Kicks

Outside of winning an MVP award, championship, or being elected into the Hall of Fame, the next highest honor is receiving your own signature shoe. Nike continues to dominate the signature basketball shoes but Under Armour and adidas have made some noise signing promising and young NBA stars.

With Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, and Damian Lillard receiving their first signature shoe (Nike, Under Armour, adidas), we have decided to look back and compile the 50 best signature shoes of all time.

Let’s get started:

#50. adidas T-MAC 4

PLAYER: Tracy McGrady
YEAR: 2004

adidas TMAC 4One of the most shocking moments in basketball history happened in the T-MAC 4. Against Tim Duncan and the Spurs, McGrady exploded for 13 points in 35 seconds to fuel an unlikely come-from-behind victory. Devin Brown, we still haven’t forgotten about your fall which completed this comeback further proving adidas’ slogan: “Impossible Is Nothing”.

#49. Starbury

PLAYER: Stephon Marbury
YEAR: 2006

stephon-marbury-shoes

Sold through college merchandise store Steve and Barry’s, the Stephon Marburys provided as a low cost alternative to the basketballers. Those who played outdoors often would understand how quickly shoes would wear out. Marbuy gave back by providing basketball shoes for as low as 15 bucks. These gave back to those in need and provided the most bang for your buck.

#48. Jordan Melo 1.5

PLAYER: Carmelo Anthony
YEAR: 2005

Jordan Melo 1.5

Carmelo’s first signature shoe came with a decimal in the name. Since Jordan Brand decided to fuse and combine styles from the Air Jordan I and Air Jordan II; the Melo 1.5 name is quite fitting. In 2014, Jordan Brand chose to retro the 1.5 for the newer generation of Kicksologists.

#47. adidas J Wall 1

PLAYER: John Wall
YEAR: 2014

adidas J Wall 1

After a stint with Reebok, Wall jumped brands and landed with the 3-stripes. First, he started with a few PE colorways of classic adidas models. adidas decided to reward Wall with his own signature line a year after his first All-Star appearance and Slam Dunk championship.

46. Jordan CP3 VII

PLAYER: Chris Paul
YEAR: 2013

jordan-cp3-vii-blackwhite-gym-red-cement-grey-0• Jordan Brand gave one of the most decorated point guards of the 21st century his own line. Most of his shoes were overlooked until the CP3 VII. The upper consists of leather and Flywire cables for a solid lock down. Ventilation and breathable side panels were a focus for the VII’s. At this time, Paul’s running mate Blake Griffin doesn’t have a signature shoe but both have donned Jordan Brand and lead the Los Angeles Clippers to success.

45. adidas T-Mac 2

PLAYER: Tracy McGrady
YEAR: 2002

adidas-return-of-the-mac-fnl-03

After wearing a ton of PEs during his first couple of years in the league, Tracy McGrady came on court in his first adidas signature shoe during the 2001-2002 NBA season. The best of Tracy’s long-lasting adidas line came a year later with his second signature, the adidas T-MAC 2. It was one of the first low-cut basketball sneakers to receive positive feedback from consumers.

44. Nike Shox BB4

PLAYER: Vince Carter
YEAR: 2000

12_200_NGC_Shox_Bb4_Hoh_ 020

Eric Avar went to work to come up with a new design using Nike’s innovative technology. Using Nike Shox, Avar added the Shox to the heel to give the basketball shoes a space age look. Vince Carter surely made fans believe with his unbelievable dunks. Carter’s most memorable moment came when he sprung over the seven-foot Frenchman for an iconic photo finish.

43. Nike Durant V

PLAYER: Kevin Durant
YEAR: 2012

Nike KD V Aunt Pearl•The KD V left the low cut and straps and went with a more traditional look. The price tag also moved from $90 to $115. Designer Leo Chang decided to use Hyperfuse for the upper to go along with a heel Max Air unit and a forefoot Zoom Air. Weighing in at 12.6 oz, the KD V gave the midtops a reasonable weight.

