“My sneaker history goes from the depths of college basketball to the pros,” recalls Daniel Ewing. “Keith Langford and a couple of guys from UCONN had sneaker game, and I remember the guys before me who helped me be the type of sneakerhead that I was in college. Guys from Arizona like Jason Gardner and Gilbert Arenas, Mike Bibby and Miles Simon pulling out Foamposites in the National Championship.”

While Duke in the ’90s made it on the sneaker scene with their Uptempos, the turn of the century saw a new-wave of Blue Devils donning Air Jordans and retro heat from the vault, epitomized perhaps best by the H-Town point guard. Following a great interview last spring with NK alum Pierce Simpson, Nice Kicks reconnected with Daniel Ewing for more March Madness Memories.

Nike Air Trainer Max 91

Daniel Ewing in the Nike Air Trainer Max 91Daniel Ewing in the Nike Air Trainer Max 91 Black/White

Daniel Ewing: “I never wore a shoe that wasn’t comfortable for me. I would try shoes and if it didn’t work, it didn’t work. If there wasn’t a basketball shoe I liked at the time, then these Bo Jackson are hot so I’m gonna hoop in them and see how it goes. They were comfortable, didn’t slide, they had traction, so okay we’re gonna give ’em a go. I bought them because I liked them. They were retros and my older brothers had them when I was younger so I had to get them and it just so happened that for hooping they worked for me.”

“You have to try them out in practice first though. You never just buy a shoe and go hoop in them in the game, you’ve got to try them on in practice first and see how they feel and break them in a little bit and form to your foot. You definitely try a shoe out in practice first at least once or twice. You’ve got to see if you can do all that you can do or are supposed to be able to do in a game.”

Air Jordan 13

Daniel Ewing in the Air Jordan 13 FlintDaniel Ewing in the Air Jordan 13 Flint (photo by Robert Seale/Sporting News via Getty Images)

Daniel Ewing: “In today’s time, you would put together, ‘Okay, I’m playing against Michigan State, they have a lot of guys from Flint, Michigan, so I’m gonna wear the Flint 13s.’ Back then it wasn’t like that, you couldn’t connect that. But on those, I think they had just re-released them the week before we played them in the Sweet 16 and I was back home in Texas, playing them at the University of Texas, so I had to have some flavor and represent right. That was the last college game of my career and the same place I had the last game of my high school career so it was kind of weird and bittersweet at the same time.”

“The sneaker game has changed a lot since 2005 and my time in college and Nike Basketball has definitely changed a lot since that time. Back then, all the shoes appointed to us by Nike Basketball weren’t really cool kicks so I would buy all of my shoes out of Footlocker and most of those shoes were Jordans. Back then there wasn’t social media or platforms, it was just for the love it and playing in nice shoes was my thing. I only had one other teammate who was a sneakerhead and that was Sean Dockery. Back then you weren’t really checking for anybody else’s shoes but now you might know you’re playing this school and you gotta check for this guy’s heat. There wasn’t no shine, club to get in or platform like Kicks On Court.”

Air Jordan 17

Daniel Ewing in the Air Jordan 17Daniel Ewing in the Air Jordan 17

Daniel Ewing: “I just remember that Jordan was kind of switching up things then. They had a futuristic style and the whole packaging with the silver suitcase. I was intrigued by that. It wasn’t my favorite Jordan in terms of style, but it actually ended up being a comfortable shoe to play in. I was a young boy, a sophomore when I was playing in those. I wasn’t the first Duke guy to play in Jordans because my close friend Dahntay Jones wore those, too, and his fair share of Jordans. Him and Sean Dockery were the biggest sneakerheads when we were at Duke. The team shoes weren’t getting the job done for us so we’d go get the Js that fit our colors and rock them.”

“At that time we could only wear black shoes with our black uniforms and white shoes with our white and our blue uniforms. I had the black ones to go with our black uniforms and the White/College Blue for our white and blue uniforms. I don’t have those or the suitcases from over the years. [Laughs] I’m not a collector. I’d wear them as long as I wanted to wear them and then if they were still wearable I’d give them away to whoever asked for them.”

Air Jordan 12

Daniel Ewing in the Air Jordan 12 French BlueDaniel Ewing in the Air Jordan 12 “French Blue” (photo by Mitchell Layton via Getty Images)

Daniel Ewing: “I wore the 12s a lot that year. The 12s, the 13s and the 10s were my favorite pairs of Jordans to hoop in. I wore the 12s because they were comfortable and because they had colorways that were perfect for our uniforms. They were a cool shoe to have. Back then, people were just wearing Air Jordans and Air Forces for style or for their school shoes, I just so happened to play basketball so I had to get the French Blue 12s to rock in a game.”

“I didn’t get the new French Blue 12s. I don’t really buy a lot of shoes that I had earlier on when I was younger or when I was in college that come back. I’ve only re-bought a few pairs that I’ve already had in previous years. Most of the retros that I buy now are the shoes that I wasn’t able to get when I was younger, but if I had ’em before I really try to stay away from ’em.”

