words // Zac Dubasik
When it comes to legendary and long-running signature sneaker lines, the Air Jordan is obviously the king. By a million miles. We just saw yesterday that Air Jordans account for at least one-third of all sneaker dollars spent on eBay. It’s easily the most popular. It’s the longest running. There’s no sense debating it.
What about the next longest running though? The LeBron line appears poised to pass it by in the next couple years, but as of right now, the number two spot belongs to #3. Allen Iverson’s signature line kicked off in his rookie season in 1996 with the Question, and concluded over a decade later with the final model in the line, the Answer 13, in 2009.
Over the course of that time, AI left quite a legacy on the court, including a Rookie of the Year trophy, 11 All-Star appearances, 2 All-Star MVPs, three First Team and three Second Team All-NBA selections, four scoring titles, and one League MVP. Despite all those individual accolades however, Iverson only made one Finals appearance, where his Philadelphia 76ers dropped a 4-1 series to the Los Angeles Lakers.
So, while AI’s signature line may have been long running, he didn’t have a “Last Shot” while wearing it. There was no “Flu Game.” There really aren’t any “Defining Moments” to re-package, aside from his step over Tyronn Lue and famous rookie year crossover on Mike.
There’s no debating the line’s longevity, but what legacy did it leave?
As we saw over the weekend, in celebration of AI’s jersey retirement, the success of the Question is obvious. Pushing 100 different versions over the years, it’s not only the first shoe in the line, but by far the most important. After that though, there haven’t been a ton of particularly memorable entries. Sure, the original Answer can be considered a classic, and the Answer 4 was worn during his MVP season, but even when retroed last year, both of those shoes were far overshadowed by retro releases from the Shaq and Shawn Kemp lines.
Neither Shaq, nor Shawn Kemp, won any titles in their Reebok signature lines, so they share that in common with AI. Penny Hardaway has one of the most popular signature lines of all-time – a line that’s been resurrected and is currently supporting new modes – and he didn’t have even have of the personal accomplishments of AI.
Allen Iverson left an unquestionable influence on the game. His "swag" changed the feel of the League 15 years before the term became popular. The way he acted, the way he dressed, and the way he played, defined his era, and can still be felt today. But outside of the Question, and to a much lesser extent, the Answer 1 and 4, his signature line feels a lot like a footnote, conidering it's the second-longest running signature basketball line in history – especially considering how powerful his influence was, including off the court. Each model after the Answer V left something to be desired, and have few fans all these years later.
How do you rank the legacy of the line? Other than its longevity, has it made an impact on today’s sneaker world? Other than when AI gets voted into the Hall of Fame once eligible, will his line be remembered and carried on in the future? Which models rank the highest for you, and would you like to see Reebok expand on his series going forward?