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Ranking the 75 Best Sneakers In NBA History

In honor of the NBA’s 75th anniversary, The Crossover is counting down the best shoes to ever touch an NBA court.

There is no way you can sum up the NBA’s 75 years in existence without mentioning the importance of sneakers. From Chuck Taylors, to the Puma Clyde, Adidas Superstars, Michael Jordan’s renaissance to power lacing shoes—sneakers have evolved from just being a pair of shoes you just put on. Some sneakers are timeless and will last forever. We ranked the 75 best basketball sneakers in celebration of the league’s anniversary.

This list is obviously subjective.

Honorable mention

Starbury

Stephon Marbury played real life Robin Hood when he sold $15 Starbury sneakers in now-defunct retailer Steve and Barry’s.

Air Jordan IX

The Jordan IX would easily be on the list if MJ wore them during his time with the Bulls. The sneaker was released during Jordan’s first retirement. MJ laced up a ‘Cool Grey’ version with the Wizards.

Nike Air Force Command

This cut might make some angry, but it was more popular in White Men Can’t Jump than on David Robinson’s feet.

LeBron Soldier X

LeBron wore the Soldier X when he led the Cavs back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the 73-win Warriors. Three straps might not be for everyone but going laceless for a physical force like LeBron is impressive.

Other sneakers considered: Pro Keds, Answer 1, Nike Maestro 2, Nike Air Max CW, Adidas Mutombo, Nike Zoom Kobe 1, Air Jordan XVI, Air Jordan XX, and the Air Jordan XX9.

75. Ewing 33 HI

Patrick Ewing

Release year: 1990

Worn by: Patrick Ewing

Have to give credit to the former Knicks great for starting his own line decades ahead of LaVar Ball and the Big Baller Brand.

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74. Nike Air Zoom Freak 1

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Release year: 2019

Worn by: Giannis Antetokoumpo

We are going to look back one day and acknowledge how special Antetokounmpo’s first signature shoe was when you consider his journey. His story is well-documented and all of the Antetokounmpo brothers had a hand in the design process of the Zoom Freak 1. The low-cut silhouette is very similar to Kobe models which is not surprising since Giannis spent years wearing them.

73. Converse Aero Jam

Release year: 1993

Worn by: Larry Johnson

Before Madea and Big Mama’s House, there was Grandmama. The Converse Aero Jam was part of one of the most iconic sneaker commercial campaigns of all time, featuring Larry Johnson.

72. Adidas The Kobe

Kobe Bryant

Release year: 2001

Worn by: Kobe Bryant

Sneakers inspired by car designs are not as novel as some may think. The Kobe drew inspiration from the Audi TT Roadster. The Lakers legend debuted them during the 2000 NBA Finals against the Pacers.

71. Nike Total Air Foamposite

Tim Duncan

Release year: 1998

Worn by: Tim Duncan

The Total Air Foamposite was worn by San Antonio’s twin towers. A bulky shoe but the holographic swoosh on a metallic upper definitely made this shoe a standout.

Stephen Curry sneakers

70. Under Armour Curry One

Release year: 2015

Worn: Stephen Curry

Under Armour caught lightning in a bottle when they signed Stephen Curry after his relationship with Nike ended. The 2014-15 season was Curry’s first MVP season, and he led the Warriors to their first NBA title since 1975. The Curry One was a much needed win for UA in a crowded basketball space.

69. Air Jordan XX8

Ray Allen

Release year: 2012

Worn by: Ray Allen

The Air Jordan XX8 marked a new era for Jordan Brand as the company went all-in on technology and performance. The XX8 is regarded as one of the best performing Jordan sneakers ever and earned its signature moment with Ray Allen’s shot in the 2013 NBA Finals.

68. Nike KD 6

Kevin Durant

Release year: 2012

Worn by: Kevin Durant

KD wore these during his MVP season in 2014. The shoe went deep into storytelling about Durant’s life, with colorways such as Aunt Pearl (dedicated to his late aunt) and Peanut Butter and Jelly (which signified his aunt bringing him his favorite childhood snack when he was away from home).

