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The Rise Of Allen Iverson And Reebok Basketball // An Oral History

words & interviews // Nick DePaula:
additional reporting // Ian Stonebrook & George Kiel III

There are moments in time that just don’t sound right.

Allen Iverson turning 40 is one of those moments.

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Todd Krinsky, Reebok VP: There was a small group of us here that are basketball junkies, and we just remember watching him get to the tournament his sophomore year, and he was just exciting to watch. His speed was just insane. He was little, but he had hops. People don’t remember, but he was dunking on guys in college. Even back then, before the transformation with the tats and cornrows, he still had a swagger about him, that confidence and he was a good looking kid. He definitely separated himself that year from a lot of other players in college. He was everything you look for in our business. We were looking at it from two lenses. We were fans of basketball, but then we were also looking to sign someone, and he definitely was someone that’d be great for our business.

Allen Iverson AI SLAM Cover Jan 96Gary Moore, Allen’s youth mentor and longtime Manager: To be offered a scholarship at one of the most prestigious universities of its kind in the country and to play for a legendary coach in John Thompson, it was a blessing. I know that he’s thankful every day, because I’m thankful every day.

Dennis Paige, founder of SLAM Magazine: I was a huge Steph [Marbury] fan and a huge Iverson fan in college, and there was no dispute with Iverson, but I was reluctant to have a college player on the cover. It was a really poor seller, so I was very reluctant to do a college cover again after that. We split it with [UCLA’s] Charles O’Bannon though, so we had two regional covers, but no one gave a shit about O’Bannon. [laughs]

Que Gaskins, Reebok Basketball Business Unit Manager: I was from DC, and I was a huge Georgetown fan. I had somewhat of an inside track into Allen, because my High School coach had become an assistant coach over at Georgetown. The current Georgetown coach, was actually one of my high school teammates. Me and John the 3rd were actually high school teammates and classmates. I had a great affinity for Georgetown and was always very aware of their players. When Allen first came in, I was like, “Oh my god, this kid is amazing.”

Dennis Paige: In that first interview that we did, my main question was, ‘Where did you get the crossover from?’ I thought it’d be some obscure guy on the playgrounds of Hampton, but it was a teammate of his that barely played at Georgetown, Dean Oliver. He was really cool about that, and I was afraid I’d offend him, as I usually do to people, by asking that. But he was like, “Nah, nah, that’s cool. It was Dean Oliver actually. He showed me how he did it, and then I just tried to do it a little better.” That was so cool how humble he was about it and giving the right credit.

Que Gaskins: I’ll never forget this game, it was against UMASS. Allen was coming down, and he had drifted across half court. He was coming towards the left, he crossed the ball to the right coming towards the center, took a couple dribbles and just came right down the middle and banged on Marcus Camby. I just remember saying to myself, “Oh my god, we gotta get this kid! That’s the one!” Todd had the same epiphany. He was watching the game too, and said the same thing to himself.

Todd Krinsky: The next day, we saw eachother, and Que was like, “Yo!” And I was like, “Yo!!” It was an extensively intelligent conversation. [laughs]

AI GTown XI 500Que Gaskins: Todd, Scott and I all were at the office after that and got together, and we started talking about trying to get Allen and what it would take. We started embarking on this path to try and convince people at Reebok that we should go after him. In the beginning, almost everyone inside the company was against it, and no one thought it was a good idea. Allen was playing at Georgetown, which is a top Nike school, and John Thompson was on the Board of Directors with Nike. He played at Bethel, which was a Nike High School, and he went to all the Nike camps. There were rumors that Nike was flying him around to go to these camps, and everyone thought it was ridiculous that we’d even think we had a shot at a kid like that.

Todd Krinsky: At that point, he had arrived, and we felt right then that he was what we needed. That play on Camby, he had arrived on the national landscape in the NCAA tournament. We had already been talking about him, but that was the moment where we went, “Yeah. He’s the guy.” Before that, he had the swagger and we knew he was a great player, and he was exciting and had no fear, but that next day, we moved the conversation from 20 miles an hour to 80 miles an hour. Right after that, we started to develop the Question.

