Famous Basketball Shoes
A good pair of sneakers is sort of like an ice cream: there is no way anyone cannot love them. As they come in so many different variants and colors, it is very difficult for someone to choose a definitive top among them. As far as history tells, even the Greeks and Romans wore good looking shoes to enhance their outfit. In recent days, there are even specific shoes available for specific sports, like spikes for football and cricket, Runners for athletes, sneakers for basketball and many more. From the early 90′s, the sneaker culture began to evolve very quickly. New models, designs and technology took the market by storm, and it repeatedly raised the bar higher, year after year. Although the more modern shoes are incorporated with better technology, there are some sneakers that just have too much of a classic value to be ignored. And here is the list of 10 most famous basketball shoes of all time.
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10 Most Famous Basketball Shoes of All Time
1. Chuck Taylor All Stars
Converse’s attempt to capture the basketball shoe market starts as they first produced sneakers in 1917 and named it “All Star”. In 1920s, Chuck Taylor, a basketball player and shoe salesman for Converse, improved the shoe’s design and became the product’s spokesperson. The first All Stars were all-black canvas or leather with rubber sole and white, red or blue laces. In the 1960s, Converse began to expand the company and open more factories and by that time, Converse All Stars were being worn by ninety percent of professional and college basketball players. Soon after, All Stars were being worn by athletes in the Olympics, and during World War II, American soldiers began to wear All Stars while in training. Tree Rollins was the last player to wear Converse All Stars in the NBA when in the 1979-1980 seasons he laced up a modified version of Chuck Taylors.
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2. Adidas Superstar
The Superstar is a basketball shoe manufactured by athletic goods company Adidas since 1969. The Superstar shoe was originally released as a low-top version of the Pro Model basketball shoe. It was also known as “shell shoes” or “shell tops” for their all-leather upper with rubber shell toe piece. The iconic design of this shoe is known as one of the major influences in the sneaker culture. The shoe caught the attention of some of the best players from the NCAA and NBA like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, for its superior toe protection and non-marking sole. Within the first few years of its introduction, the Superstar was being worn by most of the NBA players. Over the course of the next few years, after its initial release, it was advanced from the court to the sidewalk and consequently, further into the public’s consciousness.
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3. Converse Weapon
Converse released this shoe in 1986. The first endorsers of “The Weapon” were Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, who were prominently featured in a Converse commercial set in Bird’s hometown, Indiana. Later, they were also worn by Axl Rose in the Guns N’ Roses music video, “Estranged”. The Weapon was designed in purple and gold to match Johnson’s Lakers uniform. This shoe with Celtics color scheme was black and white, which was released prior to the purple and gold version. Converse re-released “The Weapon” classic several times from 2001 such as “The Loaded Weapon” in 2003, “The Weapon 86” in 2008, “The Weapon EVO” in 2009, and its successor “The Star Player EVO” in 2010. Kobe Bryant, Andre Miller, John Varvatos are some of the major stars who wore it on the field.
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4. Adidas KB-8
In 90s, the Adidas Superstar was a staple in every basketball player’s closets. Basketball star Kobe Bryant was only 18 years old and stopped using Superstar when he was given his first signature shoe named “KB-8”. The original KB-8s were black and white with purple and gold accents to match Bryant’s Lakers jersey. This shoe was subsequently released in numerous other color combinations in later days. When Bryant left Adidas in 2002, the shoe had to change its name from the KB-8 to the Adidas Crazy 8. The KB-8 was a major hit back in 1997, and the Adidas Crazy 8 made its first debut as it bring back in 2005 where it was well received by many. Recently, Adidas’ brand ambassador Derrick Rose wore a new version of this pair in a highly anticipated and nationally televised game against the Miami Heat.
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5. Puma Clyde
The first signature basketball shoe from Puma was built to the specifications of Walt “Clyde” Frazier, the All-Star guard for the New York Knicks. Clyde was originally released in 1973 with CLYDE in golden blocked lettering, authentic green tongue label, single color cotton laces and heavily textured seamless midsole transitions to the outsole with no demarcation lines. Even the first re-issue of the PUMA Clyde was also an identical of the original shoe where a gold stamp on the sock liner replicates the “Real Leather” ink stamp that was placed on the first Clyde. To signify the early release, the addition of a city name is stitched onto the outside lateral heel to denote one of the key 2005 launch event cities, New York, London and Tokyo. The heel window features No 1, No 2 and No 3 to correspond with each launch city.