67. Nike Air Flightposite 1

kevin-garnett-dunk

Release year: 1999

Worn by: Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan

The Nike Air Flightposite was certainly ahead of its time when it was released in 1999. It was loved by the sneaker community, but many people did not appreciate its design aesthetic. Time Magazine named it the worst design of 1999: “The model with metallic siding looks as if it would be more at home in a small-town production of the Nutcracker than on the pirouetting feet of the gods of the National Basketball Association. If this is the ‘next generation of hoop product,’ then bring back flat canvas gym shoes.” Sheesh.

66. Adidas Pro Model 2G

Release year: 2003

Worn by: Various players

The original Pro Model dominated the courts back in the day but the 2G was worn by some of the biggest stars of the next generation like Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and even LeBron James in high school.

65. The Air Jordan 2

Michael Jordan

Release year: 1986

Worn by: Michael Jordan

Maybe a controversial selection for this list but the Air Jordan 2 is one of the most underrated sneakers of all time. Does it live up to the standards of other retro Jordans? No. Was MJ a fan of the sneaker? No. Did MJ almost leave Nike after the Air Jordan 2 was released? Yes. But MJ’s bad is not everyone else’s bad. The bar was high following the massive success of the Air Jordan 1. It was going to be close to impossible to top that. Didn’t help that Jordan broke his foot and missed 64 games during the 1985-86 season. The sneaker was ahead of its time. The past few decades we have seen Yeezys make it on the court and Gilbert Arenas play in Dolce & Gabbanas, the AJ II was the first sneaker to combine high-end fashion with basketball. The shoe was made in Italy and was marketed as a luxury sneaker that catered to MJ’s style and grace. Even if you are down on the AJ II, it made Jordan and Nike come back stronger with hit after hit the following years.

64. Nike Air Zoom Flight 95

Jason Kidd

Release year: 1995

Worn by: Jason Kidd

First-time NBA All-Star Jason Kidd helped make the Air Zoom Flight 95 popular. What do you think about the giant bug eyes?

63. Adidas Forum

Release year: 1984

Worn by: Multiple players

Before he signed with Nike, Michael Jordan really wanted to sign with Adidas because he loved their shoes and the culture. He wore the Forum during the Olympic basketball trials in 1984. No one knew MJ would go on to become the greatest sneaker pitchmen of all time but letting him go will sting forever. The Forum still went on to become a classic in the ‘80s and has found a new level of fandom in today’s sneaker culture.

62. Nike Air Flight 89

Release year: 1989

Worn by: Scottie Pippen

Perhaps one of the most underrated Nike performance sneakers. The shoe took design inspiration from the Air Jordan IV. One of the best kicks Pippen ever donned on the court.

61. Nike Zoom Glove 98

Gary Payton

Release year: 1998

Worn by: Gary Payton

The Zoom Flight 98 perfectly fits Gary Payton’s nickname with the zippered upper covering the shoe.

60. Nike Adapt BB

Jayson Tatum's sneakers

Release year: 2019

Worn by: Jayson Tatum and Ja Morant

Inspired by the Back to the Future movies and the Nike Mag—the Nike Adapt BB came with an advanced power-lacing system and an app. The sneaker gets a major boost because of its technological advances.

Kyrie Irving

59. Nike Kyrie 4

Release year: 2017

Worn by: Kyrie Irving

The Kyrie 4 served as a creative hub for Nike and Irving to explore different collabs such as the Cereal pack and Uncle Drew. It is easily one of Irving’s best performing basketball sneakers.

58. Nike Air Max Uptempo 1995

Scottie Pippen

Release year: 1995

Worn by: Scottie Pippen

While the sequel is more legendary, the Nike Air Max Uptempo 1995 deserves its own spot on the list.

57. Nike Zoom Flight V

Release year: 1996-97

Worn by: Jason Kidd

Kidd’s first official signature sneaker was just an evolution of the Zoom Flight 95 that he also wore. The shoe was featured in the iconic Nike phone ads.

56. Nike Shake Ndestrukt

Dennis Rodman's sneakers

Release year: 1995

Worn by: Dennis Rodman

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen weren't the only signature sneaker stars on the Bulls’ roster. Dennis Rodman was the face of the Nike Shake Ndestrukt, an unorthodox sneaker that matched his larger than life personality.

55. Adidas TMAC 1

Tracy McGrady

Release year: 2001

Worn by: Tracy McGrady

2001 was the year Tracy McGrady became a superstar and he signed a seven-year $92.8 million contract with the Orlando Magic. He also debuted his first signature sneaker with Adidas.

