Penny Hardaway sneakers, also known as Foamposite sneakers, are a line of basketball shoes designed by Nike and named after professional basketball player Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. The shoes were first released in 1997 and quickly gained popularity due to Hardaway’s success on the court and endorsement of the shoe. The Foamposite material, which gives the shoe its unique look, was used for the first time in the Penny line. The shoe has since been re-released multiple times, often in limited quantities, and has become a popular choice among sneaker collectors.

Complete Guide to Penny Hardaway Sneaker History

1. Nike Air Flight One – 1995

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Designed for a versatile, high-flying guard with a focus on comfort and performance.
  • Top Colorways: Black/White, White/Black, Orlando (Black/Blue).

Stats (1994-1995): 20.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists

The Nike Air Flight One was Penny Hardaway’s first unofficial signature shoe. Designed by Eric Avar, it featured a sleek, futuristic design. A memorable moment was when Michael Jordan famously borrowed a pair of these shoes in a game against the Orlando Magic during the 1995 NBA Playoffs, as they provided the perfect fit and performance he needed.

2. Nike Air Penny – 1995

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Combining style and performance, reflecting Penny’s flashy playstyle and versatile skills.
  • Top Colorways: Orlando (Black/White/Royal Blue), Atlantic Blue, All-Star (White/Black/Royal).

Stats (1995-1996): 21.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists

The Nike Air Penny featured an iconic “1 Cent” logo and a wavy side panel design. It was known for its great fit and responsiveness. Penny wore these shoes during his All-Star season and Olympic appearance. He jokingly referred to them as his “magic shoes” because they seemed to elevate his game to another level.

3. Nike Air Penny 2 – 1996

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Built for comfort and durability, featuring visible Air-Sole units and an eye-catching design.
  • Top Colorways: Atlantic Blue (White/Blue), Black/White, Miami Heat (Black/Red).

Stats (1996-1997): 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists

The Nike Air Penny 2 combined style and substance with its distinctive design and advanced cushioning. Penny wore these during another standout season. A funny story is that Shaquille O’Neal, his teammate at the time, would often jokingly tell Penny to lend him his shoes so he could play point guard for a day, highlighting their strong camaraderie.

4. Nike Air Penny 3 – 1997

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: A hybrid of materials and technologies, offering enhanced support and performance.
  • Top Colorways: Black/Royal Blue, White/Royal Blue, Eggplant (Purple/Black).

Stats (1997-1998): 16.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists (limited due to injury)

The Nike Air Penny 3 featured a mix of Foamposite and leather for a unique look and feel. Despite battling injuries, Penny showcased these stylish kicks on the court. Teammates often teased him about the shoes’ “alien” look, saying they were otherworldly just like his playstyle.

5. Nike Air Penny 4 – 1998

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Sleek design with improved ankle support, featuring a combination of leather and synthetic materials.
  • Top Colorways: Black/Royal Blue, White/Black, Phoenix Suns (Black/Purple/Orange).

Stats (1998-1999): 15.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists

The Nike Air Penny 4 introduced a more sophisticated and supportive design. Penny wore these after being traded to the Phoenix Suns. His teammates in Phoenix would humorously call him “Four Penny” due to his ability to switch gears effortlessly, just like his shoes’ versatility.

6. Nike Air Penny 5 – 2012

  • Designer: Marc Dolce
  • Inspiration: Bringing back the classic Penny elements with modern technology, focusing on nostalgia and performance.
  • Top Colorways: Orlando (Black/Blue), Red Eagle (Black/Red), Invisibility Cloak (Black/Purple).

Stats: Post-retirement

The Nike Air Penny 5 was released post-retirement, bringing back classic elements with modern updates. It celebrated Penny’s legacy with a nostalgic design. Penny often joked that these shoes made him feel young again and that he could still give current players a run for their money on the court.

7. Nike Air Foamposite One – 1997

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Featuring a revolutionary Foamposite upper for a futuristic look and unmatched durability.
  • Top Colorways: Royal Blue (Royal/Black), Copper, Eggplant (Purple/Black).

Stats (1997-1998): 16.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists (limited due to injury)

The Nike Air Foamposite One became one of the most iconic basketball shoes due to its unique Foamposite material and futuristic design. Penny wore these during the 1997-1998 season, and they quickly became a fan favorite. A funny story is that some of Penny’s teammates initially thought the Foamposite material looked like something from outer space, leading to playful teasing about his “alien shoes.”

Funny Stories and Anecdotes

Penny and Lil’ Penny

One of the most memorable aspects of Penny Hardaway’s career was the “Lil’ Penny” commercials, featuring a small puppet version of Penny voiced by Chris Rock. The commercials were a huge hit, and Penny often joked that Lil’ Penny was more popular than he was. The humor and charisma of Lil’ Penny added an extra layer of fun to Penny’s sneaker legacy.

Penny’s Shoe Swap with Shaq

During their time with the Orlando Magic, Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway were known for their playful banter. In one instance, Shaq jokingly suggested they swap shoes for a game, with Shaq trying to squeeze into Penny’s size 14s. The idea, of course, never happened, but it became a running joke between the two stars.

The original Penny Hardaway sneakers, the Nike Air Foamposite One, were first released in 1997. The shoe featured a unique Foamposite material upper that was designed to mimic the look and feel of a basketball, and it was the first time this material was used in a basketball shoe. The shoe was designed by Eric Avar and was named after professional basketball player Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, who was one of the top players in the league at the time and had a signature shoe line with Nike.

The Air Foamposite One was an instant success, thanks to Hardaway’s endorsement and the shoe’s unique design. The shoe was worn on the court by many professional players, including Hardaway himself, and it quickly became a popular choice among sneaker enthusiasts.

In the following years, Nike released several different versions of the Penny Hardaway sneakers, including the Air Foamposite Pro and the Air Penny II. Each iteration of the shoe featured unique design elements and colorways, and many of them were released in limited quantities, which helped to fuel the shoe’s popularity among collectors.

In recent years, the Penny Hardaway sneakers have been re-released several times, often in limited quantities and with updated materials and design elements. The shoe remains popular among sneaker enthusiasts and continues to be a sought-after collector’s item.

Penny Hardaway’s sneakers are a testament to his influence, style, and impact on the game of basketball. From the revolutionary designs of the Air Penny line to the iconic Foamposite One, each shoe reflects a chapter in Penny’s illustrious career. Whether you’re a sneakerhead, a basketball fan, or someone who appreciates innovation, Penny’s sneakers offer something unique and inspiring. As you lace up a pair of Pennys, remember the creativity, flair, and excellence that define his legacy.