42. adidas Attitude

PLAYER: Patrick Ewing
YEAR: 1986

adidas-originals-attitude-hi-knicks-1-1

Michael Jordan proved that a marquee athlete could propel a signature sneaker, and a year after the Jordan 1 dropped, adidas tried its luck with the concept by putting Patrick Ewing in the Attitude. Ewing’s first signature style became a hit on and off the court, and the most sought-after colorway was the New York Knicks version. Like a lot of adidas’ sneakers from the mid ’80s, the Attitude was designed in France.

41. adidas The KOBE

PLAYER: Kobe Bryant
YEAR: 2000

Adidas The Kobe White

The adidas KOBE was inspired by the Audi TT Roadster. With it’s wild and sleek design, adidas attempted to stand out. Kobe’s first championship came in the adidas KOBE. Many may not know this but Kobe disliked the comfort of the KOBE 2 and opted to rock the original KOBE for the 02′ Finals versus the New Jersey Nets en route to his second championship in the KOBE.

40. Jordan Melo M10

PLAYER: Carmelo Anthony
YEAR: 2014

jordan-melo-m10-2

The cursive Melo signature on the chrome heel is brought back as the M10s were designed as an anniversary shoe. Bringing back the old, but staying innovative with the new. The Melo M10 featured the Flight Plate that was introduced with the Jordan XX8. Oh yeah, most importantly, Michael’s go to designer Tinker Hatfield came up with the M10 designs.

39. FILA Ninety6 Grant Hill 2

PLAYER: Grant Hill
YEAR: 1996

fila-grant-hill-ii-2-ninety-6-white-navy-release-date

Grant Hill’s second signature shoe re-released under the Ninety6 alias. The upper featured tumbled leather and patent leather trimming along the silhouette. The heel was unique as the velcro strap allowed users to adjust to their comfort. On the lateral side of the shoe, the classic FILA logo is found on the ankle.

38. adidas adiZero Rose 2

PLAYER: Derrick Rose
YEAR: 2010

adidas-adizero-rose-2-black-red-running-white

Before Derrick Rose was known as a “what if” player, he took the league by storm, captured his first MVP, and led the Chicago Bulls back to the NBA Playoffs. The “what ifs” began to circulate once Rose tore his ACL and became injury plagued season after season. adidas has done a great job staying innovative with technology but Rose’s athletic and lethal style of play is the main reason for his injuries.

37. Nike Zoom Flight V

PLAYER: Jason Kidd
YEAR: 1997

Nike Air Zoom Flight (Kidd)

Jason Kidd’s first signature shoe is considered one of the best-performing Nike basketball sneakers for its comfort level, stability, and traction. The Nike Air Zoom Flight V also possessed some distinctive design cues, including the iridescent “bug eye” on the midsole. Five years ago, this shoe appeared on NikeiD, but it no longer bore the “Kidd” logo, because of his current affiliation with PEAK.

36. Li Ning Way of Wade 2

PLAYER: Dwyane Wade
YEAR: 2014

Li-Ning-Way-of-Wade-2

Dwyane Wade became one of the first major superstars to leave an American athletic brand for an Asian brand. Riding his popularity from his championships with LeBron James, Wade put Li Ning on the map. The Way of Wade 2s became popular with sneaker collectors as Li Ning would produce wild colorways for the shoes. From a design stand point, the Way of Wade 2s were solid all around.

35. Nike Air Alonzo

PLAYER: Alonzo Mourning
YEAR: 1997

obscure-signature-shoes-12

Alonzo Mourning didn’t receive his first signature shoe until he signed with the Miami Heat. Lucky for him, the Heat sport black,red, and white which makes a great colorway. The hightops are a staple for big men to protect their feet. The best thing about the shoes has to be the 33 etched into the two highest lace loops.
 

