“You’re like Jordan’s on a Saturday, I gotta’ have ’em and I cannot wait”.
You know what I’m sayin’? This song “With You” by Chris Brown is a classic. And if you’re a hooper, you know the feeling. Saturday morning after a long week at work, you get with your boys and play some pick-up at your local church or gym. Even getting up early to throw on your favorite pair of kicks to put up some shots or break some ankles out there is a good feeling.
This is also how I feel about my bride. She’s like Jordan’s on a Saturday. Like a fresh pair of my favorite sneakers I can’t wait for. All day. Every day.
You may have your favorite pair of basketball sneakers. If so, what are they? Are they Jordan’s? Or are they Nike’s, Adidas’, or Under Armour’s? They could even be New Balances’ or Puma’s with the probable recent influx of hoopers wearing those now, too, because of Puma’s sponsoring NBA players and New Balance sponsoring Kawhi Leonard.
Just full disclosure: You know this is subjective. With all the cool kicks out there, there’s bound to be so many left off this list. Including your favorites. Let me know what those are in the comments!
In the meantime, will give this a go. So, tie your shoelaces, step on the court, and get into the game as we go over the:
25 Best Basketball Sneakers Ever
25 – The one’s you rock playing pick-up
You know, that one pair you grab out of your closet because it’s the only pair you have. Having just one pair of basketball kicks is a blessing within itself. So, let’s wipe the dust off of ’em and get out there and ball.
24 – Nike KD9 ‘Aunt Pearl’
According to NBA.com, “The special edition shoe is a…colorway of the KD9, featuring pink trim on the black shoe. The shoe launched (on January 28, 2017) with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, a charitable organization committed to the fight against women’s cancers. KD developed a special bond with his Aunt Pearl, his grandmother’s sister. Durant credits Pearl, along with his mother and grandmother, with playing a large role in his upbringing.”
Honoring family while raising awareness and giving proceeds to a charity with a good cause, now that’s how to truly inspire and make an impact in this world for good.
23 – Air Jordan 9
You can’t go wrong with a Jordan sneaker coming in at #23 because, well, you know. And number-23 wore the Air Jordan 9s according to air.jordan.com as “MJ made the transition from the hardwood to the diamond. The documentary (‘The Last Dance’) shows MJ wearing the shoe when he first shows up to indoor training for pro baseball.”
22 – Nike Hyperdunk
If you’re a hooper, you’ve seen these all over the place. At tournaments, during pick-up at the gym, on your teammates. You may even have a pair of your own in your collection. A go-to basketball sneaker, you can’t go wrong with the Hyperdunks.
21 – Nike Shox
As Russell Westbrook would say, ‘why not?’ Why not include these shoes on this list. You knew ’em. You loved ‘ em. They were the shoes to get and, as LeBron James said jokingly about ’em on Uninterrupted: “Vince really had you believin that the shock technology in those shoes would make you jump like that”.
20 – Jordan Why Not? Zero.4
Speaking of the brodie, why not add Russ’ new kicks to this list? They’re Jordans. They’re different, unique, and look fresh. Also how he involved artists to design them gives them a leg up on the competition.
According to Air.Jordan.com, “Russ chose to focus on colorways that communicate his values and priorities: ‘Upbringing,’ ‘Family’ and ‘Trust & Loyalty.’ He commissioned a group of artists to create pieces inspired by these narratives, using imagery of him and the shoes themselves.”
19 – Nike Air Force 1
Typically known for streetwear, you mean to say you can rock Force’s on the court?
Rasheed Wallace did and he came to the Palace of Auburn Hills midseason rockin’ them with the Pisotns and helping them get over the hump to the title. With his game being a big man and able to shoot jumpers, he was playing how the ‘bigs’ do in the league today.
18 – DaDa Supreme Spinner
Who needs spinners on your car? Why not just have them on your…basketball shoes.
