Throughout the ’90’s Penny Hardaway’s electrifying play landed him in the hearts of NBA fans across the globe. Touted as Magic Johnson 2.0, Hardaway’s size, vision, and athleticism separated him from his contemporaries as he dominated the East with Shaq to form one of the greatest 1-2 duos in league history. We all know the story, injuries robbed Penny of his prime and we never got to see the peak of his talents – if Hardaway would have stayed healthy then we would look at him in an entirely different light. Like Bo Jackson, Penny Hardaway’s legacy is defined by “what if’s”; the legend of Penny is greater than the actual career of Penny. That’s not a knock on him, there’s no doubt in our mind that Penny would have found championship success if his body would have kept up.
Luckily, Penny’s impact on the game will live on through his Nike footwear. His first signature shoe, the Penny 1 (not to mention the Flight 1 and Foamposite) was a smash hit and sits as one of Nike Basketball’s greatest models. The hits would keep rolling through 1998 with the release of the Penny IV, the last signature shoe he’d wear on the hardwood. In 2012 Nike revived the Penny line with a brand new silhouette, the Penny V.
Fans weren’t particularly asking for a new Penny shoe but it delivered in both performance and looks. With modernized technology (ie. no Foamposite) like Hyperfuse, the Penny V was ready to take on the 2010’s with a vengeance. Nike payed homage to some of Penny’s old teams by dressing the Penny V in Orlando and Phoenix colorways suitable for his playing days. There were modern colorways like ‘Invisibility Cloak’, ‘Volt’ and ‘Fighter Jet’ that made sure the Penny V stayed in line with what had been working for Nike that year too.
This leads to some very important questions, do sneakerheads want new models from retired NBA stars? We’ve seen the Pippen line come back with new models and the Kobe line lives on in a post-Bryant NBA/ shoe market (obviously there’s MJ but he doesn’t count); but are new shoes adding to these player’s legacies? Or is Nike just banking on name recognition and tradition? Tell us what you think in the comments below!