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Today in Performance Sneaker History: Charles Barkley Turns 50

Sir Charles. Chuck. The Chuckster. The Round Mound of the Rebound. Not a Role Model. No matter which nickname you choose, there’s no denying that Charles Barkley is one of the best NBA players to never win a championship. Nowadays, the Hall of Famer is best known for his entertaining commentary and antics on TNT’s NBA coverage. But in his prime, he was one of the most feared and dominating big men in the league.

Today, Sneaker Report celebrates Barkey’s 50th birthday. Sponsored by Nike for the duration of his career, Sir Charles was laced up in some of the most sought-after basketball models of the ’90s. From famously donning the Red/White/Blue Air Force 180 as a member of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, to his Suns-inspired styles like the Air CB 34 and Air Max CB 94, Barkley’s signature models were always built rugged and durable for the powerful forward. The majority of his signature sneakers featured Max Air, which provides ideal shock protection for a bigger sized player. Above all, his Nikes often featured distinct tributes to his personality. From the “Godzilla” inspired teeth, to the “straight jacket” like lacing setups, the CB models were ahead of their time in incorporating a player’s lifestyle into a shoe. These days, it’s hardly uncommon to see personal details on sneakers for players like LeBron, Melo, Chris Paul, and Durant.

For 2013, Nike Sportswear has tweaked a few classic Barkley models with updated performance tech. The Air Force Max, also made famous by Michigan’s Fab Five team, has been re-introduced as the Air Force Max 2013, featuring a lightweight Vac-Tec upper in place of the original nubuck. The Air 2 Strong Hi has also been re-released, this time in a Barkley-inspired colorway. Finally, Barkley’s CB 94 model has been combined with Foamposite and Hyperfuse for the Barkley Posite Max, which will be releasing in more colorways later this year.

Happy 50th, Chuck!

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