These differences didn't stop both the original Dunk and SB Dunk from absolutely killing the sneaker market and culture together, with both having made an enormous resurgence in the modern day. A report from StockX revealed that Nike's SB Dunk became the new silhouette to break resale records on the marketplace in 2020, with its value increasing by more than 300%.


It's no surprise then that since making its debut in 2002, the Nike SB Dunk has become one of the most iconic sneaker styles of all time and a blank canvas for design inspiration. What really set SBs on a trajectory into hype and hysteria were a consecutive number of high-profile collabs that were interesting and cool, especially in the mid-2000s.
While today, the Nike Dunk SB is a skateboarding and lifestyle staple, its origins can be traced back to college basketball. The Nike Dunk High was released in August 1985 as a high-top basketball sneaker, having been crafted out of four earlier Nike models acting as predecessors: The Air Force 1, the Terminator High, the Air Jordan 1 and the Nike Legend.
Being designed to accommodate basketball tactics and moves such as pivoting and blocking, the Nike Dunk became an instant success within the sport. However, it was something other than the sneaker's technical prowess that made it so popular.

"Be True To Your School" was Nike's first attempt at properly marketing the Nike Dunk. It offered Division One college basketball teams, and their fans a different way to wear their team colours. Each Dunk iteration focused on a specific colourway for respective teams, with Nike having partnered with the University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of Kentucky, Georgetown, St. John's, UNLV and Syracuse University to cement the Dunk High as their team's official shoe. Today we see many resurrections and re-releases of Nike Dunks and SB dunks in these OG varsity team colourways.

The dunk was unfortunately overshadowed in the basketball world by the success of some rising superstar that goes by the name of Michael Jordan. Jordan Brand became a commercial and technological powerhouse, and Nike Dunks were now old news.

Skaters gravitated towards dunks once they'd fallen out of favour elsewhere. By the early 1990s, the Dunks were being sold at outlet stores and neglected. This issue allowed the model to find a new home in the New York skate scene.

Skateboarders loved the Nike Dunk because it was cheap and accessible, and offered the cushioning needed for skating. As shown before in the basketball world, dunks were once again the coolest sneakers to put on your feet due to them being so easily styled which was a big pro for the sporting community.



The start of the prime era in the history of the Nike Dunk came with the appointment of Sandy Bodecker in 2001, he was tasked with revamping Nike Sb's approach to the skating industry. They came up with a new Dunk. This Dunk had a fatter tongue, more cushion around the ankle areas, even more, durable materials than before and a specially designed insole.


Once again as well as being technologically supreme at the time, this new dunk called the Nike Dunk SB also retained an aesthetic and cool appeal, combining a skating shoe with the regular lifestyle sneaker. As the sneaker became more ingrained into sports culture, it inevitably became ingrained into pop culture, this meant a string of collaborations hit the Nike Dunk canvas from every direction possible. With collabs such as Supreme, Zoo York, Levi's, Stussy, MF Doom, Concepts, and many others. SB prices on eBay were shockingly high to the average consumer with camp-out culture starting to form as sneakerheads started to camp outside their local skate shops to get the new drop.



Most notably, in 2005, the Jeff Staple x Dunk Low Pro SB 'Pigeon' was released. On release day, parts of Manhatten had to be shut down, riots ensued and police had to intervene with several hysterical sneaker heads being arrested. The drop made headlines in American and international news. With only 150 pairs produced, the Pigeon SB Dunk is one of the most popular Nike SB releases of all time. Jeff Staple was tasked to create an SB Dunk that represented the city of New York as part of an SB collection that celebrated some of the most influential cities in sneaker and skating culture at the time. Staple was thus inspired by the most commonly-found bird in NYC, the pigeon. Staple saw the pigeon as a perfect muse for this project as the pigeon represents the hard-working, underappreciated hustler of the Big Apple which he saw as being comparable to hustling sneakerheads. The pigeon dunk is coloured with medium grey inner panels and dark grey outer panels. This combination of grey on the upper, a white Swoosh, and an orange pigeon foot–like outsole makes up the colours colloquially associated with the NYC pigeon and its eyes. New York's mascot is also stitched on the heel to give the dunk its final character as a design.


The Pigeon dunks are without a doubt the best example to showcase the excitement and draw power the Nike SB Dunk had and still has to this day making it one of the most collectable silhouettes ever to exist, a complete cultural phenomenon.


Nike SB x Air Jordan

Nike turned the Nike dunk into a full forced skating shoe that was loved by skaters worldwide. The merging of basketball and skating culture (and sneaker technology) wouldn't stop there, however. Nike continued to push the boundaries of what a basketball sneaker could do. In 2014, we saw two of the first official Nike SB x Air Jordan collaborations.




The Craig Stecyk x Nike SB Air Jordan 1 and the Lance Mountain x Nike SB Air Jordan 1 which came in a white and black colourway. These two releases were solid first entries and set the groundwork for this highly-coveted and limited series of collaborations.

We have seen a couple of Nike SB x Jordan collabs now with almost all being iterations of the Air Jordan 1 high and low. Nike then confirmed that at least two Air Jordan 4s would go under the skater’s knife. The first was the Air Jordan 4 SB ‘Pine Green’ which was released in March 2023.



With the likes of skaters such as Steven Cales having love for the AJ4, we saw this limited edition sneaker updated to withstand the punishment skateboarders put through their shoes. Thicker materials and the original 1989 AJ4 shape sit on top of a white and ‘Pine Green’ midsole, which is highlighted by a red air unit. Nike used a gum outsole to increase grip while skateboarding.



Nike SB is certainly killing it right now once again and continuing to push the boundaries of sneakers and make them skater friendly. We are all super excited about what they have in store for the future and if you need a pair of Nike SBs whether to hit an ollie in the skate park or to complete your fit we've got you covered with a plethora of different colourways of SB dunks, and the rare SB x Jordan, collabs to choose from at Story.






Levi Niekerk