Wrapping up the past week in Performance Sneaker History, Sneaker Report celebrated the birthday of tennis legend Andre Agassi, as well as several record-setting NBA moments featuring Michael Jordan, Gary Payton, and Chris Webber. These are The Greatest Moments in Performance Sneaker History from This Week.
Andre Agassi Turns 43
Date: April 29, 1970
Sneakers Worn: Nike Air Tech Challenge
Today in Performance Sneaker History, Sneaker Report celebrates the birthday of one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Andre Agassi was born on April 29, 1970 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and quickly familiarized with the game of tennis at a young age. Turning professional at the age of sixteen, Agassi went on to have one of the brightest careers of the '90s and early 2000s. Ranked World No. 1 multiple times through his twenty year career, Agassi was also known for his stylish flair on the courts.
Sponsored by Nike for the majority of career, Agassi switched to adidas footwear and apparel in his later days. However, most tennis and sneaker fanatics associate Andre with the vibrant Nike sneakers he wore during the '90s. Agassi endorsed the Air Tech Challenge line, which featured some of Nike's most daring designs. From the classic "Flaming Tennis Ball" logo to unmistakable design cues (the Air Tech Challenge II midsole was used decades later on the Air Yeezy 2), Agassi's signature line was innovative and built for performance on the courts. Unfortunately, retro options have been slim.
Gary Payton Earns Defensive Nod
Date: April 30, 2002
Sneakers Worn: Nike Zoom Payton IV
Did you ever wonder where Gary Payton's nickname "The Glove" originated? No, it's not because he was a huge Michael Jackson fan. As NBA.com explains, Payton's name began in 1993 during the Western Conference Finals. Matched up against Kevin Johnson of the Phoenix Suns, Payton's cousin called him and mentioned that he was "holding Johnson like a baseball in a glove." Truth be told, there aren't many players in NBA history that can match Payton's defensive prowess.
On April 30, 2002, Payton was named to the NBA's All-Defensive First Team for the ninth time in his career. The only other player to earn this recognition as many times as The Glove was Michael Jordan, who made the team on nine occasions while in Chicago.
In 2002, Payton was wearing his final Nike signature model, the Nike Zoom Payton IV. Part of Nike's innovative Alpha Project collection, there have yet to be any talks of re-releasing the futuristic looking Payton IV. However, this fall, Nike will be rolling out a retro release of Payton's signature model, the Air Zoom Flight 98 (aka The Glove). Stick with Sneaker Report for more on the upcoming drop.
Michael Jordan Sets Playoff Record
Date: May 1, 1988
Sneakers Worn: Air Jordan 3
As the month of May kicks off in Performance Sneaker History, Sneaker Report flashes back to the NBA Playoffs of 1988. Michael Jordan had just won his first MVP award, as well as leading the league in scoring and being named Defensive Player of the Year. The Bulls were matched against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs, and ended up advancing past the first round for the first time since Jordan had been drafted. But before that, on May 1, 1988, Mike became the first player in history to put up 50+ points in consecutive playoff games. During Game 2 of their series, Jordan scored 55 points and the Bulls ended up with a 106-101 win.
In '88, Jordan was wearing the revolutionary Air Jordan 3. Known for its stylistic innovations such as "elephant print" suede trim, lack of lateral Nike branding, and the debut of the Jumpman logo, the Air Jordan 3 was also technologically groundbreaking. It was the first Jordan model to feature a visible Nike Air window, and featured a sleeker cut than its predecessor. The Air Jordan 3 was re-released in February in new colorways, and a return of the original "Fire Red" makeup has been slated for later this year.
Chris Webber Wins Rookie of the Year
Date: May 3, 1994
Sneakers Worn: Nike Air Maestro
Chris Webber is currently part of TNT's Playoff coverage, but the former All-Star was much more involved during this time two decades ago. On May 3, 1994, as the '93-94 NBA season came to a close, Webber won the Rookie of the Year honor. Although Webber's draft class featured other stars like Penny Hardaway, C-Webb's rookie year numbers were some of the best of all time, which cemented his ROTY recognition. He was the first rookie to tally over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 150 blocks, and 75 steals. These mammoth numbers helped to foreshadow a successful career for Webber, who would go on to be a five-time NBA All-Star with the Washington Bullets and Sacramento Kings.
Webber rotated between some of Nike's best sneakers of the era, and is known for wearing the Nike Air Maestro on several occasions. The Air Maestro featured an inner neoprene sleeve, ankle lock strap, and Air cushioning. If you're a larger guard or forward, you should consider the updated Nike Flight Maestro Plus and can be found for $54.