Some shoes simply stand out in the collective memory, as much for their style as for where they were during some of basketball’s most iconic moments. The Nike Dunk Highs have earned that kind of legacy, and like a lot of notable shoes, they have made a comeback, first when Nike released Kentucky varsity royal and white and St. John’s University red and white, and this spring when they announced the soft grey and university red, UNLV and Michigan Varsity maize and Midnight navy, Dunks.
To give a little history on the Dunk High and Nike’s Be True to Your School campaign, it should be noted that these shoes were introduced in an era when players on a college team most often all wore the same team shoe. It was a show of solidarity for the program a way to look good on game day.
This was significant for a multitude of reasons. For one, All-Conference and All-American upperclassmen at these premier programs were superstars in their own right and had almost as much influence as NBA stars. As a result, without NBA League Pass and the constant onslaught of media, what shoes the top programs wore (this is an era when players on the same team all wore the same shoe) had a tremendous influence on, not only basketball culture, but youth culture in general.
For example, the Be True to Your School Dunks have a storied history for both Michigan and UNLV, More specifically, the 1985-86 Wolverines and 1986-87 Runnin’ Rebels.
Let’s take a look back at these two formidable teams and the marquee old school players that made the Nike Dunk Highs look so tantalizingly good back in the day.