Today's general conversation about basketball sneakers centers around the shoes released decades ago rather than today's performance-enhanced shoes. Retroed sneakers take up over
Blogger: Abe Schwadron, Assistant Editor/Kicks at SLAM
Sneaker: Reebok Answer V
Original release year: 2001
When the Answer V came out in '01, I was playing middle school basketball, and knew I had to have them. Not only was AI my favorite NBA player—and clearly the pro baller with the most street cred at the time (maybe ever)—but the commercials with Jadakiss rapping alongside Iverson had me hooked. "Jada and A-I, make sure you go get the A-5s!" Plus, they were among the most comfortable kicks to ball in, thanks to DMX cushioning and the velcro strap on the heel. I had the black and grey colorway, and they were super-funky. But crossing someone up in the Vs earned me plenty of daps as a scrawny seventh-grader.
This is one of those sneakers that has only grown in stature for me since I first owned a pair as a teenager back in, well, 1989. The lows have been retro-ed over and over again, but the highs have strangely never been revived despite being (in my opinion) the better shoe. From the "Flight" script on the tongue to the plastic side vents to the Jordan-inspired variable lacing and NIKE AIR heel counter to the mix of smooth and tumbled leather, these were a premium release before "premium releases" were even a thing. And while I'd love a chance to double up for old time's sake, they'd have to be re-done perfectly.
Blogger: Jacques Slade of Kustoo
Sneaker: Nike Air Raid
Original release year: 1992
I know there is talk about it coming back, but I just want to put my word in to make sure it happens. I remember seeing some of the older kids in my neighborhood playing in them and considering how much I loved basketball back then, I wanted these as well. I really loved basketball before I loved sneakers and I wanted anything that would make me play better. My logic was flawed, but I thought since all the older good players in my neighborhood were wearing these, that I needed to get a pair to be as good as they were. Obviously, I was wrong about that, but the distinct style and seeing them for the entire summer of 1992, permanently etched them in my brain.
Blogger: Ben Berry of The Hoop Doctors
Sneaker: Nike Zoom Sharkley
Original release year: 2008
While hybrid sneakers seem to be uniformily disliked in the sneaker community, the combination of the Air Max CB 94 & Nike Shake N'destrukt to form the Nike Zoom Sharkley is 100% accepted by me. As someone who primarily plays outdoor ball, taking the toe & strap direction from the Dennis Rodman-worn Shake N'destruckt and putting them on the re-imagined upper of the Air Limelight with Charles Barkley-worn CB Max 94 inspiration makes for a hoops sneaker with a customizable lockdown fit and premium cushioning designed to last thru repeated asphalt play.
Not only did the Sharkley come in a full-grain leather, nubuck, or a shiny patent-type leather, all three of those upper options were available for customization thru Nike iD for a very long time.
Blogger: Chris Chase of KicksOffCourt
Sneaker: Nike Air Pippen II & III
Original release year: 1998-99
I couldn't just pick one especially with the recent launch of the Nike Air Pippen 1 Retro in fresh new colorways. I know the Air Pippen II saw a Retro release back in 2005/06 (I have two pairs of them), however, I'd like to see them come back again. Not only just so that I can see them on shelves but also so that I could hoop in them without worrying if the glue will hold up. Besides... Nike forgot to re-release the original Playoff colorway Scottie wore during their last Championship run so it'd be nice to have the opportunity to grab a pair.The Pippen III is one that I never owned and always wanted. I think Scottie was on the Rockets once those release and I loved the White/ Black - Red & White/ Navy colorways. Such a clean design that looks great on and off the court. Yes, I'd hoop in these too.
C'mon Nike... you can't just release the first Pippen and pretend as if the others never existed! If you can re-release The Glove & restart the Air Penny series with the 5... then you must release the Pippen 2 & 3.
