No. 10 – Scottie Pippen, Eastern Conference All-Stars
Stats: 14 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block in 21 minutes
Game: 2/9/1992 vs. Western Conference All-Stars
While he would go on to win game MVP honors two years later, Scottie Pippen put on an excellent performance in limited action during the 1992 All-Star Game. He set the tone early for the East thanks to his Nike Air Flight Huaraches, utilizing the light weight of the downsized upper to throw down a couple thunderous dunks in the first quarter. His one-hand slam over David Robinson and an alley-oop from Mark Price were two of the game’s highlights, as Pippen stayed firmly planted in his shoes thanks to the neoprene inner booty even as he continually left his feet.
No. 9 – Stacey Augmon, Atlanta Hawks
Stats: 22 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals
Game: 1/8/1993 vs. Detroit Pistons
Possessing one of the great nicknames of the era (“The Plastic Man”), Stacey Augmon had one of the best years of his career during his second season in the league thanks to his Huaraches. With star Dominique Wilkins out due to injury, Augmon was able to take advantage of the full range of motion allowed by his sneakers’ minimalist upper and get out in the open court to both score and distribute the ball to his teammates. While he wasn’t always an offensive juggernaut, he was exceedingly efficient in this game as he shot 9-of-15 from the floor and converted four of his five free throw attempts.
No. 8 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Stats: 28 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
Game: 11/21/2003 vs. Chicago Bulls
As Nike was preparing to launch the Huarache 2K4 edition, Kobe laced up a pair of the original Air Flight Huaraches and put on one of his finest performances of the season. The Lakers’ star slashed to the hoop with ease thanks to the open ankle of the upper, which allowed Kobe the freedom of movement he needed to juke his defenders with his signature lightning-quick first step. Once he got to the rim, the leather of the upper kept his feet protected against the Bulls’ monstrous frontcourt of Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry, two notorious bruisers who lived to control the paint. Thanks to Kobe’s Huaraches, though, on this night they were powerless.
No. 7 – Jon Barry, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Stats: 29 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists
Game: 3/27/1992 vs. Memphis Tigers
Barry was the star of a talented Georgia Tech team that made it to the Sweet 16 of the 1992 NCAA Tournament, but his superlative effort on this night was not enough to save his team from defeat at the hands of Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers. Barry’s incredible game was made possible by his Nike Air Flight Huaraches, whose breathable mesh incorporated into the leather upper kept his feet cool despite the fact that he had to take 21 shots and play overtime against one of the top teams in the country. The shoe’s reduced weight also kept the guard’s legs fresh well into the overtime period, allowing Barry to play 43 of a possible 45 minutes on the night.
No. 6 – Jalen Rose, Michigan Wolverines
Stats: 25 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist
Game: 3/27/1992 vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
In this Sweet 16 game, Rose and his Huaraches more than backed up all the trash talk the Wolverines’ guard loved to spew at opponents. He terrorized the Cowboys and their star center “Big Country” Bryant Reeves due in part to the reliability of his Huaraches. Rose attacked the basket with confidence thanks to his sneakers’ leather upper, which provided him with the protection he needed not just to score, but to control the glass as well. The minimalist design of the shoe also allowed the shifty guard to get to the basket before his defenders had a chance to get set, setting the Wolverines up for numerous easy buckets.
No. 5 – Juwan Howard, Michigan Wolverines
Stats: 14 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists
Game: 2/9/1992 vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Wolverines’ center was a reliable contributor to the Fab Five’s successful run in the 1991-92 season, and a big part of Howard’s effectiveness was owed to his Huaraches. He was comfortable both in the paint and away from the basket thanks to the neoprene liner in his shoes, which kept the big man’s feet firmly in place as he used a strong first step to beat the large, lumbering centers attempting to guard him. Howard absolutely owned Notre Dame on this night and was often the best player on the court as Michigan started all five of their fabulous freshmen together for the first time.
No. 4 – Chris Webber, Michigan Wolverines
Stats: 27 points, 12 rebounds
Game: 12/14/1991 vs. Duke Blue Devils
The most talented of the Fab Five, Webber announced his arrival on the national scene with a standout performance in an overtime thriller against No. 1 Duke. The high-flying power forward routinely dominated at the rim thanks to his Huaraches, whose reduced weight allowed Webber to elevate over Duke star Christian Laettner for a number of easy dunks. Webber nearly won the game at the regulation buzzer, just bouncing a half-court shot out as time expired. Nevertheless, his ability to work both at the rim and away from the basket due to the flexibility provided by the minimalized upper of his Huaraches kept the Wolverines in the game throughout the night.
No. 3 – Reggie Miller, Indiana Pacers
Stats: 32 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
Game: 4/27/1992 vs. Boston Celtics
While the three-point assassin was unable to win a game in this best-of-five series against Boston, Miller certainly could not blame his Huaraches. When he was spotting up from downtown, he knew the neoprene booty liner would keep his feet in place as he elevated over his defender, All-Star Reggie Lewis. The mesh screening and synthetic overlay of the upper kept Miller cool despite the incredible burden he had to carry in this elimination game, and given that he tallied over 30 points and played a game-high 43 minutes it’s fair to say Miller and his sneakers handled their duties admirably.
No. 2 – Chris Webber, Michigan Wolverines
Stats: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists
Game: 3/29/1992 vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Everything about C-Webb’s performance on this night was clutch: his stats (dominant), the opponent (hated rival and No. 1 seed Ohio State) and the stakes (a trip to the Final Four). Webber was able to own the paint in his Huaraches, shooting an exceedingly efficient 9-for-12 form the floor and grabbing five offensive rebounds. The leather upper protected the athletic power forward’s feet while the minimal design allowed him to move freely around the basket against the overmatched Ohio State defenders. They also allowed for the game’s most memorable moment, as Webber threw down a one-hand slam in the face of the Buckeyes’ Bill Robinson that has become an iconic moment in the history of Michigan basketball.
No. 1 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Stats: 44 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals
Game: 1/4/2004 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
With Shaq and Karl Malone both missing from action due to injury, the Lakers needed Kobe to step up and carry the scoring load during this battle with their co-tenants at the Staples Center. Wearing the Air Flight Huaraches, Bryant exploded for his best game of the season thanks to the breathable mesh built into the upper that kept the star guard’s feet cool during his 40 minutes on the floor. The neoprene inner booty also ensured that when Kobe was ready to cut hard to the basket or pull up for a jumper in the face of a Clipper defender, his shoes would be ready for whatever he could dish out.