Twenty-three years ago Penny Hardaway was formally given a sneaker of his own. His affiliation with the Foamposite and Flight One built hype within the hearts of star gazed fans so when the Penny 1 dropped in 1995 the masses were ready with open wallets.
Penny’s game transcended the point guard position in ways unseen since Magic Johnson. Size, speed, vision, athleticism… Penny’s tool bag of dunks and no-look passes made for truly exciting basketball. Injuries robbed him of his physical gifts as his play decreased season to season; but his impact on basketball and basketball shoes remained strong. Nike knew they had a generational talent with true likability and star power when the Penny 1 released. Lets take a closer look at the shoe’s history.
As mentioned above, the Penny 1 was the third shoe worn by Hardaway. The Foampsoite and Flight One were forward thinking (and iconic in retrospect) from a design standpoint and Eric Avar carried that mindset into the Penny 1. Simple features like a pull tab and speed lacing system were common practice, but Avar made the genius decision to incorporate a Max Air heel unit with a newly created forefoot unit known (affectionately) as Zoom Air. Oh wow, Zoom Air, nothing new… WRONG! The Penny 1 laid the groundwork for future cushioning systems like All-Out Zoom and full length Max Zoom. The aesthetics are reminiscent of Nike’s Uptempo line from years earlier so you can think of the Penny 1 as a ‘spiritual cousin’ of shoes like the More Uptempo and Uptempo.
The Penny 1 was sold inline with the Air Wayup and Flight One – the shoes stood alongside the Jordan 11 and Air Max Barkely (’94) and held its own. Penny was the ‘new guy in town’ compared to established endorsers like Barkley and MJ; the Penny line found its own lane much like the Kyrie line does now.
Hardaway’s first signature shoe released in three OG colorways (in order of how they’re pictured above):
- White/ Royal/ Grey: The fabled ‘white’ Penny 1’s have never retro’ed since their introduction in 1995. Billed as a ‘home’ colorway, the white pair remains a collector favorite
- White/ Royal/ Black: The most commonly reto’ed of the Penny 1, the classic ‘Orlando’ colorway really needs no introduction; for many Penny people this the Penny 1.
- Black/ Grey/ Royal: This edition was worn by Hardaway in the 1996 All-Star game and was retro’ed for the first time in 2012. Before 2012 these were another highly sought after shoe.
*These are my step-dad’s favorite shoe of all-time; basically this post was for him. I hope all the dads out there had a great Sunday.*