54. Nike PG 1

Paul George

Release year: 2017

Worn by: Paul George

Paul George’s signature line started with a bang with a collaboration with Playstation that has become a great partnership through the years. The PG 1 was one of the most worn sneakers throughout the 2017-18 season and can still be found on NBA courts today. The sneakers are that good.

53. Nike Shox BB4

Vince Carter

Release year: 2004

Worn by: Vince Carter

Iconic sneakers usually have signature moments tied to them and the BB4 had its moment when new Nike signee Vince Carter debuted the shoe in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. It was the perfect stage for one of the most iconic dunks of all time: the Dunk of Death over seven-footer Frederic Weis. How about that for a sneaker endorsement?

52. Nike Kyrie 2

Kyrie Irving

Release year: 2015

Worn by: Kyrie Irving

The best moment in the Kyrie 2 is the NBA Finals shot against the Warriors that helped the Cavs clinched their first NBA title. It is perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing Kyrie sneaker thanks to a wrap-around strap and fun colorways.

51. Reebok Answer IV

Allen Iverson

Release year: 2000

Worn by: Allen Iverson

The Reebok Answer IV became an iconic shoe the day Allen Iverson stepped over Tyronn Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals.

50. AND 1 Tai Chi

Vince Carter

Release year: 2000

Worn by: Vince Carter

Carter surprised everyone rocking these from AND 1 en route to putting on one of the greatest NBA Slam Dunk contest performances of all time in 2000.

49. Reebok Shaqnosis

Shaq dunks

Release year: 1995

Worn by: Shaquille O’Neal

The Shaqnosis is Shaq’s best signature sneaker ever and it matched his out of this world personality.

48. Adidas Top Ten

Release year: 1979

Worn by: Multiple players

The Adidas Top Ten was created for 10 of the best players in the late-’70s. The brand called on Rick Barry to help create the shoe and called him “The Inventor” in ad campaigns promoting it. The top ten (which was more than 10) included Barry, Doug Collins, Marques Johnson, Kermit Washington, Adrian Dantley, Bob Lanier, Bobby Jones, Billy Knight, Sidney Wicks, Mitch Kupchak, and Kevin Grevey.

47. Reebok Omni Pump

Dee Brown celebrates after winning dunk contest

Release year: 1991

Worn by: Dee Brown

The Reebok Pump soared to new heights when Dee Brown won the 1991 NBA Slam Dunk contest. The contest made Brown an international sensation overnight and did wonders for Reebok’s business.

46. Nike Blazer

Release year: 1973

Worn by: George Gervin

Nike made its first leap in the basketball world with the Blazers. The leather upper with the Swoosh plastered has stood the test of time and remains a go-to sneaker for casual wearers. The brand couldn't find a better endorser than George “The Iceman” Gervin.

45. Nike Kyrie 1

Kyrie Irving

Release year: 2014

Worn by: Kyrie Irving

Nike bet big on Kyrie Irving when they announced him into the Swoosh signature family that was seeking its lead model for the next generation. The Kyrie 1 was an instant hit especially with the younger generation because of fun colorways and how it performed on the court.

44. Nike Garnett III

Release year: 1999

Worn by: Kevin Garnett

Before he bounced around to just about every known brand in the universe, KG found success with his third signature sneaker with Nike.

43. Converse Pro Leather

Release year: 1976

Worn by: Julius Erving

Before Michael Jordan, there was Julius Erving who brought flair and grace to the court. Dr. J found his signature in the Pro Leather.

42. Nike Kobe 9 Elite

Kobe Bryant

Release year: 2014

Worn by: Kobe Bryant

Kobe always pushed the limits with his signature shoes and the Kobe 9 Elite is probably his biggest risk. The Kobe 9 Elite features Nike Flyknit, Flywire and Lunarlon which gave the shoe a lightweight feel despite its daunting aesthetic. It was the first time Kobe went with a higher upper since his third signature shoe.

