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Written by Robbie Falchi of Sneaker History 

via Nike

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for dope kicks. The month of December typically holds some of the season’s hottest releases and 2018’s been no different. Drops from top brands like Adidas, Nike and Puma compete for present supremacy as consumers seek the perfect holiday gifts for friends and family. The basketball category particularly hosts some fierce competitions on the hardwood and the sale sheets for the best kicks of the NBA’s Christmas Day lineup. December 25th features the league’s best teams and players in an all-day extravaganza that gets viewers excited for what shoes their favorite players are wearing. Since the 2009-10 season Nike and Adidas have released dedicated Christmas kicks based off of what the pros wear. It’s always a wonderful thing when consumers can purchase the exact same pairs on the feet of players like LeBron, D-Rose and Kobe because it allows fans to own a little piece of holiday history. Today we’re ranking our top-10 Christmas themed hoops kicks of the last decade. Check out our list and let us know online which pair is your favorite!

“I am a man living with autism, not an autistic man.”

This holiday season, the Finish Line Youth Foundation is partnering with Special Olympics to raise funds in-stores and online to support unstoppable athletes like Tyler Lagasse.

Tyler is a 32-year-old Massachusetts native who has competed in Special Olympics since 2003 and is a 12-time golf champion at regional, state and national levels. He also has an honorary ESPY award from ESPN. In 2007, he became a Global Messenger, a position held by a select group of  world-class athletes from around the globe to help spread the inclusive message of Special Olympics.

“Special Olympics has allowed me to write a story about myself,” said Tyler. “I’ve grown up with Special Olympics and learned a lot about inclusion, discipline, respect, sportsmanship and how to set goals. I’ve used those skills in life and the real world.”

He is a graduate of Middlesex Community College and currently pursuing a degree in earth, environmental and atmosphere science at MASS-Lowell. He enjoys writing and is the co-author of a book titled, “What Do You Say? Autism with Character.” Tyler is a TEDx speaker; check out his talk called the Gift of Autism here.

Tyler also loves drawing, cycling, watching sports and movies. You can follow his adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

It’s the best time of year to get you and yours the freshest style and we have everything you’ll need to keep the holiday spirit shining. Whether you’re going off a wish list or want to surprise someone with the latest, here are some of our favorites to help you out while you shop.

Men’s Nike M2K Tekno

 

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Women’s AF1 Sage XX Low

 

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Men’s Champion Sherpa Jacket and Reverse Weave Jogger Pants 

 

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Women’s adidas Originals Trefoil Hoodie and adidas Originals Falcon

 

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Men’s Timberland 6″ Wheat, Jogger Pants and Color Block Windbreaker Jacket 

 

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Women’s Nike M2K Tekno

 

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Men’s adidas UltraBOOST

 

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Champion Prime Logo Waist Pack

 

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Men’s Nike AF1 Microbranding

 

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Women’s Nike Air Max 270

 

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Can’t get enough? Check out Stocking Stuffers and Gifts Under $30 on our Gift Guide at FinishLine.com. Can’t decide? Just grab a giftcard and send it their way. You pick the card, they get the heat.

“I don’t ever want your pity; rather I need your respect.”

This holiday season, the Finish Line Youth Foundation is partnering with Special Olympics to raise funds in stores and online to support unstoppable athletes like Andrew Peterson.

Andrew, a 25-year-old marathoner and decorated Special Olympics athlete born with fetal alcohol syndrome, has found his voice and passion as seen here on his ESPN SportsCenter feature.

Competitive running is Andrew’s first love. Over the past three years, he won his first 5k and completed 12 half-marathons and 8 full marathons. Becoming a member of the elite running community in Indianapolis has not been easy, but Andrew has worked to gain respect and show other runners he can keep up. He’s earned the nickname, “No Limits Andrew.”

Andrew is an incredibly accomplished athlete who has won more than 50 gold medals from state competitions and 4 golds from national competition. He’s also one of the few Special Olympics athletes to qualify for the Boston Marathon.


