words_Nick DePaula For fans of signature basketball shoes during the 1990's (if you were remotely interested in shoes, this includes you), it was easy to get caught up in one of the many awesome namesake series, like the Air Penny line, (obviously) the cemented Jordan legacy, and everyone from GP to Sir Charles to Scottie Pippen and more. Tinker, Avar and Coop were going in on literally every design. Now more than a decade later, it seems as though the hard work, industry shifting designs and legacies of the past are seemingly being undone with the release of each and every pieced-together hybrid "tribute" shoe. The Nike Air Max A Lot, a [loosely credited] meld of the Air More Uptempo and Air Pippen II, is hardly what anyone would label a modern icon. The upper features the bold A-I-R lettering that was impossible to miss in 1996, sure, but without the attribute that made the Air More Uptempo such a great shoe -- its complementary aligned full-length Max Air unit. The jeweled TPU bar from the Air Pippen II is dropped into the midsole instead, with a heel Air unit and re-appropriated font up the spine of the shoe. The flow of the original icons is gone. Whether it was being worn by Scottie during yet another Bulls title run, or by Brendan Fraser in a memorable George of the Jungle scene [7:30 mark!!], the Wilson Smith III-created Air More Uptempo was an icon in basketball footwear. Instead of keeping the flow and sleekness of the Air Pippen II and the high tech essence of the Air More Uptempo intact, the Air Max A Lot feels rushed, unwelcome and certainly not signature level. And then there's the tongue tag. Referencing "Air" from the '96 Air More Uptempo and "Zm" from the '98 Pippen II is entirely unfair. Let's say you're at a party, and a flatchested girl approaches you with a shirt that reads "D-cup." Same thing. [Basically.] 'Cause there's no Zoom Air in the Max A Lot. Retailing at $88, the shoe features a visible heel Air-Sole unit and a Phylon midsole. While the legacy of the Air Pippen line might not be placed in the same tier as the Air Jordan and Air Penny series by most sneakerheads, the five numbered models and the Air More Uptempo still deserve a bit more respect than what has been churned out as the Air Max A Lot, an entirely ridiculous name in its own right.
For old time's sake, here's a classic image of Scottie in action, wearing the Air More Uptempo during a '96 Olympic Games practice.