Ranking the Best Sneakers of the NBA Playoffs
While the special MVP shoes that Nike whipped together in honor of LeBron James' fourth MVP Award caused quite the stir, they were hardly the best sneakers trotted out so far for this year's playoffs.
In fact, with the number of ridiculous designs that were haphazardly thrown together for this shoe, I would go as far as to say that these were some of the worst shoes worn thus far. It's probably not too bad of a bet to go ahead and consider them the worst shoes of the playoffs either.
Hell, these things were so bad that LeBron shot 1-o-6 in the first half and ended up changing them at halftime of Game 1 against the Chicago Bulls:
LeBron has changed out of his "unique" first-half shoes, you know, the ones that make you miss shots.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) May 7, 2013
Okay, so that probably wasn't the shoes.
The only thing you can really conclude about these shoes is that they look ridiculous, and they made LeBron's feet sparkle and shine for a solid half.
Most of the rest of the league has been on point, however. With retros making their way back to the court left and right, and a few customs coming along as well, I have to share my favorites with you guys.
Some of them are ridiculously colorful like the dudes who donned them (and like LeBron's MVP shoes), but others are tamer and slicker for some tamer and slicker players.
Joe Johnson's Jordan XI Low
Joe Johnson is a simple man.
He likes long walks aimlessly around the three-point line when Deron Williams pretends he's an isolation player, his shot is simple and repetitive and his style is basic and ballin'.
That's why it wasn't surprising to see him kick out the Jordan XI Lows in the first round against the Chicago Bulls.
They're not a flashy shoe, and they're not going to really draw many eyes unless you look closely, but they are a pair of some of the most iconic Jordan's of all time, and they're simply stylish.
J.R. Smith's KD 5s
It seems as if Kevin Durant has been on as many players' feet as Michael Jordan in the offseason thus far, and J.R. Smith went for just about the flashiest pair of KD Vs imaginable.
Sure, they're at least as colorful as LeBron James' X MVP shoes, but they actually have some sort of flow about them that makes them far less abusive to the eye.
The official monicker for Smith's rainbow kicks is the Nike KD Elite "EYBL" PE, which probably means they're the best at grabbing your eyeballs and working them out, or something like that.
With the bright orange shoelaces and every color flowing from one to the next as you circumnavigate the shoe, there's something about them that just screams "J.R. Smith!"
Better yet, he wore them during Game 2 against the Boston Celtics, before which he accepted the Sixth Man of the Year Award and dropped 19 points off the bench.
Jarrett Jack's Super-Fly Zoom KD IV
Jarrett Jack is a confident man on the court, so when he goes out and wears a pair of shoes that are made in a colorway that seems to be about as flashy as possible, you'd better bet that he's ready to back up those flashy shoes.
These are the Super-Fly Zoom KD IVs, but I'm sure Kevin Durant never wore anything that was quite as loud and exciting as these are.
On the surface, it just looks like a pair of yellow and blue shoes, but there's a lot more detail once you get down a bit closer.
There are flecks of gold all throughout the body of the shoe, and the blue is so bright that it actually looks more like the blue for Denver, rather than the blue for Golden State.
Russell Westbrook and the XX8s
Nike pulled together a ton of special designs for the playoffs, but two of them stuck out more than the others (we'll talk about the other pair a bit later on).
The first were Russell Westbrook's customized Jordan XX8s.
A very unique shoe in its own right, the XX8 gets cooler as the colorways change, and even cooler as the design is tweaked.
Westbrook has been one of the proponents of the XX8s all year long, and these are probably the best version of them so far.
Unfortunately, we only got to see him wear the white ones with his home uniform, as he was knocked out of the playoffs after just two games.
The most interesting part of these customs is that the zip-up shroud has small holes placed throughout, letting the blue shoe shine through.
Mike Dunleavy? Mike Dunleavy!
When I think of cool shoes, I generally think of Mike Dunleavy 392nd out of every active NBA player (yea, I've got an order).
Mike Dunleavy doesn't give a damn, however, as he broke out these incredible Kobe 8 iDs featuring the iconic snake-skin design.
These completely customized bad boys featuring the red body, and the green swoosh might be the coolest thing that Dunleavy has ever put on his feet.
At this point, I'm hoping that Dunleavy rides out the rest of his career as the dude who's constantly wearing awesome shoes. Maybe he can bring back the Shawn Kemp Kamikazes.
Gerald Green's Shaq Attaq 3s
I thought that these would be the best retro shoes to show up throughout the playoffs, but Gerald Green was just beat out by Tony Wroten (more on him in just a second).
Regardless, any time a player breaks out the Shaq Attaqs, which hasn't happened in something like a bajillion years, he's doing something right in my book.
In fact, according to solecollector.com, Green was the first guy to wear a pair of Shaq Attaqs (which is a newly released retro shoe for Reebok) since Shaq wore them back in 1992.
Just in case you were wondering, the shoes worked. Green put in 11 points for the Pacers, and they won Game 1 over the Atlanta Hawks by 17 points.
Tony Wroten Nike Air More Uptempo “Olympic”
In case it were ever in question, the Nike Air More Uptempo is absolutely my favorite ridiculous-looking shoe in the history of sneakers.
There is no other time except for smack-dab in the middle of the '90s that a sneaker with a giant "AIR" written across the outside out each shoe would be generally accepted.
As far as I can remember, these shoes are incredibly clunky, they're heavy and they feel like a cloud has your foot in a stranglehold, at least compared to some of the ultra-light shoes that I'm fond of these days.
Tony Wroten doesn't care, evidently.
You guys will never know the joy that I experienced when I saw Wroten trot around the court wearing these incredibly loud sneakers.
Nate's Historic Game in Air Jordan XIIs
As far as I'm concerned, Nate Robinson is both the king and resident court jester as far as NBA shoes go.
For every custom pair of Jordans he brings with him to a game, he'll go out and do something insane like wearing a pair of the designer Nike Air Yeezy 2s during a game, only to find out that designer sneakers kind of suck for actually playing basketball.
However, this time around he was his old, awesome self, wearing a pair of Air Jordan XIIIs during the Bulls' epic triple-overtime win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Nate scored 34 points, including 23 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Bulls to a huge victory over the Nets.
Carmelo's Playoff Specials
The New York Knicks are getting a ton of love here, I'm aware (and we're not done yet), but they've really brought their shoe game so far in these playoffs.
Carmelo Anthony is the other player whose custom Nikes really stood out when they were released, and they stand out on the court as well.
Anthony's Jordan MELO M9s are the same shoes that look like they're half-missing but actually come across as a cool light-weight sneaker, rather than one that's simply covered in mesh.
Throw in the Knicks colors that absolutely explode off his foot and you've got yourself a stylish custom kick.
Iman Shumpert's Custom 1-of-1 Adidas Real Deal
Custom shoes can definitely go one way or the other, and Iman Shumpert learned how great they can go when he picked out a pair of Adidas Real Deal for Game 2 against the Indiana Pacers.
These things are marvelous.
According to NiceKicks.com, Shumpert actually first wore these back in March in a game against the Toronto Raptors but decided to bring them back for the playoffs.
Not only are they speckled with Knicks blue and orange, but they've got a wave of orange going toward the outside of the shoe, with a wave of blue going in the opposite direction.
The Adidas tri-stripe is Knicks-colored, and the slightest bit of white peeking out on the heel and mid-sole pull it all together.
Oh, and of course Shumpert pulled off one of the nastiest dunks of the playoffs with these bad boys on.
After that, plus 15 points in Game 2 and a huge win for the Knicks, I think Shump should stick with these for a while.