Alan Houston in the Nike Air Vis Zoom Utempo

Today in Performance Sneaker History: Allan Houston Leads Knicks to ’99 NBA Finals in the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo

It’s gotta be tough being an Indiana Pacers fan come playoff time. Although they’ve had multiple Eastern Conference Finals appearances, Indiana’s only made it to the NBA Finals on one occasion. In the 1999 postseason, Indiana once against won their division championship, but hit a road block in the Eastern Finals against the New York Knicks.

Led by Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, and to a lesser degree, Larry Johnson, the ’98-99 Knicks were a versatile squad. As the number eight seed, NY had their back against the wall in their first round series against first-seeded Miami. After five games, the Knicks put the Heat away thanks to an unforgettable shot from Allan Houston. They would go on to sweep the Atlanta Hawks in the conference semifinals before facing the Pacers.

On June 11, 1999, the Knicks had taken a 3-2 series advantage as they hosted Indiana for Game 6. The Pacers roster was stacked, featuring names like Reggie Miller, Jalen Rose, Rick Smits, Mark Jackson, and Chris Mullin. But New York’s underdog streak of luck continued as they downed Indiana 90-82, taking the series and heading to the Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. Allan Houston was yet the main contributor the Knicks, putting up 32 points on 12-17 shooting. Sprewell also had 20 points and grabbed five rebounds as New York headed to the Finals.

For his sharp-shooting postseason run in 1999, Allan Houston wore the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo, which was part of Nike’s innovative Alpha Project. Truly ahead of its time, the Air Vis Zoom Uptempo was the first basketball sneaker to feature visible Zoom Air cushioning, a concept that would be revisited over a decade later in the Nike LeBron X. Unfortunately for fans of the cutting edge design, Nike has yet to retro the Air Vis Zoom Uptempo.

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