Next year, he’s World Games-bound to Abu Dhabi, where he’ll compete in track and field. The 2019 Games will be hosted in the Middle East/North Africa region for the first time since the movement’s founding over 50 years ago. The Crown Prince Court led the winning bid efforts with a mission to promote positive social change for people with intellectual disabilities and create a more inclusive society.

Advocating and speaking on the importance of inclusion is a passion of Andrew’s. He’s been a keynote speaker many times including at Finish Line’s Annual Meeting, Butler University, Law Enforcement Torch Run International Conference and more. Check out a speech of his here. Follow Andrew’s historic running journey on his Facebook.

Written by Drew Hammell 

images courtesy or Sole Collector, Getty Images, and Sports Illustrated. 

The ‘90s were a weird and wild time for footwear in college basketball. There were plenty of technological advances with some crazy designs to go along with them. Some college teams matched their shoes perfectly with each other and their uniforms. Others went more rogue as players wore different sneakers to make their own statements on the court. With the 2018-’19 college basketball season well under way, I thought it would be fun to look back at the 10 best shoes worn by 10 of the greatest college players of all time. Of course, there were so many memorable styles back then, so to narrow it down, I made up some criteria:

  • Nike only – for obvious reasons (I run @nikestories, after all), the 10 greatest sneakers are all Nikes. Apologies in advance to the other brands. Yes, Reebok, Converse, Adidas and a few others had some nice moments, but Nike was the sneaker trailblazer by far.
  • 10 different teams – for balance and diversity’s sake, I chose 10 different shoes for 10 different teams. Some of the big schools and players obviously have had plenty of heat over the years, but I wanted to make sure 10 schools and players got a shoutout.

So, go ahead and disagree if you want, but here are the 10 greatest ‘90s basketball sneakers (in my opinion, of course):

  1. Rasheed Wallace (UNC) – Nike Air Strong

“Sheeeeeeed!” During Wallace’s short time at UNC, he and Jerry Stackhouse led the Tar Heels to the Final Four in ’95. Sheed wore some memorable sneakers during his short stint – most notably the white/Carolina Air Strong mid. With the massive Air Max heel bubble, those kicks stood out a mile away. 

There’s no place like New York and for rapper’s TJ Porter and Jay Critch, it’s where the streets and hustle inspires their music and makes them who they are every day. Telling their story through the lens of adidas with the latest Finish Line exclusive UltraBOOST Mid, both TJ and Jay are keeping the spotlight on New York honest and real.

Brooklyn rapper, Jay Critch is always working to rise in the music industry. Knowing that success doesn’t come over night, Jay can’t fake it when it comes to his music. People are too honest for that in New York. The struggle of making it pushed him to be better and now is continuously working to build his empire in the city that made him who he is today. Jay keeps it “New York” at all times and carries the weight of a Brooklyn native trying to make it. Critch is pushing forward wearing the Core Black UltraBOOST Mid featuring Energy accents for standout style.

TJ Porter, basketball player turned rapper is all about staying true to who he is. Raised in Harlem and keeping basketball very close was a part of the culture in his hometown. At the age of 15, TJ turned to music and began perfecting his craft. In the process, he kept it real with his followers and fans. TJ finds the parallels with his music and basketball past. Just how he was in the gym working on his game, he’s now in the studio every day working on his music. “No matter how big I get, I’m the same TJ you were just chillin’ with. I ain’t ever gonna be Hollywood. Out here, no ones invincible. That’s what the streets told me, and I’m just carrying it along.” Staying true to New York, TJ is wearing the Grey UltraBOOST Mid with its trademark detail of multicolor splatter on the outsole.

Make sure you’re on the lookout for our exclusive adidas UltraBOOST Mid. Coming your way on 11/8 at Finish Line.

By Drew Hammell

In 1984, a young Michael Jordan began his legendary career in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. I was two years old at the time, which means I don’t remember much from Michael’s rookie season. In fact, it’s safe to say I don’t truly remember much about Jordan until the early ‘90s. That doesn’t mean Jordan didn’t heavily influence me and basically every other basketball-loving kid in America during that time, though. Whether we were aware of what we were watching or not, we were experiencing history – both on the court and in all the ads that featured the GOAT.

