Nike Shox BB4 // Throwback Thursday

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lead image by Kent Horner/NBAE/Getty Images


Not long ago, Nice Kicks Throwback Thursday paid tribute to Vince Carter’s Puma Vinsanity, his debut signature sneaker worn during his rookie season with the Toronto Raptors.

Today, we move ahead with another chapter in VC’s storied kicksology and once again pay tribute to one of the game’s all-time greatest dunkers – Vince Carter – and his iconic Nike Shox BB4 sneaker.

Vince Carter Nike Shox BB4 Raptors
photo by David Cooper/Toronto Star via The Star

When one first thinks of the words “Slam Dunk,” a handful of players immediately come to mind, chiefly Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, and Vince Carter.

The 1998-1999 NBA Rookie of the Year, Vinsanity catapulted himself into the limelight and basketball’s center stage by virtue of his unparalleled Slam Dunk performance at the Arena in Oakland in February 2000, considered by many as the greatest performance in the history of the event, wearing his pair of And 1 Tai Chi #15 PEs.

Overnight, following his Slam Dunk Championship, Carter became a brand influencer, bringing instant credibility to a little-known sneaker company, elevating the Tai Chi and the And 1 brand into the conversation as one of the most iconic basketball sneakers and forward-thinking, progressive brands in the early part of the new millennium, particularly from a design, lightweight performance, and aesthetic perspective.

After rocking And 1 and Puma early in his career, VC upgraded to the Swoosh in the early 2000s, at the same time becoming the face of a brand new, pioneering, avant-garde sneaker technology which completely changed the direction of sneaker design and technology at the time: Nike Shox and the BB4 hoops sneaker, the model Vince wore when he helped revolutionize and modernize the aerial artform that is the slam dunk.

Designed by sneaker design guru, Eric Avar, the Shox technology originated in the Nike offices in 1984 but finally achieved meaningful success with the help of VC in conjunction with Nike’s late 90s Alpha Project.

The BB4 came spring-loaded, utilizing high-quality materials and an aesthetic that remains both appealing and relevant today. Debuting at an original retail price of $150, the BB4 featured an upper made of molded synthetic leather with an anti-inversion structure for amazing stability and support. Additionally, the sneakers featured an “exposed phase air sole unit,” Phylon midsole, an encapsulated forefoot air sole unit, and medial and lateral side forefoot support outriggers for additional stability, elements which allowed the BB4 to serve as a versatile model, worn by players from all sizes and types of games.

The Nike Shox BB4 ultimately became the future of high-performance, cutting-edge, innovative Nike basketball footwear, pioneering and ushering the brand into the new millennium.

VC originally debuted the BB4 during the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, when he most notably dunked over Fredrick Weis of France now referred to as the “Dunk of Death,” arguably the greatest if not one of the greatest in-game dunks of all-time. KG’s facial expression as he stood behind the play illustrates and captures the moment in time for all viewers watching Carter lift-off into a low-altitude earth orbit.

photo by Darren McNamara/Allsport

Vince Carter was insanely popular during his prime, leading the NBA All-Star balloting four out of five years from 2000-2005. Casual and hardcore NBA fans alike were drawn to VC during his early NBA days as a result of his charming personality, signature flare on court, punctuated by his amazing dunking ability, not to mention his stylish kicks. VC, simply put, had that intangible “it” factor rarely seen before.

Carter wore the BB4 with custom VC15 PE embroidery throughout the 2000-01 season including the All-Star Game, where he helped Iverson and the Eastern Conference All-Stars complete a remarkable comeback, at one point down by 21 points, en route to a 111-110 East win in the Nation’s Capital.

In the 2001 Playoffs, Carter added to his portfolio by putting together a memorable 50-point performance against Iverson and the 76ers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Air Canada Center in Toronto, including shooting 9/13 from 3-point range, leading the Raptors to the win, one the most iconic Raptors playoff moments in franchise history and one of the most memorable Toronto sports moments of all-time.

Carter’s ultimate legacy transcends the art of dunking and the sport of basketball. Rather, VC is largely credited with helping put Toronto on the map as both a cultural and basketball destination, helping the city break through the image and reputation of being solely a hockey town, whose influence and presence predates social media and the influence of an unnamed modern-day rapper from the GTA, an argument perfectly illustrated in the 2017 Netflix movie, The Carter Effect.

Even at the tender young age of 41, Vince Carter can still jump.

Correction: Vince Carter can still jump high. Like really, really high. In fact, he’s gone back to wearing the Nike Shox BB4 in PE fashion for his 21st season in the NBA.

While the Nike Shox line and the BB4 may have fallen short of its true, ultimate potential or its effort to replace the more traditional air sole unit, one cannot discount, diminish, or dismiss the role Nike Shox technology and the BB4 silhouette have played in Nike basketball sneaker history. Carter recently said that, “the success of the [Dunk of Death] started the legend of the shoes. But I myself went to another level with them, too. I became a star player in the BB4.”

Nike Shox BB4

Some would say Vince Carter is not human. He’s done things never before seen on a basketball court, oftentimes defying the laws of gravity, pushing kinesiology and biomechanics to the limit by virtue of his unparalleled athleticism and aerial acrobatics, especially during his prime years.

So let’s give it up for Vince Carter aka Half Man-Half Amazing. Accomplished aerial acrobat, cultural icon, original Canadian sport ambassador, face of the Nike Shox basketball line, and advocate of the “Glory B Da Funk’s On Me” style of basketball and “crank it up” post-dunk celebrations.

Because we all know a slam dunk is worth so much more than just two points.

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