On March 12, 1997, a rookie named Allen Iverson beckoned Michael Jordan to the top of the key and proceeded to lay the foundation for what would become a Hall of Fame legacy. Iverson crossed over to his left, then back to his right, leaving the greatest basketball player of all time grasping at a shadow as he pulled up and hit a mid-range jumper.
Twenty years later, Reebok set up shop in Union Square in New York City to celebrate two decades of the shoe Iverson wore when he gave MJ the business: the Reebok Question. Making its debut ahead of the 1996-1997 NBA season, the shoe had two major design signatures—bright coloring on the toe box and the “Hexalite windows” across the sole—that became as iconic as Iverson himself. For Iverson, receiving his own signature shoe was crazy enough; it got taken to another level the first time he saw a kid rocking his sneakers on the street.
“I will never forget the day I saw a little kid with my shoes on,” Iverson said. “I pulled over and watched until he walked away.”
A few weeks after being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Iverson received a pair of the Reebok Question “Curtain Call,” a collaboration with Packer Shoes to officially celebrate the 20th anniversary of the shoe. For Reebok’s vice president Todd Krinsky, the moment felt surreal.
“It’s amazing. I grew up with him, and I learned the business through him,” Krinsky said. “It’s super emotional. I never thought 20 years later he’d be in the Hall of Fame and we’d still be working together.”
And although the “Curtain Call” colorway, with a jet black upper offset with a red toebox, is super dope, the best story surrounding The Question comes from the 2000 All-Star Game, when Iverson refused to wear a specific colorway of the shoe after being razzed in the locker room because the colors were so bright.
“We agreed every year that we’d take The Question, and he’d wear the colorway of the home team that was hosting the All-Star Game,” Krinsky recalled. “He was supposed to wear a yellow and blue shoe for Golden State. The day of the game, he decided he wasn’t going to wear them. I was like, ‘You have to wear them. We sold it, people are buying it, you have to wear it.’ And [Iverson] was like ‘Nah man, I’m not wearing it.’ I had to beg his mother to go in the locker room to convince him to wear it, I tried everything.”
Iverson couldn’t be convinced, though, and instead he wore a pair of red and white Answer 3s that he’d secretly packed for the game. Still, his decision to ditch the yellow and blue kicks added to the shoe’s intrigue, and the pair was nicknamed “Unworn” when it was re-released by Reebok this past February.
Iverson’s shoe line may never reach the heights of the man he crossed over as a rookie, but judging by the crowd and excitement surrounding his arrival at the event, The Question isn’t disappearing anytime soon.
“We’re always going to do stuff together,” Krinsky said. “There’s always going to be demand for his product.”