Power Ranking the NBA's 10 Best Signature Shoes Heading into 2013-14
Now, more than ever, fashion is at the forefront of the NBA.
Whether it's Russell Westbrook dressing in some interesting getup at a postgame presser or LeBron James debuting special Christmas Day kicks, a wide range of trendy clothing is being sported by the league's most prominent names.
However, it's signature sneakers that continue to reign supreme in the Association, with each season possessing its own unique collection of shoes donned by the league's biggest and brightest.
One quick note before we get started: The Kobe 9s have yet to be announced by Nike, so they were omitted from this preseason list.
10. Li-Ning Way of Wade 2
The second iteration of Dwyane Wade's Li-Ning Way of Wade sneakers will debut this season, but it remains to be seen if they will be a major hit among American consumers.
One of several NBA stars who have opted to sign with a Chinese brand, Wade and Li-Ning are fighting an uphill battle stateside to see if they can compete with the likes of Nike, Adidas and Reebok.
However, there's no denying that the new product for the 2013-14 season is undeniably fresh, sporting a black, red and white colorway that are a perfect match for Wade and the Miami Heat.
9. Nike Zoom KD VI
Low-cut basketball shoes have become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks to the success of Kobe Bryant's line with Nike.
And now, a scorer following in Kobe's footsteps has a pair of low-cut kicks of his own that will be taking center stage this season.
The six-sided hexagonal pattern creates the traction pattern of the KD VI, paying homage to the fact that this is Durant’s sixth shoe. A close look at the shoe’s outsole reveals multi-hexagonal layers. This intricate pattern is designed around the imprint, or pressure map, taken from Durant’s foot as it was scientifically analyzed at the Nike Sports Research Lab.
Durant was born and raised in Seat Pleasant, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C. He honed his game after spending countless hours at the Seat Pleasant Activity Center, his home away from home. The rec center’s trademark teal and yellow colors, spotted on the center’s doormat by Chang on his first trip to Seat Pleasant in 2008, inspired the lead KD VI colorway launching globally July 3.
However, if the teal and yellow colorways aren't your style, there are several other designs that were released over the summer, including the D.C. Preheat, Meteorology, NYC 66 and Bamboo.
There also happens to be a peanut butter and jelly colorway, for those of you who are culinarily inclined.
8. Adidas Dwight Howard 4s
Dwight Howard made a bold move this summer when he decided to sign with the Houston Rockets, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that his new signature shoe from Adidas is equally as daring.
According to the official press release from Adidas (via Sports Illustrated), the new colorway and sneaker itself is designed to reflect the big man's image and style of play:
The spiral wave design on the shoe’s upper is inspired by Dwight’s playing style and how he circles the paint protecting the rim by blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. The bright color palette of this Yellow-Gold-Blue colorway was selected to match Dwight’s personality while the tongue and three-stripes branding both feature a chrome treatment to stand out on the court.
It remains to be seen how Howard will fare in his first season in H-Town, but one thing's for sure: He'll have some fresh kicks on his feet as he attempts to lift the Rockets into the elite conversation in the Western Conference.
7. Adidas D Rose 4
Similar to the 3s, the D Rose 4s will debut in black and gray colorways, with the former being the road pair and the latter designated as the home style.
Rose's return to action has been well documented, and it's not far-fetched that the Chicago Bulls could make a deep run into the playoffs if their stud point guard remains healthy for the entirety of the upcoming campaign.
6. Nike Kyrie Irving Hyperdunks
Perhaps you weren't expecting to see a sneaker for Kyrie Irving qualify for the list, but his latest signature shoe from Nike is an absolute home run.
Nike Inc. has the details on the interesting colorway and features:
Irving's past and future is the main theme of Irving's 2013 Hyperdunk as told through color and material. Born in Melbourne, Australia, where his father, Drederick, played professional basketball, Irving is proud of his roots. The green-toned teal and volt colorway is a futuristic take on Australia's National basketball team colorway of green and yellow. Featured on the tongue and lining is a "wave" graphic that depicts the story of his travels overseas from Melbourne to New Jersey.
For a mainstream basketball sneaker, the colorway is noticeably different. Having said that, uniqueness is absolutely a good thing in this case. Nike's classic flywire pattern combined with the sharp gold, teal and yellow make the shoe stand out in ways that others simply can't.
