Friday’s entry in Nike’s “Designs” project doesn’t need an introduction (as if any of the models would) but we’ll play along anyway. We talking about revisting classics, the Air Penny’s narrative strands stretch so far. The do-everything college phenom who shot to NBA stardom by becoming All-NBA first team for two years in a row (I think we’ve written about his career a few times). A guy whose ad campaigns featured a mini-me who ended up taking on a life of his own that included hanging out with Spike Lee and dating Tyra Banks. And then, the shoe would have to be mentioned somewhere in there.
Like the Air Force 1 model, the Air Penny was a “hood shoe,” which is a compliment. Make them in any colorway and put them on the walls at any urban shop and they’re going to sell. Nobody’s going to walk in and say “those look old” simply because the design was so forward thinking that they’ve aged well. On a performance level, the kicks featured “a Max Air bag for impact protection and the newly developed Tensile Air, later renamed Zoom Air” and the aesthetics included the jewel Swoosh, the 1Cent logo and the huge rubber wrapped outsole covering the forefoot. They were built for Penny the player, the 1995 the era and the future. The shoe essentially set the stage for future sig shoes for Hardaway, making his models competitive with that one guy named Jordan.
Total sidebar: On Twitter, I mentioned how Lil Penny was proceeded in fame by another doll, Buddy Lee. Surprisingly, there’s a Lil Penny Twitter account who responded that the Levi’s figure wasn’t in the same league. Since there’s no Buddy Lee on the social networks, I guess I’d have to agree.