Before Vince Carter made a lot of fans upset in Toronto, his most famous signature line belonged to Nike. But before Nike, many forget that PUMA actually had a contract with “Half-Man, Half-Amazing”. During this time though, Carter was seeking other options of footwear and had a happenstance on AND1. With AND1, he was given the Tai Chi. He wore these sneakers throughout the 1999-00 NBA season, making them most famous during the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. In dominating fashion, Vinsanity owned the contest and crowned himself champion with gravity defying dunks that still leaves the #sneakerholics awed by his jams. With dunks such as a 360° windmill, the between the legs jam (ala Isaiah J.R. Rider’s “East Bay Funk Dunk”), and the “honey dip” (elbow in the rim) dunk, it was no surprise that this was one of the greatest Slam Dunk Contests the NBA has ever put on. Making himself a household name was no easy task, and his search for the next sneaker contract made the AND1 Tai Chi’s infamous.
AND1 Tai Chi uploaded by @NickEngvall
The Tai Chi’s then featured patent leather running across the top of the sneaker with tumbled leather making up most of the upper. The toe cap was nubuck and featured an AND1 logo near the front medial. The heel included another AND1 logo and the number 15 stitched on, representing Carter’s jersey. There were two colorways Carter wore, a white/red combination and black/red. (The white/red being more infamous as it appeared during the 2000 NBA All-Star Weekend) The sneakers themselves were never released to the public during their initial run in 2000. They were however released in 2009, way after Carter’s time as a Raptor and as a representative of the brand. Though his Nike shoes and signature line seem to represent the bulk of his time as an NBA player during his prime, the AND1 Tai Chi will always be remembered as the sneakers that lifted him up and out of this world, separating him from the average dunker.