The Best Penny Hardaway Shoe Ever


A subject of intense debate, the shoes that Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway wore during his 14 year career have been some of the most creative and visually risky shoes Nike has produced. Sometimes dubbed “spaceman shoes”, they came in blue/light blue/white/black color ways and had a marshmallow-like appearance. The group sat around the other night and tried to determine which edition of these basketball shoes was the best. Here are the finalists:

This particular shoe received a lot of votes, mostly for nostalgic reasons. For many, this was the first air max basketball shoe they owned:

Penny 1
Penny 1

The review on the second edition was interesting. People either really loved it or really hated it:

Penny 2
Penny 2

The third finalist was only really part of this discussion because it sparked the design of so many other shoes to follow it. Designer great Carl Blakeslee commented that the design required four molds, which of course led to the then unheard of $180.00 price tag for the shoe:

Penny Foamposite
Penny Foamposite

Note the color way we chose here is not the traditional black/blue. That’s intentional because we felt the neon integration paved the way for many other (often ugly) shoes in the coming years.

Our final selection begs the obvious question: why skip a shoe? We did not include the Penny 3 in this discussion because the shoe is, in our opinion, downright hideous. It integrates the Foamposite concept with AirMax design, making it a strange and almost abrasive hermaphrodite basketball shoe. The Penny 4 however, revisits a design concept that we all loved in the Penny 1.

Penny 4
Penny 4

Note the forward slanting design that makes this shoe almost a Penny 1Pro concept. The one problem we saw with this show, however, is the lack of a swoosh on the side, a feature that we loved in the Penny 1. This indicates a pattern that we see now with the Jordan Brand, a segway into a new Penny brand of shoe. Unfortunately, despite the popularity of his shoes, Hardaway could never muster the star power and market control that Jordan harnessed, and the Brand was left at 4 main shoes with some spin-offs.

Our vote, after much discussion, was unanimously for the Penny 1. It stayed in keeping with the Nike Brand tradition, broke design barriers, and was not abrasive in appearance or comfort.

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