Nov 23, 2010

Remember November: Reebok Pumps

My brother and I got into basketball for a short time. I think it 1991, possible around August, when our family began a two-month overseas travel-a-thon. It was great. We did assignments as we travelled through the US, UK, Ireland, Germany and Poland, and I missed a fair whack of Mr Topping's Year Six class.

For some reason the NBA seemed to undergo a surge of popularity back then, possibly due to the emergence of the Australian basketball competition, the NBL. All of a sudden, my brother and I were collecting cards featuring people called "Michael Jordan", "Charles Barkeley" and "Shaquille O'Neal".

I was not particularly competent at basketball. But it was never really about playing basketball. Come to think of it, it wasn't even about watching basketball. It was more about the footwear. Specifically, Reebok Pumps:

Big chunky high-top sneakers with a built-in inflation device, Reebok Pumps were the first shoes to feature an in-built inflation device. The tongue contained a big round orange squeezy button - reminiscent, coincidentally, of a basketball - that you would press to inflate something in the base of the shoe, giving you ....well, air. I guess. It was like strapping a blood pressure tester around each foot - you got a not-unpleasant feeling of firmness, enough to go shoot a three-pointer or something.

I picked up my pair of much sought-after Reebok Pumps in Los Angeles, on the aforementioned trip. My brother wound up forsaking the Reebok Pumps for the equally gimmicky LA Lights, the sneaker with LED lights IN THE HEEL. There's nothing like a couple of privileged white kids getting 'round Disneyland in sub-culturally misappropriated sportswear.

Reebok Pumps reached their pinnacle the next year, when they featured in Mel Brooks' parody Robin Hood: Men in Tights.* Then they faded from popularity. I can't remember how long my Pumps lasted, but it wouldn't have been more than a year. That fancy inflation device had a habit, like many gimmicks, of breaking a bit too easily.

*Yeah, it was Dave Chappelle! Who knew? I must go back and watch that film again.


  1. Video has come through as HTML.

  2. Robin Hood: Men in Tights... Ahhhh one of my faves.. I never owned pumps. I was never able to afford them coz I was too busy spending money on other STUFF..

    It is amazing what your mind is remembering...

  3. Said it before. Men In Tights >>>>> Ponce Of Thieves. But you nevaaaarrr listen.

    All I can remember of the Pumps was a basketball ad - possibly a parody one - where they were overinflated to the point of comedic floating-away and/or explosion. I remember the NBA craze though - that was down to Jordan's dominance and Shaq's emergence (he was a rookie in 1992 - and still playing - his big thing was he came into the NBA having smashed a backboard in college basketball with a monster dunk, which they made into an ad for Nike in his first NBA season.) Plus the game was on commercial TV at the time, Ten were pushing that and the NBL pretty hard. Until the NBL failed when they tried to put it on prime time. All only on pay TV and One Digital now.

  4. I was always deprived of Reebok Pumps. I had an obscure brand of sneakers called Apple Pie which were quite hip in Ipswich circa 1989

  5. No one's pumps lasted much more than a year. If you actually played basketball daily in them, about three months.

    Nike was investigating the insanely comfortable neoprene bag shoes at the time. I loved my Nike Air Huraches. My fave shoes ever. Sooo comfortable. So purple.

  6. I had the cut-rate Lynx version, and I loved them more than my own feet.

  7. Now days, teenagers have fallen in love with the converse. Nothing really changes with a want for shoes and more shoes to make us look cool or 'in'. Ah, teenagehood. (not that I'm actually into shoes. I just get anything that's comfey and I can walk in)
    Men in tights was a great movie - havn't seen it in ages.

  8. OMG, I made my mother buy those wretched things for me. I was 12, and I think they cost something like $100 USD. Much too expensive for a sixth-grade reserve to be wearing. Despite my only playing about six minutes a game, those shoes still didn't survive the season.

    I should have just asked for $40 Chuck Taylors. Oh well, live and learn.

  9. Great informative article. Thank you for sharing. Keep up the great job with this blog.

  10. Great informative article. Thank you for sharing. Keep up the great job with this blog.

  11. i love the way you write, it's really expressive (: