Nike Air Ndestrukt (1995)

The Nike Air Ndestrukt.
Air Ndestrukt. Photo: tjcaswell


Player: Alonzo Mourning

Colorway: light sand/metallic zinc/black/mystic teal

Original Release: 1995

Designer: Eric Avar

Retro: N/A

Release Type: General release

Weight: 17.3 ounces

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“For hard core athletes and other extremists.” 

When people hear the name Ndestrukt, most think of the 1996 Air Shake Ndestrukt made popular by Dennis Rodman. And while the Shake Ndestrukt may be the most recognizable member of the Ndestrukt family, it wasn’t the first. That distinction goes to this 1995 model, aptly named the Air Ndestrukt, which paved the way for a series of outdoor ready sneakers. 

Nike Ad featuring the Nike Air Shake Ndestrukt.
Air Shake Ndestrukt. Photo: Nicekicksvault
The Nike Air Ndestrukt.
Air Ndestrukt. Photo: tjcaswell

Yet the concept of outdoor performance sneakers did not start with the Air Ndestrukt. Instead, the idea dates back to the early 90s when Nike designers Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith decided to create the brand’s first outdoor ready basketball shoe. The designers visited courts around the country, interviewing street-ball players in order to understand the environment in which they were playing and create a shoe to meet their needs. This culminated in a new series of shoes that were more durable than any hoop shoe the world had ever seen. 

Tim Hardaway wearing the Nike Air Raid.
“For Outdoor Use Only”: the Air Raid, an outdoor ready sneaker inspired by outdoor hoopers. 1992 Air Raid commercial featuring Tim Hardaway (right) and Spike Lee. Photo: Nicekicksvault

All that hard work paid off and in 1992, Nike released its first outdoor basketball shoe. Originally named the Air Jack, this shoe would eventually be renamed the Air Raid prior to being unleashed on the public. Inspired by the streetball culture prevalent in cities like New York and L.A., the Air Raid was a nod to the unnamed players that kept that culture alive. 

The Nike Air Raid.
Air Raid ad. Photo: Nicekicksvault

Emboldened by the commercial success of the Air Raid, Nike would go on to release two more outdoor ready sneakers, the Air Raid II (1993) and the Air Darwin (1994), before finally giving this growing line of a line of rugged, outdoor ready performance sneakers a name: Ndestrukt. The Air Ndestrukt released shortly thereafter. 

The Nike Air Raid 2.
Air Raid II. Photo: mertech
The Nike Air Darwin.
Air Darwin
The Nike Air Ndestrukt.
Air Ndestrukt. Photo: nikeswoosh6453

“Response to Blacktop?”

That was the challenge Nike founder Phil Knight posed to designer Eric Avar, in the form of a sticky note. At the time, the Reebok Blacktop series was a force to be reckoned with on the outdoor basketball scene, and Nike needed to respond with a design of its own. And respond they did, creating the Air Ndestrukt which was billed as the most durable basketball shoe ever made. Taking physical cues from its predecessors, the “Ndestrukt” would provide the nomenclature for the future of Hatfield’s outdoor creations. Featuring reinforced materials that made the shoe sturdier, with black outsoles to make them more resistant to abrasions (and appear less dirty), the Ndestrukt became an immediate hit for outdoor hoopers. The Ndestrukt’s influence went beyond basketball however, as its name and features would also be applied to tennis and hiking shoes. 

The Nike Air Ndestrukt logo.
Ndestrukt logo. Photo: bubblekoppe

Though not an official signature shoe, the Ndestrukt is often associated with Alonzo Mourning, whose tough-as-nails playing style made him the perfect ambassador for Nike’s indestructible basketball shoe.

The Nike Air Ndestrukt ad featuring Alonzo Mourning.
Nike Ndestrukt ad featuring Alonzo Mourning. Photo: Nicekicksvault

Perhaps a 1995 Eastbay catalog said it best: “Ndestrukt, it is a concept of pure toughness. Reinforced industrial strength footwear built to keep up with human potential. Mile after mile. Game after game. Ton after ton. For hard core athletes and other extremists.” 

The Nike Air Ndestrukt keychain.
The Air Ndestrukt came with this metal emblem.
Photo: bubblekoppe


The most durable basketball shoe ever. At least, by 1995 standards…

That’s because the Ndestrukt featured a triple stitched, multi-layer full grain leather and mesh upper, along with a Lace-lock system to provide a lockdown feel. The design of the upper, outsole and logo were inspired by a manhole cover. The Ndestrukt also had a large volume visible Air sole unit in the heel, polyurethane midsole and a DRC (Durable Rubber Compound) outsole. Despite its robust build, the Ndestrukt weighed a modest 17.3 ounces, which is impressive considering DRC is significantly heavier than standard rubber.  