41. Nike LeBron 15

LeBron equality

Release year: 2017

Worn by: LeBron James

LeBron went all out with the LeBron 15. He debuted them in Kith’s New York Fashion show. If that didn’t set the bar high enough, he developed the LeBron Watch program that celebrated past Nike classics but reimagined them on the 15. He paid homage to the classic Nike Waffle, The Diamond Turf, the Orange Nike Box, the Air Max 95, MOWABB, the Air Zoom Generation, the LeBron 8 “South Beach'', and the Griffeys just to name a few. He donated his equality colorway to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C.

40. Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2K4

Kobe Bryant

Release year: 2004

Worn by: Kobe Bryant

The sole purpose of the Huarache 2K4 was to blend the classic feel of old Nike shoes with a modern aesthetic. The sneaker was notably worn by Kobe after a famous sneaker free agency period.

39. Adidas Crazy Light

Derrick Rose

Release year: 2011

Worn by: Derrick Rose

2011 Derrick Rose was something we have never witnessed before in a point guard. After becoming the youngest MVP of the league, he was the perfect signature star to build around at Adidas. The Crazy Light was touted as the lightest basketball sneaker on the market weighing in at 9.8 ounces and held up strongly performance wise on the basketball court. While it wasn’t dubbed a Rose signature model, he was without a doubt the face of it.

38. Reebok Kamikaze II

Shawn Kemp

Release year: 1995

Worn by: Shawn Kemp

One of the most entertaining players at the time, “The Reign Man” brought a lot of flair to the Reebok Kamikaze II.

37. Air Jordan 10

Air Jordan X

Release year: 1994

Worn by: Michael Jordan

The Air Jordan X was designed when MJ was focused on baseball, but when he did eventually lace them up once he returned, he came with a temporary number, 45, which was inscribed on the side of the sneaker. MJ famously wore the X in his first game back at Madison Square Garden where he gave the Knicks the legendary double-nickel.

36. Nike Flight Huarache

Nike Flight Huarache

Release year: 1991

Worn by: Scottie Pippen

The basketball version of the classic running sneaker designed by Tinker Hatfield, the Flight Huarache gained fame after the Fab Five and Scottie Pippen rocked them. Minimal and swooshless, but a sleek design that has a sock-like feature that hugs the foot. The Flight Huarache was also the first project legendary designer Eric Evar worked on for the brand.

35. Air Jordan 14

Jordan 14

Release year: 1998

Worn by: Michael Jordan

The Air Jordan 14 received its iconic moment during the 1998 NBA Finals when Jordan hit “The Last Shot” against the Jazz. The story goes that Tinker Hatfield slipped MJ an early prototype during the Finals and told him to not wear it. Jordan did not listen and the rest is history. Fun fact: Hatfield drew inspiration from Jordan’s Ferrari 550M for the design of the 14.

34. Nike Air Max LeBron 7

Release year: 2009

LeBron James

Worn by: LeBron James

Nike designer Jason Petrie took a major leap with the Air Max LeBron 7. The sneaker was one of LeBron’s most successful shoes because it had a crossover appeal to be worn off the court compared to his previous models. It also had fun colorways like Red Carpet, All-Star, Fairfax and HWC.

33. Reebok Pump

Dominique Wilkins

Release year: 1989

Worn by: Dominique Wilkins

The Pump was revolutionary and had the perfect athlete to be the face of the shoe in the "Human Highlight Film" Dominique Wilkins. 

32. Nike Air Pippen 1

Release year: 1997

Worn by: Scottie Pippen

Put some respect on Pippen’s shoe game! He was overshadowed by playing with the greatest sneaker pitchman of all time, but Pippen rocked some of the best Nike basketball models such as the Nike Air Flight 89, the Huaraches, Nike Maestro, the Uptempo and of course his own official signature sneaker: The Pippen 1.

31. Air Jordan VIII

Michael Jordan

Release year: 1993

Worn by: Michael Jordan

Jordan claimed his third-straight NBA title rocking his eighth signature shoe. The Jordan VIII was a bold design and the last sneaker he wore before retiring for the first time.

30. Nike Air Max 2 CB4

Charles Barkley

Release year: 1994

Worn by: Charles Barkley

A classic from Sir Charles. Barkley might be more known in today’s generation as a studio analyst for Inside the NBA, but he held his own in the signature sneaker space. Following his MVP campaign in the 1993 season, Nike followed up with the Nike Air Max 2 CB4.