34. Reebok Answer I

PLAYER: Allen Iverson
YEAR: 1997

Reebok Answer I
The Reebok Answer was the official start to the Answer series, the second-longest-running signature series in the history of basketball footwear (after the Air Jordan). It featured the innovative 10-pod DMX cushioning, a system of encapsulated air that flowed from heel to toe and back as you ran in the shoes. The Answer is considered one of, if not the greatest, sneaker in Iverson’s extensive signature series.

33. Nike Air Zoom GP

PLAYER: Gary Payton
YEAR: 1997

SC GP 8

Gary Payton may have been one of the biggest trash-talkers to ever play the game, but his first signature model was far from garbage. The Nike Air Zoom GP featured a buckle that wrapped over the laces for a snug fit, and the unforgettable oval-shaped gradient would go on to appear on other famed Nike silhouettes.

32.Reebok Shaq Attaq

PLAYER: Shaquille O’Neal
YEAR: 1993

Reebok Shaq Attaq• Coming to the league in 1992, “The Big Fella” was set to be the face of the Orlando Magic and Reebok. Shaquille O’Neal’ became Reebok’s first signature athlete. The Shaq Attaq featured a high-cut design and Pump technology made famous by Dee Brown. Shaq’s iconic Dunkman logo debuted with these shoes too.

 

31. Nike Zoom Kobe V

PLAYER: Kobe Bryant
YEAR: 2010

Nike Zoom Kobe 5 White - Del Sol - Purple

“Lighter” and “lower” proved to be the two popular performance characteristics in today’s basketball game. Eric Avar-designed Nike Zoom Kobe V killed it on both accounts. This sneaker is currently the lightest basketball sneaker on the market, weighing in at 10.6 ounces. Although the Nike Zoom Kobe IV will always be credited for the beginning of the low-top craze, Kobe’s fifth signature showed the refinement of Nike’s Flywire technology. Many sneaker enthusiasts that have tried this low-top sneaker on the basketball court have labeled the Kobe V one of, if not the best, performance-based sneakers ever.

30. Nike Air Penny I

PLAYER: Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway
YEAR: 1995

Air-Penny-1-1b

Nike laced Penny Hardaway in classic sneakers during his first two seasons in the NBA, and when it finally supplied him with a signature model during the 1995-96 NBA season, it was a hit. The Nike Air Max Penny kicked off one of the most respected sneaker lines ever. This Eric Avar-designed sneaker was backed by the Lil’ Penny ad series, some of the greatest basketball sneaker commercials ever.

29. Nike Air Pippen 1

PLAYER: Scottie Pippen
YEAR: 1997

Nike Air Pippen 1

In these years, Michael Jordan received most of the hoopla and attention while Pippen quietly put up superstar numbers during his career with the Bulls. Likewise with sneakers, MJ’s signature line overshadowed Pippen’s signature series. The Pippen line was full of classics though; the Nike Air Pippen I was one of the first basketball sneakers to possess a full-length Max Air bag.

28. Nike Air Jordan 4

PLAYER: Michael Jordan
YEAR: 1989

Air Jordan 4 Bred

The Air Jordan IVs remain one of the most sought out models of Air Jordans today. Back in the day, a fellow by the name of Spike Lee directed a film by the name of “Do the Right Thing” That classic made the Jordan IVs incredibly popular. Like the Air Jordan IIIs, Tinker continued the use of the heel Air bubble.

27. Ewing Athletics 33 HI

PLAYER: Patrick Ewing
YEAR: 1993

Ewing-Athletics-33-Hi-Knicks

In 1989, Ewing began his own shoe company. His line of signature shoes includes: Rebound, Center, Concept, Domain, Focus, Wrap, Rogue, Eclipse, and Empire but none were more sought after than the 33 HI.Ewing’s best season came in the 33 HI as he averaged 28.6 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks per game. Not only was it solid for Ewing, it became a staple for the streets and lifestyle wear.

