I could begin with some kind of joke about our shoe culture, but I know you just want me to get to the shoes!
I may as well make something clear before I upset the shoe gurus: I am not as much of a sneakerhead as I was in high school. Getting sent to the dean's office for selling shoes will do that to you - and yes, that actually happened. I was also threatened with suspension that same year for calling the local news station during a bomb threat. Fun times in New York...
But in all seriousness, the obsession with shoe culture is one that isn't going to change anytime soon and, honestly, can you blame people? We love seeing these fantastic shoes people break out, especially in the NBA where the NFL's ridiculous fashion laws don't apply.
Today, we're going to look at some of the best basketball shoes from 2017. Again, I am not the sneakerhead I once was, so if you expect scientific explanations on why these shoes are amazing and how they'll help your game, you're not going to find them. All you'll see here is someone who still wears Kobes explain why he likes those shoes. Cool? Cool.
Let's go window shopping - I mean, shoe hunting.
15 Nike Zoom Rev 2017
What works with these shoes? Looking at Devin Booker's version, I really like the way the chosen color mixes with the black to where it doesn't feel like a distraction, although I'll stress again I'm by no means an art expert. I'm still drawing stick figures at 20 years old.
Part of what gets the shoe on the list, and you may laugh at this, but is that it looks comfortable. Nike praises the textile upper for being "breathable, lightweight, and flexible" and I can definitely see why they'd say that. Besides, it helped Devin Booker to a 71 point game, so who knows? Maybe it can help Kyrie Irving to not complaining about sharing the spotlight...
...what, too soon for a Kyrie joke? He has his own shoe on here so I doubt he's complaining.
14 Air Jordan 5 Camo
What kind of shoe list would we have without mentioning the Air Jordan brand? One of the more recent shoes on this list with a planed September release, let's take a look at what Sneaker Bar Detroit wrote when unveiling the new shoe earlier this year.
"Dressed in a Dark Stucco and Fire Red color scheme. This Air Jordan 5 features a suede constructed upper with Fire Red accents on the lining, branded tongues, midsole and unique logo on the heel. Camouflage 3M Reflective detailing is seen on the tongue and heel wrap, while sitting atop an icy translucent outsole."
These are absolutely awesome! It's easy to imagine military gear when you hear camo, but these go above and beyond. Rarely are shoes worth camping out the night before, but you may want to check these out.
13 Westbrook 0.2
Maybe in a past life, I'd have seen these and asked what those were (did I do it right?), but how can you hate on Russell Westbrook's attempts to go casual? Too many shoes try to copy one another, but these are bold, brash, and in the words of Red Letter Media, break new ground. Could you see Mr. Plinkett rocking these as he watches Cop Dog?
I guess the going for something different is partially why they make the list, but let's not kid ourselves here: you know you'd want to wear these. Even if they're not some of the other ones on this list, Russell Westbrook made a score with the design here. Is that too bad a pun? Would you rather say he dished out something great? Let's move on...
12 Adidas Crazy Explosive Low Primeknit (Kyle Lowry)
What can I say? I'm a sucker for all-black and all-red! Lowry, who re-upped with the Toronto Raptors this year and thankfully won't have to change these to a color that doesn't work as well as this dark shade of red, did a nice job designing these and I can see these becoming extremely popular north of the border. South of the border may be a different story, but who knows? Mexico seems to have good taste in some of their clothing...
What really made me fall in love with these, though, is the way it mixes black and white in without making anything feel forced? You have the white 'K' on the tongue and black waves all over the shoe, but everything feels like it's supposed to be there. Nice work.
11 Nike Zoom KD 9 Elite
This is a fairly standard design, but what does Nike have to say about them that makes me think about putting these so high?
"The re-imagined Nike Zoom Air cushioning enables natural motion while providing a more responsive feel than ever before. It's thicker in the heel to better cushion hard landings and thinner in the forefoot to enhance control."