Que Gaskins: We started working on the project before Allen even committed to turn pro. We were young, we were risktakers and I like to think somewhat visionary. [laughs] We felt like, “Here’s a kid that might come out, and if he comes out, we want to be ready. We want to show him that we’re serious.” There were just so many fucking questions around him as a player, around his character and around whether or not Reebok could even afford and be in the running for a player of that stature, so we called it The Question.

1 Mar 1995:  Guard Allen Iverson #3 of the Georgetown Hoyas pauses for a breath on the court at the USAir Arena in Washington, D.C. during the game against the Seton Hall Pirates.  Georgetown defeated Seton Hall 96-92.  Mandatory Credit:  Scott Wachter/Al

By the time Allen Iverson was selected with the 1st overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft — a draft that’s routinely referred to as one the top 3 deepest drafts in league history — AI not only donned his already-made Sixers rookie jersey over his suit, but he also slyly affixed a gold Reebok logo pin that was visible in every press photo.

While Iverson was clearly beaming as his name was expectedly called first by David Stern on that June 26th night in East Rutherford, it was his landmark endorsement deal with Reebok that was hardly a given that spring.

As a company, Reebok had been going through a down period, to put it lightly. A decade earlier, during the height of the fitness boom in 1987, Reebok was enjoying a 30% share of the athletic footwear market, notably ahead of Nike’s 18% share. That was of course the year that a young designer at the Swoosh named Tinker Hatfield created the Air Max 1, Air Trainer 1 and Air Jordan III all in sequence, changing the fortunes at Nike for good. The innovation and advanced designs coming out of Beaverton, Oregon also severely hurt Reebok, as they looked to catch up on the product side in not one, but three categories. By 1996, Nike had a 43% market share in footwear, while Reebok’s had dwindled to just 16%.

1995 AI GTown John ThompsonWith Shaquille O’Neal, Shawn Kemp, Glenn Robinson and Nick Van Exel in the fold, Reebok’s pro backcourt was severely lacking, and in the eyes of two recently hired twenty-somethings in Todd Krinsky and Que Gaskins, the league’s top rookie Allen Iverson was — yes — clearly the answer that the brand needed.

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Todd Krinsky: Que and I were younger, and the consensus for most of the older and senior people at Reebok was, “Yes, we like him, but won’t there just be another Allen Iverson?” That’s when Que and I looked at eachother, and then looked at the audience and said, “No! That’s the point. Didn’t you see the Camby dunk?

Que Gaskins: There were a couple things that were in our favor. One was – and a lot of people didn’t see it this way, initially – but when Allen decided he was going to come out, he picked David Falk as his agent. Anybody who graduated from Georgetown, so Alonzo, Dikembe, Patrick Ewing and even the coach, John Thompson, they all were represented by David Falk. Everyone definitely felt at that time that he was definitely going to Nike. There was no ifs, ands or buts about it to some people at Reebok. But with David being a smart businessman, he understood that he should talk to anyone that was interested in Allen. It would drive up Allen’s value. You just don’t want to have one brand showing interest, you want to have all of the brands showing interest. The fact that Reebok was showing interest, if nothing else, it would give him more leverage with Nike.

David Falk, Allen Iverson’s first agent: He had been with Nike, both in High School and in college at Georgetown, but we took him around to different companies, and Reebok was really in need of a superstar. I told them that if they wanted to have serious discussions with Allen, that he wanted his own shoe and aggressive promotion. They were very enthusiastic about that.

Todd Krinsky: When you’ve got a young guy that’s a little smaller and plays off the dribble, that has an exciting game and can dunk in traffic – when you have all of those things, plus you’re a good looking kid and you’ve got a swagger and an urban profile – if you have three of those attributes, you’re good. If you have all of them, it’s like lightning in a bottle. Que and I were really, really pushing some of the older guys, but that’s one of the things about Reebok that’s so great. Young people have always had a voice at this place. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit, and [Reebok CEO] Paul Fireman went, “Ok, you know what, lets do it!”

