It's September, which means back to school time is upon us. And what sneaker is more appropriate for school than the Nike Dunk? In 1985, Nike released the original Dunk Hi sneaker to heavy-match with the uniforms of top-tier college basketball teams. Now, 24 years later, we've seen everyone from graffiti artists and super brands to cool-guy stores and rock bands put their spin on the iconic silhouette.

The sneaker is Nike's canvas, and while we're sure you've bought a bunch in your lifetime, we're hoping you bought some of the right ones. With the spirit of the kids going back to the books, we put together a master list of what we felt are the 50 Best Nike Dunks Of All Time—minus SBs (that list is coming later, so don't try to do it first!). See which styles made the cut, and have fun strolling down memory lane after the jump. Class is in session.

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50. Nike Dunk Hi "Perfed Suede"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• These Dunk Premiums do what the Mighty Crowns, the Currys and all the others tried—a dope tone-on-tone Dunk, with premium material. Bang Bang. Start the countdown off strong.
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nikedunkhighstussyworldtour49. Nike x Stüssy Dunk Hi "World Tour"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2006
• If you want to do something cool, you call Stüssy. If Stüssy calls you, you say yes. Nike joined in on the World Tour T-Shirt hype with a pack that consisted of these Dunks and the sleeper Dunk Low Trainer 1 Hybrid. Should have seen it coming.
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48. Nike Dunk High "Iron Tweed"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2007
• Nike SB dropped the Harris Tweed Dunks, everyone went nuts. Regular Nike dropped these for everyone who either wasn't fast enough (or rich enough) to cop. Not as good as the SBs, but a great alternate if you missed the original.
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47. Nike Dunk High Premium "Curry"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2002
• Sometimes a simple sneaker takes the cake, and when the design crew had it's first, "Maybe these are getting a little too nuts," moment, the "Curry" pack dropped. Soon enough they were back on the crazy tip, but not before this little "Wear-it-to-your-girlfriends-parents-house" pack dropped.
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46. Nike Dunk High "Ultimate Glory"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• To commemorate the June 1996 bout between Mexican boxing legend Julio Cesar Chavez and then rising star Oscar De La Hoya, and to get in tight with the Mexico City sneaker stores before opening the Nike Sportswear shop in one of the craziest cities in the world, Nike dropped these puppies. A few pairs made their way stateside, but this one was mainly for the Latins.
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CLICK NEXT TO SEE DUNKS 45- 41

 

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45. Nike Dunk Low Premium "1 Piece"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2005
• The "One Piece" series of Dunks started with Nike flexing it's tech muscles. "We have a laser machine, you don't." These O.G. Dunk Lows (and the Maroon Dunk His) are the only widely released "One Piece" set we cosign, but we're onboard like Captain Ron.
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44. Nike Dunk Hi "Back to School"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• Back to school, back to school, to show everyone that I'm not a fool — in my Crayola covered Dunks. Yeah right. These tote the line of pull-off-able, but if you did, you might have been a the coolest one in the halls.
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43. Nike Dunk High "All Star New Orleans"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• To commemorate New Orleans as the All Star Basketball Game host city, Nike put together this special colorway that takes inspiration from the Saints jersey. Everyone knows that the best way to experience an All Star Game is by not going at all, so these Dunks were the perfect way to get in on the action without getting one's hands/feet/genitals dirty.
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42. Nike Dunk Hi Women's "Paint Blot Pack"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2009
• These lady Dunks come out right now, expect to see a lot of size 13s being copped by males. Tie Dye is going to hit hard this Spring, and these are a perfect way to grab a modern take on the print.
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41. Nike Sportswear Dunk Hi "Purple Electro Perf"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2009
• The Dunk has come a long way. Five years ago, these would have been a line-up-till-you-die-from-exhaustion Nort x Stash x Chris Vidal-busting-your-balls-while-you-wait super Dunk. In 2009, they're a GR. Be happy you weren't an I-95 corridor baby.
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CLICK NEXT TO SEE DUNKS 40- 36

 