Blogger: Nick DePaula of SoleCollector
Sneaker: Nike Ultraflight
Original release year: 2003
The first shoe I spent my own money on was the Hyperflight. The first shoe I spent my own money on and loved playing in was the Ultraflight. With a hugging full-length inner bootie, full-length Zoom Air unit and support chassis to keep everything all locked in, the Ultraflight was everything the Hyperflight wasn't. It was one of the best performing shoes of the decade. Designed by Aaron Cooper, headlined by Gary Payton and even worn by then-SVSM star LeBron James, versatile players of all sizes would definitely fall in love with the Ultraflight were it to rightfully return once again.
Blogger: Zac Dubasik of SoleCollector
Sneaker: Zoom LeBron II
Original release year: 2005
The good news is that based on his popularity, MVP trophies that are stacking up, and multiple rings now being won, it's probably only a matter of time until the LeBron line starts being retroed. The bad news is that it hasn't happened yet. And compared to the timeframe in which the Air Jordan line began to retro, it's running behind schedule. The Ken Link-designed Zoom LeBron II, from aesthetics to performance, offered that perfect balance of speed and power. It was protective, while still mobile, and looked great at the same time. Based on the fact that there were so few colorways that actually released (there were far more PEs and samples), tracking down DS original pairs isn't an easy task, which makes a future retro even more appealing.
Blogger: Trey Kerby of The Starters on NBA TV, formerly The Basketball Jones
Sneaker: Reebok -- Reignman III
Original year release: 1997-98
The Shaqnosis came back. The Kamikaze 2 came back. A whole bunch of Iversons came back. The Dee Browns came back. So why not bring back the third iteration of the second part of Shawn Kemp's signature line? You know, from when he played for the Cavaliers and became the go-to joke for NBA excess? Cool times.
But seriously, look at these. They're like a cartoon marshmallow version of a late-90s Reebok basketball shoe, all done up in a colorway that makes everything look icy when it's really just light blue. It's a great look, and if you disagree, perhaps you'd like to consult with my friend, Mr. Bone.
Not to mention, all the marshmallow-ness and Hexalite makes these super comfortable. Considering one of the greatest leapers in league history had put on a few pounds before wearing these, I guess that makes sense.
Blogger: Nick Engvall of Complex Sneakers
Sneaker: Nike Air Lambaste
Original release year: 1995
The question of what basketball sneakers to retro is a tough one. Frankly, there are so many retro models now that even the best will get lost in the shuffle. The Nike Air Go LWP is a perfect example. It's a great shoe, still performs with the best of them and didn't sell well enough for Nike to even produce all the retro colorways they intended.
One of my favorite basketball sneakers was the takedown of the Go LWP. The low-cut Nike Air Lambaste. Personal feelings aside, it would be interesting to see how this shoe would do if it retroed. In today's basketball sneaker world, low-tops are more the norm than they ever have been. The Lambaste may not be lightweight by today's standards but it is well below the median weight of performance basketball sneakers. On top of that, it's one of the few sneakers that Penny Hardaway played in that hasn't been retroed. And we all know how sneakerheads love Penny. The key to a successful retro to me is keeping it true to the original. Although these might find their way onto the local basketball court (and maybe even the NBA), the memories are what sell them to most of us.
Blogger: Aron Phillips
Sneaker: Converse Voltage
Original release year: 1995
Growing up in North Andover, Mass., Converse has always had a special place in my heart. And the Converse Voltage is one silhouette that never got the love it deserved.
Back in 1995, Converse was the official shoe of the NBA, and the Voltage was worn by the likes Latrell Sprewell (in the air) and Anthony Mason (on the ground). At the same time, Converse kicked off a collegiate program featuring a full head-to-toe look for Nebraska, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and New Mexico, as well as footwear at other schools like Santa Clara, where senior point guard Steve Nash played.
Fueled by Converse’s patented REACT juice, which flowed through the heel chamber to ensure that the shoe was continually reacting to the foot’s movement, the Voltage played as well as it looked. And with its lightning-themed and star-studded upper, the shoe (with its name emblazoned on the tongue) was clearly ahead of its time. It’s time to bring it back.