Choosing the perfect pair for your hoop sessions has become more difficult in recent years as the options seem limitless.
Nike Basketball and Air Jordan have continue to dominate the market over the past five years, with a solid hold on the best of the NBA. Both brands keep players engaged with signature kicks, daily colorway stories to inspire and keep kicks looking fresh, and re-releases upgraded with technical elements to keep the old favorites relevant. adidas does the same, with a unrivaled hold on the lightweight market, looking to make its athletes lighter and fast on their feet. In the past five years, basketball brands have brought new technology including Nike's Hyperfuse, Lunarlon, and Flywire, adidas' Sprintframe, along with welcoming newcomer Under Armour to the game.
With Under Armour releasing
No. 25 - Nike Air Sharkley
Innovative Feature: Zoom Air
What do you get when you take 2 signature sneakers from 2 of the most tenacious board crashers in NBA history and fuse them together? One of the best ourdoor specific hoop shoes ever created since the original Nike Air Raid, that’s what.
These bad boys were comfortable, fit well and were built like tanks. It's easy to see why these are still worn on the court today.
No. 24 - Nike Air Sharkalaid
Innovative Feature: Dual Cross-Straps, Zoom Air
So nice, we had to list them twice. Nike kept it simple by retaining the comfort & durability of the Sharkley while giving fans what they really wanted... those awesome dual cross straps from the Nike Air Raid. The only thing that would appease outdoor ballers more would be to re-release the Air Raid once again.
No. 23 - Nike Zoom Hyperfuse
Innovative Feature: Hyperfuse construction, Zoom Air
With Outdoor players in mind, Hyperfuse technology was born and forever changed the way footwear was pieced together. Nearly every brand has formulated their own type of 'Fuse' construction yet Nike still leads the pack by constantly re-engineering their popular three-layered material.
No. 22 - Under Armour Micro G Torch
Innovative Feature: Micro G Foam
Surprised to see Under Armour on the list? You wouldn’t be scratching your head right now if you've ever played in a pair.
Light, fast and free, plus add in the extreme comfort of Micro G Foam and you will be praising Under Armour's rapid innovation in the Basketball performance field. They may not have a plethora of on-court options like the other brands but out of the few models that are available, Under Armour isn’t doing too shabby.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 21 - Air Jordan 2011
Innovative Feature: First interchangeable midsole system, Zoom Air cushioning and Encapsulated Air cushioning
The first ever interchangable midsole system was the biggest story with the 2011, meant to provide cushioning for one's dynamic set of plays. One soles for two different type of players puts the AJ 2001 on our list with high marks for versatility.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 20 - Jordan Q Flight
Innovative Feature: Targeted Hyperfuse construction, Zoom Air
While the Air Jordan 2011 offered two different flight options, most of us just require one.
For speedy guards, the Jordan 2011 Q Flight was one of the best options available in 2011. Offering up plenty of ventilation, cushion and best of all, traction. You couldn’t beat the price either which comes in at almost half the cost of the Jordan 2011.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 19 - Jordan Melo M8 Advance
Innovative Feature: Max Air, 10mm Zoom Air, Hyperfuse construction
Carmelo's 8th signature sneaker is one of the most versatile sneakers currently available as it’s suitable for nearly any position on the floor, combining premium cushion with insane traction.
If it’s so good then why isn’t it ranked higher on the list? To be perfectly honest, you can’t rank too high when it takes 2 tries to get it right. If the Jordan Melo M8 Advance would have simply been the Jordan Melo M8 then we'd have placed it higher on the list, however, kudos to Jordan Brand for fixing the ventilation issue found with the original M8.<div></div> <p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 18 - adidas Pro Model 08
Innovative Feature: EVA midsole, FITfoam insole
Classic styling, solid traction & great comfort all at an affordable price point.
The adidas Pro Model 08 was not just a team friendly option but also one of the most highly regarded performance models to come from the 3 stripes that didn’t feature Pure Motion or Feet You Wear technology.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 17 - Nike LeBron 8 V2
Innovative Feature: Targeted Flywire, 360 Max Air
The LeBron VII was good but the LeBron 8 was even better.
Fine tuning the 360 Air Max and really targeting the Flywire panels made the LeBron 8 one of the best on-court options from his signature line so far. It was also the first time any signature athlete had a version of their signature throughout the season telling a full-on story... a story that was to be continued until the following season; when LeBron finally earned his 1st ring.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 16 - Nike Air Max Hyperposite
Innovative Feature: Hyperfuse/ Foamposite construction, 360 Max Air
This would have made a great LeBron 9.
We know that everyone loves the classic Nike Air Foamposite One but here's a little secret, this is the best on-court shoe to feature Foamposite, ever. Mixing the 3 of Nike's most popular and proven technologies was genius and its quickly become a favorite for Guards and other quick, big men on the court.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 15 - Jordan Fly Wade 2
Innovative Feature: Hyperfuse upper, Basketball specific Lunarlon cushion
The Fly Wade was good but the Fly Wade 2 was awesome.
Basketball specific Lunarlon foam distributed your weight and impact evenly while providing you with a slight bounce with each step. The fit wasn't for everyone but those of us that were able to wear them comfortably loved the snug surroundings that held us in place with each step. I was disappointed to hear the Fly Wade 3 was scrapped - which was then followed by Wade's Jordan Brand departure - but for the two signatures we did receive, I sure had a great time playing in them.
No. 14 - Nike Zoom Kobe V
Innovative Feature: SkinWire, Low Cut, Zoom Air
After the awesomeness that was the Nike Zoom Kobe IV, I had high expectations for the ZKV.
