While few shoes have been expressly designed for streetball use, some sneakers just hold up better on the blacktop. In this feature we’ll run down five shoes that gained popularity in the streetball community for their ability to stand up to the rigors of rugged outdoor play.
5) Nike Air Raids
What’s more streetballish than a shoe that says “For Outdoor Use Only” on it? The Nike Air Raids were originally released in 1992 but were then re-released in 2008. The original Nike TV advertisement with Tim Hardaway in it, shooting his patented “knuckleball” three pointer on a black top basketball court, surrounded by vivid colors and designs always stuck in my memory. Released originally in the time when “Cross Colours” was hot, the original shoe came in two versions; the “Air Raid” black and white version with criss crossing straps and the “Peace Raid” white shoe with Tribal African print in addition to the criss crossing straps. A tough shoe made for outdoor play.
4) Adidas Men’s Streetball Version 1.0
I had never been a big Adidas basketball shoe fan untiI I owned this shoe. The extremely thick sole was perfect for blacktop use. Also incredibly durable, I wore this shoe for about three years exclusively for playing ball outdoors and another two for multi-purpose use. The design lent itself well to ankle support and the shoe was relatively inexpensive. The 2.0 version was a good basketball shoe, but was not created specifically for the outdoor game.
3) Air Jordan 1 Flight Mid
This was also a favorite of mine because of its straight forward design compared to a lot of other Nike basketball shoes. You can just look at this shoe and know it’s not screwing around, it can handle getting pounded all summer long, running up and down the court. If this shoe was a stock trader, it would’ve sold all of its Enron stocks months in advance and would’ve never got caught up by Bernie Madoff. It doesn’t screw around and gives you support when you need it. What you see is what you get.
2) Larry Johnson’s Converse “Grand Mama”
Remember “React Juice”? Oh come on man, I can tell by looking at you you’re over 30. Who you fooling? Of course you do, because you bought them after your L.A. Gear “Regulators” stopped inflating. Possibly the best advertising campaign nobody remembers, the “Grand Mama” campaign starred Larry Johnson in drag as a grandma, dunking all over fools in a dress. Kevin Johnson also released his own shoe during this time, but the “Grand Mama’s” were king. Even though they came out at least a decade before the rise of streetball culture to a wide audience, they were (somewhat) unintentionally the precursor to a lot of proceeding streetball shoes because of the almost bulky, yet stable feel.
1) Reebok Pumps
Speaking of killer marketing campaigns, Reebok should still be paying Dee Brown for pimping the Pumps during the 1991 Dunk Contest that he would ultimately win. Yes, the shoe is old school, but it was incredibly durable and comfortable, especially the way the shoe gripped your ankle when "inflated". Perfect for concrete or asphalt courts, Reebok Pumps were so cool they made me almost consider buying the Michael Chang signiture tennis version. But then, I got into girls.