A run-down of the Nike Champions Think 16 Collection.
Champions amongst Champions.
Nike’s Champions Think 16 Collection is about to kick off, and it’s stella lineup includes some absolute bangers.
Highlighted by the Nike Kobe 1 “Close Out” (April 14), Nike Air Force 1 High Rude Awakening (April 26), Air Jordan 1 High OG “Pass the Torch” (April 28), Nike Air Maestro II “Trifecta” (May 10), Nike LeBron Soldier 1 “25 Straight” (May 31), Nike KD 4 “Thunderstruck” (June 7), and the “Last Shot” Air Jordan 14 (June 14).
The big question mark hangs over the mystery release that is due to happen last, after the release of the Air Jordan 14 “Last Shot” on June 14. From the header picture, it looks to be a silhouette of the Air Jordan 1 hiding below the golden sheet, but only time will tell.
Read below for full details on each release of the Nike Champions Think 16 Collection.
KOBE BRYANT: NIKE KOBE 1 PROTRO “FINAL SECONDS”
Release Date: April 14, 2018
One year after missing the playoffs for the first time in ten years, the weight of the Lakers franchise sat on the sole shoulders of Kobe. In Game 4 of the 2006 playoffs against the Suns, Kobe sent the game to overtime with a last-second layup, yet he and the Lakers then found themselves down again now by one with 6.1 seconds remaining. Driving to the right and elevating over two defenders, Kobe nailed the game-winner as time expired. While his performance symbolized that he was the biggest star in the city of stars, he now owned the town in what became a legacy of more unforgettable performances as the face of the Lakers.
JULIUS ERVING: CONVERSE PRO LEATHER MID “THE SCOOP”
Release Date: April 19, 2018
Before joining the NBA, Dr. J’s mastery of the physical world was virtually unknown, except to those from the courts of Harlem. That all changed with one smooth move in Game 4 of the 1980 Finals. Driving to the baseline halfway through the 4th quarter, he raised the ball high with one hand, teasing the Lakers defense before bringing it back under the hoop and scooping it off the glass. While Dr. J and the Sixers didn’t go on to win the series, his move in the All- Star’s brought the fabled flair and flash of Harlem basketball to the NBA.
RASHEED WALLACE: NIKE AIR FORCE 1 HIGH SHEED “RUDE AWAKENING”
Release Date: April 26, 2018
Out to deliver the Pistons their first title since 1990, Rasheed took matters into his own hands during a physical Game 4 of the 2004 Finals at the Palace. After catching a cheap elbow mid-way through the third quarter, he responded by converting his passion and anger into pure dominance. Helping to bring a hard-earned title back to the Motor City, his beastly takeover performance cemented the AF1 into another chapter of the game’s legacy and became synonymous with his swagger, grit, and sophisticated style of play.
KAWHI LEONARD: AIR JORDAN 1 HIGH “PASS THE TORCH”
Release Date: April 28, 2018
The 2014 Finals were billed as a bout between the veteran Spurs and the star-studded Heat, but it was a young Kawhi Leonard whose out-of-nowhere, transcendent play fueled San Antonio to the title. His 29-point showing in Game 3 helped the Spurs gain an advantage that would allow them to go on and win the series. Decorated as The Finals MVP, his performance signified a passing of the torch and his bright future as the face of the next generation of the Spurs franchise.
BILL RUSSELL: CONVERSE CHUCK TAYLOR LOW “30 & 40”
Release Date: May 2018
As an 11-time NBA champion, Bill Russell’s career was filled with dominance and glory, but no moment better epitomizes his career than his 30 point and 40 rebound showing that helped the Celtics secure an overtime victory in Game 7 of the 1968 Finals. Helping Boston win their 4th straight title in what would be a reign over the league for years to follow, Russell, the game’s premier player, immortalized the Chuck Taylor as the game’s premier and most iconic basketball sneaker.
SCOTTIE PIPPEN: NIKE AIR MAESTRO 2 “TRIFECTA”
Release Date: May 10, 2018
Coming off back-to-back NBA titles, the Bulls found themselves on the doorstep of an illustrious “three-peat”. With a dominating performance in Game 2 of the 1993 Finals, Pippen would become just the 12th player in history to log a triple-double in a Finals game. Capping his night by blocking a potential game-tying three, he gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead in a series they would go on to win. In the wake of Jordan’s retirement after the series, Pippen’s Finals performance signified to Chicago his ability to shine on his own in the spotlight and lead the Bulls by himself.
RAY ALLEN: AIR JORDAN 28 “LOCKED & LOADED”
Release Date: May 12, 2018
There’s nothing synonymous between a Ray Allen three and the word miracle. Though it looked like a mad scramble when the rock pin-balled its way to the corner with just a few seconds remaining in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, Allen, the consummate sharp-shooter, spent his whole life preparing for this moment. His game-tying three shifted the momentum of the entire series, fueling the Heat to a back-to-back title and cementing his everlasting legacy into the city of Miami as a savior.
