August 2, 2012 BY Aaron Hope
Any serious sneakerhead could tell you of Tinker Hatfield’s immense influence on sneaker design and the first few entries in Nike Basketball’s 20 year retrospective echoed this fact. As we follow time forward into the middle ’90s, another legendary designer makes his name starting with Penny Hardaway and the revolutionary Foamposite line, then continues to build his star along with the new generation of freakishly athletic roundball stars. Eric Avar‘s 2000 Nike Shox BB4 was itself the culmination of two decades of research, a shoe whose core theme could finally be realized thanks to the invention of improved foam fabrication. The BB4’s unique ‘rocket and booster’ appearance proved Avar’s opinion that “every shoe should have one bold, iconic expression to it [and] sometimes you can get away with two,” and will forever be remembered as the shoe that made Fred Weis famous (did you get the ‘Dream Team’ pack retros?). Click through to see more of Vince Carter’s Shox debut, let us know how they compare to the other milestone designs we’ve chronicled and stick with Sneaker News as we continue to chronicle Nike Basketball’s best on this side of the millennium.
“The objective was for the technology itself to be the focal point — let it be the hero.”- Eric Avar
Sometimes imagination can be tethered by manufacturing limitation. Nike Shox was already a 20-year-old concept at the time of the BB4’s release. The idea was too ahead of the curve, necessitating foam that hadn’t been invented yet. It resurfaced at the tail end of the 1990s, piquing the interest of Eric Avar and the design team as a visually expressive technology with a significant performance value.
By letting those newly engineered Nike Shox do the talking, Eric knew that there was no point trying to downplay the sole on a shoe like the BB4. “I believe every shoe should have one bold, iconic expression to it. Sometimes you can get away with two. Any more than that and it gets too busy and you just don’t know where to focus, functionally or aesthetically.”
The Nike Shox BB4’s look was informed by its space age concept: a rocket and booster-like appearance was prepped for blastoff and served to amplify the explosive potential of the columns. The upper was designed for intergalactic exploration too, as Avar and the others at mission control researched astronaut apparel. “The upper was inspired from some space suits at the time. We kept it simple and understated, but modern with a slight iridescence and reflectivity.”
Vince Carter’s iconic dunk of death over a seven-footer while wearing a pair secured his legendary status and drove home the power of the Nike Shox system. Off he went into the stadium atmosphere and we had liftoff. You can’t synthesize that kind of moment, but maybe, just maybe, those columns gave him the confidence to pull off the ultimate “posterized” dunk.