29. Fila Grant Hill 2

Release year: 1996

Worn by: Grant Hill

Grant Hill was one of the most marketable players in the NBA before injuries slowed him down. Along with being the face of Sprite, Hill brought life to FILA with the Grant Hill 2. The sneaker was recently re-released for its 25th anniversary limited to only 50 pairs for $248.

28. Adidas KB8

Release year: 1997

Worn by: Kobe Bryant

Kobe is well-known now for his legendary stint with Nike, but the KB8 is Kobe’s first signature shoe with the Three Stripes. Fresh out of high school and a breakout season with the Los Angeles Lakers, the brand went all-in on Bryant to be the face of their basketball roster. Bryant gave the brand a much needed superstar. Also known as the Crazy 8 after his eventual departure from Adidas, the shoe is still a favorite among hoopers to this day.

27. Nike KD IV

Kevin Durant

Release year: 2012

Worn by: Kevin Durant

Every major signature sneaker athlete has that shoe that takes their line to new heights. It was the Jordan 3 for MJ, the Kobe IV for Kobe, the LeBron 7 for LeBron and the KD IV was the silhouette that changed the course for Durant. The IV provided some legendary colorways such as All-Star (Galaxy), Nerf, Weatherman, Aunt Pearl, Gold Medal and the Year of the Dragon.

26. Nike LeBron 8

Release year: 2010

Nike LeBron 8

Worn by: LeBron James

The sneaker LeBron wore when he became the NBA’s biggest villain after joining the Miami Heat to create the Big Three. The South Beach colorway of the LeBron 8 is one of the most sought after sneakers ever.

25. Nike Air Penny 2

Penny Hardaway

Release year: 1996

Worn by: Penny Hardaway

Penny was pegged as the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan at Nike with his signature sneaker line. He had the flashy game, the commercials, and of course some legendary sneaker designs. The Penny 2 is without a doubt one of the Penny's most iconic sneakers along with the Foamposite and the Penny 1.

24. Nike Zoom Generation

LeBron James first signature sneaker

Release year: 2003

Worn by: LeBron James

No one has ever entered the NBA with the amount of pressure LeBron James faced. He was picked to be “the guy” early in high school. He signed a reported $90 million deal with Nike out of high school. He also poked fun at the pressure in one of his first Nike commercials before making his debut. It is safe to say James more than lived up to the hype and the Nike Zoom Generation became iconic in its own right. Nike re-released the sneaker for the first time in 2017.

23. Nike Kobe 5

Kobe Bryant

Release year: 2010

Worn by: Kobe Bryant

Kobe pushed the envelope when he unveiled the low-cut Kobe IV. He wanted to go even lighter and lower with the Kobe V. He unveiled the model during the Lakers’ 2008-09 championship run.

22. Air Jordan 12

Air Jordan 12

Release year: 1996

Worn by: Michael Jordan

The AJ XII had the tough task of following up one of the greatest sneakers ever. But the XII was no slouch. It was a shoe that took design inspiration from shoes of the 1920s era. It was elegant and Jordan had a few signature moments like the Flu Game in them.

21. Nike Hyperdunk 08

Kobe Bryant

Release year: 2008

Worn by: Kobe Bryant

The Hyperdunk 08 is hands down one of Nike’s greatest performance sneakers. While Bryant became the face of the shoe, many players on the 2008 USA Men's Basketball roster wore them in Beijing when they took home gold.

20. Converse Weapon

Magic Johnson

Release year: 1986

Worn by: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird

Converse had marketing magic with the Weapon because it was worn by rivals Magic Johnson and Larry Bird at the height of their powers. The Weapon is a bulky silhouette and was worn by many of the game’s stars outside of Michael Jordan in the ‘80s.

19. Air Jordan 13

Air Jordan 13

Release year: 1998

Worn by: Michael Jordan

Jordan Brand Vice President of Footwear, Gentry Humphrey summed up the AJ XIII to Sports Illustrated in the best way:

“The Air Jordan XIII was one of those shoes for me that I think from an inspirational standpoint really kind of hit the sweet spot with representing what Michael is really all about. What people may not know was that Michael to a lot of players in the league was called the “Black Cat” and if you look at how a cat moves, there is a similarity in how Michael moved on the court. We took direct inspiration from panthers and all types of cats in designing a shoe.”