1996 Draft jersey HIGH RESAllen Iverson: I remember when I went to Coach Thompson, and I told him it was between Reebok and Nike. He was on the Board of Directors at Nike. [laughs]

David Falk: Typically, I call all of the companies and give them an opportunity to make a presentation. It came down to Nike and Reebok, and obviously Coach Thompson is a strong Nike guy, and Georgetown is one of the top Nike schools. John’s on the Board at Nike, and has a close relationship with Phil Knight. [laughs] In that year though, in 1996, they weren’t nearly as aggressive. They wanted to have Allen, but they weren’t prepared to step up to the level that it was going to take to sign him.

Que Gaskins: I think David looked at it like, if he could have a star player like Jordan over at Nike, and now he’s got this brand Reebok that wants to come up on the rise and compete, if he can get a star player over here too, it’d be better for him. He would have the keys to the kingdom.

Todd Krinsky: David had some connections to Nike, obviously, but I think he was trying to run this one pretty fair. Allen always had an ambition to do things different too, and I think that he wanted to be his own guy. He wanted to be with a brand that was going to emphasize him, build him up and spend money and time with him. He wasn’t going to be behind five other players, like he would’ve been maybe at Nike. I think it was the kind of irreverence and risk taking that Allen was open to, but I think that David also pushed the deal. Any agent knows that it’s good to have players with different brands and diversify your own portfolio. David is smart, and I think he knew that maybe it would be right for him, to have a superstar at Reebok now. For everybody, it just felt right. Allen saw the level of attention and service he was going to get from us, and he saw where the brand was going.

Allen Iverson: I told Coach Thompson what Reebok was offering me and what Nike was offering me, and he told me it was a no brainer. [laughs] He said, “Well, you should sign with Reebok.”

David Falk: The deal was $ 60 Million, for 10 years. It was the highest guarantee that anyone had ever gotten in shoes.

PULL 1 Contract David Falk

Todd Krinsky: There wasn’t really any risk to us. Clearly, he had the [bowling alley] issue down in VA, but at that point, he was with John Thompson for a few years and going to Georgetown.

1996 AI Rook FULLDave Fogelson, Reebok PR Director, via 1996 statement: If we had hesitated, somebody else would have grabbed Allen. That’s the way this business works. We looked at it this way: With the coaching Allen received from John Thompson and the Georgetown program, and with David Falk as his representative, we felt there were strong people surrounding him.

David Falk: A lot of people criticize the connections that I enjoy with Georgetown, and obviously Coach Thompson is very close with Allen. It was like having an extra pair of eyes for the player. He kept a very close eye on what you’re doing, what you ought to be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing. I think that was really helpful.

Allen Iverson: It wasn’t just because of the money, it was because of the loyalty and the way that people treated me.

Gary Moore: It was just like family. It started in a family type environment. Todd Krinsky was there from the beginning and Paul Fireman was the chairman. It was just a tremendous team of people at Reebok.

David Falk: I felt my job as a brand manager for my clients was to understand what would work best, and not necessarily who would pay the most money. Over time, if you were establishing a signature shoe, you would make the most money from royalties anyway. Honestly, I had a very, very close relationship with Nike. From 1986 and on, the vast majority of our clients were with Nike, but there were situations where a younger company made more sense. When Michael signed with Nike in 1984, they were the #3 company. They were behind Converse and adidas, and over time [as Nike got stronger], companies that were coming into the market were looking to be very aggressive. At the time, Nike had Michael, Penny, Barkley and a bunch of people, and it wasn’t that we didn’t think Nike could do a good job, but they didn’t recruit Allen as aggressively. They said they could do certain things for him, but Reebok was so much more aggressive.

