Why the Nike Terminator Was the Perfect Shoe for the Hoyas
words // Zac Dubasik
These days, if you think about Georgetown from a sneaker perspective, there’s a good chance Jordan Brand comes to mind. And why shouldn’t it? Their most notable player of the modern era, Allen Iverson, is widely remembered for his Concord 11s while playing there in the mid-‘90s. And furthermore, since the early 2000s, Georgetown has been a Jordan Brand school.
For older fans though, or those into college basketball history, the school is much closer associated with a very different shoe. When Nike introduced the Dunk in 1985 as their premier college team shoe, it was adopted by teams like Michigan, Kentucky and UNLV. But not Georgetown.
Fresh off their 1984 National Championship, (and probably thanks to additional influence from coach John Thompson, who was a consultant with Nike since 1980), Georgetown received its own shoe: The Terminator. The shoe, while admittedly similar to the Dunk, came complete with their “Hoyas” moniker across the heel, in place of the standard “Nike” on the pairs that released.
The shoe represented something totally unique in the sneaker world. With signature shoes just about to become commonplace in professional basketball, the Terminator carried the clout of an NBA signature model, while being made specifically for a college. Along with Kentucky’s Converse Cons Blue, it represents one of the only times in history that a shoe can be considered a true “team signature” shoe.
While Georgetown’s most celebrated moments came just prior to them wearing the Terminator (they’d go on to lose to Villanova in the finals of the 1985 NCAA Tournament, thus preventing the Terminator from fully realizing it’s historic potential), the shoe has become an important part of the school’s history. It also brings up some interesting questions about why the concept never took off any further?
In the years following the Hoyas’ 1984 title victory, schools like UNLV, and Duke with their back-to-back titles in ’91 and ’92, enjoyed high profiles, and increasing popularity. But neither of those schools, nor any in the future, would go on to get their own shoe from Nike the way that Georgetown did.
The shoe’s significance can still even be felt today. In the past week, we’ve seen not only one, but two different releases which pay tribute to this moment in sneaker history. The Georgetown entry to Jordan Brand’s AJKO Rivalry Pack features a block reminiscent of the classic Terminator look. Nike SB launched a Rivalry Pack of their own, which included a Georgetown colorway of the Dunk High, complete with Terminator-like “NIKE” font on the heel.
These days, following years and years of team shoes worn across both the NBA and NCAA, like the Hyperdunk, we’ve seen another shift. The 2013-14 season saw an increasing number of NBA signature shoes, like the KD 6 and LeBron 11, done up in team colorways for many of Nike’s top schools. While it remains to be seen whether this trend continues in the long term, one thing is for sure: the Terminator remains the first, and one of the only times, that a sneaker model was created for a specific college. And that’s earned the Terminator an important place in sneaker history.