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Nike SB Dunks History: A Legendary Story of an Epic Silhouette!

By June 16, 2023December 25th, 2023Nike, Sneakers

History of Nike SB Dunks AIONike SB Dunks are some of the most legendary Swoosh creations in Nike history, along with the OG Dunks. Ever since their debut back in 2002, the SBs have become the most iconic and hype-worthy sneakers of the game. And although their original purpose was skateboarding, they became every sneakerhead’s favorite lifestyle sneaker! Even today, it’s a staple in any sneaker collection. And you know, as a die-hard sneakerhead, you should ALWAYS know your sneaker history. So let’s dive into it!

Here, we got Nike Guides that would come in handy:

History of Nike SB Dunks

So, the history of the Nike SB Dunks dates back to the pre-Nike SB time. This was when Nike decided to make a few subtle changes that were groundbreaking for skateboarders everywhere. The simple color-blocking design of the basketball-sneaker-turned-skateboarding-icon gave it much of its charm. So, to understand the history behind the SBs, we have to start with the source – the Nike Dunks!

1985: Pre-SB Era

Nike Dunks BTTYS AIO

In 1985, Nike introduced the Nike Dunk through the “Be True to Your School” campaign. This was also around the same time that the longstanding Jordan 1 vs Nike Dunk debacle started. Peter Moore created both the Air Jordan 1 and the Nike Dunk around the same time. So that chicken or the egg sneaker debate won’t ever be put to rest! Anyway, the 80s was a wild time for basketball kicks, and skateboarding wasn’t mainstream yet.

By the late 80s and mid-90s, the Nike Dunk became a cult favorite amongst the basketball community. And, soon enough, with the skate culture growing, the demand for a proper skateboarding sneaker became IMPERATIVE. Surprisingly, skaters started adopting Jordan 1s and Nike Dunks. And it does make sense since both kicks were made to be durable and have a good ground feel! So, they’re cheap, accessible, and provided the right amount of cushioning, support, and traction. See why they were a hit?

1996: Failure to Launch

Nike began to recognize the need for an official skateboard sneaker! Of course, they wanted in on that. And well, they had multiple attempts with the Choad, the Snack, and the Schimp. Safe to say that these were failures. Skaters refused to accept Nike into the skateboarding culture. Why? Because they believed that it was just another big corporation trying to infiltrate the skate world. Instead, brands like DC, Vans, and others were the trusted skate shoe providers!

Nike SB Choad AIOBot2001-2002: The Breakthrough

Of course, Nike didn’t give up, but they realized that simply making sneakers won’t do. So, in 2001, the Swoosh put Sandy Bodecker at the helm. And according to, he’s the guy who put the SB in Nike SB!

In March of 2002, the first Nike SB Dunks dropped! They updated the Nike Dunks with a nip here and a tuck there to accommodate skaters. A thicker tongue, elastic straps, and a new sock liner definitely did the job. Also, a new Poron foam bed in the sole with a Zoom Air Unit in the heel changed the cushioning game.

Nike SB Dunks Supa AIO BotAnd, to further reinstate their place in the skateboarding community, Nike signed its first skate team. It consisted of Danny Supa, Gino Iannucci, Richard Mulder, and Reese Forbes. Together they dropped the first collection in the Orange Box! You know what that era also included? The legendary Supreme x Nike SB Black Cement. And slowly but surely, Nike SB Dunks started taking over the skate scene.

2005: The Year a Pigeon Changed the Sneaker Industry

Nike SB Dunks were popular among skaters, but the sneaker industry didn’t see the hype yet. However, that was gonna change soon with the drop of Jeff Staple’s collaborative Pigeon Nike SB Dunks. The tribute to the public enemy of New Yorkers BLEW UP, in all the good ways. That release was exclusive to Ng’s Reed Space (permanently closed now). And when we say the crowd was A LOT, we mean a riot almost broke out. Kinda explains why these babies are worth up to $38k on the resale market today.

Jeff Staple Pigeon Dunks AIO Bot2006: The Not-So-Mid-Mids

In 2006, the Nike SB Dunks went through more developmental and structural changes. Nike introduced the Mid version of the SB Dunks with velcro straps. This helped with durability and skateboarding tricks! And that’s when the fourth shoe box era started for the SBs. You can check out all the shoe box eras in the image below! The goal of these boxes is, and we quote, “to keep things fun”. If that’s not some skateboarding energy, we don’t know WHAT is!

Nike SB Box Eras AIO Bot2010s: Nike SB Dunks Hitting Take a Dip

So, the Nike SB Dunks went through their golden era. But y’all know how sneakers go through cycles of hype and brick. And in the 2010s, you could find SB Dunks for under their retail price. That’s what happens when the supply outgrows demand. But you see, this isn’t gonna last, because if Nike is good at anything, it’s badass marketing, revivals, and collabs.

2019 – 2020: The Renaissance

Starting 2019, the sneaker industry saw Travis Scott rocking Dunks. From the most exclusive to random colorways, the rapper made a huge contribution to the SB comeback. He obviously had a dope sneaker plug… the Swoosh itself. Of course, he got his own collaborative Nike SB Dunks in 2020, and they’re worth about $1,700 in resale! And while 2020 was a shitty year for most of the world, it was a greay one for SB Dunks.

Travis Scott Nike SB Dunk AIO BotPresent-Day Stats

In 2023, Nike SB Dunks, and Dunks in general, are not the industry’s highlight. That’s mainly because the Swoosh saturated the market with the silhouette. And it’s kinda the 2010s again. See? Sneaker lifecycle. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t get some hot collabs. From the Jarritos to the upcoming Born x Raised SB Dunks, it’s the gift that keeps on giving! The question left to ask is: do YOU have the Nike SB Dunk of your dreams?