Kicks on Cards #5 | Dennis Rodman Birthday Set

“The Worm” and his best on-card sneaker sightings

Date: May 13, 2024
Author: Zack Schlemmer
Topics: basketball, Dennis Rodman, Kicks on Cards, NBA, Sneakers, Zack Schlemmer
Length: 889 Words
Reading Time: ~5 Minutes

To say that Dennis Rodman is a basketball legend would be an understatement. The colored hair, the tattoos, the partying, the irreverent, bad boy attitude. “The Worm” truly transcended sport to become a pop culture icon, a legend not only on the court but most certainly off it. Although he grabbed the last of his 11,954 NBA rebounds in the year 2000, kids today still know his name and maybe even wear a T-shirt with his face emblazoned across it. (Yes, he currently has his own clothing brand, Rodman Apparel.)

I could ramble on about Rodman’s cultural impact, but that’s not really what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to talk about his sneakers, and more specifically, his sneakers spotted on basketball cards. In honor of his 63rd birthday today, May 13, I’ve pulled a set of some of his best on-card footwear sightings throughout the years, even dating back to when his hair was its natural color! Let’s get into it.

1996-97 Topps Basketball #176 Dennis Rodman // Nike Air Wayup

We’ll start with one of my favorite Dennis Rodman cards, his 1996-97 Topps card, where you get an awesome shot of his signature flared-out rebound stance in a horizontal format—complete with a cameo appearance by Michael Jordan. On his feet is a pair of the Nike Air Wayup. The Wayup was a quintessential mid-’90s basketball shoe worn by any number of Nike-sponsored players in 1996. Rodman’s teammate Scottie Pippen is also known for wearing the Wayup often that same season before he laced up the Air More Uptempo in the ’96 Playoffs. We’ll see the Wayup again shortly, so I’ll talk more about it in a minute. 

1998-99 Topps Basketball #109 Dennis Rodman // Converse All Star Rodman

Everybody seems to remember Rodman wearing Nike, but he actually had his largest number of (official) signature models with Converse, the brand he signed on with before the 1997-98 NBA season. On this 1998-99 Topps card, we see another signature Rodman rebounding stance with his second Converse shoe on his feet, the All Star Rodman. The bold sneaker took inspiration from Rodman’s unique style, even incorporating motifs from his tattoos into the design. Can we get a retro, Converse?

1991-92 Upper Deck Basketball #185 Dennis Rodman // Reebok Pump Omni Zone

We rewind to early in Rodman’s career for his 1991-92 Upper Deck card, when he was known as one of the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys, not a tattooed, pierced, Carmen Electra-marrying bad boy himself. Back then, he wore Reebok, which we see here on his feet with the Pump Omni Zone. This is the same model that Dee Brown famously pumped up during his 1991 Slam Dunk Contest victory. There’s a card from this same Upper Deck set with Brown wearing the shoe in question, so maybe we’ll see that in a future edition of Kicks on Cards.

1995-96 Upper Deck Basketball #40 Dennis Rodman // Nike Air Darwin

We go next to Rodman’s San Antonio Spurs era, where we see—yep—another rebounding photo for his 1995-96 Upper Deck Series 1 card where he’s wearing his first unofficial signature shoe, the Nike Air Darwin. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the Darwin is a rugged indoor/outdoor hoops shoe that was most notably worn by Rodman. It’s also the first Nike shoe to feature a “backward” Swoosh. You can see Chuck Person wearing the Air Darwin Low in the background, a shoe that Supreme just released as a skate shoe in collaboration with Nike SB in April 2024.

1995-96 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Basketball #271 Dennis Rodman // Nike Air Wayup

Here’s our second card with Rodman in the Nike Air Wayup, this time in a black and white colorway. Because of the shoe’s similar “winged” design, the Wayup is often thought of as the takedown of the Nike Air Penny, but to me, it’s much more. The shoe seemed to be everywhere on the court in ’96. Look at NBA photos from that season, and you’ll often see more than one player wearing them in the same shot. A few notable names that laced them up include Kevin Garnett, Reggie Miller, Gary Payton, Mitch Richmond, and even Allen Iverson at Georgetown. 

1996-97 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Basketball #22 Dennis Rodman // Nike Air Shake NDESTRUKT

You can’t have a conversation about Dennis Rodman’s footwear without the Nike Air Shake NDESTRUKT. Like the Air Darwin, the Air Shake was an unofficial Rodman signature shoe that is very closely associated with him. The unique sneaker features an asymmetrical design with the laces positioned on the medial side and a small strap at the collar to lock you in. The NDESTRUKT line from Nike was a series of rugged, built-to-last models for multiple sports that ran from about 1995-97. The Shake (there were also NDESTRUKT basketball shoes called the Rattle and Roll, lol) is definitely the most famous model from the entire line. That’s because they looked super cool and were worn by Rodman during the Bulls’ historic 72-10 win season en route to the team’s ’96 Championship. 

So there you have it, some of Dennis Rodman’s best sneakers on vintage cardboard. Now, who wants to go dye their hair and get a nose ring?

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