Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo-Allan Houston PE (1999)

The Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo Allan Houston "Knicks" PE.
The Air Vis Zoom Uptempo Allan Houston “Knicks” PE. These are size 13.5 and are signed and game worn by Houston during the 1999 season.

We review products independently, but we may earn affiliate commission from purchases made through links on this page.

BACKGROUND

After being drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1993, Allan Houston spent three years playing in a combination of random guard sneakers like the Nike Air Go LWP and takedowns like the Air Way Up. Not much changed in 1996 when he signed with the New York Knicks. During his first seasons in New York, you could spot him in anything from the Air MZ3 to the Air Movin’ Uptempo to the Air Force Lite. In fact by the late 90s, it was looking like Houston was destined to become another sneaker wallflower, a solid NBA player rocking a litany of obscure 90s heat. 

THE TURNING POINT

When exactly did Allan Houston become a sneaker icon? 

It’s hard to say exactly when Houston’s sneaker game went from average to outstanding. Personal taste certainly plays a factor in this decision. Many will point to his notable player edition Flightposite 1 and 3 models which he wore during the early 2000s. And let’s not forget the other player exclusives (PEs) Nike gifted him over the years, including the Huarache 2k4, Air Max Elite and various Shox models. But looking back over Houston’s career, the turning point likely happened in 1999, when he laced up the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo.

THE SHOE

The Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo Allan Houston "Knicks" PE.
Air Vis Zoom Uptempo Allan Houston PE.

Allan Houston wore the Air Vis Zoom Uptempo during the lockout shortened 1999 season. In them, he helped lead the eighth seeded Knicks to an improbable NBA Finals matchup against the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.

Throughout the season, Houston could be seen wearing the Vis Zoom in various general release (GR) and PE colorways: 

Allan Houston wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo in the white, black, graphite, silver colorway.

white/black/graphite/silver (GR) 

Allan Houston wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo in the white, black, graphite, silver colorway.

white/black/graphite/silver (GR) 

Allan Houston wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo PE in the white, black, graphite, silver colorway.

white/black/graphite/silver (PE) – note Houston’s number 20 on the tongue.

Allan Houston wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo Allan Houston "Knicks" PE.

white/royal/orange/silver “Knicks” (PE) 

Allan Houston wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo Allan Houston "Knicks" PE.

white/royal/orange/silver “Knicks” (PE) 

Houston would switch to the classic black/white/royal/silver versions for the 1999 NBA playoffs as the Knicks wore black based shoes during the playoffs.

Allan Houston wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo in the black, white, royal, silver colorway.

black/white/royal/silver (GR) 

Allan Houston wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo in the black, white, royal, silver colorway.

black/white/royal/silver (GR) 

Note: Patrick Ewing had his own Vis Zoom PEs. They were similar to Houston’s except Ewing’s were high tops and featured his number 33 on the tongue, while Houston’s were mid-cut like the GR versions, and had the number 20 on them. 

Patrick Ewing (left) and Allan Houston (right) wearing Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo "Knicks" PEs.

Patrick Ewing (left) and Allan Houston (right) wearing Air Vis Zoom Uptempo “Knicks” PEs

Patrick Ewing wearing Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo "Knicks" PE.

Patrick Ewing’s “Knicks” PE. Barely visible is his number 33 on the tongue.

Allan Houston wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo Allan Houston "Knicks" PE.

Allan Houston’s “Knicks” PE featured his number 20 on the tongue.

Patrick Ewing wearing the white, graphite, silver Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo.

Ewing also spent time in the GR mid-cut white/black/graphite/silver colorway during the ‘99 season. 

Patrick Ewing wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo High black, white, graphite, silver PE.

For the ’99 playoffs, Ewing wore a black/white/graphite, silver high top (PE). 

FEATURES

The Air Vis Zoom Uptempo Allan Houston PE was essentially the white/royal/silver Team Bank colorway with orange accents to go along with Houston’s name and number. The shoe featured a white full-grain and smooth/floater leather upper, Dynamic-Fit spandex inner sleeve and a covered “monkey paw” on the medial side for ankle support. Like the general release versions, they featured visible Zoom Air cushioning. 

The Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo Allan Houston "Knicks" PE, bottom view.
The “ZM Air” written on the outsole is the abbreviation of “Zoom Air”, the primary feature of the Air Vis Zoom Uptempo.

However, this pair also deviated from the general release versions in a few ways that made them unique to Houston. The royal blue tongue had Houston’s number 20 stitched in orange instead of the metal Nike Swoosh emblem. The heel pull tabs also featured Houston’s name stitched across them instead of “Zoom Air”. Finally, orange accents adorned the lateral forefoot swoosh. 

Allan Houston wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo Allan Houston "Knicks" PE.

AVAILABILITY

This pair was specifically made for Allan Houston and never released to the general public. Given that Houston’s Flightposite 1 PE finally retailed in 2015, maybe we will be lucky enough to see his Air Vis Zoom Uptempo PEs drop one day as well!

LEGACY

While the Air Vis Zoom Uptempo isn’t a signature shoe, it is often intertwined with Allan Houston’s name. It was arguably the start of Houston becoming a sneaker icon. Prior to ‘99, Houston had worn his share of vintage heat, but most of it consisted of takedowns and other lesser known silhouettes. 1999 marked a turning point for Houston, both as a player and as a sneaker ambassador, as the year he went from being in the shadows to prime time. And when looking at these PEs, it’s pretty clear to see why. 

Kicksigma