With a show of hands (that I obviously cannot see), how many of you grew up watching And1 Mixtapes on ESPN and DVD? My hands are currently waving violently in the air because l loved watching And1. They found a way to exist in a space independent from the NBA and thrive from about 2000-2006. Authenticity drove the (what would you call And1? A tournament? A show?) program’s success as And1 traveled from state to state with the country’s best streetball players. The brand transitioned from the blacktop to the hardwood when they signed 1996 rookie, Stephon Marbury. Marbury’s NBA success legitimized and opened the door for And1 to continue signing talented endorsers.
*It’s sacrilegious to omit Raffer Alston aka Skip To My Lou from this conversation; his Skip-tape coupled with his entry in the 1998 NBA Draft proved that a streetballer and can play NBA style basketball. The spirt of his game/ handles can be felt in a lot of the moves Kyrie, Curry and CP3 pull off.
Various high profile ballers like Vince Carter (won the Dunk Contest in a pair of And1 Thai Chi’s) and future league MVP, Kevin Garnett would usher And1 into the new millennium. Eventually the brand signed two Detroit Piston teammates that would go on to win a championship wearing And1’s in 2004; Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace (Ben wore one of the ‘strongest’ looking And1 designs, the Chosen1). Billups won Finals MVP wearing the And1 Rise Mid; the Lakers’s Gary Payton and Derek Fisher couldn’t contain Chauncey in the backcourt as he averaged 21 points and 5 assists. Did his game rise to the occasion because of his And1 Rises? Maybe, just maybe.
The shoe used a clean and simple design that has aged incredibly well. With a mostly white leather base, the Rise used a durable plastic, wrap-like, structure that flowed around the base to the heel counter. To this day, the silhouette remains a crowd favorite. The Rise has popped up here-and-there, Monte Ellis wore a PE pair while playing with the Golden State Warriors years back… Check out some pictures of the shoe below and some highlights of Billups from the 2004 NBA Finals, cheers.
aside* Imagine what a year 2003 was for And1. Their Mixtape Tour was at an all-time high with airings every weekend on ESPN and their shoes were on the feet of the NBA Finals MVP. Nike and Adidas couldn’t say they had that kind of dual success; it was a unique time, a fun time.