Allen Iverson: All along, Reebok told me they didn’t want to make me up. They didn’t want it to turn out to be something that I’m not. They wanted to let me be myself. They were just going to let me be, whatever that is.

PULL 2 Todd Krinsky

Que Gaskins: David Falk also took a page out of the Jordan book. When Jordan signed his deal with Nike and with the success he had with that deal, there was one person that Jordan had to connect with and everything would go through. That was Howard White at Nike, on Jordan’s behalf. So Falk said, “Who’s going to be that person over at Reebok?” He didn’t say who’s going to be his Howard White, but that’s basically what he was saying: “Who’s going to be Allen’s Howard White?” I’ll never forget my boss saying, “Well, it’s going to be Que.” Of course, I signed up for it, and I ended up moving to Philly.

Todd Krinsky: [Once we signed him,] it was kind of surreal for us, because a bunch of us had been championing Allen in our corporate offices for a long time. Myself and Que were internally trying to get everyone to know who he was for so long, to get everyone in the mindset that, “There’s a draft every year, but not an Allen Iverson every year.”

HEADER AI MJ Question Cross

When Allen Iverson was officially introduced as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, he was only 21 years-old, and yet, his confidence to take on the league and anyone in his way never wavered. “I want to be remembered as the best player in the NBA,” he flatly said when asked about his goals. “That’s a big statement, but I’m willing to try and back it up. I want to be the greatest basketball player.”

He was 21, and yeah, that was a big statement, but that’s the fearlessness that made his game, at his size, so successful. It was also the kind of fight and toughness that made Todd Krinsky and Que Gaskins such huge believers in his ability from Day 1 in the league.

Flight TurbulenceUnlike most players at that time, Allen had his own signature shoe ready for opening night of his rookie year. It was an advantage in their offer over Nike that Reebok strongly believed in all along. As I found out through a source who was then-entrenched in Nike Basketball during the 1990s, Nike was also indeed planning to offer Allen his own shoe.

Iverson’s first Nike signature shoe would’ve been the Air Flight Turbulence, only it would’ve been called the Air Bubba Chuck, a nod to his childhood nickname. “That’s why those had the black patent leather toe,” reveals the source. “Like the XIs he wore at Georgetown.”

The shoe would go on to be worn by Gary Payton, Damon Stoudamire and point guards around the league. Meanwhile, Iverson’s debut Reebok Question was, much like Krinsky had predicted his influence and on-court play to be, “lightning in a bottle.”

***
Que Gaskins: With Allen, we played up in our presentation that if you go to Nike, you’ll be one of many, but if you come here, you’ll be the man. You can go over there and wait for them to decide whether or not they’re going to market you, kind of like how they did with Kyrie now. Here’s a kid in Kyrie that doesn’t get his own shoe until now, in his fourth season. With Allen, we thought the soonest, at the very, very soonest, that Nike would’ve given him a shoe was by the All-Star break, because you need time to develop it. One of the things we heard from the research we did, was that he was definitely interested in having his own shoe from Day 1.

Todd Krinsky: The first time we met him in DC was more about just getting to know each other. We didn’t show him the shoe the first time, but we did the second time. His eyes lit up when he saw the shoe. I think he was really impressed that we were working hard and I think he really believed in us. He saw the passion that this wasn’t just another project for us and he just really liked the shoe. He made some comments on things he liked and didn’t like, so we made some small changes before we released it. A lot of us were new to the game, so it was new to us too to be able to work with someone like Allen. He definitely appreciated it from the beginning.

Que Gaskins: We had the shoe developed before we even met with Allen. We had been working on it, and we were gung ho that even if he didn’t sign with us, it was still the type of basketball shoe that we would want to make and bring out to the market. That’s why we called it The Question too, because it could’ve ended up being its own shoe. We would’ve had a Plan B and put it on someone like Kenny Anderson or Nick Van Exel, and we could’ve easily made it a lead guard shoe and built a guard story around it. We really weren’t thinking too much about a Plan B though, and we put all of our eggs in one basket with Allen.

