Top 10 Basketball Shoes Of All Time

Dave MorrisonSenior Writer IOctober 13, 2008

10. Air Zoom Generations (LeBron’s first Shoe) - Nike

We have yet to see the full effect of brand “LeBron.” Obviously, LeBron and Nike are attempting to recreate the success they achieved with Michael Jordan. However, Jordan is the first and only, so Nike can only hope to use the Jordan blue print to guide LeBron’s line.

The reason why this shoe is on this list is more for the potential of what LeBron’s shoes can be. However, it is a quality basketball shoe with good colors. It is a low top, but a comfy shoe no less.

It has a simple swoosh on the side, and the bottom of the shoe had a good style, because let's face it—you see the bottom of LeBron’s shoes a lot when you watch him play.

9. Air Penny II - Nike

Remember when Penny had “lil Penny?” Throwing lobs to Shaq, Penny was an All Star player and had the kicks to prove it.

The Nike Air Penny II’s came in a black and white versions with blue and silver accents. The colors were awesome, the shoes had an air bubble in the heel, and a good-looking logo. Every point guard in America wanted these shoes.

When you look at the shoe, the color scheme just says, “Orlando Magic.”  They were comfy shoes that were very supportive, and they had reflective material around the swoosh logo as well as some other reflective lines.

8. KB8 - Adidas

Kobe’s first signature shoe was with Adidas, and it was called the KB8. It was Kobe’s second year in the league. The KB8s were solid basketball shoes, and had the same flare that Kobe had when he first came into the NBA.

They were popular, and used Adidas’ three stripes in a stylish way in combination with and the soles. The wrap around the outsoles was big and “bulgy,” which led to solid support when moving side to side. They were high tops with good ankle support and a unique looking sole. The KB8 is the shoe that represented Kobe’s entrance into his All-Star career.

7. The Question - Reebok

Iverson’s first signature shoe.  These are the shoes that Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan in. 

These classic-look kicks had the honeycomb bubbles in the front and back, and were one of the most comfortable shoes out there at the time. The color scheme was simple with the toe, accents and sole all being the same color, and the rest of the shoe being all white or all black.

The color combinations that have come out since are insane. I enjoy the original look of the high top in the blue and white, as well as in red and white. One of the most comfortable and popular basketball shoes of all time.

6. Air Jordan XI - Jordan

Probably the most popular Jordan of all time.  They came out during Jordan’s first full season back with the Bulls after his first stint in retirement. He won championship number four with them—and who could forget the patent leather wrapping around the whole shoe.

They were marketed as having brought sophistication to the basketball court. A very clean shoe, my personal favorite color combination was the original white with the black patent leather. They complemented Jordan’s full comeback to the NBA well.  

5. Air Jordan XIII - Jordan

These Jordans were featured in the film He Got Game, and Jordan played most of his last season with the Bulls in them. A little known fact is that he actually started to wear the Jordan XIV in the '98 finals, and was sporting them when he hit the picture-perfect jumper over Brian Russell to win championship number six.

But this is about the Jordan XIII.  They were the culmination of basketball shoes in the '90s. The colors they came in, as well as the low-top versions, were unbelievable.

The other special feature of these shoes was the hologram on the outside of the shoe near the ankle support, which blew a lot of people’s minds. Some people also said they looked like “pop-tart” shoes because of the texture on the sides of the shoe, but they are iconic and represent MJ’s last full season with the Bulls. The best color combination for the Jordan XIIIs is the black and red.

4.  Air Zoom Huarache 2k4 - Nike

Quite possibly the best basketball shoe ever made, as far as performance and style are concerned.  These shoes were immensely popular and still are in high demand.

An interesting story behind this shoe is it was actually supposed to be Kobe Bryant’s first signature shoe with Nike, but with the rape allegations Kobe faced right before the shoes' release, Nike decided to not publicly declare it was Kobe’s shoe. Kobe still wore them, as did just about every college and professional player.

You may recall the commercial where different Nike shoes mold and change and then the Air Zoom Huarache 2k4 sort of blossoms out of them. The marketing for the Huarache 2k4 was that it was the best combination of all of Nike’s best basketball shoes, I for one, agree. As far as playing basketball, I have yet to find a shoe that is it’s equal.

3. Air Force 1 - Nike

What can be said about the Air Force 1?  Nelly wrote a song about it, Rasheed Wallace still rocks them and they have more color combinations then any other shoe.

The Air Force 1 is by far one of the most popular basketball shoes, if not shoes of all time. They come in three versions—a low top, the mids, and the high tops.

The breakthrough thing about these shoes was they were the first to use Nike’s Air Technology in the sole. This led to all the other shoes seen later with “air bubbles” in the heels and soles. The two most popular color combinations Air Force 1s are the white on white and the all-black.

2. Chuck Taylor All–Stars - Converse

Also known as the “Chucks.” They are simply canvas and a rubber sole, and basically started the whole basketball shoe market. The “Chucks” had a converse star patch, with Chuck Taylor’s signature on the outside of each shoe right on the ankle.

They originally were designed specifically for basketball, but have rarely been used for their original purpose recently.  The fact is, they offer no real support for cutting and lateral movement, as well as the pounding of jumping and running in a basketball game. They were, however, the best-performing basketball shoe in the world when they first came out in 1917. Classic black has been the most popular color but they have come out with a smorgasbord of different colors in the last couple of decades.

1. Air Jordan I - Jordan/Nike

The shoe that made basketball shoes what they are today. The first Jordan came in black and red, and was actually banned by the NBA—which only made them grow in popularity. Michael Jordan was fined for wearing them, but he merely paid the fine for each game and continued to wear them.  Eventually, the NBA dropped the rule. 

These shoes were simple, but they changed basketball shoes forever. No one knew that you could charge $150 dollars for a pair of sneakers, but Nike soon found out you could. The legendary status of the Air Jordan Is is unmatched and possibly will never be. The phenomenon that is Michael Jordan really took off with these shoes. Not to say

Jordan couldn’t have been Jordan with out a pair of Nikes, but to create his iconic status he needed the right footwear to take it to that next level. Nike put together not only a good shoe, but a fantastic marketing plan that Jordan took flight with. (Pun intended.)


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.