The Coolest Basketball Sneakers of All-Time

 AP Photo

The great basketball players are defined by their sneakers. Okay, so they’re also defined by championships, MVPs, All-Star appearances and whether or not their bust hangs in the Hall of Fame.

But the true superstars of the game have all become bigger celebrities because of  their footwear. Michael Jordan went from world’s best basketball player to world’s biggest superstar thanks in large part to the “Air Jordan” persona created by Nike to sell sneakers. With that in mind, Kels Dayton gives you his Great 8: Coolest Basketball Sneakers of All-Time.

What’s your list?















Iverson “Question”

 Release Date: 1996

These beauties broke into the league when A.I. did, and they made just as big a splash. The Questions aren’t just a sneaker, they’re a statement. Wearing these sneakers means you’re a fan of what Iverson brought to the NBA. His appeal was divided along racial and age lines, and his cornrows, tattoos and baggy shorts made him even more polarizing. These sneakers captured all of that in a sleek, cool-looking design.













Nike Air Pippen II

Air Pippen. The name alone makes these sneakers a must-have for everybody who identified more with Robin than Batman, or Chong rather than Cheech.

I remember rocking these in the seventh grade. They were the sleakest, coolest-looking sneakers I’ve ever worn. They’re classic and timeless, yet under-appreciated. Kind of like Pippen himself.














Reebok Pumps

No list of the coolest basketball sneakers would even be close to complete without the legendary Reebok Pumps, which were immortalized by Celtics guard Dee Brown in the 1991 NBA Slam Dunk contest. Before each of his dunks, Brown pumped up the crowd and his sneakers by pushing the basketball “button” on the tongue. After working the crowd into a frenzy, Brown threw down this famous no-look dunk and clinched the title for himself.













Jordan VII

It’s almost unfair to list the Jordans individually because so many of them are so spectacularly awesome. MJ rocked the 7’s during the 1992 season and Barcelona Olympics, and he instantly made them the most coveted shoe on the planet. The shoes was re-released in 2012 in this sweet “Raptors” color scheme and will be released in “Suns” blue and orange again later this year. They reflect a time when MJ was at the absolute height of his game, on the cusp of becoming the world’s biggest superstar and the greatest player in history.
















Jordan XI

MJ rocked these during the Bulls’ take-no-prisoners 1996 season, when they ran roughshod over the rest of the league en route to a 72-10 record. The 11’s signify the excellence of that team. They were actually inspired by the movie Space Jam, and Jordan rocked these beauties in that cinematic great. They kind of look like they’re from outer space, don’t they?




Barkley CB 34

These beauties were re-introduced to the public in 2011 and bring you back to the mid-90s, when the Chuckster was in his prime. They were available in Houston Rockets red, gray and white, but are also out in Suns white, orange and purple. Everything about these sneakers says 90s, and that’s why they’re so great. It really was the best decade ever.












Larry Bird Converse Weapons

This one came in Celtics green and white and Lakers purple and gold. It’s just classic, like the Beatles’ White Album or Tupac’s “All Eyez on Me.” (Depending on your musical taste, of course). Larry and Magic made these famous in this commercial, which is spectacularly cheesy and just terrific overall.












Jordan XII

 These hold a special place in the heart of every true MJ fan. Jordan rocked these during the Bulls’ last run in 1998. They were a must-have when I was in eighth grade, and I still remember that one of my classmates, Rocky Cellupica got these months before me.  (What’s up, Rocky?) When I finally did get the 13’s, I didn’t even want to wear them because I thought I was going to ruin them.

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