When Lil Penny made his triumphant return as lead storyteller during basketballs biggest weekend in New Orleans, it was only the beginning. Between soaking in the city's culture, Lil Penny interviewed basketball's best, mingled with celebs and most importantly worked with big brother Penny Hardaway and NSW Design Director Marc Dolce on the Shooting Stars Pack. Before we provide details on the pack that includes an Air Foamposite One and a Lil Penny Posite, let's take a trip down memory lane.
The Birth of Foam
In 1997, the Nike Air Foamposite One.forever changed the sneaker landscape. Designed by Eric Avar, the three-year process did not even include a brief, "it was pure experimentation," says Avar. While many attribute the Foamposite to Penny Hardaway (Air Penny III), University of Arizona freshman Mike Bibby was the one to debut the shoe during the 1997 tournament.
Inspired by a molded sunglass case that was a one-piece seamless design, Avar and team wanted to enhance athlete performance by creating a design that stepped outside the sneaker norm. The runique shoe needed an athlete equally distinctive, someone who transcended the game of basketball. Enter 6'7'' point guard Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway. On meeting Penny Hardaway to discuss the Nike Air Penny III, Avar brought along an early Foamposite sample.
“I wasn’t sure I was even going to show that sample to him. We had other ideas we were presenting," says Avar. "But he leaned over, looked into the bag and said, ‘What is that?’ He reached in, grabbed it and he says, ‘This is my next shoe!"
Everyone in Memphis knew he was going to be larger than life. Maybe that's because all anyone could remember were his constant barbs or the trash that seemed to spew like a faucet from his high-pitched mouth. But Lil Penny didn't garner national attention until his appearance with older brother Penny Hardaway in his Nike commercials. Said Lil Penny, “On the court, Penny’s game was smooth as jazz, but off-court he needed someone like me to provide a little swagger to the masses.”
The Shooting Stars Pack: Introducing the Lil Penny Posite
Consisting of the Air Foamposite One and the Lil Penny Posite, the Shooting Stars Pack brings a Nike throwback to the forefront, with a new sidekick. Inspired by the half-man behind the man, the Lil Penny Posite reflects LP’s knee-high swagger and off-court attitude.
Inspiration also includes the man himself, Anfernee Hardaway, as well as the city where he spent much of his starry career, Orlando, Fla. Both shoes come packaged in one specially designed box, featuring a tonal gloss all-over print graphic and a bold question splattered across the inner-flap, reading: YOU GUYS REMIND ME OF MY SHOE CLOSET. I GOT TWO PENNIES AND A BUNCH OF LOAFERS
"The goal for the project was to move the Penny collection into a new space. Inspired from the past lineage, but designed for the future. It’s about the blend between lifestyle and sport and creating a silhouette that is sleeker and more refined,"says Marc Dolce.
Aesthetically, the design builds upon blocks of Penny’s past, notably elements of the Air Zoom Rookie and the Nike Air Up, as a symbolic follow up to the Nike Air ½ Cent.
A decoupled Posite upper, with reflective detailing, retains iconic styling while affording more flexibility, a change of pace from Posites of the past. Featuring a full-length Lunar midsole and Zoom cushioning in the heel, the Lil Penny Posite also employs the latest cushioning technologies, from the bottom up. Molded wings on the shoe’s quarter add a modern sensibility while vintage Flight and 1 Cent insignia keep the design true to its lineage. The season may be winding down, but as the saying goes, basketball never stops. Catch Lil Penny at a court near you this summer — and this time, he won't be rocking big brother's hand-me-downs.
To coincide with the release of the Shooting Stars Pack featuring a Foamposite and a Lil Penny Posite, we caught up with Lil Penny in this exclusive interview. The pack will be available on nike.com and at select Nike Sportswear retailers on May 17th.
Nike Sportswear: Lil! How have you been? We saw you buzzing about New Orleans not too long ago…
Lil Penny: Ah, yeah! I was there, shaking hands, kissing babies. I’m older, wiser, more mature, better looking. All that. I’m trying to help the kids now. It’s for the future! I’ve honed my game. I’ve cut diamond with diamonds. The best of the best were there – why would I not be there? But really, New Orleans, or Nawlins, like me and big bro call it, was great.
NSW: That’s great. Any highlight moments? Anyone you were particularly excited to meet?
LP: Ha. You know me, man. I’m true to this, not new to this. I’ve dribbled ‘round the block more than a couple times. If anything, these young bucks were excited to take flicks with me. I posed a few times, signed a few pictures, but I’m over the past. Let’s talk about the future. I’m tryin’ to be two steps ahead of those two steps ahead, feel me? You see what I have on my feet?!
NSW: The new Lil Penny Posite, of course! Congrats. That’s a major move. Can you tell us a little about them?
LP: It is what it is man, and they do what they do. I don’t want to say they’re the best sneaker of all time – but I don’t want to lie to you either, ha! These things are incredible! And I knew it was just a matter of time before I got my own shoe. I knew it, you knew it! You can only ignore greatness’ knock on the door so many times.
NSW: What makes these so special?
LP: You mean, besides them being made for me? Just look at them! Polished. Clean. Comfy. You know, Penny does his thing on the court, but I do my ballin’ on the streets. The shoelace express is the cleanest, meanest public transpo. around! They’re everything I ever wanted man. These shoes might be worth more than my two cents – and you know my two cents are priceless!
NSW: Why don’t you tell the people where they can get them?
LP: I’m out here, man. If you see me out on these streets, at your local court, holler at me. You know LP’s going to take care of the family. Can’t have any of my fans dressed in anything but the best – even if the game don’t match. You can grab a pair at your local corner shop, or wherever they sell Nike Sportswear, on May 17 too.
NSW: Thanks, LP! And congratulations, again, on the shoe deal.
LP: No, thank you. And if you see Penny around, can you tell him to call me? Can you do that for a brother? I need to figure out how I’m getting back to the telly. Thanks, man.