There’s never a bad time to celebrate Allen Iverson’s influence in the world of basketball. His influence is profound – he engages with the culture shared by one-name legends like Jordan, Kobe, and LeBron. With the nagging feeling that we weren’t quite as solemn as he could have been during his career (it is high time to end the “Practice?” Conversation), basketball fans are eager to reassess him at every opportunity. Given that Iverson’s influence on the culture of tires was as big as the way the game is played, it was fitting to see Reebok run the proverbial red carpet for its first signature sneaker last year, the Reebok question, rolled out for the shoe’s 25th anniversary. As a result, the shoe was in the sneaker spotlight in a way that it hasn’t been in years.
It’s not exactly a comeback on the left. Reebok has kept the question in constant rotation over time, releasing a few new colors every year (and sometimes more if the year included notable moments like AI’s induction into the Hall of Fame). That year, however, the brand made the shoe one of the centerpieces of its line. New color variations and retros have decreased monthly and sometimes more frequently. But it’s not the amount of new releases that made the anniversary year of the question so strong. It’s what Reebok has done with these releases, bringing many of them up to date in relation to Iverson’s career, hobbies and eccentricities (working with Nice Kicks is similar to a tackle box indicating AI’s lifelong love of fishing) and the main colors, which helped question one of the most iconic basketball sneakers of all time. The result is less an homage to a shoe than to the man who made it famous.
Iverson asks two questions in 2012.
Reebok started the quarter century with a shoe that took us back to the beginning of Answer’s career at Georgetown University. It wasn’t the first new question of the year – that award goes to a gray suede color that hit stores on Jan. 3, 2020 – but it felt like the real opening ceremony of the year-long celebration. AI’s two years in Georgetown are the stuff of the college basketball legend: He set records in the school rankings in both seasons and won the Defensive Player of the Year award before joining the NBA. There have been some Hoyas questions over the years, although this is the first to use a mostly dark blue upper with a gray toe and accents (the rest have used gray with dark blue accents).
Another notable centerpiece of Reebok’s quiz this year was a retro of the original red toe Iverson wore as he ripped apart NBA seats around the world during his unprecedented rookie season. (That was the year he finished first overall in the NBA draft, crossed Michael Jordan and finished him off with Rookie of the Year.) Here the brand nodded to a lesser-explored feature of the color scheme. The version that Iverson often played in during his rookie year featured a toe cap made of red mother-of-pearl leather. This iteration has been repeated over the years and is recognizable as a de facto question. When the shoe first hit the market in a limited edition of 5,000 pairs, that red toe was made of suede. AI put the suede edition on in court for a while, but the colors were bleeding so badly that Reebok quickly swapped them for a pair made with this pearly leather.