SLAM Kicks presents: Basketball Sneakers that Changed the Game

Book edited by Ben Osborne, Contributions by Scoop Jackson, Russ Bengtson, Lang Whitaker, and John Brilliant

It’s been a while since I posted something, and with it already being a year since I started Social Rec. and all it’s pieces, podcast, Youtube channel, social media pages, and this site, I figure let’s keep the momentum and write a piece worth reading.

Around late 2020, I got into a frenzy of purchasing sneaker material content such as this book and a few others. This book isn’t anything new, but it is a piece of culture worth having for any sneaker enthusiast. This book documents exactly what the title states, “Basketball Sneakers that Change the Game” and the unmentioned players that wore them.

The book is a quick read and is filled with beautiful imagery one wishes they could view in person. Scoop, Russ, Lang and John do a great job of providing a history lesson of the sneakers that are mentioned in this book. There are a number of kicks in this book and while I may not agree with all of them as a pair that changed the game, the evidence behind each pair is credible.

Some of the mentioned kicks are the Converse Chuck Taylor, adidas Pro Model, Nike Air Force I, Jordan I,, Reebok The Question, And 1 Tai Chi and several others including a few Jordan’s and other popular Nike kicks. It definitely seems like Nike has dominated the sneaker game for some time, though a few of these brands are making moves.

As previously stated each sneaker talked about in this book has a unique story from where it started, and how it became popular. For example, the adidas Superstar. Probably one of my all-time favorite sneakers growing up, the superstar aka the “shelltoe” was well known for being popular by Run DMC. Before that though, they could be seen on-court by the likes of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Jerry West, and Kareen Abdul-Jabbar.

Another one of my favorite pairs is the Converse Weapon, marketed and worn by key NBA players in the late 80’s. Players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, and Mark Aguirre to name a few, rocked a pair that matched their team kit colorways. There was even that famous rap video: Watch- Converse Weapon NBA Stars 1986 Commercial.

While there have been plenty of other shoes created with many other types of innovations, these kicks really set the precedent of what hoop shoes are today. If you’re into sneakers and learning more about the history of they, or just interested in learning I would definitely go out and cop this book. I found my copy from Amazon, but you can find it anywhere books are sold.

My experience with the Tom Sachs/Nike Craft WearTesters program

When I first heard of the Tom Sachs/Nike Craft weartester program back in December, I was stoked. Getting the chance to wear test the Mars Yard 2.5 was going to be something great to experience. Tom Sachs (I world renowned artist and big in the sneaker world) and Nike were allowing footwear enthusiast to wear the Mars Yard 2.5 and track the wear of the shoe.

Wear testers are encouraged to wear them all day, everyday, anywhere you go. On grass, dirt, concrete, sand etc., all types of elements. Then the users would track all of that and see how the shoe holds up, tracking any weak points, strong points, and user feedback. The program seems really amazing, but only has 150 spots. Check out the video below for the details on the program:

Since I thought I was a a sneakerhead, I had a good chance of getting into the program. I shot and recorded my video as soon as I heard about the program. I made sure to talk about the topic of why I want to join and met all the requirements to get noticed. The final video I made wasn’t great although it received a decent amount of views.

When the selection for phase 1 came out, I didn’t get selected. While I was upset, maybe it was a good thing because the program requires a lot of discipline, time, and effort somethings I just don’t have the time for. Being I have a full-time job, and three kids, I can’t wear sneakers to work. When I get home, I do play with my kids quite a bit, however that can vary depending on the weather, how I am feeling, or how they’re feeling.

When I got word that phase 2 would roll out during the month of April, I tried to make some more videos, hoping to have a better chance of selection. When I showed my wife the clips I had in mind, she wasn’t impressed; she basically went on to say the videos were trash and that nobody was going to watch them. She decided to help me make the best video and we got to work.

While I wasn’t selected for phase 2 as well, I did get a like from the creator himself, Tom Sachs, and that at least let me know the video was good. My family and I had a blast creating the scenes for the clip and that’s what it was really about. People get to see the person I am as a father, husband, and athlete who is on the move a lot, and who loves his family. While I wasn’t selected, there is still a lot of work that can be done.

Here is the complication of videos, along with the final product I submitted:

I hope you enjoyed these clips as much as I did making them. There will definitely be more chances for me to leave my mark in the sneaker media industry, and with great work comes more work for me to get that opportunity. At the end of the day, it’s all about my family and the memories I get to make with them that made this all worth it.

