Sneak Peak: The Attitude & Conductor
The three stripes P-Ew before the post-Finals stench.
Every year, hundreds of basketball sneakers are produced, issued, sold, and played in on the hardwood worldwide, and for every year in the NBA, at least one star player has a special season that is the peak of his career—and a signature shoe that shares in his glory. That’s what Sneak Peak is all about—highlighting players and their sneakers from the past 25 years who shared the spotlight with iconic play and iconic style.
The Knicks needed something. The NBA needed validity. Patrick Ewing needed to write a new book.
While the theories of the 1985 Draft Lottery abound, No. 33 came correct with the blue and orange. It wasn’t that he won a championship with one of the most storied college programs in history, or that he was the most famous collegian outside of Michael Jordan throughout the early and mid-80s. Patrick Ewing was going to make a difference in the tradition of Kareem and Wilt. He wasn’t going to jump out of the gym with black and red Nike jumpsuits and gold chains or sky quite as high like the Phi Slamma Jamma alums, (H)Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.
Ewing was going to mean something to New York City, though… and he did mean something. He still means something. Lo and behold, he meant something to adidas, too. (And he actually was jumping and dunking over some cats in the process.)
Though he had yet to fully realize his true Hall of Fame potential at the time, the three seasons which were encapsulated between the years 1985 and 1988 are best to be described as the “emergence era” of the Jamaica native. He was still learning what the significance of the high-top fade would do for his popularity and general public well-being, but in that education, he was learning the rest of the League.
A three-season per-game average of 20.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks let the League know that P-Ew (no pun intended) meant business. Throw in two All-Star appearances, a Rookie of the Year award, an All-Rookie First Team selection, an All-Defensive Second Team selection and an All-NBA Second Team selection by the time he was 25, and it was nothing to say that he was due to show out for more attention. In the same way, his feet branded the new style of the streets.
Just when the Converse Weapon was looking to capitalize on the appeal of smaller and bigger kids alike in the non-NBA world, Ewing’s adidas Attitude and Conductor models were a fresh take on the versatile, non-Jordan basketball sneaker. Though there were some differences between the shoes, the changes were so minute, seeing as they were basically the same shoe. The blue midsoles, the iconic three stripes rising upon the midfoot and the high cut of the tongue and ankle collar kept it fresh (albeit with acid-wash straight leg jeans—can anyone say “Guess?”? “Britannica”? “Jordache”?) No doubt, P-Ew’s biggest fans copped the white/blue/orange versions of the shoes and were official immediately upon purchase.
It was in later seasons that when a more seasoned Patrick took his fade and his unstoppable fallaway (not MJ’s fadeaway ™) jumper to the 1994 and 1999 NBA Finals, where he suffered insufferable losses to teams that were thought to be inferior. Though a Nike man near the end of his career, the seven-footer soon had his own Ewing brand of shoes licensed and distributed and they became hits. Taking design cues from Adi Dassler’s former draw-ups for the big man and Air Jordans that were releasing concurrently, Patrick Aloysius Ewing received an overwhelming positive response to his new sneaks, becoming a hometown hardwood hero and a cult hero in the shoe game at the same time.
Eventually, No. 33 took his widow’s peak to Seattle and Orlando (he should never have accepted to play in No. 6 there) and then retired quietly. Sitting on the Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic benches has kept him from getting antsy and wandering around in Atlanta strip clubs while he looks get a head coaching job; in the meantime, he’s been received into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and is waiting to see his son become a Knick one day. As for the eventual destinies of the Attitude and Conductor, both are in re-circulation at major retailers, sitting on plastic boards on walls while paying customers almost certainly forget or simply don’t know that they were the choice shoe of Mr. Ewing. For sale, they have wound up, moving silently away from the spotlight.
The same way Patrick did when he finally left The Big Apple.