best performance sneakers 2003

Sneaker technology has come a long way in the last decade with the advent of lighter, more breathable materials and advanced cushioning setups. However, that doesn’t mean decade-old models aren’t able to hold up in today’s environment. In fact, there are many sneakers from 2003 which would still provide plenty of performance benefits. From running to basketball to soccer, there's a handful of models that pushed the technological envelope upon their release and remain suitable choices in 2013. These are 10 Performance Shoes from 10 Years Ago That We Would Still Rock Today.

Riley Jones is a freelance writer from Charlottesville, VA and contributor to Sneaker Report. With an unshakable affinity for basketball and all things ’90s, he can be found on Twitter @rchrstphr.

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Nike Zoom Spiridon 2003

No. 10 – Nike Zoom Spiridon (2003)

Key tech: Double-stacked Zoom Air cushioning
Notable athletes:
N/A

Nike’s original Zoom Spiridon from 1997 was one of the first running sneakers to use Zoom Air cushioning and featured a primarily mesh upper (which has since become commonplace on today’s performance sneakers.) Its 2003 update carried on tradition, adding even more breathable mesh to the upper and exposing the Zoom Air cushioning with a visible window.Nike Mercurial Vapor

No. 9 – Nike Mercurial Vapor

Key tech: Nikeskin upper
Notable athletes: Ronaldo

Nike’s speedy Mercuiral Vapor line has been tweaked and upgraded throughout the years, but the original was so innovative that it would still be a great choice in 2013. It introduced the Nikeskin upper construction and made use of a NikeFrame outsole. The Mercurial Vapor was notable for being worn by Brazilian legend Ronaldo.adidas TMAC 2

No. 8 - adidas T Mac 2

Key tech: adiPrene+ cushioning
Notable athletes: Tracy McGrady

T-Mac’s second signature model with adidas first debuted in 2002, but its releases carried into the following year. With the brand’s Torsion System for stability and adiPrene+ cushioning, the T Mac 2 is not too far off from their current offerings.Nike SB EQ

No. 7 – Nike SB Zoom E-Cue

Key tech: Protective synthetic shell on upper
Notable athletes:
N/A

While the majority of the skateboarding community was going crazy over Dunks, this ahead of its time model seemed to slide under the radar. It’s become even more obscure and rare over the last decade, but the Nike SB E-Cue helped to foreshadow some of the skateboarding advancements the Swoosh would make in the years to come. Air Jordan XVIII

No. 6 – Air Jordan XVIII

Key tech: Zoom Air cushioning
Notable athletes:
Michael Jordan

Mike didn’t play in many of the post-XIV Air Jordans, but the XVIII did receive plenty of love while he was a member of the Washington Wizards. Making use of a Carbon Fiber plate and midsole, this shrouded design was also loaded with Zoom Air cushioning. Whenever Jordan Brand decides to begin retro releases of its higher-numbered models, hopefully the XVIII will be among the first to reappear.adidas ClimaCool 2003

No. 5 – adidas Climacool

Key tech: Climcacool
Notable athletes: N/A

In 2013, Climacool is an oft-used technology from adidas, but 10 years ago it had its own running model. With plenty of breathable mesh and a supportive midfoot counter, these would still perform well on a run.Nike Zoom Ultraflight

No. 4 – Nike Zoom Ultraflight

Key tech: Zoom Air cushioning
Notable athletes:
Gary Payton, LeBron James

Picking up where 2001’s Zoom Hyperflight left off, the Nike Zoom Ultraflight pulled inspiration from a wide range of sources including a Nike track spike, performance car parts, and a translucent snow helmet. The result was a high performing model which also broke new ground aesthetically.Reebok Answer VII

No. 3 – Reebok Answer VII

Key tech: DMX cushioning
Notable athletes:
Allen Iverson

In 2003, Allen Iverson was still on top of his game despite his team’s struggles. His line with Reebok was still going equally strong, and the 7th iteration saw the return of DMX cushioning. With Reebok currently digging into their vaults with a string of retro releases, the Answer VII would be welcomed back with enthusiasm.Nike Air Max 2003

No. 2 – Nike Air Max 2003

Key tech: Full-length visible Air Max cushioning
Notable athletes: N/A

Breathable perforations? Check. Durable, flexible uppers? Check. Firm, full-length cushioning? Check. The Nike Air Max 2003 seemingly had it all, and its ventilation-heavy design is one of today’s most common performance features. Perhaps the most groundbreaking aspect of the Air Max 2013 was its unique synthetic, carbon fiber-based upper, which did away with leathers completely.Nike Air Zoom Generation

No. 1 – Nike Air Zoom Generation

Key tech: Zoom Air, Max Air
Notable athletes:
LeBron James

10 years ago, Nike introduced the first official LeBron James signature sneaker in the form of the Air Zoom Generation. Since then, it’s garnered a wide following for its historic significance. But that’s not the only great thing about the AZG. The Tinker Hatfield-designed model implemented Nike’s Sphere technology in its sockliner for moisture wicking and made use of both Zoom Air and Max Air for a balanced cushioning setup. The Air Zoom Generation’s 10-year anniversary has spawned rumors of a retro release, but nothing seems to be confirmed at this point.

Riley Jones is a freelance writer from Charlottesville, VA and contributor to Sneaker Report. With an unshakable affinity for basketball and all things ’90s, he can be found on Twitter @rchrstphr.

RELATED: The 10 Best Running Shoes of 2013 (So Far)
RELATED:
The 100 Best Running Sneakers of All Time

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