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Nike at 50: The Brand’s Biggest Fans and Insiders Share Their Favorite Memories Over the Years

Fifty years at the forefront of footwear is enough time to produce a seemingly endless stream of memories.

For a half-century, Nike, established in 1972, has found ways to connect with consumers through innovative product, compelling storytelling and making the most of moments. So much so that those enamored with footwear and fashion have personal favorite memories that mark significant moments in time, rarely with overlap.

Below are the favorite memories of Nike throughout the years from some of the biggest and most respected names in sneakers.

Deon Point

“My mom had given me money to buy a pair of shoes and the ‘Military’ [Air Jordan] 4s had just come out, they were on the rack at Decathlon, and the Bo Jackson [Nike Air] Trainer SC that came out at the same time. I bought the Bo Jackson Trainer over the ‘Military’ Jordan 4s. I liked Michael Jordan, but I was a Boston Celtics fan, so I didn’t have that love that a lot of other people had because he used to crush us and put us through hell. I bought the Bo Jacksons because I thought it was cool that he played two sports and the colors were unique. All my friends gave me s**t. They were on me to go the other direction with the ‘Military,’ but I loved them, I didn’t hesitate, I was like, ‘This is the one I want.’ At that time, Bo Jackson had energy and cross-training was a huge thing, everybody in the world was doing this whole cross-training thing, so I got caught up in the hype. And I loved them, I thought they were cool. I still own multiple Bo Jacksons to this day.”

T.J. Keasal

T.J. Keasal Make Yourself tattoo Nike
T.J. Keasal’s “Make Yourself” tattoo.
CREDIT: Courtesy of T.J. Keasal

“My favorite Nike memory is the internal switch that flipped seeing the Nike women’s ‘Make Yourself’ campaign launched in 2010, an inspiring collective of strong women, who instilled the message: ‘You are entirely up to you. Make your body. Make your life. Make yourself.’ I carry this message with me down my right ankle to not let fear act as an achilles heel to my success. Inspired by their campaign, I hoped to inspire other women, shooting my own, as a reminder you can be as strong as the women you admire in life.”

Henry Francois

“This may be recency bias, but I think last year might be my favorite personal Nike story. On Tuesday, September 28 at 4:05 p.m., I’m home chilling when a friend of mine sends me a link from SNKRS that reads: Just Dropped. It was the Nike x Off-White Air Force One ‘University Gold.’ Knowing it would be a long shot, I clicked the link and selected my size. Considering the luck I’ve had on that app, or lack there of rather, I was in complete shock when I received the Got Em notification for this instant classic shock drop.”

Ricky Shoebio

“My favorite Nike moment was seeing the airing of the ‘Freestyle’ commercial during the 2001 NBA Finals. It was the perfect storm, honestly. Street ball was huge at that time. You had a Finals with two iconic dynamic guards with Kobe [Bryant] and AI [Allen Iverson]. And this aired in June, so summer hooping and working on your handles was really a thing. That commercial not only impacted me a that time, but going full circle as someone that creates campaigns with these brands now. It impacted how I saw things forever and what I knew to be polarizing as far as ads go.”

John Gotty

Michael Jordan John Gotty
A shot of Michael Jordan at a Nike event, shot by John Gotty.
CREDIT: Courtesy of John Gotty

“Standing less than 15 yards away from Michael Jordan at a Nike event and shooting photos of him surrounded by a throng of kids certainly ranks high. I swear he had a halo floating around him. Maybe that glow was natural, but more than likely, it was the effect of years of awe inspired by the larger-than-life myth created by the Swoosh.”

James Whitner

“Nike is its people. The thing about Nike that I love, and it’s the reason why they’re so good: The people are so strong that it outlasts the test of time. Nike is an ideal of what can be. Don’t think about the product, think about the idealism. When things get tough, who they are is reinforced based on the people that are there. They’ve been able to last for 50 years because there’s continuity, there’s always people there who hold the company up for the right reasons.”

Jazerai Allen-Lord

“When I was in my 20s, I collected SB’s heavy, and I remember camping for the ‘De La Soul’ High because they were one of my favorite groups growing up and I had to have the shoes. Flash forward years later, I met Pos [of De La Soul] on SneakerPlay, and we started talking sneakers on Twitter and developed and working relationship and friendship that continues to this day. When Girls Got Kicks came out, and I wore his shoes, he had me sign the book for him. Such a full circle, iconic sneaker moment for me.”

Izzy Lugo

Izzy Lugo Nike HQ
“Strange on Purpose” podcast founder and host Izzy Lugo at Nike HQ in Beaverton, Ore., in 2019.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Izzy Lugo

“My Nike-specific memory that shines through was my trip to the HQ in 2019. It was the first time on campus and my mind was blown. Seeing the different buildings and meeting different people was awesome, but what stood out to me was when I arrived, people knew me and my podcast. It was wild. Little did they know that the trip helped cement the fact that I was onto something and is a pillar for my journey today.”

David “Kari” Daniels

“My favorite Nike memory is when my cousin bought me the ‘Black/Orange Peel’ Nike Zoom GP 2 as a welcome gift for moving to New York. We were broke and  all I had was one pair of busted Reebok Classics. I felt invincible when I put those sneakers on.”

Marissa Hill

“My favorite Nike memory is being able to finally afford my first Jordan, a Jordan 14 Low ‘Cerise,’ for 50% off at my local [Nike] outlet growing up. I’d been working so hard to just afford a sneaker to match my volleyball team, but to be able to get a Jordan after working hard at a young age, it’s a memory I’ll never forget.”

Robbie Falchi

“I’m going to have to keep it all the way new school with ‘The Block.’ [LeBron James’] denial of Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. While wearing the [Nike] Soldier 10, LeBron pulled off the greatest defensive play in Finals history to complete the greatest comeback in Finals history. I have a pair of those Soldier 10s and I get goosebumps thinking about those shoes and that sequence.”

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