The Meaning of AND1 Basketball
I grew up in Spain and started playing basketball at the age of 12. At that time, Madrid was a barren wasteland when it came to basketball shoes, basketball gear, and basketball in general. The only way I could get cool basketball-related stuff was when my father would travel to the US for business.
I would always beg him to travel with two suitcases, one for his stuff and one empty one to bring home basketball gear. After one such trip, he returned with his usual haul of jerseys, shorts, and kicks, but this time, he also had a DVD. “The guy gave it to me for free at the store,” he said as I inspected the gray exterior.
It was the AND1 Mix Tape Vol 1-4. I popped that bad boy in the PlayStation 2 and my mind melted.
It literally marked a turning point in my basketball life – the music, the moves, the camcorder “found footage” aesthetics! It was just one of those perfect cultural encapsulations like Pro Skater, Clerks, Jackass, the Ocarina of time, or Operation Doomsday. It changed my taste in basketball, the moves I was practicing on the court, and the type of hooper I wanted to be.
So, it’s safe to say I’m a fan of AND1 as a basketball player and of their legendary hoop shoes as a sneakerhead.
I would later learn that AND1 actually had been around for a while at that point. AND1 was created in 1993 when 3 friends (Jay Coen Gilbert, Seth Berger, and Tom Austin) started a t-shirt company out of the trunk of a car while studying at the University of Pennsylvania.
These t-shirts featured AND1’s iconic faceless hooper and different trash-talking phrases. The shirts were so successful that those 3 college kids soon signed a deal with Foot Locker and within two years you could find AND1 products in over 1,500 stores across the US.
They signed Stephon Marbury in 1996 as the brand’s first signature athlete, and he actually had his own AND 1 signature shoe…sweet!
In 1998, And1 had also come across the seed that would become the AND1 Mix Tape as I knew it: the Skip Tape. It was a VHS with blurry, homemade footage filmed by a high school basketball coach from Queens, NY that featured the streetball exploits of a spectacular New York City point guard by the name of Rafer Alston, aka Skip To My Lou. This prototype of the future AND1 Mixtape was handed out to players at basketball camps and clinics, and given to record labels. It was a cultural phenomenon that made Alston/ Skip an instant underground celebrity.
In 1999, AND1 decided to use the mixtape format to promote its brand. With every purchase of AND1 gear or shoes, you would get a free highlight tape. Approximately 200,000 copies of the first official AND1 Mixtape were distributed in just three weeks.
AND1 blew up after that. Streetball players became household names: Hot Sauce, The Professor, (the real) Half Man Half Amazing, AO, Main Event, and so on. Kids flocked to the courts to try to pull off AND1 moves, and of course, AND1 kicks were a must. Especially after everyone saw the other “Half Man Half Amazing” (aka Vince Carter) rock those red and white Tai Chis as he skywalked his way to winning the best dunk contest in the history of the NBA (yes I said it!).
AND1 would go on to launch a world streetball tour, a reality TV show, and a slew of iconic shoes. AND1 even released their own video game! I had the chance to see the AND1 Mixtape tour in Madrid in 2007 in a sold-out arena (AND1 had a giant effect on basketball in Spain).
In only eight years, AND1 became the second-largest basketball brand in the United States and was a cultural sensation.
AND1 Turns 30
Today, 30 years later, AND1 is running it all back. For fans like me, it’s a gift from the basketball gods to be able to re-live that period of my life, and it will be a great chance for young hoopers who might not know the true meaning of AND1 to experience all this for the first time.
AND1 will be re-releasing a line of iconic shoes from their past, as well as some new models to cater to both the nostalgic and the uninitiated.
As of now, we know we will be getting the following retros:
AND1 Tai Chi
This is probably AND1’s most iconic silhouette. The Tai Chi originally dropped in 1999 and it was a wildly popular model among NBA players. It was most famously worn by the aforementioned Vince Carter during the NBA Dunk contest. Vince wore shoes from several different brands that season including Puma and Adidas, but his favorite shoe seemed to be the AND1 Tai Chi.
We all remember those red and white joints he wore during the dunk contest, but he had a bunch of different colorways of the shoe including black and red, and reverse black and white versions.
I personally love the versions of the Tai Chi Latrell Sprewell and Stephon Marbury wore that season. Spree had black and blue and black and orange versions and Stephon had his own PE with his logo. The Tai Chi will re-release on April 22, 2023, in blue and white, silver and white, and the OG red and white.
The AND1 Rise originally dropped in 2004, and it was most famously worn in the NBA by Chauncey Billups. Billups and the Detroit Pistons made it all the way to the NBA Finals with their grinding, defensive-minded style of play. The blue-collar roster of the Pistons took on the star-studded Lakers in the finals and manhandled them. Chauncey won Finals MVP with the AND1 Rise on his feet.
I also vividly remember Jason Williams, who at that time played for the Memphis Grizzlies, playing in the AND1 Rise (and the Tai Chi 2s – please bring these back as well), as he lobbed alley-oops to Spain’s own Pau Gasol all season long.
The AND1 Rise dropped in the white/blue colorway on March 10, 2023, and we get the red/white and black/white colorways on March 31, 2023. Finally, we get a colorway that’s part of what AND1 is calling the Pearl Collection releasing March 25, 2023, and available only at Champs Sports.
AND1 The Chosen One
This model was also worn by a legendary Piston: Big Ben Wallace. Wallace played in several AND 1 models during the 2003-04 season, including the AND 1 Rise and the AND1 Tai Chi 2 during the All-Star game, but the AND1 Chosen One is clearly Big Ben’s shoe.
Wallace terrorized NBA centers in The Chosen One and dominated backboards, averaging almost 13 boards and 3 blocks a game at just 6’9”. He took home the Defensive Player of the Year award, and of course, an NBA title.
The Chosen One is available in white and blue now. Retro colorways in red and white drop on April 11, 2023, so be on the lookout.
New AND1 Basketball Shoes
AND1 is also releasing two new models: the AND1 Marauder and the AND 1 Attack 3.0.
The Marauder is a new lifestyle model with serious 90’s vibes, and the Attack 3.0 is the third iteration of AND1s top of the line performance model. The Attack 2.0 was an excellent on-court performance model (worn most famously by Fred VanVleet), and the Attack 3.0 looks like it will be another bad boy on court.
I’m ecstatic to see the resurgence of AND1 and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of their retro kicks and gear. One of the cooler things about being a basketball fan and a sneakerhead nowadays is being able to get my hands on shoes, jerseys, etc. that I never had the opportunity of having as a youngster. And to get a chance to get my paws on classic AND1 merch in 2023 is a real treat.
PS: To who it may concern, please consider bringing back the AND1 Desire, my all-time favorite AND1 sneaker, and for me “the one that got away”.
My teams have worn and1 shoes for almost 20 years. Better than any other brand and a better deal.