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6. Reebok The Question.
Reebok had fallen to a distant third in the basketball sneaker market in 90s behind Nike and Adidas after several re-releases of Nike’s Jordan and the major popularity of Adidas’s Superstar. With several failed attempts before, this shoe came into the market as an immediate hit from Reebok when they signed Georgetown’s Allen Iverson for an endorsement contract in 1996 for this specific shoe. Allen was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft that season, which also multiplied the popularity of this shoe. With its significant designing appeal and superior comfort, it also attracts many of the fans who belong to the hip hop culture. “The Question” and its playoff version, “The Answer”, had been re-released several times in many different colors in the later days.
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7. Nike Air Force 1
After the initial release in 1982, this shoe was discontinued immediately because of its extra-thick, rubber sole and ankle-restricting strap. It was re-released in 1986 with the modern Italic Nike logo with a Swoosh on the bottom at the back of the shoe, although the original stitching on the side panels is no longer present in modern versions of the shoe. Rasheed Wallace first played while wearing these shoes two decades after its first release. The name is a reference to Air Force One, the plane that carries the President of the United States. The shoes are sold in three different styles: low, mid and high, and it is one of biggest hits from Nike. With over 1,700 color variations, these shoes solely generate an estimated revenue of 800 million USD/year even today.
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8. Reebok Omni Zone Pump
The Omni Zone was the shoe that Dee Brown wore during the 1991 slam dunk contest. It was an immediate hit and very popular in early 90s because of its mature look with a large orange basketball-shaped valve on the tongues to provide locking around the ankle. It was the first shoe to have an internal inflation mechanism that regulated a unique fitting cushion. The original Reebok Pump was made as a collaboration between Reebok’s Paul Litchfield and industrial design firm Design Continuum. Dominique Wilkins first wore the Reebok Pump original from 1989 on. The original Pump is now known as the Pump Bringback. After the success of this basketball shoe, Reebok designed Omnipump shoes for association football, gridiron football, tennis, and track.
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9. Nike Air Jordan 8
Nike Air Jordan I started the sneaker craze among youngsters two decades ago. The red-and-black Air Jordan I set sales records despite its $65 price tag when released. NBA commissioner, David Stern, banned the sneakers because they did not have any white in the color scheme. Tinker Hatfield is arguably the best basketball shoe designer of all time as he designed the perfect shoe for Air Jordan series with white trim during Jordan’s early days. With this pair of shoe, Tinker Hatfield made a name for not only himself, but Jordan, as well, as a brand of its own. The Air Jordan 8 nicknamed “Aquas” played a major role in this as it was the second Jordan to not feature a Nike Swoosh logo. The “Aquas” were first worn by Jordan in the ’93 All-Star Game.
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10. Nike Air Max LeBron 8
Nike Air Max LeBron 8 is also known as the “South Beach”. The LeBron 8 is a special shoe in its own because of its association with basketball legend LeBron James in his early days during LeBron’s free agency bidding war when many did not know where he could possibly end up. It’s the first LeBron shoe of the Miami era which represents the transition from old stars to the modern day basketball legends. It was made by Nike when Lebron James was leaving the Cleaveland Cavaliers to join Miami heat. The shoe is based on South Beach, part of Miami known for the show Miami Vice. The colors were also taken from the show which are teal, pink, and black, and were well-received by the public during the initial release. The original South Beach 8 was a bit costly because only a few thousand pairs were released worldwide.
Nowadays, most of the original versions of these shoes are not available, as later versions of these shoes with superior ergonomics and advanced color schemes were released several times with different names by big brands which still dominate the sneaker markets. Today, basketball shoes are not only a must-have for basketball players but also a fashionable wardrobe assessment for all the youngsters and hip hop crowd.