The Nike Air Maestro II in the famous red colorway worn by Scottie Pippen returns tomorrow, May 10th, and most of the biggest fans for early 1990s basketball shoes couldn’t be happier. The shoe hasn’t been retroed for over a decade, so many familiar with the bright red Maestro are definitely ready for either their first pair or a fresh one.
I commend Nike for bringing the Maestro II in the beautiful red colorway back, but I just can’t ignore how they’ve rearranged some of the facts to make the retro fit in with their awesome Art of a Champion collection of shoes associated with outstanding playoff performances throughout the years. Sheed’s Air Force 1 PE? Perfect. Bill Russell’s Chucks? Of course. MJ’s “Last Shot” Air Jordan 14? A no-brainer. The collection is obviously great. There’s just one problem. Scottie Pippen never even wore the model, let alone the red colorway of the Maestro II, in the Playoffs.
The red Air Maestro II is included in the collection as a celebration of Pippen’s Game 2 triple double in the 1993 NBA Finals versus the Phoenix Suns, which was a pivotal win for the Bulls to secure their first Three-Peat. But in ’93 Scottie Pippen was wearing the first Air Maestro. The Air Maestro II wasn’t even released yet.
When the Art of a Champion collection was first unveiled by Nike, the copy on their site seemed to imply that Pip was wearing the red Air Maestro II during the triple double performance in question. In the Nike SNKRS “Inside the Vault” feature published earlier this week, the copy is a little more accurate, as it states “Although not the exact colorway he was wearing, Nike, Inc. now honors #33 with a nod to his dominating performance in Game 2 of the 1993 Finals while wearing the Air Maestro II.”
I know this is nit-picking, but hey, I’m a sneaker history nerd, and that’s what I do when the facts are wrong. The Air Maestro I and II are definitely similar designs, so it’s not the most blatant oversight ever, but the error in Nike’s history telling—be it a mistake or intentional to have the red Maestro II fit within the Art of a Champion collection—was enough for me to throw this piece together.
Again, I love the fact that the red Maestros are making a comeback, but why didn’t Nike just save them for a release around an All-Star game? 2019 is actually the 25th anniversary of when Pip got the MVP honors at the 1994 All-Star Game…when he actually wore them. Just sayin’.
Anyway, the proof is in the photographic evidence, so below is a quick look at the real history of Scottie Pippen and the Air Maestro.
First and foremost, here’s Scottie in the 1993 NBA Finals wearing the black and white Nike Air Maestro I.
An Upper Deck basketball card documenting Game 2.
Before the Playoffs, Scottie also wore this awesome white, black, and red Air Maestro I in the regular season. While a plethora of NBA players wore both the Maestro I and II, they’ll always be most closely associated with Pip.
Now we get to the one game when he actually wore the red Air Maestro II, the 1994 All-Star Game. I remember watching this game when I was 10 years old and noticing how cool his sneakers were. Lacing up the bright red colorway really was a game-changing moment in NBA sneaker history.
This shot is a perfect example of how much they stood out from every other shoe.
I’ll end with my perfect case scenario for a Scottie Pippen sneaker that could have been included in the Art of a Champion collection: the never-retroed Nike Air Swift from a dunk you may be familiar with in the ’94 Playoffs.