18. Nike Air More Uptempo

Scottie Pippen

Release year: 1996

Worn by: Scottie Pippen

If there was a sneaker that screamed “90s,” it was the Nike Air More Uptempo that Scottie Pippen famously wore throughout the 1996 season and Summer Olympics.

17. Nike Kobe 6

Kobe Bryant

Release year: 2010

Worn by: Kobe Bryant

Inspired by Kobe’s alter-ego the Black Mamba, the Kobe 6’s upper emulates a snake’s skin. The sneaker had a bunch of fun colorways such as the Prelude, All-Star, Concord, Rice, Orange County, Grinch, Chaos and Black Del Sol.

16. Nike Air Penny 1

Penny Hardaway

Release year: 1995

Worn by: Penny Hardaway

Nike found a marketing star in quiet but very talented guard Penny Hardaway. The Orlando Magic was a team on the rise with Shaquille O’Neal and Hardaway was coming into his own with a Magic Johnson esque-game. While Shaq was loud and energetic, Penny was cool, calm and collective. Nike granted Penny his own signature sneaker in 1995 and unveiled an alter-ego in Lil Penny voiced by Chris Rock that helped him reach superstar heights.

Eric Avar who assisted Tinker Hatfield with the Huarache and made his mark on several sneakers on this list like Foampoiste, Kobe’s signature line, the Zoom Flight 95, and the Adapt BB was the lead designer for the Penny 1.

15. Air Jordan VII

Michael Jordan

Release year: 1992

Worn by: Michael Jordan

Jordan won his second straight title in the Air Jordan VII and reached global superstardom with the Dream Team while rocking the shoe. The VII took design inspiration from the Huarache. The marketing campaign for the VII was also the start of Jordan’s relationship with Warner Brothers and Looney Tunes that eventually led to Space Jam.

14. Puma Clyde

Clyde Frazier

Release year: 1973

Worn by: Clyde Frazier

Known as one of the flashiest players ever on and off the court, it was only right that Clyde Frazier became the first player with his own signature shoe. According to Puma, Frazier made three demands in his first contract with the brand: He wanted the first flat basketball sneaker made with suede instead of leather, his signature Clyde printed on every shoe and a new colorway for every NBA game he played in.

13. Air Jordan V

Michael Jordan

Release year: 1990

Worn by: Michael Jordan

Leave it to Tinker Hatfield to find inspiration in an American WWII fighter jet. He designed the Air Jordan V with shark-tooth shapes on the midsole. The trio of colorways: Black Metallic Silver, Grape and Fire Red are a sight to behold. The sneaker was introduced by Mars Blackmon in the It’s Gotta be the Shoes commercials.

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12. Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars

Converse Chuck Taylors

Release year: 1917

Worn by: Various players

The oldest sneaker on the list and a shoe that will never go out of style. While the Chucks lost their place on NBA courts fairly quickly due to better performing silhouettes, they transcended street culture.

11. Nike Kobe IV

Kobe Bryant

Release year: 2009

Worn by: Kobe Bryant

The Kobe IV changed the sneaker game forever when Bryant wanted a low-cut profile inspired by soccer cleats. A low-cut Nike hoops shoe wasn’t new but Bryant’s influenced how the style is worn around the game today on just about every player.

10. Nike Dunk

Nike Dunk

Release year: 1985

Worn by: Multiple players

The Nike Dunk was born in a year where the brand rose to new heights. Jordan was taking off as a rising star with his own line (the Air Jordan I was launched a few months before and the Dunk’s took some design inspiration from the traction design and the upper). The Dunk was popular in the NBA but when Nike gave college teams their own colorways, that’s when its popularity went through the roof. The Dunk has morphed into a go-to sneaker off the court.

Michael Jordan

9. Air Jordan VI

Release year: 1991

Worn by: Michael Jordan

The sneaker Jordan wore during his first NBA title run as the Bulls took down Magic Johnson and the Lakers. The design took inspiration from Jordan’s German sports car, the Slant Nose 930 Turbo Cabrioletn.

8. Adidas Superstar

Adidas Superstar

Release year: 1969

Worn by: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The Superstar was made to be a low-top version of another iconic silhouette, the Adidas pro model. While the Superstar was a popular shoe, it reached crossover appeal when RUN DMC released their song “My Adidas” that was an ode to their love of the “Shell Toes.”