Why Stance masks are a hit

I’ve been a big fan of Stance for the past 5 or so years. When I first heard of them I wasn’t too impressed with their work. They had designed these awkward looking socks with NBA players on them that were cartoonish, and I wasn’t really feeling the vibe with them. Eventually I found myself going back to their site to see what else they created and soon I became hooked.

I love a lot of their collaboration pairs that they’ve created and enjoy reading about Punks & Poets. I remember when they started off with athletes like James Harden, Chandler Parsons (he fell off) and Allen Iverson and allowing them an outlet for their creativity. Now, the section Punks & Poets has expanded to even more artists all because Stance decided that people should have quality socks.

While I love their socks, being a proud owner of several pairs that I will cherish and adorn, I’ll save that story for another day. What I’ve come to enjoy are their high quality masks that have big a huge success since they started releasing them in 2020 at the start of the pandemic during the NBA Bubble.

The NBA bubble was itself a unique experience. Fans could watch virtually using Microsoft Teams (I got to watch one, it was pretty awesome). Players had even more reason to showcase their sneakers because it wasn’t all 30 NBA teams, but rather a select few who were playoff bound so there was definitely a lot of sneaker heat on display. Social media was a huge platform for the players to share their thoughts and feelings plus fans wanted an exclusive look inside the NBA bubble.

Watching basketball in this setting was different, though still entertaining. Players weren’t sitting on benches anymore, they had their own section. Each player was spread out, had their own cooler and pretty much private staff wait on them for what they needed as the games were played. This gave viewers an interesting view on their favorite player. Even the coaching staff had a new dress code where they wore matching gear from their tops on down to their shoes. What really caught several viewer’s eyes though, was the mask they were wearing.

Stance had created these unique, and sought after masks that players and staff were wearing. Heck, after I first saw them worn, I jumped on Stance.com and tried to find me a one with no luck. As I searched through Google, I looked for any info I could find on the mask. I even hit Twitter and Reddit for any information as well, or even just reactions to it.

Stance had put out a limited amount of masks which all sold out immediately except one with the NBA logo which I copped immediately. It’s still holding up, though it is one of my oldest masks and anyone should know the masks that were made for this pandemic all don’t hold up too long. I had tried other mask brands, but felt like they didn’t represent me as a person and were also made cheap. So once Stance started creating more, I jumped on the chance to purchase more.

People really wanted these masks priced at $19.99 although they were a bit overpriced. However, it goes with the culture shock. You see your favorite player wearing something, you ask what is that? and you go out to find it. At the same time, Stance was not creating something cheap. They use their butter blend material which makes the mask soft and comfortable but still provides the wear with protection though doctors and scientists would say masks are not 100% effective at stopping the spread. This I understand from brands and companies having to put on their product because they don’t want to get sued, though I’ve been using these masks from Stance for a while now and feel comfortable wearing them.

So here we are a year later from the start of all of this. Stance has created more masks that are unique with different designs and are ahead of the supply/demand curve to the point where they’ve re-released others that sold out quickly. I don’t know how much longer this pandemic will last, but I do know that this event triggered a cultural movement that Stance jumped on in a good way. Through the sale of masks and other socks, they’ve been able to support frontline workers especially hospitals in a big way. They also do a lot of community outreach by giving out basic essentials like socks and underwear (new to their line of products) so I can definitely support what they do.

While my obsession with their masks has grown, so has my support for them. I have received a few comments about my masks and even some for my socks. Stance has come a long way from their startup years ago. They do unique collaborations with other up-and-coming artists too, not just celebrities that get paid to show but never actually support their product.

Hopefully when this pandemic ends people will still be cautious and wear a mask when they’re sick. Plus people have spent quite a bit on masks for all of this so it would be a shame to throw them all out. I know I can still use mine though and be fashionable at the same time. Thank you Stance for all you do and creating such a great product.

Unboxing the Harden Vol 5.

Photo taken by Chad Sanchez

Watch the video below of an unboxing of the Harden Vol 5:

When I got wind of this shoe releasing, I was excited! I’m a big fan of Harden, although he’s gone to Brooklyn and even the way he went about it. However, I’ve followed him closely and really enjoyed his game while he was in Houston.

When he left Nike for Adidas, I was disappointed because he was doing some clever marketing tactics, especially the whole “Fear the Beard” campaign and products that Nike had made. He also had a couple non-exclusive basketball shoes in the Nike Zoom Crusader, and the Nike Zoom Run the One (had his own signature colorway with this one), the latter drawing more attention on court.

