All in all, 1996 was a very good year for Scottie Pippen. He played in his sixth All-Star game, won his fourth NBA title and his second Olympic gold medal — and he did a good amount of it while wearing the Nike Air More Uptempo, the AIR-iest shoe that ever AIRed. It said so right across the side in huge letters visible from the upper deck (or on TV), just in case you somehow missed the exposed full-length Air bag in the sole.
Here, Pippen describes seeing the More Uptempo for the first time, wearing black shoes in the playoffs and how it feels to see them on the streets again.
Pippen in a '96 Nike More Uptempo ad
Do you remember what it was like when you saw the More Uptempo for the first time?
I was pretty shocked. I thought it was a little overwhelming. But I felt like it was something I could handle on the basketball court because I was very confident in the way that I was playing and the way that my career was going. It was something I was willing to step out in.
Looking back at that '96 Bulls team, you had the Jordan 11 and the Shake Ndestrukt. What was the reaction to your shoe in the locker room?
I think mine stood out a little more just because of what it said. It was kind of the graffiti basketball shoe — making a statement in real big letters. So it stood on its own.
That year in the playoffs, a bunch of your teammates wore 11s. Were you influenced by them to wear that shoe as well?
Oh no, no. I mean, I did wear Jordans in some games, but I have always tried to focus on my brand or the shoe that I was wearing to make sure I stood by it and believed in it.
When you guys got to the playoffs and switched over to the black shoes and the black socks, what was the message you were trying to send?
It was a shake-'em-up kind of message. We knew we looked different. It became a tradition for us, and we believed it was part of our good luck charm as well. It was our suit-and-tie kind of outfit, like we're ready to get down to business now.
It was just something that just happened naturally over almost a decade of winning and being in the playoffs each and every year. We carried a certain level of arrogance; we felt like we couldn't be beaten.
How aware were you of the statement your shoes were making?
As a player when you're going through it, you don't realize it. And it's not until it's over that you realize you were living a dream. It's kind of a forgotten memory until you start to appreciate it after your career.
Did you save any of those Air shoes from '96?
You know, when you're going through the moment, you don't realize you're living something that you are going to wish you could have again. But no, I didn't. I went through a lot of shoes over my career.
Pippen's '96 medal-winning Nike Air More Uptempo colorway
Did you wear a fresh pair every game?
Yeah. I did start to change shoes after every game. People would ask for them and charities wanted them. But a lot of times I would have kids on the street ask me for them, either going in the arena or leaving. So I always had a little clique of kids on the west side that I would take care of.
Would you have ever thought that your shoes would be as popular again as they are now?
No, I didn't. Again, as a player, you don't think about stuff like that. You don’t even expect those shoes to come back to the marketplace.
I mean, even now, I'm still not considered a collector, but I've probably got more shoes now than I ever have had in my life.
A series of new Nike Air More Uptemo colorways will release globally throughout the summer.
The new studio allows for real-time, live design directly on a shoe. The experience is open now at Niketown London.
The new studio allows for real-time, live design directly...
The KYRIE 4 launches December 15. With it, the shoe’s designer, Benjamin Nethongkome, aims to blaze new trails with Irving’s line.
The KYRIE 4 launches December 15. With it, the shoe’s des...
4,000 pairs of Ramos' player edition Tiempo are available December 19.
4,000 pairs of Ramos' player edition Tiempo are available...
A special-edition training shoe for quarterback Russell Wilson is...
It's available starting December 14 in women's sizing on the Nike App,...
It's available December 7 on the Nike App, nike.com and at select...
The new Nike Metcon 4 keeps everything training athletes have come to love about the shoe, but improves its durability and comfort in a big way. It’s is available on Nike iD December 19, on nike.com and at select retailers in North America January 1 and retailers globally January 4.
The new Nike Metcon 4 keeps everything training athletes ...
The special Mercurials celebrate CR7's continued achievements.
The special Mercurials celebrate CR7's continued achievem...
The shoe launches on December 14 at Overkill in Berlin.
The Soulland designer on his second collaboration with Nike SB, the enduring legacy of the Dunk and pushing boundaries.
The Soulland designer on his second collaboration with Ni...
Three new buildings open in 2018, and the largest of Nike’s World Headquarters (WHQ) expansion project — the new merchandising building that spans the equivalent of three city blocks — is expected to be completed in 2019.
Three new buildings open in 2018, and the largest of Nike...
Thanks to one of the original product creation triads, the all-new Nike Shox Gravity went from design to delivery in record time.
Thanks to one of the original product creation triads, th...
It will cover more than 69,000 square feet.
Nike's first ever made-for-athletes hijab is now available from the United Arab Emirates to Sweden. Learn why the garment has the power to inspire girls and women to follow their passion for sport.
Nike's first ever made-for-athletes hijab is now availabl...
Made famous during Nike’s Breaking 2 attempt, Nike's 4% system has redefined fast. Want proof? Check out the success athletes have had while wearing the Zoom Vaporfly 4% during this year's marathon season.
Made famous during Nike’s Breaking 2 attempt, Nike's 4% s...