20 Years Of Nike Basketball Designs: The Air Zoom Generation

08.05.12 5 years ago 2 Comments

The Air Zoom Generation still hails as one of the best basketball sig models of the past decade. In 2003, when lead designer Aaron Cooper and colleagues asked LeBron James, then the most hailed player on the planet to have never played a professional minute, what he wanted in a shoe aside from looks, LBJ said “comfort.” And comfort is what he got.

“Further conversations defined the Nike Zoom Generation’s visual direction and infusion of LeBron James’ personality. This was a player who transcended Force, Flight or Uptempo. The big idea that surfaced was that LeBron was a modern soldier, a remarkable player who immediately turned heads with his freakish athleticism. His combination of size and speed was unlike anything the world had seen.

That led to a unique field boot styling, plus wheel-like eyelets with rugged vehicular inspiration and scope-inspired flash mirror coatings on reflective panels with concealed logos.”

What the design team came up with is said to have taken inspiration from the massive Hummer H2 SUV, perhaps a thumbing of the nose at the establishment who raised a stink when ‘Bron was pushing an H2 in high school. But what the design team – which then included Eric Avar and Tinker Hatfield – didn’t forget was comfort fit for a king, a “Chosen One,” and sold at retail to the masses. The end product was built more like an almost indestructible tank, one with a wide base which sat comfortably low to the court and had uniform cushioning throughout.

And how did the AZGs ultimately change the game? LeBron’s line continues to lead the basketball shoe domain as one of the most comfortable models that always delivers with a dynamic design.


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