KG. KGEE. KGEE21. KG21. The Big Ticket. Da Kid. KG PICK 5.
No matter the acronym, they’re all synonymous with the man for whom they were coined: Kevin Garnett.
Welcome to today’s Nice Kicks Throwback Thursday. Here, we continue with our NBA All-Star Game theme and pay tribute to yet another mid-90s basketball model worn on court during the annual February basketball classic: the 1998 Nike Air Garnett.
KG took the NBA by storm when, as a tall, skinny kid from Mauldin, South Carolina by way of Chicago’s Farragut Academy, he single-handedly transformed a struggling Minnesota Timberwolves basketball franchise in desperate need of a new identity and leader.
Minnesota’s mid-90s mighty underdog, KG’s career is equally extensive and noteworthy as his Nike kicksology. The 2008 NBA Champion, 2004 NBA MVP, 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, 15x NBA-All Star, 2003 NBA ASG MVP, and 2000 Olympic Gold medalist was properly laced by Nike during the earlier part of his legendary career including models such as the Air Jordan 11, Air Zoom Flight, Air Max Uptempo, Air Max Uptempo 3, Air Way Up, Jumpman Pro, Air Flight Max, Air Max Uptempo 3.0, Air Vis Zoom Uptempo, and Jumpman Team.
It wasn’t until 1998, however, when KG finally received his very own Nike signature line with the debut of the Air Garnett, his footwear of choice at the 1998 NBA All-Star Game in NYC, his All-Star Game debut. In the showcase, KG scored 12 points and handed out 2 assists in the game including a gorgeous alley-oop pass to Kobe who finished with an emphatic slam dunk, much to the delight of NBA on NBC commentators Bob Costas and Isiah Thomas.
The Air Garnett truly embodied and captured KG’s spirit, essence, and style vis-a-vis excellent aesthetics and the use of high-quality materials and construction. Featuring the words “Kevin Garnett” on the heel tab, the shoe incorporated a thick tumbled leather upper, phylon midsole, jewel technology, and visible heel with encapsulated forefoot air sole units.
Multiple colorways released including black/varsity royal-metallic silver, white/midnight navy-field green (emerald) colorway, and a rare all-black PE colorway as well. Of note, KG’s PE version featured his number 21 on the tongue in place of the word “Air.”
Unfortunately, due to legal issues pertaining to the use of his name on the heel tab, the Air Garnett has not been given the retro treatment and likely never will.
Perhaps one day, Nike will produce a quality retro and return this pair to the hardwood where it so rightfully belongs.
Remember: anything is possible, and always keep it fly as hell.
lead image via SI