Five Lesser-Known Facts About the Nike Air Max CB 94

Nike Air Max2 CB 1994 OG

In the 1990s, it wasn’t just a basketball player with the initials MJ that had a popular signature shoe with Nike. One of those was Charles Barkley, a long-time athlete for the brand whose Air Max2 CB (aka Air Max CB 94) is arguably his most recognisable model. After habitually dipping in and out of circulation over the years, it looks like it’s back for another run in 2022. So, it’s a better time than ever to rattle off some obscure knowledge about them, which has probably only previously circulated in the inner sanctum of sneakerhead intelligentsia.

Nike Air Max2 CB Fact Sheet


A fundamental flaw with most front-end text on the Internet is that it almost always appears on the same line without superscripts or subscripts. What does this have to do with sneakers?

This shoe should technically be called the Nike Air Max² CB because it has Air Max² (Air Max Squared) technology. In 1994, the shoe box read Air Max2 CB, while Eastbay catalogues referred to them with the superscript 2. Numbers got dropped, added, then dropped again before unofficially settling on Air Max CB 94. Technically speaking, the last batch of retros read Air Max2 CB ’94 on the box. What’s correct? What pulls better results on Google? Let's call it by the original Air Max2 CB.

Nike Air Max2 CB Sketch

Squared Tech

On the topic of the model name, here’s an explainer of its signature tech that even Nike themselves don’t really talk about in their retrospective. Air Max2 technology introduced multiple pressures to the four midsole chambers. The units directly under and behind the heel were a lower pressure at 5 PSI to provide more cushioning, while units on the lateral and medial sides were inflated to 25 PSI to maintain stability. See where the ‘squared’ part comes from?

For the ‘Round Mound of Rebound’, Air Max2 was essential for a big player like Barkley, who had previously used Air Max basketball models and the Force line before that. The Air Max2 CB and its famous wearer starred in Nike’s ‘Air Squared’ commercial plugging the new tech in 1994. There was some encapsulated Air in the forefoot too, which didn’t become visible until Barkley’s next signature shoe, the ,Air Max CB 34, and retained the Air Max2 heel unit.

Nelly Nike Air Max2 CB Air Derrty PJ Tucker

Nelly Had a CB 94 Colab

Nelly may have devoted almost five minutes to a posse rap about ‘Air Force Ones’ in late 2002, but what did Nike give him just a few months later in 2003? A pair of Air Max CB (no 94 moniker at the time) dubbed the ‘Air Derrty’. These crazy red, white and blue patent Barkleys were certainly an eyeful, and only 1000 individually numbered pairs were available.

The ‘Air Derrty’ was only available from Niketown Chicago, Atlanta and New York, plus the now-gone Squad 1 Sports in Nelly’s hometown of St Louis, Missouri. Proceeds from this release went towards the rapper’s 4Sho4Kids non-profit organisation. Over a decade later in 2014, Nike gifted him a few pairs of ‘Air Derrty’ branded Barkley Posite Max as an exclusive sequel to his colab.

Nike Air Force 1 High Barkley Pack

The Barkley Pack

Speaking of Air Forces, Barkley does have a close history with the series. Before his signature models in the early 1990s, he wore the Air Force 2 back in 1987. Fast forward about 20 years later, and the now-retired player had an entire ‘Barkley Pack’ of Air Force 1s inspired by his signatures and basketball legacy. Among those was some pairs loosely based on the Air Max2 CB, evident by the large perforations on the heel and forefoot in a similar fashion to their inspiration. The AF-1 Low even had a visible Air unit in the heel, a feature found on a handful of releases from that era.

Nike Air Max2 CB 94 Low

Chopping Charles

The Air Max2 CB 94 is a lot of shoe to wear. Before the recent news of the model’s return in its complete high-top glory, there was a spate of low-cut releases in the late 2010s, making for an arguably easier to wear silhouette. This ergonomic decision actually dates back to the mid 2000s, when the model (known as the Air Max CB ’94 Low, by the way) emerged in a handful of two-toned colour ways sporting missing ankles. Clearly designed as a lifestyle play, this variant doesn’t seem as popular as the OG, if aftermarket prices are anything to go by.

Want more facts about classic Nike Basketball shoes? Learn about the Air Max Penny here.

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