Released in 1987 the Nike Delta Force stands as a lesser known heavyweight of Nike’s early basketball arsenal. Basketball as a sub-division of footwear was a newer concept for the Swoosh and after a few successes the brand wanted to expand. The first two Jordans were iconic, the Nike Dunk ran College Basketball and the Air Force 1 was worn by numerous NBA stars, so business was boomin’. Every year Nike updates their products with the latest and greatest technologies and designs, and in the 1980’s so many shoes dropped that it’s easy to confuse them with each other. Today we want to highlight one of the unsung heroes of ’80’s Nike kicks, the Nike Delta Force AC.
We recently received the opportunity to get our hands on a beautiful OG pair of 1987 Delta Force ACs. Our friend and OG collector Luis Coello (IG: just_luis97) came up on these gorgeous ACs when thrifting around Portland, OR. He’s been collecting OG gems for a couple of years; we love seeing the new generation pay homage and respect to the shoes that helped build the sneaker culture as we know it now.
Nike crammed a ton of technology into the Delta Force AC; it may not look like it by today’s standards but in 1987 these were super high tech. Nike’s Airliner sockliner allowed the ankles of athletes to breath without sacrificing stability. The midsole was composed of Tomilite, a material softer than traditional rubber and not Air as many assume. The Delta Force came in three cuts, high, 3/4 and low. Luis’s pair pictured below are the 3/4 version.
One of the best things about vintage Nike Basketball shoes was the top notch materials. Luis’s OG 1987 Delta Forces have maintained their shape very well with minimal yellowing throughout the upper; the perforated mid foot region contrasts well with the smooth, rich leather. Note how the collar hasn’t sagged or deteriorated, they’ve just aged gracefully with no cracking.
Nike used a softer, more supple leather as a finishing layer above the tongue’s mesh innards. This pair’s tongue is soft to the touch like a baby too! It’s always fun to spot design inspirations of contemporary kicks on various models – the Delta Foce uses the same tongue tag as the Air Jordan I, the eyelids are taken directly from the Air Jordan 2 and the toe box shape looks very similar to the Nike Dunk.
The Delta Force’s heel is adorned with classic big text NIKE branding. Bold print fit perfectly with the boldness of OG Delta Force wearers. Groups like NWA found themselves in Delta Forces back in the day because the Delta Force screamed Hip-hop – they’re tough, they’re strong and they look great on the streets. When Luis holds his pair he thinks classic Hip-hop, when we hold a pair… we think the same thing! This angle proves a great look at the deep blue ankle collar, heel counter and outsole. The midsole’s fully intact and wearable so don’t be surprised if you see Luis walking down the street in these beauties.
Las Vegas native living in Portland, OR. Interests include: shoes, sports, music, video games and food. Extremely passionate about Nike and the Lakers. I’ve been collecting shoes for over 15 years! Follow me on IG & Twitter to see my personal collection and if you have questions. #rahbeekicksit
Nice article. I enjoyed learning about the history of these shoes and how shoe design has changed, taking the best parts of the current shoe design and integrating it into something new.
Thank you for the kind words, stay tuned!