According to SLAM Magazine, “The neck-breaking Spinner was wildly popular when it was first introduced in the early 2000s. Back when everything was bigger–shirts, cars, music videos–the rims on hip-hop artist’s ride couldn’t ever stop spinning, even when the car was stopped. DaDa brought that ideal to Latrell Sprewell’s sneakers. He played in the Spinners in the ’04 playoffs…”
17 – Starburys
All the nostalgia right now. You’re a real one if you remember going to Steve and Barry’s and seeing the Starbury’s wanting to get one yourself because even though they may have been ‘alright’ to you style-wise, the price was too good and the fact that it was Stephon Marbury’s shoe, you just wanted to add one to your collection.
16 – Dawn Staley‘s Nike Air Zoom S5
Can’t have this list without a WNBA player’s signature shoe. Per Syracuse.com’s Chris Carlson, Dawn Staley is one of the WNBA players who’s had a signature shoe.
Nick DePaula, formerly with Nice Kicks, stated on Nice Kicks that “Nike Zoom S5 is one of my all-time favorite signature sneakers in footwear history — regardless of which gender it was specifically designed for.”
And shout out to Staley who has given out free shoes to students (as mentioned by WISTV‘s Warren Stocker and FOX Carolina News). Stocker mentioned Staley’s non-profit, ‘Inner Sole’. Inner Sole’s site states the non-profit is “creating a difference in the lives of our children. A movement that allows a common bond of compassion and humanity uniting us by the gift of giving new sneakers and the responsibility of shaping an enduring imprint.” You can donate to the cause here.
15 – Pumas
Puma has started to get into the game, sponsoring players like Deandre Ayton, DeMarcus Cousins, and Michael Porter, Jr.. Not known for being a traditional basketball shoe, props to them for venturing into something new and making quality kicks that some NBA players now prefer to wear.
14 – Adidas D Roses
D-Rose. After a major comeback, overcoming adversity, Derrick Rose played an intgral role in a Detroit Pistons team that was starting to turn the corner and a New York Knicks team that made the playoffs this year. You already know him as a NBA MVP with the Chicago Bulls and, according to Adidas, “Derrick Rose shoes are made to dominate the court just like he does. Bounce cushioning in the midsole returns energy as you cut across the hardwood and jump at the hoop”.
13 – Air Jordan 13
If the shoe fits. In this case, 13th on this list is the Jordan 13.
Air.jordan.com states “MJ took home 1998 All-Star Game MVP honors with the Black/True Red-White Air Jordan XIIIs on his feet and a sixth ring on his mind. The Last Dance shows MJ interacting with the past, present, and future of the game at the NBA All-Star Weekend, wearing the same AJXIII he would later wear during that postseason.”
12 – Nike LeBron 18 Low Wile E. x Roadrunner
Welcome to the Space Jam. You’ve already heard that Space Jam 2 is coming out soon! Who else is excited?!
In light of the much-anticipated film, check out these kicks as Nike states “Beep-beep! It’s Tunes vs. Goons in the long-awaited basketball blockbuster, Space Jam: A New Legacy. Nike Basketball celebrates the showdown with a fun take on the LeBron 18 Low…Wile E. x Roadrunner’ is inspired by the persistent coyote’s constant quest to capture the ever-elusive bird.”
11 – And 1s
Who remembers these?! Whether it be the And 1 Mixtape our of streetball or rockin’ these on your first day to school, you know everyone had to have a pair of And 1’s. It’s crazy seeing And 1 now in Walmart. Gotta’ love it.
10 – Nike LeBron 15
The look of this shoe is like an art gallery meets a basketball court meets a vintage rug. It’s fresh. It’s a great way to kick (pun intended) off the top 10.
Nike states that “t)his is the first time both Nike Zoom Air and Max Air have been used in a basketball shoe. The combination helps soften hard landings and enable quick moves for powerful players.”