Allen Iverson: I remember Todd showing me the shoe – and it didn’t really matter what it looked like. [laughs] You know what I mean? It didn’t even matter. Just the fact of it being my shoe was enough for me. It could’ve been anything. Then, seeing the shoe made it that much better. I liked the shoe off top. I was just talking to my teammates at Georgetown, and they’re all asking me, “Man, do you think you’re going to have your own shoe?” I’m like, “I don’t know!” Hopefully something like that would happen for me, but it was so far fetched, and it was like I didn’t think that would actually come true, where I’d have my own sneaker. I just remember being so excited and calling everybody, like “I got my own shoe! This what it look like.” I remember taking pictures of it and just showing everybody the shoe. It was just an incredible feeling.

Gary Moore: Having his own shoe was a huge factor, because it was unheard of, as far as we were concerned. Sure, Michael Jordan had his own shoe, but from where we were from, we really didn’t know of anyone that had their own shoe. That was a huge, huge part of the decision that Allen made to go with Reebok. He was just so elated to have his own shoe. That meant so much to so many people.

Brandon Richard, longtime sneaker collector and Hampton, VA native: Here, Iverson’s Reebok signature line was just as, if not more, popular than Air Jordans. In fact, one could argue that the mid-to-late 90s was the peak of the Air Jordan line, but Questions and the first few Answers were spotted on-foot more frequently. It was surreal to see a local kid, who was so attached to the community, have his own shoe. Owning AI’s Reeboks was like a sign of solidarity for the one guy that was out there really doing it for us.

Todd Krinsky: When we designed it, it was really all about performance. We wanted it to be about speed, and we wanted it to have elements of speed to it. We created the speed ghilly lacing system and the pop on the toe because Allen moves so quick that we wanted something to really pop when he’s moving. It was all really created out of trying to make a great product for a speed player, but it had great fashionability. Allen had great style on the court and it looked cool with jeans, especially all the toe colors. We didn’t anticipate it to be a big fashion play, but it quickly became adopted on the street as one of those must-have looks for kids.

Que Gaskins: From a retail standpoint, no one really believed in the shoe in the beginning. When we were going around and pitching it to Athlete’s Foot and the Foot Lockers of the world, they all thought we were crazy. A lot of people don’t typically get out of their comfort zone. I think a lot of people looked at it like, “Allen had always been a Nike kid, why would he ever decide to go with a brand like Reebok?” When we tried to pull the shoe out and show it to those guys, being that we worked in the futures business and had to sell stuff in so far ahead, he hadn’t yet even signed with us. Here we were trying to sell a shoe in. We’re going, “We want you to have the vision that we have, and take the leap of faith that we’re taking. This is going to be his shoe.” They’re all looking at us like we’re crazy. They’re going, “Listen, don’t waste our time with that, put it back in the bag and lets talk about the real Reebok business that we’re capable of doing.”

Todd Krinsky: Even though we started designing the shoe when AI was still at Georgetown, by the time we confirmed the shoe and signed him, we could only get limited pairs into the marketplace that fall. We figured we’d use that to our advantage, so we only put them in certain areas. We put them in Philly, New York and DC and that was really it. When we first put them out, I started getting phone calls in the morning that kids were coming in right after school and that the shoes were almost sold out, and that was only one day. We started hearing stories from the store employees that kids were coming from Delaware and Boston, driving 3-4 hours to go to the Philly store to get the shoe. After the second day, it was completely sold out.

Que Gaskins: We were only able to manufacture a limited amount, and not as many as you would ideally do for a guy like Allen. They sold out instantly, and you had people driving up from all different places and calling from LA and all across the country trying to get their hands on them. By that time, they had been validated by Allen being the first pick and him signing with Reebok.

