After nearly four decades of laying dormant in the vault, the Mac Attack is officially back. Releasing on June 23rd exclusively at the brand’s NBHD retail partners, the original John McEnroe signature shoe quickly rose to must-have status thanks to a strategic build-up that progressed slowly into an actual ad campaign that featured the foul-mouthed icon and the one known as La Flame. By now you’ve grasped the general overview of the story: LeBron wore a pair in early 2021 (sourced from a collector), and not long later Travis Scott followed suit by sporting his own OG pair (sourced from RIF). This straightforward chain of events eventually led to Nike bringing the Mac Attack back to market, with an endless supply of colorways and even some interesting collaborations in the works.
In 2012, I put together a short piece on the Mac Attack as part of our ongoing Classics Revisited series. I distinctly recall the scarcity of general material available on the internet, and most of the info had to be pieced together with my own guesswork acting as a loose glue. Outside of eBay, the Mac Attack barely existed on the internet until better photos started popping up on Instagram. There were also rumors of a retro in the mid-2010s, with samples said to be in circulation (i’ve never seen them), but nothing ever came of it — and understandably so. There really was no market for a shoe like that; the Air Jordan 1 was only getting started and Dunks were wearing away on clearance racks.
The landscape of sneakers is obviously quite different in 2023. Air Jordan 1s and Dunks are now as ubiquitous as the Air Force 1, which is great business for Nike. It also means that the brand is looking for its next great revived hit, and the Mac Attack is clearly positioned to take the mantle. For the enthusiasts who have been following the Mac Attack trajectory, their reward is knowing that they played a role in its uprising and the OG pairs they’ve been regularly rotating will no longer go by unnoticed from here on out. Those days of rebellion are likely over.
Without further ado, below is a timeline of events is as told to us by three individuals who played key roles in the return of the Mac Attack.
In 2018, Ben Kirschner was searching around for 80’s cup-soled, leather high-tops for a certain high profile Nike athlete. Ben’s name is one that you’ve likely come across at some point over the years, with it most recently being linked to Kyrie Irving and the custom moccasin-inspired shoes worn by the former Nike signature athlete during the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. Part of Kirschner’s job description as a Nike employee (he is no longer with the company) was to source interesting products for the brand’s athletes and celebrity partners to “make unique things happen”, as he puts it.
Kirschner settled on finding a pair of original 1985 Air Jordan 1s, but procuring a pristine pair for the aforementioned athlete was not easy, let alone one in a scarce size 15. During his random searches, he came across an Instagram post by Jon Migdal; it was a slideshow of the Nike Mac Attack, and lo and behold, the shoes were a size 15. Mac Attacks generally went by unnoticed during that time, save the “likes” from true Swoosh enthusiasts.