The History of Basketball Shoes
Jun 10 , 2021
Tags - The History of Basketball Shoes
The sports world may have started the rubber soled shoe revolution, but it has become a fashion statement to stay.
Much of what is considered a standard trainer design today has been influenced by basketball shoe history.
The game of basketball has been around for over 100 years, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) was founded in 1949.
And so, the entire history of these shoes come with an exhaustive list.
In order to keep things digestible, we’ve broken the history of basketball shoes down by decades.
1910s to 1960s
We cannot talk about basketball shoes without talking about Converse.
Yes, they weren’t the first name to be introduced in basketball, but they cemented their place in history respectfully.
In 1917, Chuck Taylor All Star were designed and brought to life; the basketball world welcomes these new shoes that were named after a player of the same name.
Similar to the Chuck’s you see today, they were simply constructed, had a lightweight canvas upper that sat on a rubber sole - pioneers in function trainer design.
Because, at the time, basketball players didn’t need extra features; just shoes that were designed specifically to play ball!
And, by the time the NBA had launched, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars connection to the sport was solidified when every basketball player had a pair.
At the time, these shoes were only available in black and white.
Up until the 60s, Converse dominated the game, until Adidas released their Superstars in 1969; creating real competition in the basketball world.
When Adidas launched their Superstars, it announced a new era in basketball shoe history; and they were known as the more famous shoe in the 70s.
In fact, Adidas released the first player endorsed shoe design in 1971, which featured Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s face on the tongue of the shoe.
Two years later, Puma released its Clydes, a new and stylish basketball shoe, endorsed by New York Knicks’ player Walt “Clyde” Frazier; the player’s name in gold script, was considered the first signature basketball shoe in history.
At the same time, the Nike Blazers were born in 1973, but they were not considered as a leader of the industry in this decade.
As basketball as a sport became more popular in the 80s, the basketball shoe market experienced huge growth.
Now, Nike gained its influence when they collaborated with arguably the greatest of all time - Michael Jordan, releasing the Nike Air Jordans in 1985.
Even to this day, Nike Air Jordan’s are one of the most popular trainer designs.
During this period, the original Nike Air Force 1s were also worn by multiple players.
It’s safe to say, the 80s were a great decade for Nike!
Nike kept thriving, and the 90s saw the debut of the Nike Air Foamposites, known for its style and performance in basketball.
In 1996 though, Reebok Questions were launched, endorsed by Allen Iverson, and brought in a signature design with a mesh tongue, suede overlays and a translucent outer sole.
Furthermore, Reebok was respected for its notable pump technology which was said to increase ankle support - a favoured shoe feature by professional basketball players.
2000s to 2010s
As technology became more advanced, basketball shoes were becoming more lightweight and high tech after the 90s.
For instance, in 2000, Nike launched its Hyperdunk shoe which featured the brand’s Shox technology.
Fast forward a couple years, Lebron James’s signature line Nike Air Zoom Generations became prominent - in 2012, an optional chip was available that measured how high a basketball player could jump.
In the future, how a player wears, interacts and experiences basketball shoes will inevitably be different.
As a matter of fact, the entire process of footwear, from manufacturing to what the player receives, will be revolutionised.
Simply because, as the world becomes more and more influenced by artificial intelligence, the focus will shift towards intelligent shoes that allow players to take their natural talent to an all new peak.
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