Marketing and branding have changed dramatically since Jordan’s first sneaker came out. But, one fact still remains true: a strong ad campaign can make or break an Air Jordan model. Last month, Jordan Brand held an interactive event in LA to introduce the latest model – the Air Jordan XXXIII. All of social media’s most important influencers were there to snap pictures and try out the newest and best model. It reminded me of how times have changed for marketing. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was fairly simple formula: put the new Air Jordan on MJ’s feet, and have him shoot a few commercials. Today, the brand utilizes all types of avenues to promote the newest model. I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the most memorable Jordan ad campaigns; the campaigns that made a great sneaker even greater.

“Banned”

In 1984, Michael Jordan and Nike couldn’t have asked for a better storyline. They had their new Air Jordan sneaker, along with a flashy new “Wings” logo, in a daring new black/red colorway. Jordan wore a black/red Air Ship model in the preseason, which commissioner David Stern said was a no-no because it didn’t match the uniforms and other players’ sneakers. This caused Nike to have to re-think their color scheme for Jordan’s first AJ models, but it was also a brilliant twist for their marketing campaign. The result was the “Banned” commercial, and the most successful Air Jordan sneaker ever.

Mars Blackmon

It’s pretty incredible when you look back – Spike Lee was showcased alongside Michael Jordan in ads from 1988 through 1991. Played by his alter ego Mars Blackmon, the fictional character from the hit film She’s Gotta Have It, Lee plays the nerdy, loud-mouthed, sneaker-obsessed sidekick to Jordan for four years of TV commercials and print ads. The Wieden & Kennedy ads were obviously a huge hit, and sparked catch phrases like, “It’s be the shoes,” and one of Jordan’s nicknames, “Money.”

Hare Jordan

Continuing with the comedic theme, Jordan moved on from Blackmon to a new sidekick in 1992 – this time with Bugs Bunny. Mixing cartoons and real life actors was all the rage back then (remember Who Framed Roger Rabbit?). The Air Jordan 8 and 9 ads were also a huge hit, and may have continued if Jordan didn’t retire from the game after the ’92 season and his third straight championship. That certainly put a wrench in Nike’s plans.

The First Retirement


Nike made the most of Jordan’s transition from world basketball phenomenon to Division AA Minor League baseball player, featuring a series of ads. All three were quite different, as famous actor Steve Martin questioned whether Michael Jordan was still playing competitive basketball in disguise for one spot. In another, Jordan and Charles Barkley dispute their signature sneakers. And in a third, Spike Lee returns to cheer on a struggling MJ while he attempts to play baseball. All three ads were memorable, and helped salvage the AJ9 after most of the basketball world was depressed over Jordan’s retirement.

The Concords

At the time the Air Jordan 11 was being designed, Nike wasn’t sure if Jordan would ever return to the game of basketball. That’s why Jordan branded the sneakers with the tagline, “Inspired by the greatest player of all time.” Of course, Nike was thrilled when MJ made his return to the Bulls in ’95, and didn’t seem to push back too much when he wanted to wear the Air Jordan 11 a bit early in the playoffs against the Magic. The commercial that followed was a determined MJ dunking on a 100-foot rim. It was a decent commercial, and really Nike could have just played a 30-second clip of the shoe because the sneaker itself was so beautiful.

“Slow Motion,” “Failure,” “Disrespect”



The Air Jordan 12 had perhaps some of the most thoughtful and inspiring commercials, and also some of the most serious. Obviously, Jordan had matured during his time off and return to the game, and the commercials reflected that. One ad captured MJ playing the game in slow motion against the LA Lakers rocking the fresh Air Jordan 12s. Another showed MJ walking into the arena while talking about all the times he’s failed as a player. And the third featured MJ attempting to dunk from the free throw line again –10 years after he did it the first time.