9 – Adidas TMacs
Recognizable, ballin’, classic. These TMac shoes were seen all over the place when they were released.
Adidas Mac 2.0 Restomod description states: “Tracy McGrady is known for his laid-back style and score-at-will offense. Put some of that signature swagger in your game with these adidas basketball shoes. The sock-like fit lets you run the hardwood in all-game comfort. Create separation and elevate for the shot with lightweight Bounce cushioning.”
8 – The Michigan Fab Five Sneakers
The Michigan Wolverines’ ‘Fab Five’ helped change the game in college hoops when it came to freshmen getting massive PT and starts, contributing right away to the team, along with helping influence the culture of basketball overall. You can’t have a top 10 list without these dudes’ kicks on here somehow.
As Sneakers Detroit states, “Jimmy, Jalen, Juwan, Ray, & Chris ushered in a new era of college basketball with their swagger, baggy shorts, and some of the cleanest kicks out on collegiate courts at the time”.
Sneakers Detroit lists the type of sneakers each student-athlete wore: “Jalen Rose – Nike Air Force Mid…Chris Webber – Nike Air Flight Huarache…Juwan Howard – Nike Air Force Max…Jimmy King – Nike Air Maestro…Ray Jackson – Nike Air Unlimited”.
7 – Anything Langston Galloway Wears
Langston Galloway is all about the custom kicks on the court. From proving the league wrong being undrafted to a staple player and shotmaker in the league, he’s showing up and doing so in style. LG’s always rockin’ some cool custom kicks and he’s got his own LG Kicks company and podcast to show for it, too, along with a foundation which “Langston and his wife, Sabrina, established…(that) works to improve the overall well being of student athletes through programming, advocacy and action.”
6 – Converse Chuck Taylor
If you played in these now, oh man, all the best to your ankles. But NBA players actually hooped in Converses.
GQ’s Cam Wolf stated that “in the 1920s and ‘30s, college players hooped in Converse Chuck Taylors, and up until the ‘60s the brand had a near stranglehold on the basketball shoe market.”
Other Converses were popular later on as Basketball Noise (a site by ‘Louis, Ady and James’) stated that “Larry Bird, like the majority of NBA stars in the 1980’s wore Converse shoes. One of the most prolific Converse basketball shoes in the 1980’s was the 1986 Converse Weapon. The Converse Weapon had a shoe for Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, who were the initial endorsers of that basketball shoe. The Converse Weapon reflected Bird and Magic’s rivalry at the time.”
5 – Nike Huarache
As ESPN’s Nick DePaula mentioned Kobe’s Nike Zoom Huarache 2K4s, Huaraches have seemingly been a hooper’s staple pair for decades. Sole Collector states the shoe was “(o)rignally released in 1991 and designed by Tinker Hatfield, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Mark Parker“.
5 – Nike Kobes
Whenever the latest Kobe Bryant sneakers were set to be released, there was excitement for sneakerheads and hoopers alike. There was always something unique, cool, and something that stood out about the Kobes. When you hoop, you know who’s rockin’ Kobe sneakers.
ESPN’s Nick DePaula ranked Kobe’s line of shoes and noted that “(o)ver his two-decade career, Kobe’s sneaker catalog spanned more than 50 sneakers”.
4 – Allen Iverson’s Reeboks
When you think of a basketball sneaker, you have to list Allen Iverson’s Reeboks as one of the classics. There’s a lot of talk of wanting to be ‘like Mike’ and there’s also point guards who want to be like AI, crossing dudes over while rockin’ those recognizable Iverson Reeboks with its bold look.
3 – Air Jordan 1
A classic. Michael Jordan helped redefine what having a sponsored shoe could do for an athlete and helped jumpstart the whole being able to build an income off of image likeness or via marketing branding your style. So, with all the popularity of Jordans around the world now, you gotta’ have the OG shoe be up here on this list.
