The year is 1996. Scottie Pippen plays his sixth All Star Game. Michael Jordan is back with the Bulls and they win their 4th NBA championship. In the Summer, Scottie wins his second gold medal with the Dream Team II at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in spectacular fashion. Scottie Pippen’s shoe of choice? The Nike Air More Uptempo.
AIR. No shoe has ever represented this word more than the Air More Uptempo. No shoe has ever been more AIR. The 3 big letters on each side of the shoe turn them into a wearable piece of graffiti. They are bold. They are loud. They are a fashion statement.
When Michael Jordan returned to the Bulls in 1995 one thing was clear, their path had to lead back to the top of the NBA. After their glorious three-peat in 1991, 1992 and 1993, the Bulls struggled in the two following years. With their dynamic duo MJ & Scottie back in place and the addition of the hardest working man in basketball, Dennis Rodman, Chicago became the capital of the basketball world again. Oh and they did that with a regular season record of 72 & 10. (A record for the ages one would have thought, if it wasn’t for the Golden State Warriors…) In the playoffs the Bulls’ pure dominance continued and they took charge of the Miami Heat in the first round with an easy 3-0 sweep. The Knicks came next and were able to steal one game at least, making it 4-1. The Conference Finals would be their biggest challenge so far, at least on paper, as they faced the Orlando Magic with Shaq & Penny, NBA finalists in 1995. They took care of business however and completed the Florida sweep with a clean 4-0.
Welcome to the NBA Finals again, Chicago Bulls. On their way to title number 4, MJ & Scottie had to square up against a superb Seattle Supersonics squad. The team led by their Big 3, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and Germany’s own Detlef Schrempf, finished with the number 1 seed in the West and by the way they played against the Bulls, it was clear that they deserved their spot in the NBA Finals. After being down 3-0 and with everybody counting them out, the resilient Sonics cut the deficit to 3-2 with two dominant performances and forced a Game 6. As you probably know though, MJ never played a Game 7, so the Bulls took care of business and captured title number 4 within 6 games.
All this happened while the Bulls made fashion statements on the court night in and night out. Throughout the 1996 NBA playoffs, the Bulls wore black shoes with black socks. As Scottie Pippen put it, “It was a shake-’em-up kind of message. We knew we looked different. It became a tradition for us, and we believed it was part of our good luck charm as well. It was our suit-and-tie kind of outfit, like we’re ready to get down to business now. We carried a certain level of arrogance; we felt like we couldn’t be beaten.“ But it was Pippen in particular who made the biggest, the boldest, the bulkiest fashion statement. His shoes, the Air More Uptempo, stood out from the rest of his teammates’ shoes. “I think mine stood out a little more just because of what it said. It was kind of the graffiti basketball shoe — making a statement in real big letters. So it stood on its own.“
At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Scottie’s shoes became even more visible, as he switched from the all black version with little white details to a navy and white colorway to match the Team USA jersey. The base of the shoe came in a dark navy while the lettering was in solid white. Thereby you could read the huge AIR logo on the side even if you weren’t sitting inside the arena but at home in front of your TV (yes, my elementary school self was watching the games from Germany, closely observing the NBA superstars’ shoes…). In the end, Scottie and his comrades took home the gold, making the Air More Uptempo one of the most successful shoes in the history of basketball, winning NBA and Olympic titles in the same year.
As a matter of fact, the Air More Uptempo was such a unique shoe that Nike decided to retro them in 2016 for its 20th anniversary. Since then the shoe has become a staple in street fashion worldwide as it perfectly connects the 1990s sportswear, basketball and the hip hop universe. Although there are only the aforementioned two OG colorways, 2016 and 2017 has seen the Air More Uptempo release in a variety of editions. From classic all-white or all-black versions to vibrant colors like teal or sky blue, the Air More Uptempo comes in a number of variations. The craziest iteration yet came when streetwear powerhouse Supreme laid hands on the Air More Uptempo to create the Suptempo. The Suptempo was the courageous approach to make a unique shoe even more unique as Supreme replaced the famous AIR lettering with SUPREME, starting at the toes and making its way around the heel to end at the toes again. To top it off, two of the three colorways were as loud as it gets, all-gold and red with white letters. This collaboration cemented the Air More Uptempo’s place in street culture once and for all.
And now the curtain rises for a true beauty, the winterized version if you will, the Nike Air More Uptempo ‘96 PRM “Flax“ in the beloved wheat colorway. Here is your perfect fall winter shoe 2017, Ladies and Gentlemen!
This is THE sneaker for the fall season. Inspired by the Timberland Boot, a street fashion essential, the Air More Uptempo “Flax“ is the absolute go-to-sneaker for the windy days in the city. Nike took the Timbs’ DNA and injected it into its boldest and bulkiest basketball shoe to date, creating a seamless fusion between classic fall boots and vintage 1990s sportswear, the ideal boot for basketball enthusiasts, hip hop heads and streetstyle fashionistas. Feast your eyes on this masterpiece of sneaker design with a fall season twist and get the Nike Air More Uptempo ‘96 PRM “Flax“ this Saturday, October 14 on KICKZ.com and in our stores.