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ACES Laces Penny Hardaway with Custom Sideline Sneakers

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
Honoring the All-Star-turned-leading-man in FedEx Forum, ACES pays tribute to Penny Hardaway with a pair of 1-of-1 sneakers.

Enter any Foot Locker, sought-after resale shop, or beloved boutique and you’ll find a few common threads.

Active athletes like LeBron James, LaMelo Ball, and Kevin Durant dominate shelves while the Air Jordan empire still serves as the gold standard.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find another signature star fetching fever temperatures in regard to sneaker heat.

TONY RANZE/AFP via Getty Images

His name? Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.

Sourced by Stussy and enamored by Social Status, memorable models from his ’90s Nike line have moved the masses in recent years, despite Penny playing the role of college coach rather than pro point guard.

Though fans flock to Foamposites and Air Penny products, the man himself is still in awe by the phenomenon he helped create.

“You couldn’t have dreamed this when I was back playing,” Hardaway told Boardroom. “That this would still be as relevant as it is in 2023?”

While signature shoes tied to Hardaway remain relevant at retail after all these years, there’s still only one thing better than shoes in stores: ones you can’t even shop for.

Having a flair for the moment, Coach Penny is leaning into exactly that on Sunday as his Memphis Tigers team hosts the No. 1 ranked Houston Cougars at FedEx Forum.

Across the court, Cougar kids will be wearing Air Jordan models made for Jayson Tatum and Luka Dončić. In his huddle, Tiger talent will wear Nike signature shoes tied to LeBron, Kyrie, Kobe, and KD.

As for Penny? He’ll be wearing something you can’t cop at the mall:

He’ll debut an ACES custom of the Air Penny 1 that pays tribute to his legendary career.

Adding exclusive storytelling to the shoe Hardaway wore when making his All-Star ascent with the Orlando Magic, this pair possess the same quiet cool that made Penny a fan favorite in the ’90s.

“What he did for basketball and culture? The swag, the style, the grace? It made every kid want to play in the NBA,” ACES Founder and CEO Brian Kortovich told Boardroom. “We wanted to tell the story of him being a legacy player, transitioning to a coach, and the impact he has [as] a leader of young men.”

Photo by @erickhercules

For Kortovich, a former college hooper turned overseas pro himself, he’s seen the game grow from a front row seat.

Now running his own brand, he’s able to both honor and work with a childhood hero in Hardaway. It’s a natural ascent to the track ACES has been on and a deeper dive into the amateur arena.

“We did something with [Alabama’s] Jahvon Quinerly, but for a larger scale this is the first college drop and it’s the perfect timing,” Kortovich said.

That timing aligns with a nationally televised game against the nation’s top team on CBS.

Known for wearing high heat on the hardwood as both a pro player and college coach, Penny’s 1-of-1 ACES custom may be the rarest in regard to pairs made, but the most personal in terms of point of view.

Coaching high school hoops in his hometown of Memphis from 2015 to 2018 before taking the leading role at the college where his No. 25 jersey hangs in the rafters, Penny’s life in 2023 is less about leading a fast break and more about leading young men in their quest to reach their full potential as players and people.

With a 23-7 record coming into Sunday’s game and 1-of-1 ACES sneakers on his feet, the best of Penny Hardaway is still in store.

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About The Author
Ian Stonebrook
Ian Stonebrook
Ian Stonebrook is a Staff Writer covering culture, sports, and fashion for Boardroom. Prior to signing on, Ian spent a decade at Nice Kicks as a writer and editor. Over the course of his career, he's been published by the likes of Complex, Jordan Brand, GOAT, Cali BBQ Media, SoleSavy, and 19Nine. Ian spends all his free time hooping and he's heard on multiple occasions that Drake and Nas have read his work, so that's pretty tight.