It’s fitting that the most iconic tennis sneaker in the sport’s history belongs to one if not, the most prolific player of a generation. Andre Agassi and the Nike Air Tech Challenge II are just as important to sneaker culture as Michael Jordan and the “Black Cement” Air Jordan 3s. Known for his rebellious attitude, Agassi stood out in a sport considered stuck up and high brow; Andre ushered in a whole new look to the tennis world. He broke down barriers when it came to the “tradition” of tennis – not only with attitude but with his choices in court fashion. Bringing the full force of the era with him, Andre was known to flaunt full neon and denim while he climbed the ATP rankings.
Starting with the Air Trainer 1 in 1987, Andre was no stranger to the Swoosh; and the two enjoyed a long, fruitful relationship. Andre’s defining moment with Nike was the debut of his “Hot Lava” Air Tech Challenge II at Roland Garros in 1990. This wild colorway broke every neck at the French Open. So much so that the broadcasts began to focus solely on the sneaker. That’s how hard Andre’s stunt was! (Not to mention his Guerilla Tennis!) This shake-up brought about a notion to enforce a Wimbledon like “all white” dress code at Roland Garros. Phew, good thing that never happened. This “Hot Lava” wave didn’t stop with sneakers, the theme expanded into a full ATC apparel line that sported the same bright red hue as the famed sneakers.
As time passed, Agassi became a dominant force in tennis. He proceeded to win 60 career titles, 8 Grand Slams, and Olympic Gold in 1996. He was as hot as the Air Tech Challenge II!
29 years after its release, the ATC II “Hot Lava” has earned a spot in the conversation about the best sneakers in history. Along with a few retros and many colorways, this sneaker’s DNA has lived on through other popular sneakers in the Nike family. The most popular being the Nike Air Yeezy 2. The sole kit of the Air Tech Challenge is clearly in full display on this grail of the sneaker community.
Most recently you can find the ATC II all over the upcoming LeBron 16. Part of the “LeBron Watch” Pack, the Air Tech Challenge II has taken over the upper of this signature basketball model. This is definitely an awesome way to pay tribute to one of Nike’s most timeless silhouettes.
Now, out of nowhere, we get another retro of the “Hot Lava” Air Tech Challenge II. After five years, sneakerheads will have their chance to to add this must have sneaker to the collection yet again!
Keep a lookout for these online and at your local sneaker shops. These release on May 24th.