7. Reebok Question

Allen Iverson

Release year: 1996

Worn by: Allen Iverson

Very few athletes have merged sports, style and culture like Allen Iverson. His first signature model, the Reebok Question debuted in a year where a lot of iconic silhouettes arrived but the Question is at the top tier of those released. A.I. was true to himself, unique and had a flashy game which helped him gain popularity with fans around the world.

6. Nike Foamposite

Penny Hardaway

Release year: 1997

Worn by: Penny Hardaway

One of the most unique designs in sneaker history, the Foamposite garnered eyeballs across the industry. It was something that was never seen before. The sneaker made its debut on the feet of the 1997 Arizona Wildcats led by Mike Bibby when he brought them out for the Sweet 16 and the rest of the team’s championship run. But it was Penny Hardaway who would go on to become the face of the sneaker.

5. Air Jordan IV

Michael Jordan

Release year: 1989

Worn by: Michael Jordan

The Air Jordan IV marked the first global release of a Jordan shoe when MJ’s game continued to reach new heights. It was also showcased in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing that certified MJ’s pop culture stardom. Also can’t forget he hit “The Shot” over the Cavs in the IVs.

4. Nike Air Force 1

Moses Malone

Release year: 1982

Worn by: Moses Malone

One of the greatest sneaker designs of all time. The AF1 will never go out of style. The sneaker has continued to evolve since its release in 1982 and has gone through thousands of different iterations. The AF1 is one of the most influential sneakers that brought us everything from the iconic ad, “The Original Six” that featured Moses Malone, Bobby Jones, Michael Cooper, Calvin Natt, Mychal Thompson and Jamaal Wilkes to Nelly rapping about them in a song.

3. Air Jordan III

Michael Jordan

Release year: 1988

Worn by: 1988

The Air Jordan III is the sneaker that changed sneaker culture forever. It came after a period Jordan considered leaving the brand. It was also a time Jordan reached another level of superstardom in the NBA. He played perhaps the best season in basketball history by winning his first MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, the dunk contest, and the All-Star Game MVP. He did all of these while averaging 35 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. The sneaker was also the introduction to legendary designer Tinker Hatfield, who orchestrated and designed most of Jordan’s iconic sneakers. And if all these facts weren’t enough, Nike rolled out the first Mars Blackmon campaign with it. Checkmate.

2. Air Jordan XI

Michael Jordan

Release year: 1995

Worn by: Michael Jordan

The most beautiful sneaker ever. Jordan wanted a shoe that people could wear with tuxedos.

Former Jordan VP of Footwear Gentry Humphrey told Sports Illustrated: “The XI to me was a shoe that kind of moved a whole generation. It connected with the world of hip-hop just by the way of its aesthetic, but what I think we are most proud of is that it truly zigged when everything had zagged. Michael gets a lot of the credit for wanting to introduce patent leather into uppers.”

The Jordan XI’s made its debut in the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals when the Bulls played the Magic. Ahmad Rashad showcased them during a sideline report while also wearing a pair himself. Jordan returned the following season and led the Bulls to a then-best regular season record of 72 wins and won the title against the Seattle Supersonics. MJ also took home another MVP award. The sneaker became even bigger off the court while Jordan continued his ascendance into being a pop cultural icon. The sneaker appeared on Will Smith’s feet in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air finale, Boyz II Men wore them while performing and winning awards at the Grammys, and Jordan even wore a special pair in his movie Space Jam. The sneaker is cemented at the top of every sneakerhead's Mount Rushmore.

1. Air Jordan I

Michael Jordan

Release year: 1984

Worn by: 1984

While the Air Jordan XI could easily fill the No. 1 spot, none of this happens without the Air Jordan 1. The sneaker birthed modern day sneaker culture. Nike’s investment in giving Michael Jordan his own signature line changed the brand’s trajectory instantly and turned MJ into an icon. Who knows what happens if Jordan’s mother never persuades her son to take the meeting with the company. It is the most influential shoe of all time and the “Banned” storyline is one of the most iconic campaigns ever. No sneaker is ever coming close to the Air Jordan 1 in terms of impact.

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