First off, Kevin Durant makes these shoes look great with his ski-like feet, so that's a positive right there. But cushioning hard landings? In today's more-physical-than-you'd-really-think NBA, cushioning for hard landings is important. I'm also a fan of the "cage" design with the shoelaces, but that may just be me being picky.
Say what you want about Durant and his decision to join the Golden State Warriors, but you can't knock his shoes here.
10 Big Baller Brand ZO2 SHO'TIME!
Originally, I had a lot to say about these shoes, but LaVar Ball decided to interject. LaVar, take it from here and tell us about the ZO2 Sho'time! shoes.
"Inspired by an iconic era the ZO2 SHO'TIME! colorway comes just in time to start a new era of dominance on the court. Lonzo Ball’s Zo2 unveiled first-of-its-kind innovations by a rising star and the Zo2 SHOTIME! takes these innovations to new heights."
Thank you, LaVar. You know, it's too bad these shoes aren't planning on launching until Thanksgiving because by then, Lonzo could be hurt, suspended, or maybe even playing in China. Why are you risking it, LaVar?
Well, he told me to stay in my place, so there's that. For what its worth, I do like the ZO2 shoes and I do like Big Baller Brand if only because they know how to get people talking. Those things are important!
9 Nike LeBron 14
I could talk about how the benefits of the shoe outweigh its fairly simplistic design, but I just love the official description for the LeBron 14s.
"As a once-in-a-lifetime player, LeBron James needs a shoe as unique as his game. Nike built the LeBron 14 basketball shoe to LeBron's exact specifications. It is a lightweight shoe that's big on strength and support. James is one of the most explosive players to ever play the game, so his shoe needs to lockdown the foot and provide great cushioning during all of LeBron's highlight reel plays. The man seems to get better and better with age, and the LeBron 14 proves that his signature shoe line is doing the same. Made for King James himself, the LeBron 14 is the perfect shoe to rule the court in."
Sure, the design is a bit bland, but I love the way the colors are mixed. Next...
8 Nike Air Max Uptempo 97 UNC Quickstrike
I don't know what else to say about these shoes other than asking everyone to marvel at the North Carolina design. Though I'm not a Tar Heels fan, I've always loved the bright blue hue they use and the Nike Air Max Uptempo 97 Quickstrike show how amazing the colors can be when used right. Nothing about this feels forced, which is important in a shoe honoring a school or team.
Nike rolled these out for All-Star Weekend and let's be honest: these are exactly the type of shoes you'd expect to see at events with the best of the best. If Michael Jordan played today, would you be shocked to see him rock shoes like these in the Dunk Contest? I'd recommend looking into these as soon as possible...unless you're a Duke fan.
7 Adidas Harden Vol. 1 (Black History Month)
These shoes are great on thier own, but the Black History Month message definitely helps its case. James Harden and adidas decided to celebrate Black History Month this year by paying homage to Arthur Ashe with what SoleCollector describes as, " ablack and grey knit upper with a white leather toecap (and a) a multicolor striped sockliner."
Harden also includes an "AA" graphic which represents both AIDS Awareness and Anti-Apartheid and a "1975" graphic that pays tribute to Ashe's Wimbledon victory and No. 1 world ranking. I know we give NBA players crap often about their seeming lack of education and inability to know key events in our history that don't involve sports or music, but for Harden to go above and beyond with all of this? You wonder why people wanted him to win the NBA MVP over Stephen Curry in 2015...
6 Nike Kyrie 3
Before I get to talking about why I love these shoes, I just need to read you Nike's description:
"Kyrie dominates the court with his lightning-quick first step and fluid playing style. By working with the Nike design team, he ensured his third signature shoe would not only enable razor-sharp cuts but also provide players across a variety of positions with a custom fit and great court response. Dynamic traction, flexible support and responsive cushioning combine to deliver on Kyrie's demands."
