Nike Basketball’s releases over the past 20 years represent the definition and redefinition of the hoops shoe. A 20-year work-in-progress. In 2003, the Nike Zoom Ultraflight was born.
“Design can put a dream on paper, so to speak, but it's development and manufacturing that turn the dreams into reality.”- Aaron Cooper
After breaking new ground with the 2001 Nike Zoom Hyperflight, the objective was to maintain an innate sense of speed while building on a need for support. Continuing the Zoom lineage of the basketball shoe as an object of beauty, the Nike Zoom Ultraflight was the byproduct of absolute performance and total reduction.
New approaches need new processes, and the Nike Zoom Ultraflight’s designer Aaron Cooper concedes that, “From a manufacturing perspective that was not easy to do.” Half tradition, half amazing, this was one shoe with two distinct styles — an expected, premium leather side and a defiantly tech side. The development team managed to skillfully merge TPU, mesh and traditional fabrics seamlessly.
The Nike Zoom Ultraflight was informed by multiple inspirations: from a clear Nike track spike that was never produced, to a transparent deck lay on a performance car, to Cooper and Eric Avar’s visit to a New York City sporting goods store. “We were amazed by this translucent snow helmet where you could see the structure of the foam underneath.”
With every element visible in the Nike Zoom Ultraflight, even the inner comfort mesh had to look as good as it performed. The end result was a responsive feel and traction that changed the game again. Through pure experimentation and a conviction to manufacture the seemingly impossible, the shoe became a reality.
Twinned with a perfect balance of the huh? factor and classicism, Nike Basketball created its own challenge — beat that.
In celebration of the summer of basketball, we’re revisiting our most iconic Nike Basketball shoes of the past 20 years. Learn more.