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October 2, 2012 BY John Kim / 4
15. Nike Zoom LeBron IV ‘Birthday’
It’s crazy to see LeBrons so in demand like they are right now. Up to the point of the LeBron IV (2006), the entire LeBron signature line was lackluster and not nearly strong enough to pull me away from Air Jordan Retros (on a basketball shoe standpoint). The Air Zoom Generation was ridiculously comfortable, but I only bought them at $50 a pop at Finishline clearance, and the LeBron II and III came when Air Max 1s and SB Dunks were all I cared about, so I never gave LeBrons in general much thought. It wasn’t until when the IV rolled around that Nike LeBron finally got my attention again, and it did so with an amazing design and the perfect colorway.
I’m not much of Nike Basketball guy anymore and I haven’t worn a pair of LeBrons in…forever, but being from New York, Royal and Orange always deserves a spot in my collection. The LeBron IV alone is Foamposite-based and it could have very well been a ‘Foamposite Two’; much like the Foamposite One, the Zoom LeBron IV didn’t have a midsole, and the fit was created via a inner bootie. It looked like it came from outer-space, but the only problem was that the colorways were a bit too pedestrian and ‘team’-based. I knew I wanted the LeBron IV – all I needed was the right colorway to pull me in. I immediately fell in love with the ‘Birthday’, and I’ll gladly include it as the lone 21st-Century Nike Basketball shoe on this list.
14. UNDFTD x Nike Dunk High NL
As much as I love Dunks, the High never got that much love for me. I was never really into high-tops with the whole jean cuff-tucking steez, and the ankle-collars of Dunks were just too thick for my taste. I never gave Dunk Highs – even SBs – much attention until Nike experimented with the build of the shoe and slimmed it down considerably. In 2005, Nike introduced ‘NL’, or ‘No-Liner’, which stripped the upper of any padding and gave it a super-sleek silhouette (much like what you see with the contemporary ‘Deconstruct’ builds); suddenly, the Dunk High was much more wearable.
UNDFTD designed these and the colorway is just flat out insane. Brown smooth leather, a emerald teal suede, an opaque green midsole, grey wool uppers, purple Swooshes – on paper it seems like a blind mash of colorways that have no business being connected, but the color-blocking was done perfectly and tastefully and achieved that multi-colored effect while many other color-blasted Dunks looked out of touch. I beat these to the ground. Fun trivia – I wore the UNDFTD x Dunk High during my first interview with Sneaker News.
13. DQM x Nike Air Max 90 ‘Bacon’
Not much more can be said about the Air Max 90, but not enough will ever be said about Bacon. It’s the perfect food, and DQM’s ‘Bacon’ might be the perfect colorway of the 90. This sneaker released back in 2004 and I didn’t get them in my hands until a couple of years back when I purchased them at a great price at Sneaker Con of all places (that’s right folks, it’s totally worth attending!). The leather is buttery soft, the colorway can’t be duplicated because it looks unnatural on another shoe, and the concept behind it came from a group of guys at DQM – one of the many stores I wasted way too much time at. Just another sneaker that I’ve always wanted, only to hunt it down years later when I wasn’t on a college student’s budget!
12. Air Jordan XI ‘Bred’ – 1996 Original
How can you not love this shoe? My first pair of XIs came from a neighbor who worked at a Foot Locker I used to go to all the time. He lived downstairs and whenever he called to say he was coming upstairs to hang out and play video games or something, I knew I was in for a hook-up – an old video game, some comic books he no longer needed, some sneakers, or any cool hand-me-down that he outgrew but knew I would go nuts over. I remember the moment he walked in my house, cradling a pair of the Bred XI. They were used, and I was barely a size 9 at the time (the shoes were 11.5), but there was no way I was going to turn them down.
Those shoes are still in my closet today and even at 16 years of age and under secondary ownership, they’re still rockable. That’s 90’s quality for ya. I wouldn’t mind sole-swapping them to give them new life, but i’m comfortable with letting these ride into the sunset and die a peaceful and natural death. Since the original, I’ve had the pleasure of owning the ’01 and ’08 Retro as well (and I’ll likely pick up this December’s release). Going back to my neighbor, Matt Oh: Wherever you are, thanks for everything.
11. Nike Air Huarache
This was another early-90’s runner that I absolutely loved because I thought it looked like a hybrid sports car/speedboat. I never owned a pair in the 90’s, but what got me crazy about the shoe again were the two Stussy collaborations and the 2001 Retros were available everywhere for incredibly cheap – as low as $10 at outlets. They disappeared for a bit until the ACG-inspired Quickstrikes, which were some of the best releases of that time. I wasn’t really down with the ‘Free’ releases that hit stores over the last year, but that only made me appreciate the Huaraches I had even more!
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