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The History of the Nike Air Penny 3

The Nike Air Penny III is not one of the most popular silhouettes in the Penny Hardaway x Nike catalog. It is often overlooked when people discuss the signature series, but the III is still a well made basketball shoe. Learn about the History of the Nike Air Penny III below.


The Foamposite One was a radical release in 1997. The III also came out in 1997, not too long after the Foamposite launch. The III used Foam technology and also was obviously influenced by the Foamposite when it came to design. It has Max Air in the heel and Zoom Air in the forefront. The norm for signature basketball shoes in the 1990s were to be available in the players team colors. The III followed that trend with colorways originally available that matched Penny’s Magic colors. The III featured a metallic version of Nike’s Air Penny “1 Cent” logo. The Nike Air Penny III first returned in 2009. The retro releases featured colorways that were sometimes major departures from the Orlando Magic color scheme.

Nike Air Penny III


The III might suffer in the minds of sneaker enthusiasts because it was released so close to the Nike Foamposite One. The Foamposite One is not a signature sneaker for Penny, but in the minds of many, it is part of the Penny x Nike catalog. The first two Penny models, along with the Foamposite, are legendary sneakers. The III had the tough act of coming after three sneaker icons.

Filling The Jordan Void

Penny Hardaway’s rookie season in the league was the first season of Michael Jordan’s first retirement. Penny and his electrifying play were able to partially fill the void MJ left. His popularity was growing, and he was one of the most popular players in the league during his rookie season. By his second season, Hardaway and the Orlando Magic were arguably the greatest show in basketball. They were not just entertaining, the Magic were legitimate championship contenders.

penny hardaway

Avar X Hardaway

Eric Avar designed the Nike Air Max Penny 1. Avar would later design some of Kobe Bryant’s most iconic Nike sneakers. Before the Penny 1, Nike basketball shoes were split into two categories. There was Flight, which were shoes that were made for quick and stylish players. The Force was created for strong players who dominated in the post. Penny was a different breed of basketball athlete, he had size and would attack the rim with reckless abandon. However, he also could play with finesse and with skill. Nike thought a new kind of sneaker should be made for the uniqueness of Penny’s game. Uptempo was crafted especially for Hardaway, and it would shepherd in a new era of Nike basketball. Versatility was the core value of the Nike Uptempo. The design of the Penny 1 was inspired by the game of its signature star. Avar studied Hardaway’s game inside and out when it came to designing and building the 1. The Nike Air Max Penny 1 also debuted Penny’s 1 Cent logo on the heel of the shoe.


- Adam C. Better

Eric Avar air max penny 1