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40. Comme des Garcons x Nike Dunk Hi
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• "Like the Boys". Everything Junya Watanabe touches gets shine, and when it came to re-imagining the Dunk, the Japanese went hard. Not sure if we're on the $800 retail price-point, but these are worth looking at, and a cool design regardless.
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39. Nike Dunk Hi "Spark"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• The "Spark" Dunk is a more technical take on the original Destroyer Dunk, and brings the wool/winter Dunk idea full circle by incorporating Scholler 3XDRY materials. Tromp through muck and snow and still get to work, as long as you're rocking the black ones. Actually, scratch that. Forget tromping through muck - rock the white ones and sit in your livingroom while you wait out the winter with Halo 3.
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38. Nike Dunk High "Fishscale" (Eddie Cruz "West" Pack)
YEAR OF RELEASE: Fall 2009
• Fall 2009 marks the first sneaker-pack-off between Eddie Cruz of UNDFTD, L.A., and DJ Clark Kent of NYC. There are a ton of kicks from each side, but these stand out for their Cali colorways (Dodgers and USC) and for the fishscale take Cruz used on the leather treatment. Nothing new under the sun? Check again.
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37. Nike Dunk Low LTD "Dirty Denim"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2003
• They come pre-worn in for you! Just in case you were trying to look like you've been wearing them since the beginning and didn't just pay $150 to a reseller for 'em. Seriously though, for a general release these are dope.
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36. Nike Sportswear Dunk Hi "Beautiful Losers Make Something"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• Aaron Rose and Jesse Leyva pulled still images from key moments of the 2008 documentary "Beautiful Losers" and spread them across the uppers of three sets of 22 different Dunks, with two of the sets available through auction. The proceeds of the sneakers benefited the Children's Aid Society, and venues in New York City, Hollywood, and San Fransisco showed Rose's documentary which highlighted influential figures in street culture like Harmonie Korinne, Steve "ESPO" Powers, and Barry McGee.
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CLICK NEXT TO SEE DUNKS 35- 31

 

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35. Nike Dunk Hi "Glow in the Dark"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2006
• What you know about "Glow in the Dark"? Yeezy's? Pshaw. These dropped, kind of silently, and were the precursor to a shitty Glow in the Dark pack that put glow in the dark sneakers to rest until the Yeezys. Sometimes labeled as an SB sample that never got made, this is a regular Nike Premium pair that ravers get down with.
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34. Nike Dunk High "Denim"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2007
• Basically these Dunks (and the blue denim Low) were designed for all of the people who didn't/couldn't get their hands on a pair of Reese Forbes SB Denim Dunk Lows. They were dope, general release, and didn't cost a fortune. Thanks!
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33. Nike Dunk Hi Premium TZ "Ueno Panda"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• This Dunk High released at Japanese Tier Zero accounts, and were dedicated to Tokyo's Ueno Park, home of Ling Ling the Giant Panda. The upper is pony hair, and guess what? They look like a panda! So KUTE!
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32. Nike x Stash Dunk Low
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2003
• In the early days of Nike Quickstrikes there were all kinds of small-run 1 of 20, 1 of 50 etc projects. These STASH collab Dunks were a short run of 50 shoes that came in a box tagged by the man himself.
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31. Nike Sportswear x Married to the Mob Dunk Hi
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• Married to the Mob was originally asked to work on the Nike 1World Air Force 1 project, but pulled a Hoya and asked to do a Dunk instead. Oh women. This women's dunk takes design notes from Chanel Tweed and the Jordan 11 with special materials like ecru boucle fabric, patent leather and gold accents.
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CLICK NEXT TO SEE DUNKS 30- 26

 

