"It's gotta be the shoes".
That phrase was coined by everybody's favorite diminutive Brooklynite shoe pitchman, Mars Blackmon (played by Spike Lee), in his famous Air Jordan commercials of the late-1980's.
Any kid who loved and played basketball during the '80s and '90s, such as myself, knows this statement couldn't be more on the money. Almost as important as how you played, was what you wore on the court.
Sure they were too expensive and didn't help your game one bit, but there were very few pleasures as simple as hitting a J in your opponent's face while rocking the signature kicks of your favorite NBA player.
So with that in mind, what are the hottest basketball kicks ever?
In the words of my man Mars, "Do you know, do you know, do you know?"
This was the first Nike signature shoe for Charles Barkley. Fresh off of his MVP winning season with the Phoenix Suns, the shoe was one of the hottest for kids on the courts during the 1993-'94 season.
Not to mention the fire storm Nike and Sir Charles created around the ad campaign. Remember the "I am not a role model" commercial? The more furious it made parents, the hotter it made the shoe.
Any kid who grew up during the '80s and '90s in and around New York City knows that Patrick Ewing was "The Man". Ewing was also the first athlete in the NBA to produce his own sneaker line.
The shoes themselves are rather plain, but they contained a huge EWING across the tongue, a reprinted signature of Ewing himself, and an Air Force 1-esque strap that contained a No. 33 buckle, and looked even cooler unbuckled and hanging freely. HOT!
There are plenty of Air Jordan's that are better than the No. 7's. They looked very similar to the No. 6's, and really weren't anything that hot.
That is, until Nike released the Olympic colorway for Mike to wear as the original Dream Team ran through the 1992 Olympic Games.
What's cooler than showing your patriotism with a pair of red, white, and blue Jordan's? The coolest thing about the shoe, however, was definitely replacing Jordan's No. 23 on the back of the shoe with his Olympic No. 9
Larry Johnson burst into the NBA scene by being the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 1991 draft. He was huge and fast. He could shoot, dribble, and he was a ferocious dunker.
Converse gave him his own signature shoe, the Converse Aero Jam. It had the useless REACT juice in the sole, that was advertised to help a player stop on a dime.
The coolest thing about these were definitely the commercials. Johnson would dress up as his "Grand-mama", and dunk all over guys. Hence the nickname.
At first glance, these shoes are hideous. But the more you look at them the more you gotta love them. They're different indeed. They're also some of the lightest basketball shoes around, the first to use the Nike Zoom Air technology.
These were the first shoes Nike made for Jason Kidd. They also came in a red, white, and blue version that Kidd would wear in the Olympics in 1996.
No other basketball sneaker, other than the first Air Jordan, caused such hysteria as the Reebok Pump basketball shoe.
With a few high profile player pitchmen, a cool anti-Nike slogan of "Pump Up and Air Out," and one very famous Dee Brown dunk, Reebok had the hottest sneaker going.
The Pump was a unique idea, but once people realized that all it did was give the wearer a custom fit, the novelty soon wore off.
Before Nike struck gold with the Air Jordan sneaker, Converse was king of the courts with the Converse Weapon. It was the signature shoe of many good NBA players such as Kevin McHale, Isaiah Thomas, and Bernard King.
It was also the signature shoe of the TWO most popular players in the league, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. That would be cool enough, but the shoes also came in colorways to match every NBA team.
The Lakers colorway are still the hottest.
This may be the classiest looking basketball shoe ever. Not to mention that it also coincides with the return of the greatest basketball player ever. Jordan wore these during his first full season back after his failed baseball career.
Oh yeah, the Bulls also won another championship and set a record for wins in a season. These shoes were so hot, they even looked good on Bugs Bunny in the movie "Space Jam."
The purest basketball shoe ever. Nothing special here, no fancy technology, no pumps, nothing. Just classic basketball shoes that come equipped with instant street cred.
Rasheed Wallace made the high top version of these popular again by wearing them in games. They come in hundreds and hundreds of colors, but the hottest are still the all white and all black low tops.
What's not to like about these kicks? Thier classic design with nothing too fancy, much like the Air Force 1's. They're also Michael Jordan's favorite of all the Air Jordan models. Not to mention, these are the shoes Jordan wore during his famous battle with Dominique Wilkins in the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest. Classic.