By Seth Berke Wollman (@souliisole)
KG. KGEE. KGEE21. KG21. The Big Ticket. Da Kid. KG PICK 5. No matter the acronym, they’re all synonymous with the man for whom they were coined: Kevin Garnett. Welcome to the Who Cares series, where we pay tribute to obscure 90s silhouettes and tell you why you should care about them. In light of the upcoming NBA All Star Game, let’s go back in time to a late-90s basketball model worn on court at the February basketball classic: the 1998 Nike Air Garnett.
KG took the NBA by storm when, as a tall, skinny kid from Mauldin, SC by way of Chicago’s Farragut Academy, he single-handedly transformed a struggling Timberwolves franchise in desperate need of a new identity and leader. KG’s career is as extensive and noteworthy as his Nike kicksology. The 2008 NBA Champion, 2004 NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, 15X All-Star, 2003 NBA ASG MVP, and 2000 Olympic Gold medalist was properly laced by Nike throughout the early part of his career including the Flightposite, Air Jordan XI, Air Zoom Flight, Air Max Uptempo, Air Way Up, Jumpman Pro, Air Flight Max, Air Vis Zoom Uptempo, and Jumpman Team.
It wasn’t until 1998, however, when KG finally received his very own Nike signature line with the debut of the Air Garnett, his footwear of choice at the 1998 ASG in NYC. KG scored 12 points and dished out 2 assists in his ASG debut including an alley-oop pass to Kobe who finished with an emphatic slam dunk.
The Air Garnett truly embodied KG’s spirit, essence, and style vis-a-vis excellent aesthetics and the use of high-quality materials and construction. Featuring the words “Kevin Garnett” on the heel tab, the shoe incorporated a tumbled leather upper, phylon midsole, jewel technology, and visible heel with encapsulated forefoot air sole units.
Three colorways released: 1) black/varsity royal-metallic silver; 2) white/blue/black and 3) white/midnight navy-field green (emerald) colorway. KG’s PE version featured his number 21 on the tongue in place of the word “Air”. Due to legal issues, the Air Garnett has not been given the retro treatment and likely never will. Perhaps one day, Nike will produce a quality retro and return this pair to the hardwood where it so rightfully belongs. Remember: anything is possible, and always keep that ish fly as hell.