AIR. It's right there in big, bold lettering covering the outside of each shoe. And from 1996 until now, the Air More Uptempo has long been referred to as "the Air shoes" or "the Scottie Pippens" after the small forward/physical anomaly turned heads with them in the '96 Olympics. But the design itself went deeper than that. “I think generally the mid-90s were just a bigger-than-life time,” said lead designer Wilson Smith “How can we just let the world know and express it as well as we can?” Inspired by everything big around him in pop culture, Smith decided the best way to let the world know was to incorporate the three-letter word synonymous with the brand.