Sure, the traction left much to be desired but you have to admit... it's one of the best low top sneakers of all time. Cushion was amazing and the fit has literally been unmatched by any other pair of kicks since. Add a slew of totally wicked colorways and NIKEiD options galore and your ZKV on-court options were nearly limitless.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 13 - Nike Zoom BB II
Innovative Feature: Double Last midsole, Zoom Air
Nike's Zoom BB series was a Guards dream shoe, no wonder Nash rocked them on the regular.
With full length Zoom and a nearly perfect fit, the Nike Zoom BB II left little room to complain. Full length herringbone was utilized as well, providing you with great traction no matter what surface you played on. Having a sneaker play this good and have it be suitable for indoor or outdoor ball is a big plus.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 12 - Air Jordan 2010
Innovative Feature: Independent toe cap, Bottom loaded Zoom Air
Independent toe caps need to use those more often. Having complete, unhindered freedom at the forefoot is something every player should experience at least once. Yeah... that window fogged up and held onto moisture more than it released it but everything else was virtually on point. Traction was fantastic and the cushion is awesome, like having a tempurapedic mattress for your feet.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 11 - Nike Zoom Huarache 08 Bball
Innovative Feature: Huarache Build, Zoom Air
You've never played in the Huarache 08? Hop on eBay and search for a pair because these were one of the most well-rounded shoes for the court. Perfect for almost every position on the floor, the Huarache 08 maximized traction and fit while providing you with responsive Zoom Air cushioning. It's okay to drool.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 10 - Li-Ning Turningpoint
Innovative Feature: Targeted Bounse & Cushion foam cushioning system
Long before Wade headed to China, Li-Ning was already a contender.
90's style with modern performance... what more can you ask for? Yeah, they do look a little like a Huarache but they sure don't play like one. Li-Ning's Bounse and Cushion foam setup will leave your legs wanting more on-court time while the super sticky traction could have you breaking your own ankles. Evan Turner chose to be different first and he's been really comfortable ever since.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 9 - Nike Zoom Kobe VI
Innovative Feature: SkinWire, Polyurethane Scales, Low Cut, Zoom Air
I want a shoe that molds to my foot. I'll admit, I had 'gimmick' stamped all over the Zoom Kobe VI when I first heard that. The insole was uncomfortable at first but given time they sure did mold to your foot. Zoom Air was back, right where it belonged, and the SkinWire is amazing. These featured one of the strangest design elements - scales - that were so unbelievably perfect I can't imagine the shoe to look any other way. This is definitely a future classic.<p></p><!--nextpage-->
No. 8 - adidas TS Supernatural Commander
Innovative Feature: PureMotion, adiPrene+
Built for a Center but features components smaller players enjoy. PureMotion, cilia traction, adiPrene+, straps, Did I mention PureMotion? You know you love these.<!--nextpage-->
No. 7 - adidas TS Supernatural Creator
Innovative Feature: PureMotion, adiPrene+
PureMotion, cilia traction, adiPrene+... and a zipper!!! Count me in!
I have no idea why but adding a simple zipper to a hoop shoe automatically increases the appeal. Personally, I blame the Nike Zoom Flight 98 & Gary Payton... Still awaiting a Retro of those as well... Nike?
No. 6 - Nike Zoom Soldier III
Innovative Feature: Semi-articulated Toe, Zoom Air
The Zoom Soldier line was known for a boot-like fit until these hit shelves. This was the beginning of a proper Post Season model for LeBron and consumers. This, according to some, is the modern day Air Jordan XI from a performance perspective. Just replace the full length Air for Zoom and add a couple straps then BAM! You have yourself a certified winner that most will approve of.
No. 5 - Nike LeBron X
Innovative Feature: Dynamic Flywire, 360 Visible Zoom Air
Will LeBron win another ring while wearing the LeBron X? Probably not as they'll have a Post Season model on his feet when he does that. This sneaker is incredible. The Dynamic Flywire is great as is the Fuse upper. What really makes the shoe is the all-new 360 Zoom unit, definitely worth a try today. Otherwise you're like that guy that always sees each year’s epic theatrical release when it finally releases on Blue Ray, and it’s no fun enjoying something that epic all alone.
No. 4 - adidas Rose 3
Innovative Feature: SprintFrame, SprintWeb, GEO Fit Collar
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. While we love new tech, sometimes it’s best to slightly modify what you know works until it becomes near perfect. That’s what adidas has been able to achieve with the Rose 3. These are by far one of the most well rounded Guard shoes of 2012.
No. 3 - adidas adiZero Rose 1.5
Innovative Feature: PureMotion
PureMotion... enough said...Well, not really. Plenty were upset when the Rose 2.0 debuted without PureMotion and rightfully so. All that aside, the Rose 1.5 upgraded in nearly every aspect of the 1.0 and quickly has become a classic amongst Guards all around the world.
No. 2 - Nike Hyperdunk
Innovative Feature: Flywire, Lunar Foam
There is always one shoe that spawns a new generation of performance footwear, the Hyperdunk is that shoe. Flywire made its debut and Lunar Foam was used for the first time - a failed attempt according to most yet people still love the shoe. It's hard to recall Nike ever having a series so successful year after year that didn't have a signature athletes name attached to it. This had plenty of good models that were a success but never an annual team model that left you anticipating what was in store for next year’s version.
No. 1 - Nike Zoom Kobe IV
Innovative Feature: Low cut, Flywire, Lunar Foam
The latest Air Jordan always broke necks but the Zoom Kobe IV broke stereotypes, featuring the same tech as the original Hyperdunk - Flywire, Zoom Air & Lunar foam - with added perfect traction, fit and lockdown made these all the more awesome. This was also one of the last high end performance models to use a primarily leather base besides the LeBron 8 V1.
If you were smart, you stocked up on multiple pairs, especially after they hit outlets, so you could keep playing in them years after they disappeared.