History Of Basketball Shoes

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It is beyond doubt that the basketball shoes started with the rubber-soled shoe revolution, however, over some time, it has become a fashion to stay. Nowadays almost every individual be it a sportsman or not owns sports footwear. The sports footwear industry is at its peak, literally making tens of billions annually.

In this article, we will blow-by-blow give you a decade detailed summary of how basketball shoes have evolved since the 1920s up to date.

history of basketball shoes

History Of Basketball Shoes

History of basketball shoes describe briefly below-

The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars Basketball Shoes (the 1910s-1960s)

Are you aware that the NBA was formed back in the year 1946 and by then it was known as BAA (Basketball Association of America)? However, later in the year 1949, the organization changed its name to NBA this was after merging with NBL( National Basketball League).

In contrast, Converse Non-skids a predecessor to the current classy Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars were first seen on the shelves in 1917. In the 1920s they were all over the market. These pioneer basketball shoes with high-top cut, Taylor signature, and ankle patch are known up to this day. They have amazing traction and a vulcanized rubber sole. The Converse Chuck Taylor basketball shoes were the dominant basketball shoes between the 1910s to the 1960s.

The connection between basketball and The Converse Chuck Taylor Shoes was cemented during the Berlin Olympics of 1936. During these Olympics, these shoes were worn by almost every basketball player. By the time NBA was formed in1946, these shoes were very popular that every professional player and almost every college student had a pair. However, during this time the Converse was only available in white and black.

During this time there were also other brands Keds and others which were witnessed during the beginning of the NBA. However, Converse was untouchable until 1969 when Adidas released Superstars.

The 1970s: Adidas Superstars And Puma Clydes

The converse witnessed real competition in the 1970s when Adidas unleashed the Superstars. The Superstars ushered a new era in the history of basketball footwear. The Superstars are known to be the most popular shoes of the 1970s and like the Converse, they are referred to as the shelltoes and are up to date the most popular casual sneaker.

In 1971 Adidas became the first company to release a player–endorsed basketball footwear. The Superstars featured Kareem Jabber’s face on the shoe tongue. Barely three years later, Puma hit the market with the Clydes. The Clydes were endorsed and named after Walt Clyde Frazier of the New York Knicks. These shoes are known as the first signature shoes in the history of basketball because the name of the shoe design was embellished in gold script on the sides.

Currently the most popular brand in athletics footwear, Nike was present in the 70s but was not much recognized. The Nike Blazer debuted in 1973 and during that time it was worn by the likes of George of the San Antonio Spurs. It preceded more popular designs such as Air Jordans and Air Force 1. Nike’s Blazer was however among the earliest designs that you won’t miss in a court.

Pony Top stars were also available in the 70s, however, they became more popular in the following decade.

The Nike Air Jordans and Nike Air Force 1 (The 1980s Most Popular)

The basketball shoe industry witnessed tremendous growth in the 80s this was due to increased awareness and the collaboration between Michael Jordan, the greatest of all time, and Nike. To date, Nike Air Jordans are among the most bankable basketball shoes.

Nike Air Force 1 existed before the release of the Nike Air Jordan in 1985. The Air Force 1 featured a classic leather look and had an air sole. In 2002 a song was released about them by Nelly, a full twenty years after sneaker debut.

Nike did it again in 1988 when they released the Nike Air Jordans III. This pair was sleek and had a gray and black colorway above the sole. They were the first basketball shoes to have the popular Jumpman logo. These shoes were further cemented into basketball footwear history by Jordan because in the same year he wore them during the annual NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

It is worth noting the Pony sneakers during the 80s. They were more popular in hardwood court and their visibility in the court was aided by David Thompson and Darryl Hawkins who regularly wore them. However, the Pony Top stars received a significant boost in the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest when Spud Webb wore them.

Nike And Reebok (the 1990s)

Nike did not take a softer line, in the 90s it was again back with the Nike Air Foamposite. These shoes were known for their performance and style. In 1997 Penny Hardaway wore these shoes however he also had an Air Penny shoe line.

Allen Iverson recommended Reebok Questions in 1996. These were signature sneakers that featured a translucent outsole, mesh tongue, and pearl overlays. This design is linked to the Reebok Pumps that were first released in 1989 and were known to boost ankle support.

Adidas, Nike, And Converse Comeback (the 2000s)

After the 90s basketball shoes underwent a significant change, they started becoming high-tech and significantly lightweight. The hyped Nike’s Hyperdunk shoe line was unleashed in 2000 as well as their Shox BB4s. Hyperdunk was the first basketball shoe to have the Shox technology.

Barely two years later, the Nike Air Zoom generation debuted with Lebron James’s signature. Nike Air Zoom shoe line has since then performed great year after year like the Air Jordans. A variant of Nike Air Zoom came in 2012 featuring a chip that would measure how high a player can jump.

In the last two decades, the basketball footwear industry has witnessed cut-throat competition between two giant companies, Nike and Adidas.


Q1. Who first came up with basketball shoes?

The creator of basketball shoes is Marquis Converse. The Converse All-star was the first basketball shoe Marquis made way back in 1923. The All-star ended up being endorsed by the famous Chuck Taylor.

Q2. Why are basketball shoes made the way they are?

The shoes are designed the way they are because of the intensity of the game. Because of instant breaking and constant jumping, the shoes are made to act as shock absorbers and provide ankle support plus the flexibility and stability the players need to move while in the court.

Final Words

Basketball shoes unlike other sports shoes have undergone significant changes over the decades. Adidas and Nike seem to be the giants however the Converse has also come back in the game with their All-Star pro-BB.



Welcome, everyone! I'm John C. Clerk Founder of Basketball Reviewer, an American living in Wurtsboro, NY. I am great fan of Basketball. I love everything about writing where my favorite topic of writing is sports basically basketball. I am father of two kids and love to play basketball with my kids, kayaking, skateboarding etc. If you would like to chat with me please feel free to reach out via facebook or twitter or email.

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