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30. Nike x Deftones Dunk Hi
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2003
• Friends and family of the Deftones music band were the only ones who got their hands on these. Only 40 pairs were made, and the chances of finding a pair today is nearly impossible. Instead, go upstairs into your room, put the CD in your stereo, and crank that shit to 11.
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29. Nike Sportswear Dunk Hi "East vs. West Gucci"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2009
• The "Gucci" colorway is that of a coveted Nike SB sample from a Team Manager Series that never went into production. Clark Kent resurrected the color-scheme for his forthcoming East/West battle with Eddie Cruz of UNDFTD. The sneaker releases this October at top tier accounts, and already has the hype-machine on terror-alert status.
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28. Nike Dunk Low "Daktari"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2003
• The "Daktari" series was originally a general release, but Dunk collectors like to get all dressed up in animal prints so these carried a following past the scheduled drop. You can cop 'em now on the iblack market for between $150 and $200.
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27. Nike Dunk High Premium x FC St. Pauli UNDERDOGS
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• The German soccer club FC St. Pauli from Hamburg is more known for its rebel character than its championships- hence the skulls. Ostrich leather on the swoosh, woven laces, and a badass colorway make for a covetable kick, football fan or not. The low was released in European markets at 250 pairs, the high at 500. Copping now, especially Stateside, might be tough.
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26. Nike Dunk Low "Viotech"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2002
• In the early 2000s, hell, up until about 2007, the brighter the sneakers on your feet the more exclusive they were. The Viotechs took this idea to the extreme with a fruity pebbles barf fest that had BAPE heads and rappers going nuts. Well, not immediately. It took a year or so until they were impossible to find for everyone to really go nuts. Re-sells are up around $400 these days.
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CLICK NEXT TO SEE DUNKS 25- 21

 

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25. Nike x UNDFTD Dunk Hi NL (Clerks Pack)
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2005
• UNDFTD designers created the Dunk High NL (no liner) as part of the Clerks pack. It somehow managed to make a "blue reef" and "cotton candy" colorway look awesome, and was accompanied by the Stussy Blazer and Union Air Force 180 to round out the pack.
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24. Nike Dunk Low "Chris Lundy Laser"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2003
• When Nike got it's laser machine designers went nuts, including surfer and musician Chris Lundy who provided this take on a one-piece Dunk Low. It's one of the coolest laser jobs on a sneaker, while this isn't particularly wearable, it is considered one of the holy grail cops in the sneaker world.
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23. Nike Dunk Hi "Mita" (white/purple, grey/blue ostrich)
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2005
The Mitas were originally designed in partnership with the Japanese sneaker shop Mita, and were such bangers that they went out as a Tier Zero release globally. In addition to this white/purple version, there is a grey/blue one that id dop dope dope. Ostrich skin, patent leather, and super clean. Win.
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22. Nike x UNDFTD Dunk Hi "UNDFTD"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2002
• The Eddie Cruz-helmed UNDFTD was the first sneaker boutique to set up shop on the west coast, and really put the left side on the map. UNDFTD is known for its support of sport, awesome kicks, and being the spot where every single famous person goes to get his kicks. When Tom Cruise calls you about the Tiffanys you know you're a retail king. Nike also knows, and continues to ask these dudes to color up Dunks in order to keep the silhouette relevant and cool.
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21. Union NYC x Nike Dunk Hi Challenge 20th Anniversary
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2009
• Part Dunk Hi Supreme, part Nike Air Tech Challenge, these hybrids were kept under-the-radar as far as the blogs went, until the day the sneakers actually dropped at the now closed down Union NYC shop. Only 100 pairs were made, and quickly sold out. Union L.A. also had it's colorway, but we can't be repping L.A. over our own NYC, now can we?
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CLICK NEXT TO SEE DUNKS 20- 16

 

