Browse all

Scottie Pippen told through his sneakers

From the Avia 855 to the signature shoes, passing through the legendary Uptempo

Scottie Pippen told through his sneakers From the Avia 855 to the signature shoes, passing through the legendary Uptempo

The '90s represented the period in which basketball shoes reached international stages, either for a drastically innovative and much more voluminous design than the classic ''tennis'' shoes, or because Nike's marketing strategies - on all - they worked as they didn't expect in Beaverton: credit should be given to the Air Jordan line, which in terms of sales and visibility was something irreplaceable, but also to the investments made on the right athletes; Scottie Pippen, the unexpected star of the first two episodes of "The Last Dance", was one of these successful choices.

''Pip'' will be forever remembered for its Air More Uptempo - returned to the limelight three years ago due to the collaboration between Nike and Supreme - but the process that led him to be associated with such an iconic sneaker is longer than you think and responsible for this ''change'' is designer Wilson Smith, responsible for signature shoes for Nike.

In the late 1980s Scottie wore the Avia 855 Low before changing sponsors; in fact, only in 1989 he started wearing Nike, the Air Flight of 1989, a very popular model at the time - as still - with a design inspired by the Jordan 4.

The beginning of the '90s is the period of inspiration, with Pip rotating various models including the Air Flight Huarache - based on the revolutionary Huarache running shoe, relaunched by Nike in the early 2010s - the Air Maestro 1 and Air Flight Lite 2, the latter constantly seen at his feet in the USA version during the Barcelona Olympics '92, one of the first examples of PE coloring with personalized embroidery. During the '92/'93 season, Scottie returns to the field with huarache-inspired shoes, wearing the Dynamic Flight and again the Air Maestro 1, a shoe designed by Tracy Teague that gave only a small taste of what would have been seen on basketball courts almost 10 years later.

Pippen started the following season with the same shoe with which he had concluded the previous one; however, during the Minneapolis All-Star Game, Scottie shocked the world of basketball by taking on the field with total red Maestro II, a bold and unconventional move for the time: a shiny jewel with a renewed Flight logo created by Drake Hamberg, Nike's graphic designer who will focus on elements and ideas that will characterize some of the most famous sneakers ever.

The Bulls in early '94/'95 were preparing for their second straight season without Jordan, with Scottie - All Star Game MVP in charge - the team's undisputed leader. By the end of the season, the 47 games won and 35 lost were the worst record for the Bulls in the Phil Jackson era. If during the regular season the sneaker rotation was represented by Air Uptempo and Air Up, both with PE colors and with the number 33 embroidered on the heel, during the playoffs Pippen began to wear Air Swift, on which he repeatedly wrote ''4PEAT'' with a black marker, indicating the fourth consecutive title that he had set himself to win and which instead will be blown by the Rockets of Olajuwon.

Pippen started the '95/'96 season wearing the Air Way Up, a classic 90s sneaker seen at the feet of many NBA players, perhaps too many, since at a certain point Scottie started wanting to claim something that recognized the right merits , finding the compromise in a shoe never seen before. In fact, while the Bulls reached the - old - record of 72 victories, Scottie abandoned the encapsulated air in favor of the iconic Nike Air Max Uptempo, with which he made his debut during the San Antonio All-Star Game, followed by the legendary Air More Uptempo used during the playoffs, in the Finals against Seattle SuperSonics and also in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics with a white/blue/gold colorway and the # 8 embroidered on the heel.

Pippen had now fully established himself as the best number 2 in the League, proving that he could be MJ's worthy replacement at the leadeship level; only one element was missing that really did him justice and put him above the rest of the NBA players, almost to equalize the #23 fame level: a signature shoe.

Scottie began the following season showing off the Air Max Uptempo 3 and then receiving the exclusive treatment he expected: a Nike Air Pippen, silhouette that resonates strongly in the hearts and memories of all basketball fans. Scottie wore this model throughout the '96 / '97 season, including the unforgettable race-5 night of the 1997 Finals, also known as "The Flu Game" in honor of MJ's 38-point performance despite precarious physical conditions because of the flu. The image of Scottie with the Pippen while helping the 23 - in AJ12 - to return to the bench will remain one of the most unforgettable moments in the history of the NBA Finals.

In the following years Scottie will continue to wear the Pippen's - from l to VI - and the Air Hype Uptempo but nevertheless these are silos that will always live in the shadow of the shoes used during the first years of their career, which had in turn scratched a it was with regards to basketball shoes.

"Sometimes the biggest challenge for a player is to understand their role within a team", a statement that testifies to how much Pip had a superb basketball IQ and a maturity that - apart from contractual consequences - was always in favor of the team . Pippen was really much more than a helper, he was an MVP lent to the best player ever.