CEO Jordan


Things got a little silly again for the Air Jordan 13, as the theme was Michael Jordan as CEO Jordan. In one spot, Jordan is seen in his office inspecting each AJ13 by hand (and also creasing each one, to the chagrin of sneakerheads today). It was Nike’s way of showing that MJ was the boss. He basically was, as Jordan Brand was differentiating itself from Nike and building a team of athletes appropriately named “Team Jordan.”

Passing of the Torch

With Mary J Blige singing “Overjoyed” in the background, and Michael Jordan well into his second retirement, we were introduced to the team that was called to carry on Jordan’s legacy. Athletes like Derek Jeter, Randy Moss, Eddie Jones, Ray Allen, Roy Jones, Jr. were all featured. The Air Jordan 15 was also shown briefly, and then Jordan is seen strolling through a field in casual attire at the end. Jordan was now the mentor, and these athletes were his protégés.

Umi Says

The theme of Jordan as the mentor and ambassador for the game continued with the Air Jordan 16 ads, with Mos Def’s “Umi Says” as the theme song. Along with professional athletes, Jordan is seen interacting with normal folks as well, even to the point of joining a pickup game in a local gym. The tagline for the campaign was strong – “Much Respect.” It is still a revered slogan, and said amongst sneakerheads to this day.

Hip Hop Vibes

For the Air Jordan 17 in 2002, the Brand looked to cater to the younger hip hop generation with classic tracks from Gangstarr featured in three shorts starring Ray Allen, Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson. Michael Jordan was out of retirement and back in the League for a third time, but was not featured in any of these ads. There was a separate, simpler ad featuring just Jordan dribbling a basketball which was meant to sound like a heartbeat.

What is Love?

For the Air Jordan 18, MJ would be prominently featured again, which made sense because it was the last time he would play professional basketball. The theme of the ads was “Love Is,” and the commercials flashed back to highlight all of Jordan’s accomplishments in 30 seconds. It captured Jordan’s pure passion for the game of basketball, and his desire to play every game as if it was his last.

Let Your Game Speak

With MJ finally officially retired, how would the Brand move forward and stay relevant in the sneaker world? The Air Jordan 21 campaign proved that JB could still inspire even with Jordan out of the League for good. With dramatic piano music playing in the background, kids attempt to try out every move that made Jordan the GOAT, with Jordan looking on proudly at the end of the cut.

Maybe It’s My Fault

The Air Jordan 23 was obviously special since it was MJ’s number. The commercial was special as well, with Jordan reflecting on how maybe it was his fault that he ruined the game by being so good. At the end, the camera cuts to Jordan addressing a gym full of teenagers and telling them not to make excuses.

In 2009, Jordan Brand transitioned to naming Air Jordans by year instead of chronological number. The ads and commercials continued, but there was also a shift occurring in the way consumers received information. TV services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime were taking off, which meant viewers could skip commercials for the most part. Also, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter became the primary methods for people to discover and learn about sneakers.

As these trends became mainstream, Nike and Jordan Brand shifted in the way they market their sneakers. Commercials are still important, but not as critical as they used to be. With that being the case, it’s clear that the old commercials leading up to the Air Jordan 23 were the most memorable and influential. The next 15 to 20 years will reveal which marketing strategies worked best for Jordan in this current social media-driven age.

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By Drew Hammell

 

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I’ve been fortunate to see Carmelo Anthony in person once in my life – a few days prior to All-Star Weekend in New York City back in February of 2015. He was a block away from Madison Square Garden, making cameo appearances in a few nearby sneaker stores. With cameras flashing, a mob quickly grew to get a look at the 6-foot 8-inch Knick forward. Melo would pick up an Air Jordan sneaker in the store, look it over as a PR person explained some details about it, smile for a few photos, and then put the sneaker back on the shelf.