26. Nike Air Garnett III

PLAYER: Kevin Garnett
YEAR: 1999

nike air garnett 3

Nike quickly hopped on the Kevin “Da Kid” Garnett bandwagon when he jumped straight to the pros out of high school. On court, Garnett came out wearing player exclusives for the first couple of years that Nike then followed with two subpar signature shoes. His third signature model, dubbed the Nike Air Garnett III, was better received, and was the most successful model of his short tenure with Nike. Last year, this sneaker rereleased as the Nike Air 3. Garnett is currently signed to Anta.

25. adidas Mutombo

PLAYER: Dikembe Mutombo
YEAR: 1992

Adidas Mutumbo Blue White

Signature sneakers are at their best when the respective brand incorporates the player’s beliefs, personality, and/or characteristics into the shoe’s design. For Dikembe Mutombo’s signature sneaker, adidas did just that, incorporating this player’s passion for helping his native African culture. It is one of the most unique signature sneakers ever

24. adidas KB8

PLAYER: Kobe Bryant
YEAR: 1997

kobe kb8 allstar

Kobe Bryant took the NBA by storm during his 1996-97 rookie season. The three stripes snagged the young Philly native a year later and supplied Bryant with his first signature sneaker, the adidas KB8. It featured adidas’ Feet You Wear technology, which was designed to feel like a literal extension of the foot. This shoe was later retro’ed in 2005 as the adidas Crazy 8, as Bryant was no longer with the brand.

23. Air Jordan I

PLAYER: Michael Jordan
YEAR: 1985

Air Jordan 1 OG

The Air Jordan 1 kicked off the greatest sneaker line in the history of shoes. MJ accomplished some memorable feats in this shoe, including grabbing 1985 Rookie of the Year honors, receiving an All-Star game selection, and placing third in the league in scoring (28.2 ppg). For all of MJ’s on-court accomplishments, this Peter Moore-designed sneaker gained most of its notoriety by being banned by the NBA. NBA commissioner David Stern fined MJ $5,000 for each game MJ wore the shoes, a tab Nike gladly paid in return for the abundance of attention surrounding the signature start-up line.

22. Reebok Shaqnosis

PLAYER: Shaquille O’Neal
YEAR: 1992

reebok-classics-2013-shaqnosis-1

It was impossible not to notice the 7-foot, 300+-pound Shaquille O’Neal on court, and Reebok added to his can’t-miss stature by supplying “The Diesel” with one of the most uniquely designed signature shoes ever. This shoe’s hypnotizing upper was futuristic in terms of style, and the Shaqnosis did not disappoint in terms of technology. It featured Reebok Hexalite cushioning in both the forefoot and heel, as well as in a cup form around the sides for added heel support.

21. Reebok Kamikaze II

PLAYER: Shawn Kemp
YEAR: 1996

Reebok-Kamikaze-II-Official-Images-03

Shawn Kemp’s Reebok signature series was average at best, but the bright spot in his limited line was the Reebok Kamikaze II. It featured Reebok’s lightweight Hexalite cushioning, which provided an unmatched comfort level. Kemp went on to experience his best NBA season during this year, averaging 19.6 points and 11.4 rebounds.

19. Nike Zoom Flight ’98 “The Glove”

PLAYER: Gary Payton
YEAR: 1998

nike-air-zoom-flight-the-glove-sole-collector-sonic-wave-51

Nike came correct with using the “Glove” as inspiration for Gary Payton. For those who don’t know, Payton’s defense was so tight, he was often referred to as a glove. The Zoom Flight ’98 came with a shroud that could be zipped up. The shoes continued to become one of the most recognizable sneakers ever.

18. Nike KD 6

PLAYER: Kevin Durant
YEAR: 2013

nike-kd-6-vi-away-1-i

There must be a reason KD ditched the KD 7s for the 6s. The lowcut shoe did well in performance reviews amongst sneaker reviewers. Although they have a soccer boot look, the KD 6’s were great for the court. Nike continued to use Nike Zoom and Max Air as the primary cushioning.

