Top Nine Best Athlete-Endorsed Basketball Sneakers
By Lou DiPietro
The holiday shopping season is upon us, and for many of the sneaker-philes out there, this year's letters to Santa likely included a request for a pair of the new Air Jordan XX8s that Thunder guard Russell Westbrook debuted in Brooklyn against the Nets on Dec. 4.
The unveiling of those new Jordans led to a heated discussion here at Niner HQ about the hottest kicks of all-time, and thus, you have the birth of a Niner. It seems as if every Tom, Dick, and Harry (and LeBron and Melo) in the NBA has their own shoe these days, but for our money, these nine classics are the ones we would most likely line up around the block on a frigid Black Friday for.
KARL MALONE - L.A. GEAR/LATRELL SPREWELL - DADA (tie)
They may be two of the ugliest shoes ever, but given the recent retro craze, who wouldn't want a pair of The Mailman's L.A. Gears with the lights in them or Spree's Dadas with the spinner? Since Dada has gone the way of the Dodo, the answer to the latter, at least, is apparently "everyone."
JASON KIDD - NIKE
Kidd's 1996 Air Zoom Flights looked a little creepy at first, but America fell in love with Jason and his sneakers sold like hotcakes. Now, 16 years later, they're still flying off shelves and J-Kidd is still balling with the best of them. That's what we in the biz call "it."
DIKEMBE MUTOMBO - ADIDAS
As this 1992 commercial reminds you, "man does not fly, in the House of Mutombo." We get the idea, but given that Dikembe is like 7-foot-2, wouldn't you think he'd have cathedral ceilings or something?
ALLEN IVERSON - REEBOK
AI was "The Answer," so what better to call his first signature shoe than The Question? Apparently, the answer to that question is The Answer, because Reebok made only a few "Questions" but over a dozen "Answers." Perhaps they should have just called the shoes "The Confusion" instead?
PATRICK EWING - EWING
Although Ewing's shoe line faded and eventually folded, the "Rogue" maintains status as one of the most sought-after exclusives shoes ever. And, with Ewing's recent announcement of a return to the shoe game, as new version may only be a hop, skip, and thunderous dunk away.
CHARLES BARKLEY - NIKE
Even though the "Round Mound of Rebound" spends more time in loafers and golf cleats these days, you can still buy the CB Air Max '95 today. As Chuck himself has said, rocking them may not make you as rich or handsome as he is…but it will make you have the same shoes as him.
CHUCK TAYLOR - CONVERSE
Speaking of Chucks, you may be surprised to see these on the list, let alone this high…but Chuck Taylor is in the Basketball Hall of Fame and his eponymous kicks are the highest-selling basketball shoe of all time, so the All-Stars deserve all the love they get.
DOMINIQUE WILKINS - REEBOK
For kids and adults alike, the Reebok Pumps were hotter in the early 1990s than the sun itself, and it didn't hurt that the "Human Highlight Film" used his pumped-up kicks to fly like Superman on a nightly basis.
MICHAEL JORDAN - NIKE/AIR JORDAN
When you can sell millions of pairs of the shoes to the right on name value alone, you're doing something right - but when a brand is so big that dozens of NBA stars sign on to wear another former colleague's name on their shoes, it can't help but be No. 1.