Todd Krinsky: When we put out the first 5,000 pairs of the Question, kids were driving up from Virginia and from DC to go to Philly to go get the shoe. We could only put out so many cause we were going so fast. It was within the first couple weeks of his rookie season, and I remember calling Allen like, “Yo, they’re all gone.” He went, “Huh?” I was like, “This is one of the first times this has happened with a rookie, but they’re gone.” That’s when I really realized that we were on to something special.

Allen Iverson: The guys that came in with me and the guys that were my age, they all thought it was cool that I had my own shoe. A lot of guys had contracts with different shoe companies, but they didn’t have their own signature shoe, so I’d kinda puff my chest out a little bit. [laughs]

Dennis Paige: Reebok had some success, maybe not selling shoes to the level of the other brands, but they had credibility with Shaq, Shawn Kemp and Van Exel, before Iverson came along. You can wonder, did Iverson make the shoe, or does Reebok get the credit? It was just a perfect storm. Maybe even if Fila did that shoe, it’d be what it was, because of who Allen was. Those guys were just so powerful. If you have the right player that resonates, it can be easy, and it was a dope shoe. It was definitely – revolutionary might be too strong – but it was definitely a great different look from what was out there. They nailed it.

Todd Krinsky: It’s funny. If you look back at the sell-through of the shoe, it’s one of the only shoes that sold equally well in both the suburbs and urban areas. Some of the markets that sold suburbia wise were really shocking to us, but then, every borough in New York and in Philly it did really well, too. The shoe itself was really clean and wearable, and also Allen transcended all barriers. Kids all over the world loved him because of his heart, his fearless play, and his size. He was a little man competing with these giants night in and night out. Those attributes are universal. You don’t have to be from the hood or from the suburbs to respect a kid that’s 6’1”, 165 pounds giving it his all every night. That’s just universal. I think Allen himself meant all sorts of things to different people for different reasons and the shoe itself was clean and really wearable. A combination of things made it so relevant around the world and in different pockets of the world.

Gary Moore: First impressions are the most lasting impressions, and that first shoe, the Question, will have a lasting impression.

Allen Iverson: Shit, honestly, just putting them on for the first time and stepping on the court, knowing that I had my own shoe, was the best. I was a shoe fanatic and always dreamed of playing on the professional level. To then add icing to the cake and be able to have your own signature shoe, you know what I mean, it meant something. These are mine. Knowing that people that rolled with me and that were my fans will support me and rock my joints was my best moment. Just putting them on, man, I would always look forward to having them on and walking out there. Having different styles and different colors – I know I drove Todd [Krinsky] crazy wanting a different color almost every game. [laughs] Just having my own shoe was a dream and a blessing. Definitely.

Todd Krinsky: In the beginning, he always would say, “If I don’t look good, I ain’t playing good.” It was just a mental thing. That’s why we had so many colorways over the years. Even when he knew I couldn’t do it, he would call me on like a Wednesday and have a game in Milwaukee on Friday. He’d go, “Yo, I want to wear White / Silver on Friday.” I’m like, “Chuck, we’ve been through this a million times. You know the calendar as well as I do. I can’t give you a new shoe in 48 hours and have it be in Milwaukee for you.” [laughs] He’d really think about these colorways in his mind, it would just happen to be a day before the game that he wanted them.

Allen Iverson: The first kid I even seen with ’em on, I was in my car. I remember stopping in the car, and I was looking in my rearview, and I watched him until he walked out of sight. This was the first time I seen somebody besides my family or my friends with them on. My whole world stopped. I just sat and watched him until he walked out of sight, and I remember driving off like, “Damn.” That was the first person that I saw with my sneakers on, and it was a little young kid. It’s just something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, and it’s something that I’ll never forget.

Todd Krinsky: Retailers were calling now, saying, “We need more! We need more!” [laughs] Really quickly, the senior guys at the brand knew what that meant, and they’re looking at the pairs selling and saying, “Ok, lets sell more!” For Que and I, we were looking at it more from a cultural perspective. We knew it was really cool and was putting Reebok in a different place. We had some relevance now with young kids, and Allen has arrived.

