Player: Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway
Original Release: 1996
Designer: Eric Avar
Release Type: General release
Weight: 14.6 ounces
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Not all sequels are bad…
Designed by Eric Avar, who would later design the Foamposite, the Penny 2 had the unenviable task of following the highly popular Air Max Penny which was released a year earlier. The rumor was that Penny Hardaway loved his first signature shoe aesthetically, but saw room for improvement performance-wise.
Avar took Penny’s feedback about the Air Max Penny into account when he designed the Penny 2. Reportedly Penny’s favorite from a performance standpoint, the 2 released in late 1996 with much fanfare. The shoe was heavily marketed, being the subject of TV commercials with Lil’ Penny and Tyra Banks and on print with the famous Nike phone number ads.
The departure of Shaq meant that the Magic were now Penny’s team, and the Penny 2 would join him in the spotlight. Penny would wear the 2 from the start of the 1996 preseason until the Spring of 1997, when he began wearing the Foamposite One.
Providing a more snug fit than its predecessor, the Penny 2 featured a Durabuck, synthetic suede and full grain leather upper. Similar to the Air Max Penny, the Penny 2 sported a Phylon support wing, albeit with a carbon fiber reinforcement.
The Penny 2 also featured forefoot Zoom Air cushioning and 180 degree visible Air sole cushioning in the heel. At 14.6 ounces, the Penny 2 was slightly lighter than the Air Max Penny, which weighed 14.8 ounces.
From a performance standpoint, the Penny 2 was a step up from its predecessor. The overall comfort was better, providing better lateral and medial support and well as a larger, more padded tongue for stability.
The 2 released during the 1996 holiday season in three OG colorways: 1) black/white/royal (pictured); 2) white/atlantic-blue; and 3) white/black/royal. The black colorway retroed once, in 2008.
The Penny 2 retailed at $139.99 (about $228 today). The 2008 retro retailed at $135 (about $160 today), meaning the Penny 2 has gotten cheaper over time.