Prose: Finch (@Sir_Stymie)
Over the last few months there has been a resurgence in retro big man shoes from the late 80’s and 90’s. This push was started by the retro of the Ewing 33 Hi by Ewing Athletics and was continued as adidas brought back their classic Ewing silhouette with the Conductor Hi. Nike on the other hand has pushed the envelope with the reemergence of the Nike Force collection which is a personal favorite of mine. The Force collection was centered around two of the most recognizable big men of the 90’s: Charles Barkley and “The Admiral” David Robinson (who in my personal opinion has some of the sickest PEs in NBA history).
Nike released the Nike Air Force 180 Mid/Hi (depending on where you shop) earlier this year in two dope colorways: the Suns colorway in honor of Barkley (even though he didn’t wear the shoe at any point in his career) and the David Robinson Spurs colorway, which I thought was more fitting because it was one of Nike’s most Popular PEs and the shoe that Robinson is most known for. Although Nike changed the retro quite a bit with the removal of the famous ankle pump system, under the hood the shoe performs admirably to it’s predecessor .
Nike followed this same formula with the retro on another Nike Force classic, the Nike Air Max 2 Strong. I was lucky enough to pick up early via phone order from the good folks at Rock City Kicks. The shoe was originally released in 1995 and was widely used in the NBA and NCAA – most notably the Fab Five of Michigan – in both high and unreleased mid versions. Although this is a retro silhouette, Nike has made several upgrades that offer plenty to today’s modern ballplayers while still staying true to the original design.
The Nike Air Max 2 Strong was released in two colorways. The Barkley colorway (gray, orange and purple) which he never wore, and of course my main man D-Rob’s classic (black and white) colorway which Robinson himself donned several times during his career. I, of course, picked up the Robinson color and was pleasantly surprised with the quality. The straps on the ankle and the heel are fully functional and supply a snug and locked in fit while the padded ankle sleeve and large heel Max unit add comfort and functionality. The upper sports in a plush leather with an overlay of black nubuck. This gives the shoe’s upper a very nice style contrast, though different from the all-nubuck upper of the OG. I think this was a major aesthetic upgrade to the shoe’s design. The 2 Strong’s midsole has a very aggressive design, seen on the Nike Air Max Barkley and the Nike Air Force Max (which also released this month) as well. The fingerprint grip pattern on the bottom stays true to the original design and also is a unique and functional – this idea was also applied to the Jordan XXIII.
Even though I personally love this shoe, it does have some flaws. Breathability may be a problem if you plan to play ball in these. The leather doesn’t have any air holes, and your foot could get sweaty with extended hoop time. The leather tends to be a be a bit stiff but after a few runs you should be fine.
The shoe also runs a bit big. I wear a 13 but was fine with a 12; though if you plan on wearing a Sneaker Shield or a Force Field you should stay true to size. I think if you go a half-size smaller you will find creasing to be minimal to nonexistent.
This shoe has become one of my favorites in my collection because of it versatility and overall cleanliness of the shoe. I’ve always had a thing for all black Nikes with a white swoosh (ed. note: what up Fab 5!) because they look good with jeans, shorts, sweats, anything really because it doesn’t matter. It’s just a dope pair of kicks. These shoes are available at Foot Locker and Finish Line, as well as many sneaker boutiques. I’m really excited to see what Nike has in store and what other brands follow suit in the re-emergence of retro shoes for the big fellas. Here’s hoping for a Nike Air Unlimited retro