This year, the Jordan Brand star will be entering his 16th season in the NBA. The 34-year-old was picked 3rd overall by the Denver Nuggets in 2003 (behind LeBron James and Darko Milicic). Since then, Melo has played in 10 All-Star Games, and is one of only six players to record over 24,000 points, 6,000 rebounds, 2,500 assists, 1,000 steals, and 1,000 3-pointers. He’s played for the US Olympic Team four times – in 2004 where he won a bronze medal, and then in 2008, 2012, and 2016 where he won gold. He is the US Men’s Olympic all-time leader in scoring, rebounds, and games played. This season, he’ll be playing for the Houston Rockets for the league veteran minimum salary ($2.394 million).

 

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It’s difficult to tell what type of legacy Melo will be remembered for. He’s got the stats to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. However, he’s never won an NBA championship. When he played for the Nuggets, he led the team to the playoffs every year from 2004 to 2010, but the farthest they got was the Conference Finals in 2009 against the Lakers.

Sometimes, however, a player’s legacy is defined by more than just rings. No one can deny the impact Melo makes when he is on the court. There are very few scorers who can turn it on like Melo can year in and year out. On January 24th, 2014, Anthony set the MSG and Knicks single game scoring record with 62 points against the Bobcats. In college, he played one year for Syracuse and led the team to the National Championship over Kansas.

 

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Legacy is also defined by what players do off the court. Melo’s father was Puerto Rican, so when the country was ravaged by Hurricane Maria last year, Anthony started a fundraiser to help victims and donated $50,000 on his own. The Carmelo Anthony Foundation has funded school projects in Baltimore (where he spent part of his childhood) and helped bring aid to Flint, Michigan during the water crisis. He’s also partnered with the Boys & Girls club, and helped build basketball courts for kids who need them in Puerto Rico and New York.

It’s been 16 years since Carmelo Anthony played his final game for Oak Hill Academy, his alma mater. He only played one year for the Virginia Boarding School, but he certainly made quite an impression there as well. Melo played his first three years of high school ball for Towson Catholic, but then transferred to powerhouse Oak Hill for his senior year. During that time, Melo became friends with LeBron James, and on one fateful Sunday that season, the two faced off against each other in front of 11,000 people at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey. It is one of the most talked about high school games ever, and Melo’s Oak Hill team won 72-66 as Anthony poured in 34 points.

Oak Hill would go 32-1 that year, and was ranked 3rd in the country. Melo would be selected to the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic that year as well. Since 2002, Melo has been a Jordan man. He wore Air Jordans in high school, Air Jordans in college, and signed with Jordan when he came into the NBA. As part of the ‘Back to School’ collection, the brand is releasing an Air Jordan 13 inspired by Melo’s time at Oak Hill, his alma mater. The shoe features a black and gold upper with red hits to match the high school jersey Melo donned back in 2002.  The colors and the sneaker itself speak to the legacy Melo is still creating for himself. He still has time to win a cherished NBA ring, but he’s certainly done plenty both on and off the court to earn the respect from both athletes and many others he’s helped along the way.

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It’s that time of year where the world of fashion prepares to take in what’s new, what’s reinterpreted and what is falling off as a trend for Spring/Summer ’19. Before we head to New York, we wanted to see what the future will hold for athleisure focused fashion. Below you will see our favorites for the year ahead and what we hope to see when we’re in the Big Apple!

Sneakers 

Sneakers are seeing a good amount of attention in the world of fashion and continue to evolve. Performance wear in general is under the spotlight, so we’re definitely anticipating chunky silhouettes at NYFW.

Sportswear

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Sportswear, like the sneaker trend has been gaining a lot of momentum in fashion. We really started seeing different collaborations and standout moments for this in 2018 and should see that continue in 2019.

Color and Bold Graphic Prints

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Tailored pieces with color or print will also be something to look out for during NYFW. Who doesn’t love color and print for warmer weather, amiright?

Minimal and Oversized 

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The trend of comfort alone has been something that is attracting many in the fashion world. Relaxed silhouettes are still relevant and we are looking forward to seeing how the streets of New York brings this look to life this year.

Catch up with more NYFW style and culture on @finishline and @finishlinewomen.