Now those demands, do they include a trade from Cleveland? Start thinking of whatever jokes you think best fit these shoes and Kyrie's demands (can they not be sold near LeBron's?) but I really do like these. Maybe it's the blood-like splattering and how the signature swoosh isn't affected, but Kyrie's demands worked out here. Nice job.
5 Nike LeBron Soldier 10
Remember these kicks from the 2016 NBA playoffs? If the Kryie shoes will give you the ability to get whatever you demand, I wouldn't be shocked if the LeBron soldiers allow you to piss everyone off, find redemption with the public, find redemption with those you upset, and potentially restart the cycle again. Isn't it amazing what shoes are capable of?
With this design, maybe I'm just a simple man who loves all black shoes that resemble the type of boots Jessica Jones would wear, but it's hard to go wrong with these. Besides, we already know the effect wearing them can have on someone in the most dire of situations, so go and give the Nike LeBron Soldier 10s a shot. Worst case, you prematurely announce you're leaving them behind to take your talents elsewhere.
4 Air Jordan 31 All-Star
Another Jordan shoe? First off, what kind of basketball fans would we be if we ignored His Airness and all of the great shoes the Jordan brand continues to provide? Second, I immediately fell in love with the color design on these, though the way they hearken back to older Jordan shoes is a nice touch as well. Both Jordan the player and Jordan the brand have always been about remembering and honoring history, so seeing them throw it back to older times is a nice sight.
If these shoes make it into NBA 2K18, and I fully expect them to, don't be surprised if you see a lot of people sign with Jordan in their MyCareer simply to land kicks like this. These are the shoes virtual games need in 2017 to be like Mike.
3 Li-Ning Way of Wade 5 All-Star
Say what you want about Dwyane Wade's tenure in Chicago and how the younger players don't like him or how he should have simply gone to the Cavaliers to start with, but these shoes are a reminder of who "Flash" is behind all the hate being levied his way. Despite not making the Eastern Conference All-Star team this past season, Wade still tried to grab attention the way he would with a ferocious in-game dunk by dropping these bold kicks featuring a rainbow motif.
What can we say? We like rainbows, we like fresh kicks, and the Li-Ning Way of Wade 5 All-Stars accomplish both. If Wade does in fact make the All-Star Game this year, he needs to drop something that is three times as bold as this. Any suggestions?
2 Sneaker Politics x Reebok Shaq Attaq Alma Mater
Look at Shaquille O'Neal throwing it back to his roots! Here, O'Neal and Reebok partnered to create a shoe that features colors from LSU, Orlando Magic, and even the Los Angeles Lakers; true, the colors are mainly for the LSU Tigers, but tell me that shade of blue doesn't work for the Magic and yellow for the Lakers. Where's Wiz Khalifa when you need him to sing blue and yellow, blue and yellow...
...oh, someone going by the name xL did it for the Golden State Warriors? Let's just go with that one.
We know for a fact that Shaquille O'Neal is going to be in NBA 2K18 and he's actually the Legend Edition's coverboy, so will we see these shoes in the game? If so, you know he'll be wearing them on my all-time Lakers team...
1 Air Jordan 31 Gold
And speaking of gold, I don't know how anything but this would be number one. Going gold is a risky move with sports gear, as we discussed in our NBA jerseys article from a few weeks ago, but these are absolutely stunning. You think back to being a kid and what gold represented - fame, power, status - and these shoes are reminiscent of that. In a time when shoes have been more about basic, bland designs that are overpriced in stores, these shoes play off that and make you WANT to overpay.
Folks, if you ever lost - or are planning on losing - faith in Michael Jordan and his brand, just look back to these shoes for a reminder of what he is. The man is power, the man has status, and the man remains the G.O.A.T.
Now, that you've seen the shoes, we can try educating ourselves. The Atlantic did a piece back in 2012 about the racial divide involving sneakers, which it definitely worth a read.
Which of these shoes are your favorites? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!