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Nike Air Hawk Flight (1997)

The Nike Air Hawk Flight.
Nike Air Hawk Flight

QUICK FACTS

Player: Gary Payton aka “The Glove” 

Colorway: black/white/varsity-royal

Year of Release: 1997 (OG), 2015 – as part of the “Class of ‘97 Pack”

Designer: Eric Avar

Release Type:  General Release

Weight: 13 ounces

The Nike Class of 97 pack featuring the pearl Nike Foamposite Pro (left) and the Nike Air Hawk Flight (right).
The 2015 “Class of ’97” pack included the Foamposite Pro and the Hawk Flight.

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BACKGROUND

Though not an official signature shoe, the Nike Air Hawk Flight was designed for Gary Payton and is most closely associated with him. “The Glove” wore the white/pine/black colorway during the 1997 playoffs and the early part of the 1997-1998 season. Payton never wore the black/white/varsity-royal colorway in an NBA game, though he did wear them in a few exhibition games

The Nike Air Hawk Flight, right shoe, medial view.

A TRANSITIONAL YEAR

1997 was a transitional year for Gary Payton and the Seattle SuperSonics. On court, the Sonics lost Shawn Kemp to the Cleveland Cavaliers, making Payton and newcomer Vin Baker the primary options on offense. The situation with his sneakers changed too. Gone were the days of sporting takedowns like the Air Thrill Flight and the Air Much Uptempo. In its place came a series of flagship models, starting with the Hawk Flight. 

The Nike Air Hawk Flight, right shoe, lateral view.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Nearly 25 years after its initial release, the Hawk Flight still lives in relative obscurity. Unfortunately, the Hawk Flight released at a time when there was no shortage of Nike and Jordan classics. To make matters worse, the Hawk Flight was immediately followed by another unofficial Payton shoe, the Nike Air Zoom Flight, later renamed the Zoom Flight ‘98 or simply “The Glove” in 1998, which many consider to be Payton’s best shoe. 

The Nike Air Zoom Flight (The Glove) aka the Nike Air Zoom Flight 98.
Air Zoom Flight (The Glove) aka Air Zoom Flight ’98. This unofficial signature shoe may have been Payton’s most popular.

DESIGN FEATURES

  • Synthetic upper
  • Thermoplastic reinforced Phylon support wing
  • Forefoot and heel Zoom Air units
  • Carbon fiber midfoot support shank
  • Optimal motion rubber outsole
The Nike Air Hawk Flight, bottom.

PRICE

The Nike Air Hawk Flight, rear view.

TAKEDOWN

The Nike Air Winged Flight released in 1997 as the takedown to the Hawk Flight. Designed for guards and worn by multiple players including Charlie Ward, Chris Childs and Allan Houston, the Winged Flight featured a full grain leather and synthetic upper, internal support wing, Phylon midsole, encapsulated heel Air Sole cushioning unit and thermoplastic midfoot support. The Winged Flight weighed 13 ounces and retailed at $84.99 (about $137 in 2021). The Winged Flight has never been retroed. 

The Nike Air Winged Flight.

LEGACY

Few people have as many unofficial signature shoes as Gary Payton. Shoes like the Hawk Flight, Zoom Flight ‘98, Air Much Uptempo and Thrill Flight have all been linked to “the Glove” and he is often the first player you think of when these sneakers are mentioned. As an aside, the Hawk Flight even made a big screen appearance in the 1998 movie He Got Game. It wouldn’t be until 1999 however that Payton would finally get his first official signature shoe, the Air Zoom GP. What followed were three more official signature shoes, spanning from 1999 until 2002. In 2019, Nike retroed the Zoom GP for its 20th anniversary. While none the others have retroed yet, perhaps there is hope we will one day see them return as well.

The Nike Air Zoom GP.
Nike Air Zoom GP. Gary Payton’s first official signature shoe. He wore them during the lockout shortened ’99 season.
The Nike Air Zoom GP 2.
Nike Air Zoom GP II. Gary Payton’s second official signature shoe. He wore them during the ’99-’00 season.
The Nike Air Zoom GP 3.
Nike Air Zoom GP III. Gary Payton’s third official signature shoe. He wore them during the ’00-’01 season.
The Nike Air Payton 4.
Nike Air Payton IV. Gary Payton’s fourth and final official signature shoe. He wore them during the ’01-’02 season.

Kicksigma

2 Comments

  1. Throughout my bball days , this shoe was the best performing. Due to how the zoom air in the forefoot was set in. When standing normally it felt as if your heel sat lower than forefoot. it felt weird at first. until you take the court. when you are on your forefoot 90 % of the time the shoe then feels “in its environment” . it was a “aha” moment for me. it made me more explosive in changing directions, especially in transition from defense to offense. it was a design much appreciated by myself whom played a guard position mainly. Wish they would make more of them .

    • great insight and totally agree. Did you own both the OGs and the retros? I’d be interested to know how you think they compared if so.

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