The Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2k4 released during a unique transition time for performance basketball sneakers. The Nike LeBron James series had just launched less than a year before the Huarache’s release. All eyes were on Jordan Brand’s next move, as they commenced the next chapter of their legacy by delivering the Air Jordan XIX, the first Jordan release after MJ’s third, and final, retirement. On-court sneakers memories were being made during the 2004 NBA All-Star Weekend by the likes of Tracy McGrady and LeBron James, who wore mismatched adidas T-Mac 3s and a “Wheat” colorway of his first signature shoe, respectively, and Carmelo Anthony had recently arrived on the scene with a Jordan signature in addition to eye-opening PEs from the storied brand. It was an interesting time for sneakers, and the Huarache 2k4 could’ve easily gotten lost in the shuffle.
The Eric Avar-designed 2k4 showed face for the first time a few days before the 2004 NBA All-Star Game on the feet of Kobe Bryant in a Lakers road game against the Houston Rockets. Prior to the sighting, Bryant was often spotted in player exclusive versions of the Nike Air Flight Huarache during the first half of the 2003-2004 NBA season – his first year with Nike – so employing The Black Mamba as the poster child for the 2k4 was organic and ideal. Three days later, the “LA” edition appeared in the All-Star Game – also debuted by Kobe Bryant – and became an exclusive to Niketown LA and NikeTown.com in its first meeting with the masses. Yet, the shoe would make an even bigger splash during March Madness, as a number of college basketball notables, such as David Lee, Jarrett Jack, Tony Allen and Daniel Ewing, wore it during the 2004 NCAA Tournament. The 2k4 became available to the public during the second week of the NCAA Tournament for $125, and to make it even more admirable, consumers were given the opportunity to add personal messages of inspiration to the shoes through NIKEiD.com.