17. Converse Aero Jam

PLAYER: Larry Johnson
YEAR: 1992

converse-aerojam-boys-grade-school

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were the two biggest Converse brand stars to ever lace them up, but at the end of their reign, Converse funneled its effort towards Larry “Grandmama” Johnson. The Converse Aero Jam was the first of two signatures LJ wore for Converse, and its distinctive features included a fade-splattered midsole, textured heel, and fade colors on the removable cover. The “Grandmama” advertising campaign behind this sneaker was just as interesting and engaging as the shoe itself.

16. Nike Air Max LeBron VII

PLAYER: LeBron James
YEAR: 2009

nike-lebron-7

LeBron James’ seventh signature sneaker, the Nike Air Max LeBron VII, was groundbreaking from a technological perspective, and it looked great. It was the first sneaker in the young king’s extensive collection to possess Nike’s innovative Flywire technology. The LeBron VII was also the first sneaker in his line to contain a full-length, 360 Max Air sole. Throughout the 2009-2010 NBA season, LeBron and Nike debuted over 20 colorways of this sneaker.

15. Air Jordan VI

PLAYER: Michael Jordan
YEAR: 1991

Nike Air Jordan 6

The Air Jordan VI may hold a special place in Michael’s heart. His Airness won his first NBA championship, he captured the second of his five MVP trophies in it, and he won the scoring title—all the IV. One of its distinctive design cues was the rubber tongue, which made the sneaker super-comfortable. This shoe also released in some spectacular colorways, including the “Infrareds” and the “Carmines.”

 

14. Nike Zoom Kobe IV

PLAYER: Kobe Bryant
YEAR: 2009

Nike Zoom Kobe IV

When it launched, the Nike Zoom Kobe IV’s low-cut build got a lot of “eh” reactions from the basketball crowd. But as more players began to wear it, the sneaker became one of the most consistently worn signature basketball sneakers in the NBA. This Eric Avar design was the first signature sneaker to feature Flywire and LunarLite Foam, two of Nike’s darling technologies of the past few years. The Kobe IV’s changed the meta on low-cut sneakers. Nike’s “Ankle Insurance” campaign was in the main focus and was highly successful.

13. Nike KD 4

PLAYER: Kevin Durant
YEAR: 2011

Nike Zoom KD 4 Photo Blue

The KD 4’s were Kevin Duant’s first true popular sneaker. In these kicks, Durant won his first scoring title, All-Star game, and scored a Gold medal at FIBA World Cups and took MVP honors there. Kevin Durant solidified his spot in the basketball world. He became recognized and the KD 4s weren’t bad to look at either. Originally retailing for $90, these would be the last affordable signature shoe for the consumers.

12. Nike Flightposite II KG

PLAYER: Kevin Garnett
YEAR: 2000

nike-air-flightposite-kg-black-obsidian-orion-blue-01

Before signing with And-1, adidas, and Anta, Garnett donned the Swoosh on the court. In his younger days with Nike, Garnett was blessed to receive the Flightposite KGs. The unique look came with a zipper to give the user a comfortable lockdown. Like Penny’s Foamposites, the exotic shoes were created with the intentions of breaking necks.

11. Nike Air Max2 CB34

PLAYER: Charles Barkley
YEAR: 1994

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Charles Barkley’s first official signature sneaker, the Nike Air Max2 CB94, is easily one of his most beloved models. It was inspired by Sir Charles’ on-court traits: tough, sturdy and durable. The Round Mound of Rebound gave big men shoes they could be comfortable in.

10. Nike Kobe 9 Elite

PLAYER: Kobe Bryant
YEAR: 2014

nike kobe 9 elite low beethoven box

Aesthetically, the Flyknit Elites looked great in both a high and low model. The Kobe 9 introduced Flyknit to the basketball world. With it’s flexible yet study upper, the Kobe 9s built the shoes up. Since Flyknit is produced to the product, materials waste was limited. After consecutive major injuries, Kobe returned to the court rocking both the Flyknit Elites (low and high).

