Recently I wrote an article on the 3 things I look for in a basketball shoe and I got thinking about the best basketball kicks I have worn in the 20 years I have been playing.
Through the years I have worn various brands of basketball shoes. Adidas, Converse, Nike, Reebok and even Andrew Gaze’s own shoe that was sold in Kmart. Even though I have had hundreds of basketball shoes, I was able to break my favourites down to 5 pairs.
5. Nike Air MZ3 1997
I wore these shoes in 1997. I was training with the Tigers under 20’s side, playing A grade mens in Dandenong and also playing in the university lunchtime competition. Ah to be young again and play hours and hours of basketball.
I remember these feeling super comfortable with a lot of support around the ankles. Only issues is that I went through two pairs of these as I popped the air cell.
After the second time I popped the heel air cell I was given a pair of Nike Air Fly By U Uptempo.
4. Nike Air Fly By U Uptempo 1998
Having this pair of shoes given to me after popping the air cell from my MZ3’s was awesome. What a great pair of shoes! The comfort and ankle support was amazing and the shock absorption was the best of any shoe I’ve worn, even to this day.
What made wearing these shoes even better was the fact that they even looked good. I never saw too many people wear this shoe. Not sure why, but I believe KG wore it in the ‘97 season. I remember these shoes lasting a long time but can’t remember when and why I moved on from these shoes. Maybe they just got old and worn.
3. Converse Aero jams 1993 (Larry Johnson)
The shoe that Grand Mama, Larry Johnson made famous. This was one of the first basketball shoes I ever wore. Boy was this super comfortable when I wore it. It was like running on pillows.
A few years ago I bought the re-released Aero Jams to hoop in. It was terrible! I got knee and ankle pains. Clearly the re-releases were not made for playing basketball.
I wore these shoes in 1993 during a high school basketball tournament. It was at this tournament that my dad first saw me play basketball and encouraged me to pursue it.
2. Nike Air KD 1’s 2009 (Kevin Durant)
The most recent pair of shoes in my top 5. These KD’s lasted me three years and I kept using it for outdoor ball for 2 years after that. I only recently threw them out when I moved to Sydney. All this time it was sitting in my shoe rack. After all those years of wear the only issue I had was a tear under the Nike tick.
This really was an amazing shoe. The ankle support with the braces made me feel secure when getting in the lane. These shoes were a higher cut than what I’m used to playing in, but it didn’t feel bulky. It was a little bit heavier than most of my shoes but shock absorption made up for the extra weight. It had full length zoom air with herringbone soles for good traction.
Not only was the shoe really practical for the way I played the game but it looked amazing too. I went with the full black with orange and blue. It was really sad to see me throw that shoe as it has an emotional connection to me. That was the shoe I trained and played in when I played in England. It’s amazing how we get attached to things.
1. Nike Air 1996 Zooms (Jason Kidd’s)
WOW, what a shoe! Best shoe that I ever wore and I even bought a second pair. I played with these shoes in 1997/98. They were the first pair of shoes I saw weighing under 14 ounces. The Kidd 1’s weighed in at 13.1.
If you have read my article 3 things I look for when buying a basketball shoe the first thing I look for is the shoes weight. As speed is a big component of my game I like shoes that are light. In 1997 these were like wearing feathers. They were super light and the traction on these shoes are still to be beaten.
On the forefoot of the shoe was rubber spikes to assist traction. The shoe reminded me of running spikes that sprinters use. When the shoe was brand new I remember it being slippery but after it was broken in the performance was amazing. I still haven’t had that experience with the newer generation of shoes.
Converse Denim Blue 1996 (Derek Anderson)
Specifically made for University of Kentucky, which went on to win the NCAA national championship in 1996. Was one of my favourite college teams with two players I loved watching. Derek Anderson and Ron Mercer whom both went on to play in the NBA.
I didn’t have the denim colour way but I did have the full white shoe with Kentucky blue star. These still are my favourite pair of shoes. I do not have it in my top 5 as I never used these pair of shoes everyday like the others on my list.
When I owned this pair of shoes I was just starting to take playing basketball seriously. I was playing A reserve domestic basketball in Dandenong in 1997; which was like playing rep now. The Melbourne Tigers fielded a team in this competition playing some of their under 20’s championship players alongside NBL bench players. This was the season where I was having massive games. Dropping 20 points on a regular basis and gave me the confidence after playing the Tigers to tryout for them.
The shoes itself was ultralight but lacked good padding to absorb shock. I guess you can say that for most Converse shoes. But still it was a shoe good enough to see over 12 months use out of it.
Trip down memory lane
Writing this article sure did bring back a lot of memories. Memories tied into the basketball kicks I wore throughout my career. I really haven’t had the emotional connection recently as I have the shoes from the 90’s. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m not balling seriously now. But for some reason it seemed that the basketball kicks of the later days had more soul, pardon the pun!
What do you think? Please use the comment section below to tell me.
To get the images for this article I’d like to recognise a few sites and thank them for the use of these images. Without them I would not have had the images of the shoes for this article. Thanks again!