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20. Nike Sportswear x Livestrong Dunk High "FLOM"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2009
• Futura originally designed the FLOM SBs (For the Love of Money) as a limited run of 24 sneakers that was gifted to friends, and this year he brought back the design with Nike Sportswear as part of the "Livestrong Greatest Hits" pack. Although not as cool as the SBs, these sneakers were also not as limited as the SB version. Fans of black and yellow were able to cop a premium accounts around the same time Lance Armstrong was on his way to placing third in the '09 Tour de France.
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19. Nike Sportswear Dunk Hi "Patent Quilted Beijing"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• At the height of the Olympic hype in Summer 2008, Nike dropped these all-patent dunks in six different colorways that homaged the Olympic rings . The release was one of the first to go on sale at Nike Sportswear's flagship store in NYC.
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18. Nike Sportswear x Alife Rivington Club Dunk Hi
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2009
• Although it is known for rainbow-colored Wu-Tang hoodies, Alife kept this recent collab subtle. The brand design crew utilized the .44 sticky rubber gum sole that's used in Nike's ACG line so Rivington St. solicitors wouldn't be caught slippin' in wet conditions.
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17. Nike Dunk Hi "F2T.50" (Stash/Futura birthday Dunk)
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2006
• For his good friend and often-time collaborator's 50th birthday, Stash threw the man Futura a party in Hawaii. Get it? Hawaii 5-0! Futura picked the colorways and Stash figured out the materials. Forty-eight pairs went out to family and friends of the birthday (boy) man.
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16. Nike Sportswear Dunk Hi "Try-On's"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2009
• When 255 Elizabeth street in NYC was the Nike iD studio, consumers came in and designed their own shoes. Before filling out size info, they tried on Dunks that looked a lot like these. The sneakers weren't for sale until June 2009 when the folks at 21 Mercer came in and did a stealth drop to quiet all the "You know what you guys should do?"s.
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CLICK NEXT TO SEE DUNKS 15- 11

 

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15. Nike Dunk Low Pro B "Alphanumeric"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2001
• It's hard to say what Alphanumeric was most famous for in the late 90s: dope mixtapes, cool clothes, or for being the first real streetwear brand to combine skate, hip-hop, snowboarding and everything else cool into a tight little package. Nike asked Alphanumeric founder Alyasha Owerka-Moore to work on this sneaker as part of the re-introduction of the Dunk, and the original version (with embroidery on the toebox) was only gifted to Alphanumeric employees and team members. This special make-up was one of the early fat tongue "B" Dunks that Nike SB later released as part of its fledgling line.
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14. Nike Dunk Hi "Destroyer" (black wool)
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2006
• This Dunk came out along with a series of Varsity Jackets, and was designed by Micheal Leon, who now is Nike SB's Creative Director. All black everything, pre-Hov, a wool-upper to keep the feet warm during the winter, and gold lace locks - not so bad.
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13. Nike x Stussy Dunk Hi LTD
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2005

• Looking at it now, the Stussy Dunk wouldn't get much more than a, "That's pretty cool," but when it launched, the idea of having an Ostrich Swoosh (and a collaboration with Cali brand turned Japanese über label Stüssy) was reaaaaly something. This puppy marks the second coming of the sneaker head, and the return of the Dunk to tastemaker closets.
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12. Nike Dunk Low "Aloha" (Kicks Hawaii)
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2004
• The Kicks/Hi Dunk was part of the Jesse Leyva early days (same w/the Wu-Tang and Pharrell Dunks), part of a shop series designed to build up the Nike brand amongst the cool kids. The Hawaiian-based retailer, and homie Ian Ginoza included design cues that were, as you can see, Hawaiian-inspired. In addition to having "ALOHA" on the heel, and "HAWAII" on the tounge, the middle of the upper features a Hawaiian-styled weave made out of bamboo called "Lauhala."
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11. Nike Dunk Hi "Olympic" (Gold)
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2004
• To pay homage to team USA at the 2004 Summer Olympic games in Athens, Nike released these golden-His as a premium quickstrike. It was one of the first all-gold sneakers that really popped off. Later Nike "Olympic"s came in silver and bronze, but who really wants to rock a second or third-place sneaker? FOH, gold for kings.
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CLICK NEXT TO SEE DUNKS 10- 6

 

