When Kanye West released "New God Flow," he offered his trademark humility, rapping: "Hold up, I ain’t trying to stunt, man, but these Yeezys jumped over the Jumpman." While claiming that any sneaker could seize supremacy from Air Jordans might ring false, both style mavens rank highly on this list of special edition sneakers.
Many criteria have been factored into the rankings, including rarity, desirability, innovation, iconic design and celebrity clout, and these combine to form the top-secret scores that decide the ranks.
Some sneakers, like the Air Penny for Anfernee Hardaway, offered more quality and style in the commercial than in the actual shoe. While the baller known as "Penny" sipped soda on the couch, "Lil' Penny" (voiced by Chris Rock) laughed himself silly about his NBA namesake.
Other shoes only appeal to a specific demographic, like the Nike Heineken Dunk Lows for people who love drinking Dutch beer from a squat green bottle, for whatever reason.
While many designs have missed the mark over the years, these 12 special editions claim the top spots in kicks history. Shoes that have stood the test of time as classic, influential and unique designs get preference, but a few new styles barged their way to high ranks as well.
12. Converse Moonwalk (2009)
The iconic Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars have been reincarnated countless times, but this version completely broke the mold. To commemorate the passing of Michael Jackson, Converse completely reversed the shoe.
Paying tribute to MJ's silky smooth moonwalk where he shuffled backward with seemingly zero friction, Converse stuck the eyelets for the laces on the heel along with the toe cap, moved the heel tab to the toe, and even altered the symbol to read "No Good No Stars" instead of "Converse All Stars." This flipped-out imagining thrilled shoe junkies and Jackson fans alike.
11. Puma Suede Yo! MTV Raps Big Daddy Kanes (2007)
Walt Frazier exuded so much cool, his Puma sneakers from back in the day have received copious updates. Nicknamed "Clyde" because the wide-brimmed hats he used to wear resembled Warren Beatty in the stylish 1967 classic Bonnie and Clyde, his suede Pumas outfitted a generation.
I'm a fan of the blue-and-gray suedes, but the special edition Big Daddy Kanes cannot be beat. They recall a simpler time when people actually watched Yo! MTV Raps, as depicted in Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day" during his visit at Short Dog's house.
These feature a printed gold chain around the heel and an offset "Yo!" lace with exposed logo lining. What the legendary MC said about whether pimping was easy—"It ain't"— could also apply to whether getting a pair of these sneakers was easy.
10. Reebok Pump "Blacktops" (1993)
Dominique Wilkins wore the pumps when they first came out in 1989, and fans naturally assumed that they could dunk like the "Human Highlight Film" after just a few extra pumps of air. Dee Brown took the 1991 dunk contest title, and you know he gave his kicks a few pumps prior to the winning slam.
Forgotten tennis star Michael Chang donned a fuzzy-green version called the "Court Victory Pumps," and Reebok even made an abortive attempt at a pump-action hockey skate.
It was not until the Blacktops dropped in '93 that these gimmicky sneakers found a way to gain even more street cred. The commercial featured streetballers dunking on a rusty backboard with a net made of chain.
Just a few pumps, and you too can own the night. But stay away from pro wrestler John Cena when he starts pumping his sneakers—he's preparing a finishing move.
Despite mass production, these kicks quickly became hot commodities and converted some from the small faction that hated Reebok's unnecessary gadget.
9. The Simpsons Vans KAWS Chukka (2007)
These sneakers inspired by The Simpsons arrived in 2007 to celebrate the legendary cartoon show—despite the fact that the show remains on the air to this day over 20 years and 500 episodes later.
Only 100 pairs of each design were released in this collaboration with 14 different artists. They feature a colorway to evoke a sheet of loose-leaf paper with blue horizontal lines running across and a number of "dead" line-drawn Simpsons characters with the eyes crossed out, including Lisa, Marge and Grandpa.
8. Nike Air Foamposite One Galaxy (2012)
In April 2014, the NYPD shut down a release of the Supreme x Nike Air Foamposite One because the manic, cash-toting crowd and other previous cases of sneaker robbery created a safety concern. However, previous incarnations of the Foamposites managed to avoid the long arm of the law.
