Being fortunate enough to experience firsthand the tech advancements in performance basketball footwear over the last 25 years has been incredible and not to our surprise, there are quite a few great performance models that get the Retro treatment that will translate very well to on-court performance – even by today’s standards. If you prefer hooping in classics but have a hard time deciding which ones to lace up, then check out The 10 Best Retro Basketball Shoes to Play in Right Now.
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No. 10 - adidas Top Ten 2000
One of Kobe Bryant’s most revered moments in basketball footwear came from when he was signed with adidas. The most beloved might be the adidas ETQ Elevation but since those haven’t been released as a Retro yet – they’re due out Summer 2013 – the adidas Top Ten 2000 might just be the next best thing. Amazing traction and Feet You Wear technology are featured on the Top Ten 2000 making them a great on-court option for those who wish to have range of motion and maximize their tractions court coverage. They also translate well on outdoor courts so they will suit the needs for a variety of players.
No. 9 - Reebok Kamikaze II
Reebok may be bringing back their best 90’s footwear and labeling them Classics but that won’t stop a real baller from lacing them up and bringing them back to their original roots. Yes, they look great with jeans and shorts as a casual / cultural fashion statement but just remember that they’ve always been a basketball shoe and being brought out as a Retro won’t change that. Hexalite is their primary cushion source, which still works beautifully, while the traction is solid. They offer a surprisingly sturdy lockdown fit for support and come in a wide array of new flashy colorways which is perfect for the younger generation that like to add something unique to their game. The Reebok Kamikaze II is another pair that would make a great indoor or outdoor hoop shoe and they’re affordable to boot.
No. 8 - adidas Crazy 8
Another adidas model made famous by Kobe Bryant, the adidas Crazy 8 is a classic among classics when thinking back on older adidas Equipment models. Traction, support and style all rolled into one awesome looking silhouette featuring Feet You Wear. There is a reason why these keep getting re-released… it’s because they are still a fully functional hoop shoe. Surprised? Don’t be… it’s what they do.
No. 7 - Nike Zoom Pippen II
Nike’s Pippen lineup was usually a popular on-court (and off-court) option throughout the years but it wasn’t until a certain teammate of his was able to convince Pip that Zoom Air was greater than Max Air… and that’s when things got real. Pippen ended up liking Zoom Air so much that he had his first signature outfitted with a custom full length Zoom unit midway through the NBA Season which confused some consumers as their Nike Air Pippen’s clearly had a full length Max Air unit. Not to worry as herringbone, Zoom Air and a Huarache styled inner sleeve became the forefront of Pippen’s signature series and continued onto some of his later models with the brand.
No. 6 - Nike Air Penny II
The Air Penny series was a hit from the beginning and the Air Penny II is probably the most popular of Anfernee’s signature series. Featuring forefoot Zoom Air and heel Air Max – one of the first to utilize this cushion setup – offers wearers the cushion preferred by Guards and big men alike. A combo styled performer for a combo Guard was something new at the time as this was when signature sneakers really started to suit their namesakes game… something that seems to be lacking in certain signature models of today.
No. 5 - Air Jordan VII
Making their debut in ’92 and plays like a dream even now. This is what is so special about the Air Jordan series. Not only are the sneakers iconic and offer us years of nostalgia, but they still perform great… 21 years later. Yes, 21 years later. They feature full length Air – which is still used today – a Huarache styled inner sleeve – still used today – and an awesome design… not always used today. Hey, it’s not easy designing something that is both functional and fashionable. Hats off to Tinker!
No. 4 - Nike Air Penny III
When Foamposite was introduced it was either loved or loathed but when Nike and Penny simplified the liquid molded Polyurethane is when things got real interesting. Keeping the iconic lateral ‘wing’ for support but manufacturing it with Foamposite made for an ultimate support feature that looked cool as hell. While the rest of the performance features have translated throughout every Penny signature from 1-4; Forefoot Zoom, heel Air Max and an inner sleeve… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. These were a bargain as they sat at Nike Outlets when they Retroed so if you were lucky enough to grab a pair for $79 or less then we salute you.
No. 3 - Air Jordan XI
The Air Jordan XI is not meant for basketball… this is heard far too often and couldn’t be further from the truth. To be honest, the Air Jordan XI was an on-court beast back in ’95 and still can still out perform a lot of today’s redundant performance models. Back in ’95 your $125 bought you a design to drool over, Cordura Mesh side panels, patent leather, Carbon Fiber spring plate, full length Air and were marked with the seal of on-court approval… a Jumpman. If that doesn’t sound like a handful of top notch performance features then you might want to hang up your jersey now because these kicks were meant for ball’n on Hypebeasts, not supplying them with swag. 72-10… nuff said.
No. 2 - Air Jordan XII
What’s better than full length Air? Full length Zoom Air. The Air Jordan XII beefs up what the XI started and actually does it better for the most part. If you wanted something a bit lower profile then the Air Jordan XII might not be your first option but the traction, cushion and fit are all top notch. In addition to their outstanding performance features, the Air Jordan XII is built like a tank so if you wanted something that will last you a while then here you go.
No. 1 - Air Jordan XIII
The Air Jordan XIII has been shown a lot of Retro love over the years and you won’t hear any ball players complaining. MJ hooped in them during his quest for a 6th ring, Ray Allen broke the 3 Pt. Record rocking them and Nate Robinson played one of the best games of his career with the XIII’s laced on his feet. Just in case that isn’t enough; the Air Jordan XIII’s boast heel and forefoot Zoom Air, herringbone traction and a panther paw styled outsole that makes one heck of a stable platform. Add into the mix an asymmetrical collar for range of motion and you have yourself one of the greatest designs in basketball performance footwear of all time. Yeah, of all time.