The hip hop gloss gave Pump shoes an added legitimacy, and nowhere was this more evident than in the first ten minutes of Ernest Dickerson’s (certified Nikehead Spike Lee’s cinematographer) film Juice, with the Q character played by Omar Epps trying on pairs for his younger sibling’s approval.
On the performance side of things, complacency leads to a loss of momentum. Pump was about to be slimmed down as neoprene and sock-style fits became commonplace, and the footwear world would become decidedly lighter. Insta Pump was an evolution. For tech-heads, all eyes were on the tennis and running designs that would carry the second-gen Pump tech. Pitched at the serious athlete, the Insta Pump Spike would be lighter, slimmer and function using an external canister that used carbon dioxide cartridges. This was a risky move, not least because prices were set to be extremely high, but also because it required blister-packed hardware to inflate. Notably, the 1993 issues of Shaq’s inaugural pro-model would maintain the basketball Pump mechanism but carried optional Insta Pump, as did the official Shaq Attaq II.
Between ‘94 and ‘95, Shaq’s models would maintain the Insta Pump, but Shawn Kemp’s Kamikaze would opt out. By ‘96, showcase performance models like Allan Iverson’s Question would take an excess of newly-honed Hexalite but avoid Pump. Shaq’s mesmerisingly weird Shaqnosis the same year wouldn’t use Pump technology on the retail version, yet he chose Insta Pump for his own, higher versions. And when the Answer, Iverson’s 1997 follow-up opted to use DMX, the writing was on the wall. The final Shaq Reeboks, released around that time chose a Hexalite sole as the technical star of the shoe. Pump’s golden era was rapidly closing.