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10. Nike Dunk Low "AKA" (Patent Charity Dunk Pack)
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2006
• Allen Benedict, purveyor of AKA (also known as) and curator of 12oz. (Complex Cartel what up!) put together this set of patent low tops inspired by iconic spray can colors. There were only a few sets of these sneakers, never released at retail. Instead, Benedict worked with Nike to raffle the shoes off to benefit Free Arts NYC—a non-profit organization that helps at-risk and neglected children. The set of seven dunks raised nearly $15,000. Win/win.
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9. Nike x HAZE Dunk Low
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2003
• HAZE is an O.G. New York graf head, and the man has paid his dues. Nike was/is aware of that, which is why he was one of the early collaborators (Stash's AF1 was around the same time). Still coppable? Not really, so why not sit back, relax, and take notes.
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8. Nike Sportswear x Nylon Magazine Dunk Hi
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2009
• Dare we tip our five-panels to another magazine? Nike and Nylon teamed up on these and debuted them on editor's feet during New York Fashion Week in Feb. 2008. The sneakers went to retail (and the magazine cover) this past summer. These bright bangers were done right, and gave the big "F you" to those who were all about toning down their sneakers. Gotta co-sign.
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7. Nike Dunk Hi "Orchard St. Customs"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2003
• Oh, you don't want to give us a collab? Watch this. During the summer of 2003, streetwear label Orchard St. customized 40 pair of Dunk His and tossed them over lampposts. You want to climb up there? Go get yourself a free pair of sneakers. Ranking this version at #7 might be high for a pair of customs (these are the only ones on this list) but the idea was genius, and the resale on these puppies is up over the $1K mark. You can go make your own list if you want to line 'em up differently.
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6. Nike Dunk Hi "Nylon Vandal" (Coachella)
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• The first colorways of the all-nylon Dunk were gifted to artists at the Coachella music festival and were introduced to retail later that year as the Vandal Dunks. New colorways are still dropping every couple of months, and are a must cop if you don't have a pair. Reasonably priced, still coppable, and more staying power than nylon pants- don't expect them to go anywhere near out of style for the next few years.
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CLICK NEXT TO SEE THE TOP 5 DUNKS!!

 

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5. Nike x Pharrell Williams Dunk High
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2004
• Fans of N.E.R.D and Hypebeasts (can we call people Hypebeasts before that site started?) creamed their skinny jeans waiting in line for Skateboard P's dunks. Hype aside, they're sick, and if you have a pair on ice, you'll be good even if your 401k is lookin' lean.
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4. Nike Dunk (Original 7 School Colorways)
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1985
• These aren't #1, well, just because. They're hot, and getting one's hands on an original pair is impressive, but there's three more that are better. Back in 1985, collegiate basketball powerhouses UNLV, Kentucky, St. Johns, Syracuse, Arizona, Michigan, and Iowa got to match their shoes to warm-ups, t-shirts and their uniforms. Georgetown wanted it's own, and pushed for a Terminator in Hoyas colors. The Dunk program moved from there, and produced the freshest on-court kicks the NCAA had ever seen. After the sneakers took an archive nap, Nike resurrected the silhouette and gave it the vintage treatment 20 years later.
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3. Nike Sportswear x Dave's Quality Meats Dunk Hi
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008
• Dave & Co. embraced tone on tone colorways and created a fully perf-ed nubuck Dunk in three sick colorways (Cave Purple, Ice Green, Industrial Blue), and one shop only black version. It's the first Nike release for sale to the general public with a shop logo, an interesting little factoid for sneakerheads (all others w logos were not retailed). Our favorite part of this drop though? The Complex CSN video that had the Internets going nuts.
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2. Nike Dunk Low Pro B "Smurf"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1999
• There was a time when there was no Nike SB, when Nike was producing fat-tongued Dunks but wasn't really sure what to do with them (the building full of cool guy-execs came later). These Nike kicks were blue suede shoes, and you had to cop through a Japanese friend with a nike.co.jp hookup. Things done changed.
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1. Nike Dunk Hi "Wu-Tang Clan"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1999
• It can be argued that these are simply the original Iowa Goldenrod Dunk colorway with some Wu-Tang embroidery. Actually it doesn't need to be argued, that's what these are. But these Dunks take the number one spot for a few reasons. First, they are limited as crap. You can grab them at Flight Club, maybe ($5k+), but not really. At the original drop, releases were rumored at only 36 pairs (plus a few more that Nike dudes made for "sampling"). Second, they're the Iowa colorway, which is the best of the orignal seven, and the black/yellow has all kind of power undertones behind it. Third, this was the sneaker that started regular Nike's foray into the world of acknowledging cool. After the Wu-Tang Dunk came Pharrell's, and then shop Dunks like UNDFTD and Kicks/HI and DQM's Air Max 90. This was the Dunk that started teh second coming of the sneakerhead, and it's still the best of the bunch as far as we're concerned. Wu-Tang forever.