Montrezl Harrell Brings Back the Noise With the Kamikaze II 25th Anniversary
How the iconic 90s basketball sneaker was brought back from the archives by one of the game’s hardest working players, and how Reebok is celebrating the release.
It started with a trip to the Reebok Archive at the brand’s headquarters in Boston. The Archive Team walked Reebok Basketball ambassador Montrezl Harrell through the history of Reebok basketball and the Kamikaze II caught his eye. The bold zig-zag pattern and highly contrasting black-and-white colorway that made the Kamikaze II a 90s fashion staple immediately resonated with Harrell, and once he held the shoe he says knew he wanted to see it come back. “There's a lot of history behind this shoe, and it definitely pays homage to the Reebok brand itself. The thing that I'm most drawn to is the people that wore it before me. It's a dope shoe that you can wear on and off the court.” Now, 25 years after its initial launch, Reebok is reintroducing the iconic Kamikaze II, one of its most famous basketball shoes of all time.
Originally launched in 1995 and designed by Jonathan Morris, the Kamikaze II was one of Reebok’s flagship pro basketball sneakers during the mid-90’s. The design of the Kamikaze II was part of Reebok’s Mobius collection. The collection was a range of visually impactful shoes across various categories that stood out because of their high contrast black/white colorways and unique sidewall patterns. The Kamikaze II was unlike any other shoe on the market and conquered both the courts and the streets with its energetic zig-zag pattern that covered most of the upper and part of the midsole. The shoe also featured subtle Vector logo branding on the forefoot. From a tech perspective, it offered Hexalite cushioning in the forefoot and Ultra Hexalite in the heel. After its initial run in the mid-90’s, the Kamikaze II was re-issued in 2013 in a variety of colorways, including some highly sought-after collaborations. As a tribute to their heritage with the sport, Reebok has been bringing back their basketball range the past few years, leaving fans eagerly awaiting the next drop. The 25th anniversary edition of the Kamikaze II features the same stunning looks as the original and, just like in 1995, will look unlike anything else out there.
For the release of the Kamikaze II, Reebok collaborated with illustrator Pete Richter, also known as @floppyaction. Richter shares his signature basketball drawings through his Instagram account. For the re-release of the Kamikaze he created a small comic, which captures Montrezl Harrell’s visit to Reebok HQ and the Archive, where he professed his love for the Kamikaze II. “It was a really unique situation” says Richter. “It wasn’t Reebok pitching a shoe, but Montrezl ‘stumbling’ upon the shoe in the Archive”.
Richter was an avid drawer as a kid and recently picked up the old hobby again. He says it started as a complete fluke when he couldn’t get back to sleep after walking his dog. “After walks, I took my iPad and started drawing again. I’ve always been a big basketball fan so that’s what I started to draw. My wife said my drawings were pretty good and that I should post them on Instagram.” Pete’s unique style and portrayal of some of the game’s most legendary players got his work noticed by basketball fans from across the globe.
As a big basketball fan himself, Richter says this project was close to his heart as he has distinct memories of the original Kamikaze II. “The first thing I remember about the Kamikaze II is that my mom wouldn’t buy them for me. That, and the Shaqnosis, were the shoes at the time. One of my cousin’s friends had a pair and I thought he was the coolest. There’s still no a shoe out there like that, and there never has been. The shoe took personality and turned it into a repeating design on a shoe, that’s super unique. When I worked on this project, I didn’t even have to draw the whole shoe, it’s identifiable from just a few lines.”
As excited as Richter was about working on a Kamikaze II project, he says having Harrell involved made it even more special. “I truly love Montrezl’s energy. I don’t really care about the starting players on his team, but when he comes on the court, I’m interested and want to watch what he’s doing.”
The return of one of Reebok’s most impactful basketball shoes, backed and loved by one of the hardest working players in the game, is an epic combination. Basketball fans take note; you’ll want this sneaker in your collection.