Look for more buzz to build around Irving's signature kicks as the season progresses and more colorways are released.
5. Blake Griffin Jordan Super.Fly 2
A high-flyer like Blake Griffin deserves a shoe worthy of his explosiveness, which makes the Jordan Super.Fly 2's perfect for his style of play.
According to Nike, Griffin was a guinea pig of sorts for the Super.Fly 2, but it turns out that the Los Angeles Clippers' All-Star forward loved the feel and comfort:
Wear-tested by Blake Griffin in early 2013, the Super.Fly 2 is inspired by Blake’s high-flying style. The shoe combines Jordan Brand’s exclusive Flight Plate technology with Dynamic Fit and Hyperfuse to provide extraordinary off-the-dribble explosiveness.
“The Super.Fly2 is by far the most responsive and most innovative shoe I have ever played in,” said Blake Griffin. “The way it fits coupled with the responsiveness of Flight Plate really helps me perform at the highest level possible every time I am on the court.”
Released on Aug. 1, the Super.Fly 2s come in a plethora of different colorways, including the fresh cement grey/university blue edition seen above.
Look for Griffin to elevate his game to the next level in the Super.Fly 2s this year under the tutelage of Doc Rivers as the Los Angeles Clippers seek to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
4. Under Armour Stephen Curry Anatomix Spawn
And while Under Armour hardly boasts a portfolio bursting with big names like competitors Nike and Adidas, it is starting to establish an identity by signing young guns such as Brandon Jennings, Kemba Walker and Greivis Vasquez.
The signature shoe that fans should get used to seeing Curry rock this season is the Under Armour Anatomix Spawn, which he has debuted during the preseason in black and silver colorways.
The Anatomix Spawn are currently available to the public in a number of colorways, but ESPN's Darren Rovell reports that Under Armour will make editions in Warriors colors available later this season.
3. Jordan 'Melo M10
The second pair of Jordan brand sneakers come courtesy of New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony.
According to SneakerNews, the Melo M10s from Jordan won't officially be released until Jan. 2014, but Anthony will reveal them to the sneaker-loving world on Christmas when the Knickerbockers do battle with Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
SneakerNews also notes that the Melo M10s are a rare set of kicks because they appear to be made with suede, a material seldom seen on signature basketball sneakers on the market today.
Considering the M9s were a massive hit, don't be surprised to see 'Melo's latest pair sell like gangbusters once they hit shelves nationwide.
2. Jordan CP3 VII
Air Jordan is elevating Chris Paul's shoe game to the next level with the release of the CP3 VIIs.
According to Nike, the shoes were built around Paul's quickness, which may make these a fan-favorite for those of you who like to show off your jets in pickup games:
This shoe was made for speed and flight, said Paul. It’s a great feeling when I’m out there to know I’ve got the technical support to do what I need to do. The designers at Jordan really know my style of play and continue to make products that elevates my quickness on the court.
Nike adds that the shoe was designed to provide a "snug" fit, one that will provide players with stability and freedom to operate when moving around the hardwood.
In addition to the colorway pictured above, the CP3 VIIs can be purchased in black/red/white/grey, black/white/flash lime/gamma blue or court purple/flash lime/cool grey/game royal.
1. Nike LeBron XI
Like Kyrie Irving's latest from Nike, the LeBron XIs from Nike use a myriad of interesting colors to differentiate them from other signature basketball shoes.
The colorway seen above is called Terracotta Warrior, one which Nike says was inspired by LeBron James' travels to China:
James was impressed by the Terracotta Warrior Exhibition, which he visited when he was in Xi’An, China, in 2011. The exhibit, plus James’s playing style - which reflects a warrior's spirit of grit, confidence, hard work and determination - inspired the Terracotta Warrior colorway.
The design of the shoe is inspired by the Terracotta Warriors as we see them today -- in neutral stone colors along with pop colors of purple/teal/red to represent how they were originally painted. The graphic texture on the upper articulates the linked, plated armor that the warriors wore. The special lining shank design graphic is drawn from the style of Bronze Age art, the era in which the Terracotta Warriors were made.
For those of you interested in a different colorway, you're in luck. Nike also designed a King's Pride colorway, one that features black, green, gold and red.
The LeBron XI King's Pride colorways dropped on Oct. 12 in the states while the Terracotta Warriors will officially be released in the U.S. on Nov. 27.