9. Nike Air Zoom Generation

PLAYER: LeBron James
YEAR: 2003

Nike Air Zoom Generation Black White Red

The phenom from Akron, Ohio began his NBA career in the Air Zoom Generations. Nike immediately went to work after signing LeBron James to a $90 million contract. Originally $110, the LeBron James line has skyrocketed in popularity as did the price tag. In this model, the public only received 5 general release colorways.

8. Nike Air Penny II

PLAYER: Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway
YEAR: 1996

nike-air-penny-2-retro-dl-1

The Nike Air Penny II, Penny Hardaway’s second signature model, is arguably the most recognizable and successful sneaker in his line of kicks. Air Max in the heel and Zoom Air in the forefoot made the shoe extremely comfortable, and many sneaker addicts took an instant liking to the wavy foam midsole. The “Atlantic Blue” Penny IIs are classics.

#7. FILA Grant Hill

PLAYER: Grant Hill
YEAR: 1995

fila-95-grant-hill-1-01-570x570

Before the multiple ankle injuries, Grant Hill regularly flirted with triple-doubles for the Detroit Pistons. He did it all while wearing the FILA Grant Hill 1. Hill put FILA on the map as they became one of the most recognizable basketball sneakers ever created. This sneaker is undoubtedly FILA’s best-selling shoe to date. After sharing 1995 NBA Rookie of the Year honors with Jason Kidd at the end of the season, FILA reported that it sold 1.5 million pairs of Hill’s first signature shoe. It was the fastest-selling sneaker since the Air Jordans.

6. Nike LeBron VIII

PLAYER: LeBron James
YEAR: 2010

Nike LeBron 8 Black - Red - White

LeBron’s eighth signature sneaker came with his arrival in South Beach. Built on a solid foundation of a full length Max Air 360 unit, the shoes were perfect for LeBron’s game. These shoes did nothing to stop LeBron’s ability to be quick, strong, and athletic.

5. Nike Kobe VIII

PLAYER: Kobe Bryant
YEAR: 2013

Nike Kobe 8 Purple Gradient

The Kobe 8 was built with speed on mind. The engineered mesh delivered as a light and breathable material for the upper. The Lunarlon insole insert did it’s job with support as well as staying light. In the looks department, the Kobe 8s have more than 40 colorways and most were popular with fans.

4. Reebok Question

PLAYER: Allen Iverson
YEAR: 1996

Reebok-Question-White-Red-Release-Date

Allen Iverson owns one of the most influential sneaker lines ever created. His first signature sneaker, the Reebok Question, is the top-selling shoe in Reebok history and is arguably the most popular non-Air Jordan sneaker ever created. Many sneaker enthusiasts and basketball fans alike will remember the Question as the sneaker Iverson rocked when he broke Jordan’s ankles at the top of the key.

3. Air Jordan XI

PLAYER: Michael Jordan
YEAR: 1995 Jordan-11-Bred

Is there a more recognizable, powerful, or popular sneaker than the Air Jordan XI? In his first full season back from baseball, MJ had one of the better NBA seasons in his career. He became the second player ever to win MVP awards for the regular season, All-Star Game, and NBA Finals in the same season—and he did it all in this sneaker.

2. Nike Air Foamposite One

PLAYER: Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway
YEAR: 1997

nike-air-foamposite-one-royal-blue-900x900

The Nike Air Max Penny I was officially Penny’s first signature sneaker and featured his “Penny” one-cent logo. He was the only player in the NBA to wear this shoe in its debut year, while other players settled for the Nike Air Foamposite Pro. Nike won over many fans with its futuristic Foamposite technology.

1. Air Jordan III

PLAYER: Michael Jordan
YEAR: 1988

Air Jordan 3 Black Cement 2011

The Air Jordan III was the first of 14 Air Jordans developed by design mastermind Tinker Hatfield, and set the standard for all other Jordans to come. The III was the first Air Jordan to feature the Jumpman on the tongue of the shoe, and was also the first to possess a visible air unit and incorporate elephant print on the upper making these truly a classic.