Nike Air Metal Force // Throwback Thursday

More Air. More Attitude.

Welcome to this newest edition of Nice Kicks’ Throwback Thursday. Today’s post is inspired by the NCAA basketball tournament and another underrated Nike basketball sneaker from the classic 90s era which made an appearance both on the NBA hardwood and the NCAA tournament: the 1997 Nike Air Metal Force.

Weighing 18.2 ounces offered at an original retail price of $130, the Air Metal Force was made to withstand the punishment in the paint, not inflict pain or punishment on your wallet. Successor to the Air Adjust Force and Air Modify Force, the Air Metal Force stayed true to its Air Max and Force basketball heritage.

An aggressive-looking model, the Air Metal Force provided a secure, tight, lock-down fit around the heel and ankle tighter than a vault door at Fort Knox. Featuring a dual-pressure visible Max2 heel and encapsulated forefoot air sole units, a thick, full-grain leather upper, Phylon midsole, and removable FitWrap technology, the Metal Force offered maximum protection, comfort, and durability.

Worn by NBA players Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and Arvydas Sabonis, as well as college players Vince Carter during his playing days at UNC and Raef LaFrentz at Kansas, the Air Metal Force released in both TB (mid) and high versions to meet individual player and team needs, the latter version which featured custom player sample tagging.

Along with the help of marketing firm Wieden and Kennedy, and creative designer Kevin Drew Davis, Nike launched an aggressive and successful ad campaign called Product Assault where select models including the Air Metal Force were depicted along with a URL on print ads which were then mailed to customers for an interactive experience with the product. Each product used in the ad campaign had a crazy domain name and referenced the sponsoring athlete’s unique ability. One ad featured the Metal Force Mid in the black/white-metallic silver colorway along with a tribute to Alonzo Mourning.

The ad campaign was truly innovative and revolutionary as it redefined and changed consumerism from a passive to active interaction. Now, over 20 years after its original release, this late 90s silhouette has remained locked within the Nike archives, likely never to see a retro release as most basketball sneakers today have shifted to lighter materials and construction, and employ lower-profile Zoom Air cushioning.

So, be like VC, Ewing, Oakley, Raef, and Sabonis aka The Original Unicorn, and lace up your pair of the Air Metal Force.

Try not to let Zo bang on you.