Produced by: Dan Hwang
Written by: Jesse Carr
Recently, ESPN did an in-depth documentary on 5 basketball players who changed the college hoops landscape. In a well-rounded look at this landmark recruiting class, the documentary was the highest rated in the network’s history. The Michigan Fab Fiveâ€”Chris Webber, Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Jalen Roseâ€”arrived in 1991 as some of the most highly touted recruits in the nation. Four of the members were top ten prospects. There weren’t high expectations for these freshman, all of whom eventually started that year, but they managed to arrive at the NCAA championship, defying the odds and bringing a taste of the hood to the national stage. Their game was high-flying, full of trash talk, and uniquely styled. The shoes they wore were as unique and noteworthy as their surprising accomplishments. The Fab Five wore the Air Flight Huarache, our latest RE-Fresh feature model.
The design details of the shoe may be familiar to sneaker fans today, but when the Air Flight Huarache first dropped, many scratched their heads and wondered how the shoe could possibly be suited for the courts. It looked like a futuristic sandal, which, as it turned out, was the goal. During the early 90s, what some consider the golden era for Nike Basketball, most basketball models were built like high top tanks with ultra-reinforced ankle support. Hurling that trend aside, the Air Flight Huarache took out a chunk from the collar and had a flimsy high ankle strap as its only upper stability. Most scoffed at the shoe, and at first only Scottie Pippen had the gusto to wear it as a pro. The Fab Five embraced the model, and the shoe immediately became a classic.