Nike Air Max Tempo Low

Nike Air Max Tempo Low (photo via eBay)

Daniel Ewing: “I’ve got a lot of heat that’s never been shown on sneaker sites. I wore the low top Tempos way before low tops were popping. I wore those against Princeton my senior year, I don’t know if you can find that picture on the net. I’m a sneakerhead, so when I had the chance to find a shoe that was different that I knew most college guys wouldn’t have on, I was gonna get it. It just so happened that they were all-white and I knew we were gonna wear throwbacks against Princeton. I had a horrible game — it wasn’t because of the shoes, but I didn’t play well, [Laughs} but we won.”

Nike Air Zoom Generation Low

Daniel Ewing in the Nike Air Zoom Generation LowDaniel Ewing in the Nike Air Zoom Generation Low (photo by Iconic Sport Wire via Getty Images)

Daniel Ewing: “I loved the Zoom Generation Low, I loved it. That’s one of my favorite basketball shoes and I really wish I could’ve gotten more pairs of those. That was my senior year I believe.”

Nike Air Max CB ’94

Daniel Ewing in the Nike Air Max CB94Daniel Ewing in the Nike Air Max CB94 (photo by Bob Leverone/Sporting News/Icon SMI via Getty Images)

Daniel Ewing: “Those weren’t a good shoe for me. [Laughs] I would never wear that shoe to hoop in again. Back then you couldn’t go get Kobes or KDs to hoop in, so you were just buying shoes off their style. I remember wearing those against North Carolina as a sophomore. I didn’t like our team shoes so I needed a new shoe and those were out. Those were heavy from the jump, but I didn’t have no other choice! The game was at Carolina, I’m not sure if we won, but I remember wearing that shoe and it was heavy. I still had a pretty good game though but I didn’t wear it too many times after that.”

“I never caught any flack for not wearing the team shoes or even wearing Jordans. Nothing from the coaches or the managers, the only flack I got was if I was wearing Jordans and somebody from the coaching staff saw Carolina blue on them. Other then that it was, ‘Here we go again with another pair of shoes!’ or something like that, they never restricted me as long as it fit into the team colorway.”

Jordan 1.5

Daniel Ewing in the Jordan 1.5Daniel Ewing in the Jordan 1.5 (photo by Brian A. Westerholt via Getty Images)

Daniel Ewing: “A lot of shoes come about when I don’t really have another option. That was one of those. I gave Carmelo a go with those and they were actually alright. They had a little bit of Carolina blue Jordan symbol on the bottom but I never caught flack for that one. [Laughs] I played in those for a few games and I know I wore them against Miami my senior year.”

Nike Air Penny 1

Daniel Ewing in the Nike Air Max Penny 1 "Cool Grey"Daniel Ewing in the Nike Air Max Penny 1 “Cool Grey” (photo by Bob Leverone/The Sporting News/ZUMA Press via Getty Images)

Daniel Ewing: “They were kind of like the Neutral Grey 13s colorway wise. I wore those throughout the ACC Tournament my senior year. To me they were comfortable, but as Nike Basketball evolved and you’ve got all these Kobes, KDs and LeBrons they got better. Still, the Pennys were always comfortable for me and I never had a problem with them. Penny was definitely one of my favorite players growing up. I wore the Penny 4s in high school in home and away colors.”

Nike Air Zoom Flight 2k3

Nike Air Zoom Flight 2k3Nike Air Zoom Flight 2k3 (photo by Doug Pensinger via Getty Images)

Daniel Ewing: “The 2k3? Loved that shoe. They were kind of modeled after Jason Kidd and I loved it. What happened was that I didn’t really get a chance to wear them because I fractured my foot at the beginning of the season so I had to wear an orthotic shoe. When I came back and was able to wear a normal shoe that shoe had already kind of passed so I didn’t get to wear that shoe. My senior year, the Huarache 2k4s came out and that was one of my favorite shoes and I rocked them early on in the NCAA Tournament that year.”

Nike Air Raid

Daniel Ewing in the Nike Air RaidDaniel Ewing in the Nike Air Raid (photo by Bob Leverone/Sporting News/Icon SMI via Getty Images)

Daniel Ewing: “Once again, we were going into the NCAA Tournament and I knew, ‘Okay, I play at Duke, we’re gonna be on TV, I’ve got to come correct.’ I was looking for a shoe and no real basketball shoe was out at the time and I ran across those Air Raids. I was like, ‘Man those are perfect to go with our uniform!’ I was cautious just like everybody else who saw me in those because they were supposed to be a streetball/outdoor shoe.”

“So, I got them, tried them out in practice and they worked for me. I could cut and move how I needed to, so I pulled them out. That was the one shoe I knew was going to turn heads because I knew nobody had ever pulled out any shoe like this before. I knew this one should would turn heads, but it wasn’t like I was able to hear or read the reactions to it back then. But I knew anybody out there who knew about sneakers was gonna say, ‘Man, this dude out here in some Air Raids!’ And that was the year we went to the Final 4.”

Keep up with Daniel on IG and keep it locked to Nice Kicks for more March Madness Memories.

 

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