As he signed his deal with Adidas, a lucrative $200 million dollar deal (you can read one of my first posts on it, James Harden Inks with Adidas for $200 Million, What’s Next?) I was looking forward to what they would create. Harden has shown with his style that he can be creative, and Adidas would definitely allow him to put his style into his product, just like Kanye and recent signing, Fear of God creator, Jeremy Lorenzo.

While I don’t have a huge collection of Hardens, I do like models 1, and 3. I’m not a big fan of the Harden Vol 2, or 4 because of the sizing of the 4, and the weight from the 2. But the 1 was definitely a game changer and is still rocked on courts today. The 3, while slimmer and simple, is also a good shoe so after the new year, I took to copping a pair of Vol. 1’s in the cargo colorway, and a pair of 3’s in the “doodle” colorway from eBay. Wife wasn’t too thrilled with this, but I was.

When the Vol 5. first dropped on January 4th at 2 am, I set my alarm the night before to be one of the first to cop. Although I lost some sleep, it was worth it because later on in the week they had sold out. It wasn’t until I initially tried them on, I started to panic.

I had ordered a size 10 and I wish I had tried them on as soon as a got them, rather than waiting to do the unboxing video. I figured I needed to go down a half size, because the 10 looked big and felt big. The lockdown wasn’t great either. I could feel my whole foot sliding around in the shoe and could visualize where my big toe was inside the shoe. I began to panic.

When I checked Adidas, all the shoes were sold out and another drop wouldn’t happen until Feb 5th. I marked my calendar for the drop. But then with a quick search, I was able to find out that Academy had them.

I ordered a 9.5 and they came within two days because Academy apparently has a distribution center her in Houston, just my luck. Still, I was bummed when I tried on the 9.5. Did I need to now try a 9? I began to ask myself. The 9.5 felt good, especially for my fat foot (we all have one) but my foot still slipped at the heel when laced up.

I contacted my local Academy because I saw there were still some in stock, but the store said they didn’t have them in yet. I had gotten my info wrong. So what I ended up doing is buying the size 9, then once it came in, I would compare the two and return the one I didn’t want at my nearest location. It would have been easier to just go in store and try them out, but knowing myself I probably still made the wrong choice.

Like before, the third pair came within two days. Once I had them both, I argued with myself over which pair to keep. The 9 was just the right length, but a bit snug. The 9.5 felt good, but was long and heel slipped. I did the best thing I could and went with the 9.

I’ve heard many bad reviews on the Harden Vol 5, and for good reason. The sizing is crazy, the shoe is super stiff, heel slipping, how long do they need to break in, etc. But when you see Harden balling in them you think, “man that shoe is nice!” though I wonder if Harden is having or had any issues with them.

Shoe companies need to really do their work when it comes to sizing and letting consumers know how a certain shoe fits. They have the money for it, why not get weartesters to test the shoe out before they go to market and let the consumer know how it feels? This would have saved me a lot of time and even money, though I got back what I spent. Still, I hope to not have to experience this with any other shoe in the future.

While this story is crazy, I still enjoy the shoe and can’t wait to break them out on court. I love the colorway, even in other colors. The Boost sole with the LightStrike looks like it will be good once the shoe is broken in, but since gyms are closed, I can’t try them out. Maybe in the near future, I will enjoy this purchase, but maybe I should have waited for the shoe to have dropped in price. Either way, you got to take chances sometimes and hope you win most of them. Check out some of the photos below for the design of the shoe and let me know what you think of the Harden Vol 5. Don’t forget to follow Social Rec. on Instagram and Twitter.

Nike: Better is Temporary”

When I first heard about this book being releases, I was super excited. I didn’t truly know what all it entailed but it had to be important if it was being pre-ordered and it looked huge! When I saw the cover of it, that also caught my attention.

I did a bit of research into the book and who Phaidon is, and I knew that a lot of research and time have gone into it. Nike also dropped this website, Nike: Better is Temporary, so after surfing through it, I knew I would get so much more from the book.

What I saw was a lot of Nike’s history. Different designs, different campaigns, initiatives, different sneakers and their history, so I knew it would be like collecting a piece of history, something you may even see in a sneaker history museum in the future, so I decided to pre-order from Nordstrom’s, because that’s the only place I could find it from.

When my wife saw the purchase in our account, she asked what it was. I told her and she scolded me a bit, but knew it would be something that I love and would use. Needless to say, I haven’t been disappointed. I find myself looking at and reading this book often, not just for history sake, but for innovation sake. I LOVE Nike, not to say I don’t love other brands. But to see how Nike has transformed shoes into this innovative machine and world-wide culture is invigorating.

