12 Great Shoe Moments in Sports
Sports and shoes. Shoes and sports.
Athletics and footwear go together hand-in-hand, but as a component of the whole, shoes are supposed to stay low and fly under the radar.
But like super moons and CrossFitters, shoes like to pop up randomly and make themselves the center of attention—and sometimes it can be glorious.
The following are great shoe moments in sports. Some are painful, others are nasty but all of them display the sole of a champion.
12. Chael Sonnen Licks Rashad Evans’ Shoe
Usually the only foot in Chael Sonnen’s mouth is his own, but this time Rashad Evans managed to fit a little bit of Oxford in.
Sonnen had bet his Fuel TV co-host that Dan Henderson would beat Lyoto Machida in UFC 157, and claimed if Henderson lost he would lick Evans’ shoe.
Welp, Henderson did lose, and Evans' shoe was lifted onto the table for the royal ceremony. Sonnen gave it a nice little tonguing, which was gross, but hey, he’s a man of his word.
11. Kevin Durant Loses Shoe, Blocks Arron Afflalo
Kevin Durant thought he had time to lace back up after losing his right sneaker on defense, but an Oklahoma Thunder turnover had him staring down a fast break led by Denver’s Arron Afflalo.
With no other real option, Durant dropped the shoe and went to guard the rim, meeting Afflalo in the air and blocking his shot.
Sure, Durant pretty much fouled the arm off Afflalo, but since no one calls it, he’s a hero. A one-shoe hero.
10. Mexico U-20 Player’s One-Shoe Wonder Goal
Every forward in the world—professional and otherwise—should watch this video and learn a little bit about finishing.
Mexico U-20 striker Jesus Escoboza (my God, that name) managed to finish off a move on the Mali defense after losing his right boot at the top of the box.
Sure, it wasn’t the foot he struck with, but he still managed to plant on a smooth sock and send the ball home. That’s real class from a serious player.
9. Gilbert Arenas’ Shoe-Poop Incident
Yup, that’s the title of this slide, because that’s the only way to say it—Gilbert Arenas defecated in his teammate’s shoe as a prank when he played for the Washington Wizards.
The over-the-top (or into-the-sneaker) gag was first written about by Washington Post correspondent Mike Wise, who said a well-known example of Arenas’ joking nature was the time he defecated in Andray Blatche’s shoe.
Arenas later confirmed he had perpetrated the gag, which I think we can all agree raises more red flags than any gun possession charge.
8. Thaddeus Young Loses Shoe, Still Finishes
Is it something on the court or just coincidence that shoes like to come off at American Airlines Arena?
Either way, Thaddeus Young's shoe slipped off in mid-drive and the 76ers forward still finished through heavy contact in the lane. That’s concentration.
7. Bernie Montoya’s Miracle Mile
Ever have something bad happen in a big moment? Did you want to get away?
High school track runner Bernie Montoya experienced this brand of awful phenomenon while running the biggest race of his life. Fortunately for Montoya, the people he got away from were the ones in his race.
Montoya was running the 1600 for an Arizona state title when his left shoe was clipped by a runner behind him. Feeling it sliding off his foot, Montoya kicked the sneaker off and ran on with a black sock on one foot.
Amazingly, the Yuma Cibola sophomore powered on to the front of the race, pulling away from the competition on the final lap to finish the mile with the blistering time of four minutes and 11 seconds.
Literally, it was blistering.
6. Marc Gasol’s Legendary Shoe-Poke
Marc Gasol lost his shoe, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play defense.
After getting a flat tire while playing offense, Gasol jogged back down the court furious and looking to wreak havoc. The result was a shoe-poke on Derrick Favors that will go down as one of the best defensive non-plays in NBA history.
He plays defense with more heart and sole than most men in the league. I’m sorry for that shoe pun. No I’m not.
5. Alessandro Matri’s Socker Goal
A sleek shoe gives you better control of the ball in soccer, and what sleeker design is there but provides an almost bare foot?
Juventus’ Alessandro Matri puts this ball past the keeper despite losing his cleat in the backswing, and the striker can barely celebrate the occasion due to the laughter threatening to double him over.
4. Shoeless Joe Jackson Gets His Nickname
Image via Real Clear Sports
The story of one of baseball’s greatest nicknames is based on the words of a heckler, of course.
As Shoeless Joe Jackson tells it, he was given the nickname as a 19 year old playing for the Carolina Association’s Greenville Spinners in 1908. Jackson had been given a new pair of cleats, which blistered him badly after his initial attempts to break them during a game.
Still blistered, Jackson was called upon to play again the following day, and opted to step up to the plate without shoes in lieu of batting in misery. Jackson hit a triple and ran the bases in his socks.
When Jackson stopped at third a man in the stands allegedly yelled, “You shoeless son-of-a-gun!”
Thus one of sports' original shoe-bloopers (or “shoopers”) was born.
3. Mike Miller: The Sock-Foot Sniper
Mike Miller shot his way into the Shoeless Hall of Fame after losing a sneaker in Game 6 of the Miami Heat’s NBA Finals series against the San Antonio Spurs.
Miller lost a shoe while playing defense in the third quarter, and his teammates had bounded to the other side of the floor before he could lace up again.
What’s a guy to do? Pick it up and run, of course.
Miller grabbed his shoe, threw it in the general direction of the Heat bench and joined the game again with only a sock on his left foot. Seeing his predicament, the Spurs left Miller wide open.
LeBron James passed to the Miller, who lit up the scoreboard from three. We were all witnesses to the NBA Finals’ Sock-Foot Sniper, and the amazing .GIF his feet spawned.
2. Ethiopian Runner Wins Race W/One Shoes
Dejen Gebremeskel was pegged as a tough competitor going into the 2011 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, but no one thought he would win it in this fashion.
Gebremeskel started the men’s 3000 meters without issue, shadowing British favorite Mo Farah and staying near the race leaders until something unexpected occurred—he lost his right shoe.
The majority of the race had yet to be run, but instead of quitting, Gebremeskel kicked on, rounding the hard corners of the indoor track and keeping pace with the cream of the world class talent in the race.
Following in Farah’s wake, Gebremeskel managed to pass the British track star in the final lap and win the race.
No spikes, no problem. That’s the heart of a champion.
1. Mike Milbury’s Loafer of Justice
Few things in this life are more embarrassing than being knocked senseless with your own footwear.
One New York Rangers fan learned this truth all too well after inciting half of the Boston Bruins to jump into stands in 1979. The game had just ended, but a scuffle on the ice had brought both teams to the boards.
Pushing and shoving ensued, and a man in the stands named John Kaptain reached over the glass and slapped Bruins winger Stan Jonathan with a rolled up program as he snatched the player's stick from his hands.
Kaptain retreated into the stands with his prize, but unfortunately for him, the Bruins flooded over the wall in hot pursuit. Many punches were thrown, but all of them paled to the actions of Bruins defensemen Mike Milbury, who ripped off Kaptain’s own shoe and began whacking him back and forth with it.
History was made.