KEVIN MCHALE: CONVERSE FASTBREAK HI “NO EASY BUCKETS”
Release Date: May 17, 2018
Trailing 2-1 to the Lakers in the 1984 Finals, the Boston Celtics needed a spark. As LA’s Kurt Rambis attempted to finish a dunk on a fast break, Kevin McHale, committed a dangerous foul that sent the Laker to the floor and caused a heated brawl between the rival teams. Credited by several Lakers as the reason for their defeat in the game and that series, McHale’s play caused them to become fixated on retaliation rather than victory in what has become a storied rivalry of East versus West. With the hard foul, McHale made a statement in the fast-break’s; when the championship is on the line, there will be no easy buckets.
WES UNSELD: CONVERSE STAR PLAYER LOW “INTANGIBLES”
Release Date: May 17, 2018
After being swept in both the 1971 and 1975 NBA Finals, Wes Unseld was determined to change the winds of history in 1978 against the Seattle Supersonics. The grueling back-and-forth series would eventually come down to a Game 7 matchup in Seattle, and it was Unseld’s two key free throws late in the game that would seal the victory and deliver Washington D.C. its first-ever sports championship. Despite averaging just 9.0 points and 11.7 rebounds in the series, Unseld’s veteran presence and on-court intangibles would ultimately earn him Finals MVP honors, cementing his legacy as one of the game’s all-time greats.
MOSES MALONE: NIKE AIR FORCE 1 LOW “FO, FI, FO”
Release Date: May 19, 2018
Out for revenge after losing to the Lakers in the ’82 Finals, the Sixers made a splash by adding the polarizing yet dominant Moses Malone to their roster. Making a bold statement at the start of the playoffs, he predicted that Philly would win the ’83 championship, sweeping each series “fo’, fo’, fo’”. After beating the Knicks in four and taking down the Bucks in five, Malone’s 24-point and 23-rebound performance in Game 4 vs. the Lakers helped the Sixers to secure their third NBA Championship. As Philly lifted the trophy, Malone, one of the “original six” to wear the AF1 on court, updated his famous prediction to “fo’, fi’, fo’”, a champion’s declaration that would ring out across the city for years to come.
MAYA MOORE: AIR JORDAN 11 LOW “ROOK TO QUEEN”
Release Date: May 24, 2018
Just six months after being selected as the first pick of the 2011 Draft, Maya Moore found herself on the cusp of her first WNBA title. In a series-deciding Game 3 of the 2011 Finals, she drilled a late-game three to seal the Lynx their first-ever championship. Her performance embodied her meteoric rise to the top of the game and debuted her mentality for greatness in the game’s biggest moments.
LEBRON JAMES: NIKE ZOOM LEBRON SOLDIER 1 “25 STRAIGHT
Release Date: May 31, 2018
With 6:05 remaining on the clock in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron seemingly flipped a switch and dominated the game in ways previously unseen. He would go on to score 29 of his team’s final 30 points, including all 18 of their points in overtime, single-handedly willing his team to a 2OT victory and his first NBA Finals appearance. LeBron’s Soldier 1 was specifically designed for the rigor of playoff battles like this one, and his performance that day was the first time the world witnessed what would become an entire career filled with game-changing takeovers.
KEVIN DURANT: NIKE KD 4 “BATTLE TESTED”
Release Date: June 7, 2018
in a series-clinching Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, KD took over with a 34-point and 14-rebound performance that helped erase an 18-point halftime deficit and sent him to his first ever Finals appearance. After sweeping the defending champion Mavericks, and ousting a Kobe-led Lakers, KD and the Thunder’s 4-2 comeback over a veteran Spurs team sealed a historic takedown of the only three teams that had represented the West in the Finals for the past 13 years. While LeBron and the Heat would ultimately win the finals, KD’s playoff performance showed the world his dominance as one of the game’s greats and provided him with experience that would prove invaluable in a Finals appearance five years later.
NIKE AIR FORCE 270 “GOLD STANDARD”
Release Date: June 2018
There are All-Stars, there are MVPs, there are Hall-of-Famers, and then there are Champions, the ones who lift the game’s crowning achievement. For every player, the iconic 24k, gold-plated trophy symbolizes a career- defining title different than all others. “Gold standard” draws inspiration from the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy to honor the same level of excellence that every NBA Champion holds themselves.
MICHAEL JORDAN: AIR JORDAN 14 “LAST SHOT”
Release Date: June 14, 2018
What would ultimately become Jordan’s last shot as a Chicago Bull would also become one of his most legendary. Down one with 10 seconds left on the clock in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals, MJ shook off his defender and elevated in a single motion, sinking the now infamous 20-foot jumper. The AJ XIV’s became synonymous with the “last shot”, which sealed him his 6th NBA Title and his 6th Finals MVP, a perfect swan song for his inimitable career.
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