Five Facts To Know About the Nike Air Bakin’

Nike Air Bakin OG

The Nike Air Bakin’ is fresh out of the oven again this week with the imminent arrival of a Supreme collaboration. While far from the first time the Bakin’ has risen from its 1990s basketball origins, the new colab does help introduce the model to a generation of sneakerheads who may not have seen the shoe before. Here’s a quick primer to help get up to speed with the Air Bakin’.

Eric Avar

Another Avar Creation

The Air Bakin’ was released in 1997, adding another page to designer Eric Avar’s very impressive portfolio from that era, which included the Air Penny and Air Foamposite. With that in mind, it’s clear to see his design cues – like the wavy upper and slimline midsoles – translating to the Bakin’. Even the traditional herringbone traction is also found on the Air Foamposite.

Nike Air Bakin Retro
via Sneaker Politics

Also For Outdoors

Most high-end basketball shoes are typically designed for hardwood courts, but the Air Bakin’ was also created with asphalt surfaces in mind. This is evident in the DRC (Durable Rubber Compound) outsole wrapping up the sides of the upper for abrasion resistance and the mesh vents behind the upper slits intended to keep feet cool. Visible Air Max cushioning in the heel remained a key technology of the era alongside Zoom Air, which would feature on other Nike basketball models.

,Nike The Tim Hardaway Variety Show

The Tim Hardaway Variety Show

While worn by a number of NBA players in its prime, the Air Bakin’s most notable endorsee was Tim Hardaway, who had been forming a close relationship with the Swoosh since the early 90s. Besides the famous Nike ‘phone ads’ that showcased the Bakin’, the shoe was also prominently featured in the fictional ‘Tim Hardaway Variety Show’ poster, as the then-Miami-Heat player treated the Bakin’ as an unofficial signature shoe for the 1997 season.

Nike Air Bakin’ Allah Logo

Catching Heat

With its scorching red, yellow and black colourway and bold looks, the Air Bakin’ was destined to be an eye-catcher. But it also caught the attention of members of the Muslim community, who took offence with the flaming ‘Air’ heel logo that purportedly resembled ‘Allah’ in Arabic text. This unexpected oversight resulted in early versions of the Air Bakin’ (along with the Air B-Que and Air Grillin’, which also used the same logo) being recalled, and the Swoosh soon put the shoe back out with a standard ‘Nike Air’ logo. Given Supreme’s near-30-year habit of references, their flaming ‘NYC’ on the heels of their new Bakin colab is undoubtedly a nod to the OG’s controversial beginnings.

Nike Air Force 1 High Bakin
via Oneness
Nike Air Bakin Posite
A$AP Nast Reebok Zig Kinetica 2

Hybrids and Tributes

Like many Nike heritage models, the Air Bakin’ was not immune to experimental remakes and fusions. The Air Bakin’ Posite added Foamposite material to the upper and rejigged the shape to be reminiscent of ACG-adjacent models, namely the Goadome and Foamdome. There was also an obscure Air Force 1 tribute from 2014 that borrowed the red, black and yellow colourway – right down to the round laces. And, while it’s never been officially confirmed by either party (for obvious reasons), the A$AP Nast x Reebok Zig Kinetica 2 from 2021 clearly dips into the OG Bakin’ colourway.

For more digestible sneaker facts, check out the Features section.

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