Less is more. Wrong.
There’s such thing as too much of a good thing. Wrong.
More is better. Correct.
More love… more ice cream…. and most importantly, more Air.
The Air More Uptempo stands as one of the most distinct models in Nike Basketball’s rich catalog. Conceived by Wilson Smith in 1996, the More Uptempo’s bold ‘Air’ branding speaks volumes, but there’s more than one reason why this particular model returns with more frequency than others. In fact, there are six reasons why the Air More Uptempo is so popular…
Technically the Air More Uptempo’s medial and lateral sides are an advertisement for itself. Just look at them – they’re unmistakeably Nike Air. Scottie Pippen posed shirtless in the Air More Uptempo (above) for one of the most memorable mid-90s Nike posters of all time; and we’d be doing you a disservice if we forgot to mention Foot Locker’s Air More Uptempo print ad featuring a Nike-based periodic table.
Since 1996 the Air More Uptempo has been a go-to for celebrities ranging from actors to musicians. The bold sneakers are a staple of hip-hop culture across the world – everyone from Beomgyu to Meek Mill rocks ’em. Fans of corny 1990s comedies remember the Air More Uptempo from George Of The Jungle (1997) too.
The 1996 Chicago Bulls… you might’ve heard of them…
Scottie famously rocked the Nike Air More Uptempo throughout one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. Alongside Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman, Pippen’s ’96 Bulls went 72-10 en route to their fourth NBA Championship. Throughout the Finals series against Seattle, Number 33 did a little bit of everything. From facilitating the offense to elite defense, Pippen was a monster and he torched the Supersonics over six games in the Air More Uptempo. Peep the stats, Pip was everywhere.
Before receiving a signature line of his own, Pippen was the posterchild of multiple Nike Basketball models like the Air More Uptempo. They’re so synonymous with Scottie that you’ll commonly hear them referred to as ‘The Pippens.’
Any studious historian of Nike knows that the Olympic Games are typically used to introduce new products to the world. 1996’s Games in Atlanta were no different. The Swoosh laced Pippen (and Barkley among others) with a Team USA-friendly edition of the Air More Uptempo in white/navy, much like they did with the Hyperdunk in 2008. Affectionately known as the ‘Olympics’, the navy joints continue to be a fan favorite in 2020. Earlier this spring a fresh retro of this colorway hit retailers in celebration of the [canceled] 2020 Games in Tokyo. Along with the black/blacks, the ‘Olympic’ More Uptempo has enjoyed countless retros since ’96.
While on the topic of colorways, the Air More Uptempo has a fat roster of different palettes, prints, and designs. There’s room for simple looks like the above white/blacks and, bold, Bulls-inspired colorways to both exist within the Air More Uptempo ecosystem. Here is some good news – both pairs drop soon!
The Bull-inspired CW first introduced in 2017 only scratches the surface of possible flavors. We’ve seen tie-dye, greyscale, UNC, and a stack of others release over the years. Rumor has it we’re getting some really special drops of the Air More Uptempo well into 2021 like a Roswell Rayguns inspired joint.
In 2017 streetwear giant Supreme collaborated with Nike on a special edition Air More Uptempo dubbed the ‘Suptempo’. Released in gold, black, and white/red, the trio bolstered the Air More Uptempo’s portfolio with a huge injection of hype and exclusivity. Unlike some less successful Supreme x Nike drops, the Suptempos perfectly married Supreme’s style with the Air More Uptempo’s substance to create a truly great collaboration.
The Air More Uptempo has many offshoots and variants. One of the lesser-known kicks is the Air Much Uptempo – a takedown model released in 1996 that featured a single heel Air unit. It’s rare to see two versions of the same shoe release side-by-side, but the Air Much Uptempo dared to challenge the norm. Sadly, the move backfired because most people only know about the Air More Uptempo. Reggie Miller and Gary Payton rocked the Air Much Uptempo alongside Pip in the ’96 Olympics.
In recent years Nike has toyed with the Air More Uptempo anatomy to give us gems like Odell Beckam Jr’s Uptempo-inspired football cleats, and the Air More Uptempo 720.
What colorways of the Nike Air More Uptempo have you owned? Are you looking forward to this year’s retros? Tell us on social media and keep an eye on @SneakerHistory on IG for release updates!