The original Foamposites dropped back in 1997, but the Galaxy edition made quite a stir 15 years later. Boasting a colorway of obsidian and anthracite-black, this release for the NBA All-Star Game offered otherworldly cool.
I initially thought these looked exceedingly ugly, but when I saw a pair in person, the galactic visual effect is actually quite impressive.
7. Air Jordan 7 Olympic (1992)
Air Jordans reign over all other shoes in a similar manner to Michael Jordan's reign over all other basketball players. And everybody knows the best basketball team of all time was the 1992 U.S. Olympic "Dream Team."
This shoe embodies everything about that memorable domination of the world in Barcelona. With splashes of red, white and blue, plus enough gold trim to remind you what color the medal was, these shoes and the man wearing them frightened opponents more than Vince Carter's "le dunk de la mort" over Frederic Weis in the 2000 Summer Games.
6. Nike Air Yeezy (2010)
Considering that Kanye West had a hand in the design process, it's amazing that these shoes ever actually got released.
The man known as Yeezy mercifully avoided integrating his signature shutter shades into the design, and the result became one of the most popular shoes of the young century. The black-pink release brought the most flavor (sorry, "Zen grey"), somehow managing to offer subtle accents of hot pink.
5. Nike Air Force Max 2013 "Fab 5" (2013)
I did not like Michigan or the "Fab Five" growing up (I rooted for North Carolina), but no handful of college players changed the style landscape in the early '90s like Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson.
After sporting the odd-looking Nike Air Flight Huaraches (inspired by a curious ancient sandal with a cutout at the ankle), the Wolverines rocked the Nike Air Force Max along with their baggy yellow shorts and black socks.
Intimidating? Check. Mostly black? Check. Trendy combination of laces and velcro strap? Check.
Charles Barkley also endorsed the originals, and even though I actively disliked both Barkley and the Wolverines, I remember my joy at owning a pair of the originals. They deservedly named the re-release after Webber and Co., but don't call timeout while wearing them.
4. Nike Hyperdunk Marty McFly (2008)
If you were born some time between the Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan administrations, you likely consider Back to the Future as either the greatest movie of all time or the greatest documentary about time travel of all time.
Michael J. Fox portrayed Marty McFly, and in Back to the Future Part II, he even gets a pair of sneakers with power laces. Nike design guru Tinker Hatfield has allegedly dreamed up a new version of back-to-the-past-of-back-to-the-future footwear that will in fact feature power laces, making a great sequel to the '08 McFlys. Save up your 1.21 gigawatts for the 2015 release.
3. Reebok Question (1996)
These white kicks with red accents evoke a very specific era in the NBA when one man vexed defenses and changed the style of the game: Allen Iverson. Initially a limited release only in Philadelphia and Washington D.C., sneakerheads up and down the Eastern Seaboard sought them out.
A.I. brought swagger everywhere he went, and fans were just as likely to spot him with his entourage at an Atlantic City casino as they were to see him on the basketball court. Reebok also released 1,996 pairs (signifying the year Iverson was drafted first overall and ahead of Kobe Bryant) of the updated "Banner Question" in 2014 to commemorate the retirement of Iverson's jersey.
2. Reebok “Shaqnosis” (1993)
Ah, those were the days...back when you could add "Shaq" to any word and it worked! A young Shaquille O'Neal dominated the court and, soon after, turned in the finest acting performance of his career in Blue Chips. I remember thinking these sneakers were incredibly ugly at the time; now I desperately want them.
These unapologetic classics got a re-release in the summer of 2013.
They exude '90s cool with their forthright approach and stark design that looks like an attack from Havok of the X-Men, except in shoe form. The "Big Aristotle," a.k.a. "Shaqtus," no longer has a partnership with Reebok, so you'll have to ask the Kazaam star in person for the throwback release of your dreams.
1. Air Jordan 11 Bred (1995)
The black accents of patent leather on the toe and sides added a threatening element to the shoe, as if Michael Jordan decided to dress fancy before kicking opponents' butts.
The red Jumpman logo on the backside of the ankle adds a nice touch, as do the red soles creeping up to expose themselves. These red-and-black artworks stand as the sexiest shoes in the history of footwear.