The Air More Uptempo belongs to a strange time for Nike
, operating in the middle of a time when there seemed to be an internal struggle to strip down the conventional branding on Nike shoes. Think about 1992's Huarache Flight or 1997's Foamposite One — those shoes let strange do the chatter. They were arrogant enough that they assumed nobody would associate that level of innovation with anything else. The More Uptempo was something very different though — If you've got the most Air you've put into a basketball shoe to date, then why not scream about it? And this shoe shouted loudly. Penny's debut signature shoe seemed to be the opening salvo in the creation of the Uptempo category, but the More really defined that air bubbled aesthetic, making Scottie Pippen the poster boy for the line, with him opting for some shoes with a whole lot of Air before his late 1990s switch to Zoom minimalism for his official signature shoes. But for those who witnessed the Dream Team's second Olympic outing in Atlanta, all eyes were on these shoes.
It's easy to write these off as a novelty shoe, but the placement of AIR across the lateral and medial sides corresponding with the air bag layout is smarter than some people give them credit. Designer Wilson Smith (the man behind several Nike classics) went in with the brief, taking inspiration from graffiti, pop art and work at Nike HQ (presumedly pre-current campus) from his time as Tinker's architectural assistant. There were some terrible names for shoes during this era for Nike basketball, but we think More and Much summarised up these bolshy designs nicely — a lot of folks sleep on the Air Much that dropped at the same time with equally anti-subtle looks, but the smaller dose of air made them a perfect point and shooting guard shoe, with Spike Lee's old friend, Reggie Miller wearing them to victory. If the aim was to get seen by a global audience during Olympic games, the More and Much were a huge success.
An appearance on Brendan Fraser's feet in 'George of the Jungle', inexplicably being worn to run rather than ball in, embedded this shoe into a whole generation's minds beyond sports. Consider this the ultimate product placement shoe — it's ridiculous to look at, yet at its best in this red, white and blue colourway, repping the wild excess of America, with those white letters merging with the white on the midsole to give them the deception of almost platform-like height (we recently handled the giant Pippen game shoes and they look even more cartoonish than Bugs Bunny in the Hare Jordans). This is a shoe that defies cynicism, because if you wanted them back in the day and never got them, this is the opportunity for closure. The quality of materials is impressive, meaning this is a retro that delivers. Big, stupid but intelligently designed shoes that drop in the Crooked Tongues store very soon. On the Dream Team topic, we still want to see a boxset of Stockton's Ballistic Force with matching short shorts.