Air ball: Remembering the most hideous basketball shoes in the history of the game

Doubtless the history of basketball sneakers has seen some legendary footwear. From the original Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, to the Air Jordan I, to the Air Force I, to the Lebron VIII, to the great shoes of today (not the Steph Curry 2 Low).

That said, in a space where innovation is imperative, styles are always changing, and new materials are continuously developed (and product cycles are short), there are bound to be a few clunkers.

Here’s a look at a few of kicks whose concepts ought to have been kicked to the curb.

And1 Chosen1

(Photo source: Twitter)

How would you like to take a boring white high-top sneaker and add a Croc to it? Like the concept? Then the Chosen1 is the shoe for you!

Reebok Preachers

(Photo source_Twitter)

What exactly are the Reebok Preachers preaching? The virtue of a shoe vaguely reminiscent of a honeycomb stuck in a basketball net? These monstrosities were worn by the Big Daddy himself, Shaquille O’Neal, not that that redeems them in any way.

Dada Sprewell Spinners

(Photo source/Reddit)

How were these ever a thing? If you listened to hip-hop in the early 2000s, you remember the popularity of “spinners,” spinning hubcaps on Pimp my Ride-style cars. Well, like the saying goes, “If it looks good on a car, it’ll look better on shoes!” Thus, Sprewell Spinners were born. And for what it’s worth, this shoe was recently reissued.

Dada Supreme CDubbz

(Photo source/YouTube)

Not to burn Dada, but here’s another shoe that takes a concept from automotive design and mates it with a bball shoe. Leather and wood-like trim on a basketball shoe? Sounds like a great idea! There’s also a version where the woody part is a mirror-like substance…like a side-view mirror. It’s a beautiful thing.

Starbury II

(Photo source/Twitter)

Not that the original Starbury, basketball’s favorite direct-to-Steve & Barry’s shoe, wasn’t awful, but the Starbury II merits inclusion because it takes something bad…and makes it worse! They’re like a circus parachute or an exploded ABA basketball made into a shoe.

Glen Rice Nautica

(Photo source: Sole Collector)

Because you knew Nautica made basketball shoes, right? Hey, Dad needs kicks too for his church league basketball games!

Adidas Kobe 2

(Photo source/YouTube)

Arguably the worst basketball shoes of all-time, Adidas’ Kobe 2 look like a cross between slippers and spacecraft, something you’re more likely to see at the bottom of a droid’s leg in Star Wars than on a basketball court. Perhaps in 2,000 years, Adidas will have the last laugh as all humans living on the moon will be wearing these awful things.

Bryant Reeves WB

(Photo source:

The Vancouver Grizzlies first-ever pick in the 1995 expansion draft landed himself a sweet shoe deal. With Nike? No. With Adidas? Nah. With frigging Warner Bros. That’s right, the folks who brought you Bugs Bunny ventured into footwear, locking up Big Country in these overwhelmingly basic shoes for some sort of bizarro guerrilla marketing campaign for Space Jam.

Karl Malone LA Gear Catapult

While they unfortunately didn’t light up, Karl Malone’s LA Gear Lights were nevertheless awful. In fact, they may have been better if they had lit up. Clearly, the Mailman didn’t want anything so silly as that…as if the Catapults are in any way better. Remember, it’s not a shoe, it’s a machine.

Nike Sharkley

(Photo source: Twitter)

If a dominatrix played basketball, these are undoubtedly the shoes she would wear. “May I take my Sharkley’s off mistress?” They look like they’d be nearly impossible to extricate your foot from, which may be the only way Nike got anyone to wear the shoes for any length of time.

Start the discussion

to comment