John Borders, Reebok VP, via Fall 1996 statement: Allen Iverson has already paid for his investment. He’s already earned every dime we’ve given him. We’re a struggling company. We didn’t connect with a young audience. That’s where Allen helped us. We all wanted to listen to him and see what he thought about himself. We wanted to know what his connection would be to that consumer base. He’s helped us focus a campaign.

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Seven Generations: A Look at the History of the Nike N7 Lineage

At times we tend to fixate entirely too much on the present. While that previous assertion seems to be a bit oxymoronic, the thing is that it is always important to understand your roots. With history always repeating itself in many ways, the idea of celebrating your past and those figures that helped shape your future is imperative. Over the years, several corporations have routinely shown their appreciation towards the past, and arguably none bigger than Nike. With their Black History Month makeups and N7-themed models, the Swoosh certainly celebrates history.

So, with the latest Nike N7 iteration hitting retail shelves today in the form of the Air Jordan 7 N7 and other silhouettes, we saw it fit to debrief you on the history of the Nike N7 lineage and further celebrate the Native American community.

To see more, scroll through the page below to get a detailed account of the commemorative initiative.

Sam-McCracken-Photo

Dating all the way back to the year 2000, Sam McCracken developed the initiative to sell Nike products exclusively to Native American tribes in order to boost their growth and development, specifically through donations aimed at health promotion and disease prevention programs. According to the N7 Fund’s official site, the “N7” name derives from the Native American wisdom of Seven Generations that states: “we must consider the impact of our decisions on the seventh generation”.

Serendipitously, seven years later the N7 lineage would begin.

Nike-N7-Photo

By 2007, the first Nike N7 model would release in the silhouette of the Nike Air Native N7. This model would be constructed specially to fit the needs of individuals of Native American descent as the fit would be constructed to accommodate the width and foot shape of the aforementioned culture. All proceeds from this initial retail release would go towards N7 Fund.

Two years later in 2009, Nike would unveil two additional silhouettes, one being able to grace the hardwood in the form of the Nike Air Huarache N7 and a lifestyle/running model of the Nike N7 Air Pegasus+26. The next year, in 2010, four different models would be available and all proceeds would go towards the N7 foundation.

kevin-durant-nike-n7-zoom-kd-iv-native-american-shoes-1

However, arguably the most notable namesake and signature models within the Nike N7 lineage involve the Kevin Durant signature line. With Kevin Durant being a vital member of the Oklahoma City community and being a premier star within the NBA, it only made sense for Nike to push this notable player to the forefront. Beginning in 2012 with the Nike KD IV, the N7 model of the aforementioned silhouette would employ two different color ways with one involving a mostly white upper and the other employing a black makeup. Both models would be seen with vibrant accents throughout and detailed imagery along the upper.

Kevin-Durant-N7

The very next Kevin Durant signature model would take on the N7 makeup as well, as the Nike KD V featured a tonal makeup throughout the upper fusing distinct shades of green. In addition, detailed imagery can be seen as the aforementioned qualities rested atop of a black and yellow outsole. Kevin Durant would sport this model during a matchup against the Golden State Warriors back during the 2012-2013 campaign.

By late 2013, the Nike KD 6 would incorporate the N7 treatment as well and then in 2014 the lineage would continue with the Nike KD 7. Although Kevin Durant would hit tumultuous times with his foot injury derailing his 2014-2015 season – he still continues to ascend on a proverbial “high-note” as his Nike KD 6 silhouette would be a part of his MVP season, averaging over 30 points per game.

Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two

As time has progressed, the Nike N7 lineage has accompanied over 20 different silhouettes and variations ranging from the Nike Air Force One High to the Air Jordan 7,  which will ultimately grace retail shelves today. As time goes on, it’s only certain that Nike will continue to produce stellar models and apparel to help commemorate the Native American lineage and help forward their progression even more. As an abundance of Native American players grace the landscape of sports such as Jacoby Ellsbury, the N7 fund will have some prominent faces to lead their initiative heading into a new generation.