2 – Under Armour Currys
When shoes are bigger than basketball, bigger than the game, that’s deserving of being one of the best shoes of all time. In this case, you know Steph Curry as a multiple-MVP-winning game-changing sharpshooter from the outside and outside the court, you know him as a man of faith, family, fun, and purpose. That includes his signature sneaker line.
According to ESPN, “Stephen Curry has been writing ‘I Can Do All Things…’ on his sneakers since college.”
It’s based on the Philippians 4:13 Bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“It’s a mantra that I live by and something that drives me every single day,” Curry said according to ESPN’s Nick DePaula. “It’ll hopefully inspire people to find something that drives them, whether that’s a verse or some other motivating force that keeps you hungry and keeps you driven. That’s mine, and you can pick whatever yours is and let that drive you, too, as you continue with basketball or whatever field you’re in your life.”
You can do all things, as well. What Steph is passionate about is conveyed in his shoes. DePaula reported that “Under Armour is mindful of his pregame ritual, leaving a gap of space at the front of each shoe for him to write on. The version of Curry’s shoe sold in stores has the ‘I Can Do All Things…’ message pre-printed on the midsole.”
1 – Air Jordan 11
Hands down, the best shoe ever. No question for me. With Space Jam 2 coming out shortly, it’s a great time to appreciate the original Space Jam shoes. The look is sleek, it’s fashionable in any era, you can wear it hooping or wear it dressing up with a suit or casually with some ripped jeans. They’re a clean-looking shoe and…I am 100% biased because one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten was the Carolina Blue Jordan 11’s released on 11/11/2017, the day Amber J and I got married. The best day of my life (other than getting saved) and when wifey surprised me with these: Oh, man! I’m still hyped about it.
There you have it. As Buggs Bunny would say (in light of Space Jam), that’s all folks!
Hope you enjoyed this list as you enjoy and appreciate having shoes at all today as some don’t have kicks to rock in parts of the world. May you count your blessings and practice gratitude day in and day out.
Now, go kick it and hoop in your favorite pair of sneakers. What are your favorite basketball kicks?
Charlie Lapastora is a sports/news multimedia journalist who’s reported, written, produced, anchored, shot video/edited on different NBC, ABC, and FOX shows in multiple TV markets, along with digital & new media companies. Charlie has traveled the country telling national sports, news, feature, and original stories on a cable news network, airing on top 10 TV markets, satellite radio, and digital platforms. He is passionate about his faith, family—being a husband to whom he calls the G.O.A.T. of women—about reppin’ his home state of Michigan and Detroit teams (yes, including the Lions), good coffee, and loves how sports brings people together. He’s traveled the world leading and coaching sports camps and has also worked at the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers’ NBA teams.
- 1 25 Best Basketball Sneakers Ever
- 2 25 – The one’s you rock playing pick-up
- 3 24 – Nike KD9 ‘Aunt Pearl’
- 4 23 – Air Jordan 9
- 5 22 – Nike Hyperdunk
- 6 21 – Nike Shox
- 7 20 – Jordan Why Not? Zero.4
- 8 19 – Nike Air Force 1
- 9 18 – DaDa Supreme Spinner
- 10 17 – Starburys
- 11 16 – Dawn Staley‘s Nike Air Zoom S5
- 12 15 – Pumas
- 13 14 – Adidas D Roses
- 14 13 – Air Jordan 13
- 15 12 – Nike LeBron 18 Low Wile E. x Roadrunner
- 16 11 – And 1s
- 17 10 – Nike LeBron 15
- 18 9 – Adidas TMacs
- 19 8 – The Michigan Fab Five Sneakers
- 20 7 – Anything Langston Galloway Wears
- 21 6 – Converse Chuck Taylor
- 22 5 – Nike Huarache
- 23 5 – Nike Kobes
- 24 4 – Allen Iverson’s Reeboks
- 25 3 – Air Jordan 1
- 26 2 – Under Armour Currys
- 27 1 – Air Jordan 11
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