The Nike Air Ndestrukt.
Photo: nikeswoosh6453


What exactly makes a basketball shoe an outdoor shoe instead of an indoor shoe? Turns out, it’s the outsole. Specifically the type of rubber used to create the outsole. In order to create what would eventually become the Ndestrukt line, Nike had to create a new kind of rubber that would be robust enough to withstand prolonged use on asphalt. The result: DRC. 

The Nike Air Ndestrukt.
Ndestrukt outsole featuring DRC rubber. Photo: nikeswoosh6453

DRC stands for durable rubber compound and is essentially solid rubber with extra additives to make the rubber more sturdy. DRC is the heaviest and most durable rubber that Nike uses. In fact, if you look on the outsole of most Ndestrukt models, you will see the letters DRC engraved on them. Today DRC has been renamed XDR, which stands for extra durable rubber, though the chemical makeup of the rubber doesn’t appear to have changed much. 

The Nike Air Ndestrukt.
Air Ndestrukt with “DRC” engraved on the sole. Photo: tjcaswell


The Ndestrukt released in four mid top colorways: 

The Nike Air Ndestrukt in the sand, metallic zinc, black, mystic teal colorway.
1) light sand/metallic zinc/black/mystic teal. Photo: tjcaswell
The Nike Air Ndestrukt in the black, silver, concord colorway.
2) black/silver/concord. Photo: sneakerpreservationsociety
The Nike Air Ndestrukt in the pine, black, silver colorway.
3) pine/black/silver. Photo: pctmoney
The Nike Air Ndestrukt in the white, navy, red colorway.
4) white/navy/red. Photo: phonehomevintagestore

and two low top colorways: 

The Nike Air Ndestrukt low in the black, silver colorway.
1) black/silver. Photo: sneakerpreservationsociety
The Nike Air Ndestrukt low in the white, black, grape ice colorway.
2) white/black/grape ice. Photo: sneakerpreservationsociety


“Shake, Rattle, Roll”

Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton wearing the Nike Air Ndestrukt.
Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton wearing the Ndestrukt during MTV’s Rock N’ Jock basketball game (1995). Photo: Nicekicksvault

While the Air Ndestrukt has largely been forgotten by anyone who isn’t a die-hard sneaker enthusiast, the Ndestrukt line has survived thanks to the popularity of the 1996 Air Shake Ndestrukt. 1996 also saw the release of the Rattle Ndestrukt and Roll Ndestrukt, neither of which have been retroed. Together, the three sneakers were advertised under the slogan “Shake, Rattle, Roll”.

The Nike Air Shake Ndestrukt.
Air Shake Ndestrukt. Photo: sneakerpreservationsociety
The Nike Air Rattle Ndestrukt.
Air Rattle Ndestrukt. Photo: sneakerpreservationsociety
The Nike Air Roll Ndestrukt.
Air Roll Ndestrukt. Photo: sneakerpreservationsociety

Dennis Rodman’s connection to the Ndestrukt line would continue with the release of his first official signature shoe, the Air Worm Ndestrukt in 1996. Rodman however, never wore the Air Worm Ndestrukt on an NBA court, but chose to wear the Air Shake Ndestrukt instead. Soon after, he would leave Nike altogether in favor of Converse.

The Nike Air Worm Ndestrukt.
Air Worm Ndestrukt. Photo: sneakerpreservationsociety

A takedown version of the Air Ndestrukt, the Air Penetrator Mid, also released in 1995 and has not been retroed. 

The Nike Air Penetrator Mid.
Air Penetrator Mid: the Ndestrukt takedown model.

The Ndestrukt line continued over the next few years with numerous releases, but by the late 90s, it began to fade in popularity. Arguably, it wasn’t until the Air Shake Ndestrukt retroed in 2017 that the Ndestrukt line returned to the limelight. 

Nike ad featuring the Nike Air Ndestrukt.
Nike phone ad featuring the Air Ndestrukt (1995). Photo: Nicekicksvault


The Ndestrukt Mid released in 1995 and retailed at $94.99 (about $161 in 2020). The Ndestrukt Low retailed at $89.99 (about $152 in 2020). Neither has retroed. 

The Nike Air Ndestrukt.
Photo: nikeswoosh6453



  1. Ty for this images, i had those ndestruckt in 95 and i am happy to see them again.

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