I’ve been reading the book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight which is his memoir. To see where he started, and how Nike almost never happened, to see where they’re at now and how they’re impacting the world is amazing. All the innovations, campaigns, athletes, etc., and they still have so much more to accomplish. Other companies are doing the same, but to have this book in my hands and relive my memories and Nike’s is breathtaking.

If you’re a fan of shoes, advertisement, marketing and sneaker culture, then I highly recommend this book to add to your collection. You can purchase the book by click on Phaidon and get your copy soon! Watch the video below to see an unboxing and sneak peak into the beauty that is Nike: Better is Temporary.

Nike Mascot T-Shirt Collection

Nike has done it again. With the start of the 2020-2021 NBA season already underway since late December, Nike has created and pushed out new quality, gear for NBA fans and their specific teams.

With new NBA city Jerseys, warm-ups, pants, socks etc., be made, Nike decided to take it a step further. This year, we get a collection of famous team Mascot shirts printed on a Nike shirt. While not all 30 NBA teams received one, it is interesting to see the concepts for the teams that do.

Check out the shirt below in the slideshows:

Featured in the first slideshow is the Bucks, Knicks, Trailblazers, Warriors, Rockets, Lakers and Spurs. What I love, is those few teams that actually used their mascot as part of the shirt like Clutch from Houston, or The Coyote from San Antonio. What else is unique is the certain basketball pose each mascot has such as dunking, dribbling, laying up, or passing.

Other teams like the Knicks, Lakers, and Nets (below), feature the team with a basketball as the mascot, though in the same light with them using a basketball motion.

In this next slide, you see some of the other popular team mascots such as Benny the Bull, Lucky the Leprechaun, and Burnie (Miami Heat). Other mascots like the Grizzlies, Clippers, 76ers, and Nets are featured as well.

These new shirts are new in the Nike NBA basketball series. Every year, Nike creates collabs for each team whether it be team logo shirts, shorts, socks, and even select shoes. This is the first year they’ve featured mascots in the apparel line. These shirts add a new playful dimension and allow fans to support their teams in a unique way.

Not all NBA teams are featured however, hopefully Nike will create other shirts for teams like the Mavericks, Kings, Wizards, Hawks, and other teams. Most shirts are still available on Nike, though some are going quick, so make sure to check them out and show your team spirit.

Nike X Filip Pagowski NBA team shirts

This collaboration is a couple years old, though when it first released back in 2018, I missed out on buying the Dallas Mavericks shirt because it left the site or showed it as sold out when I checked for it one day.

Low and behold two years later, the shirts, most of them, have popped back up on Nike.com so I purchased the Mavericks shirt and looked at several of the others. For the most part, all teams are there except for the Lakers and the Bulls.

The collaboration is between Nike, being the NBA apparel provider, and Filip Pagowski who is a graphic artist, most know for several works including The Heart of Play collaboration with Converse and Comme des Garcons.

This collaboration had the artist create designs for all 30 NBA teams, though he wanted the designs to reference the teams original logos, and places and things associated with them. Check out the images below of all the team shirts that resurfaced on Nike.com and scoop you up one of your favorite team’s shirts.

Some of the teams are easy to guess because they state the name of the city and team, while others might be a bit difficult to name such as the Nuggets (golden ball with gold nuggets) and Pacers (group of people holding a ball with P-A-C-E-R-S spelled out). Which one is your favorite? Can you name all the teams? I hope Nike collaborates more with Pagowski in the future for other designs. You can learn more about this collaboration by reading Filip Pagoswki NBA T-Shirts from Nike News.

Unboxing the Air Max 90 “Nordic”

When I first saw these kicks, I have to admit I did like them. My good friend recommend I get a pair, but I wasn’t super in love with them. Especially since they could only really be worn around Christmas time. So naturally, I passed.

It wasn’t until about two weeks from Christmas 2020 that I took another look at them on the Nike site after coming across them on Sneakernews. Nike had sold out, so I panicked a bit and decided to check out Kickin It ATX where my good friend Colin works and decided, without hesitation, to purchase the pair, knowing they would be important to Christmas tradition.

Along with this pair, there was a pair of Nike Blazers high, and Air Force 1’s high, to join in on the tradition. I must admit, I’m not a big Air Force 1 fan, but with recent updates to the model and this specific colorway, I’m starting to become a fan. However, these 90’s were a game changer. Check out the video below for the unboxing on Christmas Day and a pair of Nike Elite Christmas socks to rock with them:

Adidas X Toy Story Collaboration

This collaboration is a few years old, though one of my favorite collaborations. I’m a huge Pixar fan, and love Toy Story, part III being my favorite. I didn’t follow this collaboration closely, though I wish I did.