Related: History of the Nike N7 Collection

Nike-N7-Collage

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Nike 2013 Black History Month Collection


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To celebrate Black History Month, Nike has released this amazing collection of footwear and clothing under the tagline, “Be Bold. Be True.” Soccer superstar Didier Drogba, tennis legend Serena Williams and basketball phenom Kevin Durant provide creative inspiration for the products in the collection. The collection features a total of seven shoes, two T-shirts, a special-edition Destroyer jacket, Nike Elite socks and 5-panel hat. A collaboration between Nike Sportswear and Nike Basketball, the shoes include the Nike Lunar Force 1, Nike Air Force 1 Foamposite Hi, Nike Dunk Sky Hi and Nike Air Force 1 Downtown. Nike Basketball shoes complete the BHM collection with special versions of the KD V, LeBron X and KOBE 8 SYSTEM; all three featuring black, grey and orange with the signature Nike BHM print. These special edition shoes will debut on court during pro basketball’s Martin Luther King Jr. tribute on Monday, January 21.

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The post Nike 2013 Black History Month Collection appeared first on The Shoe Buff – Men's Contemporary Shoes and Footwear.


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A History of Kanye West’s Design Debuts


Tonight, the internet broke with the debut of the adidas Yeezy 3 Boost. While most Kanye West watchers expected to see these shoes for the first time on his feet at this Sunday’s Grammy Awards, we got surprise shots on social media first. How did this debut compare to those of the past? Take a look back to find out.

Nike Air Yeezy 1 Black/White Prototype

Event: 2008 Grammy Awards
When: February 10, 2008

Rocking an LED outfit before ‘lit’ was the wave and playing “Stronger” with Daft Punk before EDM was the rage, Kanye West rocked the crowd at the 2008 Grammy Awards while debuting the then unknown Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype. In addition, he also brought the house down with an emotional performance of “Hey Mama.” The music and the shoe both left their mark and both received acclaim.

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Gridiron Kicks Spotlight: Greatest Sneaker Moments In Super Bowl History


With Super Bowl XLIX occurring this Sunday the bevy of intriguing footwear set to be donned by a variety of players is vast. With the likes of Jordan Brand athlete Earl Thomas and Nike endorser Darrelle Revis controlling their respective secondaries, we may need to even elicit the help of our very own George Kiel with the potential kicks that will be displayed on Sunday. So with that notion in mind, we decided to take a look at some of the best sneaker moments in Super Bowl history in the latest edition of Gridiron Kicks Spotlight. To see for yourself, flip through the pages below to let us know your favorite Super Bowl memory involving iconic kicks.

Super Bowl XXIV: Ronnie Lott

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Ronnie Lott was Kam Chancellor before Kam ever patrolled a secondary on the gridiron. Lott’s ferocious nature and incredible tackling ability made him a force to be reckoned with in the 49ers’ secondary for years. Rumor has it that Lott even allowed for the severance of his own finger to get back into a game during his illustrious playing career. With those notions provided, you can imagine how John Elway and company felt in Super Bowl XXIV as they took on the 49ers. In what would become a blowout in favor of the 49ers, Lott would start and contribute heavily while rocking this black and varsity red colorway of the Air Jordan 4.

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Nike Kobe 8 “Black History Month”

Quite the rarity, the Nike Kobe 8 has been spotted in a second “Black History Month” colorway. Sporting a printed upper similiar to its counterpart, this year’s purple and gold motif is opted for, with violet marking its territory on the upper in varying shades. Metallic gold is worked into the equation, lighting things up on the Swoosh and heel counter, while also featured via speckles on the midsole. Completing the kick in grand fashion, an opaque outsole is seen also in violet. Check it out for yourself in the embedded Instagram video (courtesy of @realpromotagged) below, and let us know how this one stacks up against the original Kobe 8 “BHM.”

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