III. Air Foamposite Max. Air Adjust Force. Viz Zoom Uptempo. Zoom GP.
Just to name a few, of course.
Check out the icons from 96-99 that are currently on display at Nike's DC Armory space ahead.
Also check out: 20 Years of Innovation // 1992 - 1995
1996 -- Air Swoopes
When Sheryl Swoopes became the first woman to ever have a signature basketball shoe, it was a big deal. As part of Nike's ongoing "Let Them Play" campaign supporting women's hoops, the first of a handful of Swoopes models came just in time for the launch of the WNBA.
1996 -- Air More Uptempo [Designed by Wilson Smith III]
Proud of their new full-length Air Max bag, Nike couldn't have done a better job of showing it off than boldly spelling the words "A-I-R" right alongside Scottie Pippen's feet. Already memorably worn all throughout the Bulls' record-setting 72-10 season and 1996 NBA Championship run, the Air More Uptempo took on even more memories that summer during the Atlanta Summer Olympics.
1996 -- Air Jordan XII [Designed by Tinker Hatfield]
Charged with following up the frenzied patent leather-featuring Air Jordan XI, Tinker's most legendary example of "zigging when everyone else zags" was seen the next year in the Air Jordan XII. Inspired by the rising sun of the Japanese flag and the luxury items that defined Michael's personal life at the time, the original XII oozed quality and craftsmanship with a full grain leather upper, gold eyelets and a lizard skin overlay that drafted off of one of MJ's watch straps. On the performance front, the XII is also the first Air Jordan to feature Zoom Air.
1997 -- Foamposite One [Designed by Eric Avar]
With explosive playmaker Penny Hardaway as the perfect headliner, Eric Avar and Nike's Innovation Kitchen launched one of the most iconic sneakers in the brand's history. It's the one shoe Tinker Hatfield is on record saying he wished he'd designed. With an almost liquid-looking molded unibody upper that was unlike anything we'd ever seen, the Foamposite also introduced to the world full-length Zoom Air.
1999 -- Nike Zoom Flightposite I [Designed by Eric Avar]
Following up on the ground-breaking Foamposite One, the Flighposite looked to dial down the on-court performance and lead the industry as it moved into the 2000s. With a more contoured Foamposite upper the hugged the foot and allowed for better flex in all the right zones, the Zoom FP1 also included embedded Zoom Air units right in the sockliner for ridiculous levels of cushioning. The much loved shoe was worn by everyone from Kevin Garnett to UCONN's Khalid El-Amin to even "Spider Man's" Green Goblin.