I came across these two pairs Christmas 2019, as I was shopping for my children. My son Michael loves Toy Story and is big into Cowboys and horses and he loves Woody and Buzz. When I saw these shoes I knew I had to buy them for him no matter the cost. I even thought about looking for matching father/son pairs but realized that the shoes were only made for toddlers.

I was semi-torn between which pair I should get him because they were pricey for a little kids shoe. Ultimately I convinced grandma (my mom) to help me buy a gift for her grandson and then I bought the other pair (Grandma’s will always be willing to buy something for their grand children). When I showed my mom the shoes, she instantly said he’ll love them. Sure enough he did.

When they came in the mail, I felt like I was more excited to receive them than my own son because of course I love the story’s behind shoes and the inspiration that comes from them.

These Adidas Ultra Boost have it down to the last details. As I poured over both kicks, I could see the time and effort that went into making sure they resembled each character. The Woody pair has the patch work with the yellow and red colors in the strips and in the primeknit upper.

While the blue from Woody’s denim isn’t there, the black makes up for it, and even has the brown shoelace ends that resemble his hat and boots. Even the sole resembles them. At the back of the heel, you get the subtle hint of blue in the unique heel pattern. The insole is the coolest and missed feature as it showcases Woody’s image.

In the second pair, the colors really pop for Buzz. You have the neon green sockliner, neon green accents in the forefoot and knit, as well as the heel collar. Then you also have the infrared colors in the side logo and knit as well. Inside the shoe, you also get the image of Buzz as he’s blasting off! Iconic.

Both shoes come with the aforementioned Boost, and provide a comfy, soft ride. Both tongues have the Toy Story 4 logo on them as a final stamp.

Though my son doesn’t fit in these anymore, I couldn’t bare myself to get rid of them (plus a few other pairs he has) because they represent so much. I somewhat forced my son onto the Toy Story saga and while he could have hated it, he really loves it. We share a special bond, kind of like an old meets new since Toy Story just celebrated it’s 25th year anniversary.

When he gets older, hopefully will still share that love for Toy Story and I can go back and show him these shoes that his dear old father got for him and still has till this day. Who knows, maybe they can even be passed on to his kids. One can hope.

Nike Adapt BB E.A.R.L

When I first head about this shoe dropping, I was ecstatic. I had missed the first release of the Nike Hyperadapt 1.0, the first self-lacing shoe based off of the sought after, Nike Air Mag. The price point of $700 was just too high for my budget. However, when Nike released a similar model built for basketball, I couldn’t refuse. Plus, the price was cut in half.

The marketing and advertising behind the Adapt BB was perfect. Nike had used their young athletes like Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox, and Luka Doncic to promote the shoe. They were set to debut during All-Star weekend. The color-way was gorgeous and yet so simple. A black upper with a white swoosh and an icy blue sole. The self-lacing feature was mind-blowing.

However, when they released, I missed out on the initial release, a stunning defeat and blow to my ego. I could’ve bought a pair with what little money I had, but it meant that I would be broke and would have to eat ramen noodles. No dice, plus I didn’t need to be in trouble with my wife who knows I have a small addiction.

When I heard the next pair and color-way would drop, I was determined to save some money and cop a pair. I’m not a person who buys and flips, I love to wear my kicks, so when this next pair dropped, I immediately got online and was able to buy them. When they came in, I had a field day.

This color-way was gray, with a grayish icy sole, with infrared accents. I contemplated trying to flip the shoe for the first color-way, but ultimately decided I really loved my pair. I did a whole unboxing video and everything.

Unboxing of the Nike Adapt BB

It wasn’t until our teacher vs. student game that I got a chance to break them out. The students had know that I really wanted one of these self-lacing pairs and when I broke them out, they went crazy at the self-lacing feature and on-feet perspective.

Throughout the game, they were great. Not too bulky or heavy; they felt like a normal, modern basketball shoe. The battery life on them is great, the traction is great, and definitely a lock-down feel. I even crossed over a student in them, and got that footage.

I’ve been able to wear them in some other open gym sessions and have been asked several questions about them. While some would question the price point, I would say people spend hundreds if not thousands on other “grail” shoes so these shouldn’t make a difference, except for the fact THEY SELF LACE! They even have their own app to sync to.

They’ve come out with an Adapt BB 2, but they’re just not the same compared to the original pair. During this quarantine period, they haven’t had much love, but best believe when gyms open back up, I’ll rock these on the court.