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Air Pippen 1 (1997)

QUICK FACTS

Player: Scottie Pippen

Colorway: black/varsity-red/white

Original Release: 1997

Release Type: General Release

Retro: 2008, 2015

Designer: Aaron Cooper

Weight: 20 ounces

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DESIGN FEATURES

  • Full grain leather and Durabuck upper 
  • Tri-density jewel reinforcements forming Pippen’s number 33 on the lateral and medial sides
  • “Pip” logo on the tongue and heel
  • Phylon midsole with side wall wraps
  • Full length, tri pressure Air Max unit
“Pip” logo.

BACKGROUND

In the beginning, there was Force and Flight. Bigger stronger players wore Force while finesse players wore Flight. Until 1995, Scottie Pippen was one of the primary ambassadors of the Flight line.

In 1994, Nike developed the Uptempo line, a hybrid of Force and Flight, which was thought to be more conducive to Pippen’s all around game. Pippen would wear multiple Uptempos including the Air Uptempo (1994), Air Max Uptempo (1995), Air More Uptempo (1996) and Air Max Uptempo 3 (1997) before finally receiving his own signature shoe in 1997, the Air Pippen 1.

Designed by Aaron Cooper, the Pippen 1 featured the same full length Air Max unit and outsole as the Air Max Uptempo 3. Ironically, while Scottie Pippen became closely associated with Air Max, he didn’t like playing in them, instead preferring to play low to the ground. His subsequent signature sneakers replaced Air Max cushioning with Zoom Air, which is thinner and lower to the ground.

ZOOM PIPPEN – A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME

“I don’t want that.” – Scottie Pippen after first seeing the Pippen 1.

Aaron Cooper designed the Pippen 1 with a full length visible Air Max unit. Unfortunately, Pippen had recently decided that he preferred Zoom Air cushioning over Air Max cushioning. MJ and the Jordan XII had been influential in Pip’s decision. Only problem was that the Pippen 1, with the full length Air Max unit, was already in production and soon released to the general public. 

After wearing the general release white colorway during a portion of the ‘96-’97 season, and the black general release colorway during the 1997 All Star Game, Cooper designed a PE version for Pip to wear. 

The Zoom PE was nearly identical to the general release version except the PE replaced the full length Air Max unit with a full length, encapsulated Zoom Air unit. Pippen wore the white Zoom PE for the rest of the regular season and the black/white/red colorway during the 1997 Playoffs. Neither PE ever released to the general public. 

Zoom Pippen, black PE and white PE.

In addition to Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc and Jason Caffey also wore the Zoom Pippen during the ‘97 playoffs. Kukoc also wore them in early ’97-’98. Likely because all three players wear size 16 shoes. 

Pip had at least two versions of the Zoom Pippen 1. One version resembles the general release version, in that the portion of the outsole where the Air Bag would have been is white. The other version is black. 

Pippen 1 general release.
Zoom Pippen 1 PE, “white bottom” and “black bottom”.

PRICE

  • 1997 OG: $149.99 (about $250 in 2021)
  • 2008 Retro: $160 (about $198 in 2021)
  • 2015 Retro: $165 (about $186 in 2021)
  • Adjusted for inflation, the Pippen 1 has gotten cheaper over time. 

LEGACY

The Pippen 1 marked a turning point in Scottie Pippen’s sneaker history.  Not only was it the beginning of his signature line, but also the beginning of his usage of Zoom Air and the end of his days as Nike’s primary Air Max ambassador. In Germany in 1997, the Pippen 1 was named the “Pippen 3” by prominent basketball magazines, citing the Air More Uptempo as the “Pippen 1” and the Air Max Uptempo 3 as the “Pippen 2”. 

Nike would release a total of six Pippen signature sneakers, five of them during his playing career. Pippen mentioned that the III was his favorite to play in. Like the Pippen 1, the Pippen IV released to the general public with Air Max cushioning, but Pippen would wear a Zoom PE on court. 

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