The summer of 2012 was a very special one for the sneaker world. With the Summer Olympics this year, sneakerheads knew there was a lot of heat to look forward to. The Summer of 2012 would bring the launch of the Air Yeezy 2, which alone is enough to make this summer one of the better summers for sneaker releases in a long time.
The summer of 2012 brought back many of my old favorites, from the Answer IVs to the classic Air More Uptempos, and also brought us some of the best and most anticipated new releases. Overall, it was a great summer for sneakerheads. If you were able to pick up any of the shoes on this list, you did well. If you weren’t able to grab any of these, then I feel sorry for you.
Recently, we unveiled the 10 best sneakers of the century, and while that was dope, here are my personal 10 best sneaker releases from the summer of 2012.
*** *** ***
10. AIR JORDAN VII “OLYMPIC”
Release date: July 21, 2012
Both the Olympic VI and VII made their return this summer in celebration of the Olympics, and it was great to see them both back. However, it felt particularly good to see the Olympic VIIs back in their original form. The Olympic VIIs were released back in 2010 during the inaugural World Basketball Festival, however they were stamped with the “For the Love of the Game” Jordan logo, and as a result didn’t have that same classic, original feel that the old 2004 retros had. It was only right for Jordan Brand to release the shoe again in celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the Dream Team. Thankfully this time, they looked exactly like the ones Mike wore in Barcelona.
9. NIKE AIR MORE UPTEMPO “OLYMPIC”
Release Date: July 1, 2012
The Air More Uptempos were maybe the best Olympic shoe to release this summer. If you don’t think so, there’s no question that they stand out the most. The giant “AIR” on the side panels changed the game as far as branding on a sneaker goes. The shoe is certainly a classic, and is instantly distinguishable by any sneaker fan, or any real fan of basketball in general. Scottie made them famous, and if you’ve ever hooped in these bad boys, I can guarantee you probably felt like you were him for a second or two. These were, without a doubt, one of Nike Basketball’s most iconic shoes thanks to Air Scottie and the iconic unforgettable design.
8. NIKE VOLT FLYKNIT TRAINER+
Release Date: July 27, 2012
The first time I saw the Volt Flyknit Trainers was at the Nike Olympic Innovation Summit back in February. The shoes were set up at a hovering display and people just couldn’t get enough of them. The Nike Running design team was there to go over the specifics of the Flyknit technology and it’s truly one of a kind. The shoe itself is very innovative and the colorway makes them even more eye-catching. As much as KD, ‘Melo and LeBron were seen wearing these around London during the Olympics, it’s hard to imagine they’re as comfortable as they look, but they are.
7. REEBOK ANSWER IV
Release Date: August 2, 2012
Swizz Beatz and the Reebok design team knew the streets needed these. The Allen Iverson collection always had the potential to be a retro goldmine, however it wasn’t until this summer that the Reebok folks finally took full advantage. After being surprised by the success of the red Question release, they followed up with these. The Answer IVs are a particular favorite of most Iverson fans because AI made his deepest playoff run wearing them. The quality of the shoe is just as good as it was back in ’01. Any lover of classic basketball footwear can appreciate a clean pair of these, so it was great to see them back on the shelf.
6. NIKE ZOOM KD IV “Scoring Title”
Release Date: July 21, 2012
The detail on this particular pair of KDs is insane. Everything from his points per game average for the past three years to his “Fam 1st” motto and the 3m reflective laser-etched graphics makes the shoe unique. These were pretty tough to get, and were, without a doubt, one of the most anticipated shoes to release this summer. Being that all KD IVs retail for just $95, resellers drool at the mouth for just about any pair anyway, so that makes the KD IV a special shoe in it’s own right. Nike definitely did the “Scoring Title” edition of the shoe justice, and as a result made it one of the best sneaker releases of the summer.
5. AIR JORDAN “GOLDEN MOMENTS” PACK
Release Date: August 18, 2012
The “Golden Moment” Pack was released as a celebration of Jordan’s ’92 Olympic Gold medal. The fact that the actual Olympic VIs and Olympic VIIs didn’t release in this pack together was a head scratcher for many, but after seeing the “Gold Pack” in person, nobody was complaining. Both the VIs and the VIIs have crispy, fresh leather with a glossy gold detail that any Jordan lover could appreciate. Some old-fashioned sneakerheads like to stick their nose up at Jordans that Mike didn’t wear himself (I myself am one of those people), but there’s something about these that you just can’t deny. Whether it’s the really nice packaging or the actual shoes themselves, or a little bit of both, these are special. Some Jordan packs can be a hit or miss. These were definitely a hit.
