The golden age of Nike Basketball produced classics upon classics. There was Charles Barkley’s line, Scottie Pippen’s, Penny Hardaway’s— and of course, Michael Jordan’s, which was on a level of its own.
But setting itself apart from the pack was the Nike Foamposite. A futuristic looking sneaker with no Nike branding— except for a small swoosh on top of the toe— that had nearly an entirely synthetic upper and colossal carbon fiber shank plate. With such a unique looking design, almost 21 years later it’s still eye-catching in even the most toned down of colorways. But due to the shoe being so expensive to produce— with a retail price of $180 back in ’97— it’s no wonder that they didn’t sell well at all.
Even off the court, the Foamposite played a role in pop culture with them being featured in the Ray Allen and Denzel Washington assisted He Got Game. The film follows Allen’s character, Jesus, making the tough decisions that come with being a talented basketball player in high school and trying to steer clear of his father’s meddling ways when it comes to which college he’d commit to. While the film is celebrating its 20 year anniversary, the Air Jordan 13s Denzel rocked are pegged to the movie while the Foamposites are the forgotten of the two. In the film, Allen rocked a pearly white pair with black laces and red accents.
The shoes would be retroed twice, but Nike officially paid homage to the cult classic film and iconic sneaker in 2015 by releasing a sneaker pack. It featured the Pearl Foams and the Nike Zoom Hawk Flight and was called the Make Up Class of ’97 pack because that was the year Allen’s fictional character Jesus Shuttlesworth graduated from Lincoln High School.
Back to basketball IRL… they looked fire on the court back in the day, and rumor has it that Mike Bibby, who was still in college at the time, may have been the first to actually debut the sneakers, not Penny Hardaway. However, Hardaway was the one who gave the shoe a bit more shine, and it looked damn good in a royal blue that matched his Orlando Magic jersey so well. But, Hardaway’s differed than the Pro version with his signature 1 Cent logo on the tongue pull and the jeweled swoosh was removed.
General public aside, the NBA wasn’t even cool with Hardaway rocking an all blue pair of kicks because they didn’t feature enough black to go with his uniform. So Hardaway did the most logical thing possible in a crunch and decided to just use a sharpie to fix the problem.
And it wasn’t until just a few years earlier that people really began to appreciate the model— and that’s because of hype.
The classic Copper colorway had returned in 2010, but it was bigger than that. In 2012 there was the ParaNorman Foamposites that were limited to 800 pairs and are still going for thousands of dollars and even more special; the Galaxy Foamposites that had sneakerheads going crazy, camping, and notoriously had one guy trying to trade his car for a used pair. If that hasn’t solidified the Foamposite’s place in sneaker history, then not much will.