Sneaker Showcase: Happy Birthday John McEnroe

Nike Trainer 1 Evolution

“You cannot be serious!”

If you happen to be watching a John McEnroe tennis match those words were uttered frequently along with some other words not meant for kids. The former professional tennis player was one of the most loved and hated figures in sports during the 70’s, 80’s and even into the 90’s. Raised in New York, McEnroe was brash, loud and in your face. His persona and attitude was one that was not often seen in the very prestigious sport of tennis. His explosive attitude had both positive and negative to not only McEnroe’s game, but to the sport as well. However, that is also what drew attention including brands like Nike.

Nike Air Trainer White/Black-Medium Grey/Chlorophyll

Nike Air Trainer Nike Air Trainer White/Black-Medium Grey/Chlorophyll uploaded by Josh Cole

Nike signed tennis’ “bad boy” to a long-term contract in 1978. Phil Knight had a huge part of wanting McEnroe as Knight felt that a great athlete was the ultimate free spirit. Nike used McEnroe to bring their footwear into tennis but help with their progression into tennis apparel. A little known fact is that the denim shorts Agassi famously wore were initially for Johnny Mac. McEnroe wore many different Nike models over the year but the sneaker that he is most known for was the original Air Trainer. Along with multi-sport star Bo Jackson, McEnroe helped create the genre of athletic training, aka cross training. These newly designed sneakers were created to be used on multiple surfaces and conditions. From the tennis court to the gym, the Air Trainer helped launch a new segment of footwear that has remained a huge part of the sports culture ever since. An interesting sneaker fact about the Air Trainer is that it was designed by two of the most respected designers in sneakers, Tinker Hatfield and Mark Parker.

John McEnroe wearing the Nike Air Trainer

Much like Michael Jordan is known for the Black/Red combination, McEnroe’s Air Trainer’s build of Chlorophyll/Grey/Black is one of the most recognizable from Nike’s history. Two decades after starting the cross training boom, Nike created the new Trainer 1 in 2009. To help introduce the next generation of training sneakers Nike created special versions for both Bo and McEnroe.

Nike Trainer 1 Medium Grey/Black/Chlorophyll/White

Nike Trainer 1 Medium Grey/Black/Chlorophyll/White uploaded by airon0828

Happy birthday to big Johnny Mac, you helped launch a new segment of footwear that is still thriving to this day. Still signed to Nike, it’s no surprise to see McEnroe wearing a pair of trainers on the senior tour every now and then.

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