4. SUPREME X NIKE SB DUNK LOW
Release Date: July 19, 2012
Nike and Supreme have a special relationship. If you have any of their past collaborations, you know anytime they get together, it’s a big deal. Of course, this time it was no different. Photos of the shoe leaked months before the release, so the hype was through the roof. Being that, the shoe was only sold at Supreme locations and on the Supreme online shop – definitely not easy to get. People lined up in the alley outside Supreme New York for three days straight with two 3-hour breaks a day. It rained for the majority of the night before the release, so the campout was definitely not for the weak-hearted. The shoe being so limited wasn’t the only reason why it was so sought after. The shoe itself is clean, with a full-grain red leather upper and cement elephant print paneling. These are guaranteed to turn heads. Factor in all that, and this is easily a top-5 release of the summer.
3. NIKE LeBRON 9 P.S. ELITE “SOUTH BEACH”
Release Date: June 2, 2012
Nike put a brand new spin on the “South Beach” theme with the LeBron 9 P.S. Elite. After the success of the “South Beach” LeBron 8s (or “Pre-Heats”), everyone was eager to see how Nike would apply the color theme to the LeBron 9. Many were expecting to see the South Beach theme on the original LeBron 9 silhouette. However, when Nike first leaked photos of the LeBron 9 P.S Elite, it was clear they had saved the best for last. The hype for this shoe was crazy. If you missed out on the first pair, it made you want to get these even more. The sequel is never quite better than the original in any regard. However, there’s no denying that the South Beach LeBron 9s were a great follow up to the original “Pre-Heats.” Nike delivered again, and the South Beach LeBron 9 P.S. Elites were instantly stamped as one of the very best sneaker releases of the summer.
2. NIKE AIR YEEZY 2
Release Date: June 9, 2012
The most hyped shoe of the past three years finally hit stores this summer. Back in 2008, the Air Yeezy release changed the game. Nike gave everyone a fair shot at snagging a pair with three different colors releasing on three different days throughout the summer of 2008. All you had to do was get there early and pay your dues in line. However this time, it just wasn’t that easy. The demand for the shoe was through the roof. Nike expected that, and as a result every single location that carried the Yeezy 2s was forced to do a raffle for the shoes. Both colorways released on the same day, so your chances of getting both were slim to none, unless you wanted to pay the $2,500-to-$3,000 price tags to get your pairs. In retrospect, Nike did what was best for the sneaker culture as a whole, even though people were complaining about the release, because lines for these would’ve definitely gotten crazy.
1. NIKE LeBRON 9 “CHAMPIONSHIP” PACK
Release Date: August 11, 2012
Of all the times to make a trip to Miami, I made one during the week of this release. In celebration of the dream season that LeBron James put together, Nike released the LeBron 9 Championship Pack, consisting of the “MVP” LeBron 9, and the “Championship” LeBron 9 P.S. Elite. The “MVP” shoe is an original LeBron 9 silhouette with a beautiful gradient red/black upper over a white base while the “Championship” LeBron 9 P.S. is the shoe LeBron wore in the Finals: an all-red metallic upper with a gold check over the carbon fiber side panels. The shoe was only released at LeBron’s UNKNWN boutique in Miami’s Aventura Mall, and of course, was only available through a raffle. Those who were lucky enough to win a pair paid $450 for what instantly became a $4,000 asset. Not even the Yeezy 2s can matchup with that.
The LeBron 9 “Championship Pack” will be remembered for years to come, especially because it’s the shoe that took finally took LeBron over the hump. No matter what, these will always be LeBron’s first championship shoes. If you see someone wearing a pair of these, stop whatever you’re doing and shake their hand because these were absolutely the hardest shoes to get this summer. If there were one shoe I had to pick on this list to own, there’s no question I’m picking these. That’s what makes this the No. 1 release of the summer of 2012 and probably one of the best Nike Basketball releases in a long time.
Which sneakers do you think were the hottest of the summer?
Follow Jaimie on Twitter at @SubZEROxPaste.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.