A great basketball philosopher Jalen Rose once said: “there’re only so many jumps in these knees”.
This phrase, unfortunately, rings true for many basketball players, who seem to be more prone to knee maladies due to explosive and taxing nature of the game, and typically – the bigger the player –
the bigger the shoe the lower the limit.
That was the case for many talented tall ballers, who couldn’t fulfill their potential because of devastating injuries that turned them into proverbial “what if” stories.
You cannot but wonder how the careers would have changed for the likes of:
- Amare Stoudemire,
- Andrew Bynum,
- Greg Oden,
- Chris Webber or
- Ralph Sampson
had they not had to deal with reoccurring knee problems!
Not everything is that gloomy though: across the NBA and the rest of the basketball world there’re taller players who have successfully overcame serious knee issues. Some did it by re-adjusting their playing style (David West), some benefited from coaches giving them additional rest (Tim Duncan) and some were flat out saved by knee braces.
Basketball players use knee braces for different reasons:
- some of them only wear braces during the active stages of their recoveries, like Amare or Kendrick Perkins,
- some of them continue wearing knee braces even after making a comeback on the court, as it gives them slightly more protection and confidence in real game situations (Marc Gasol from the past season comes to mind).
We wanted to provide you with some insight into the world of knee supports and came up with this top 10 list of the best knee brace for basketball.
If you don’t feel like spending a huge amount on a knee brace, EX-701 is right up your alley, with more than solid grades in comfort and support boxes.
It provides quite reasonable stability, especially for your patella tendon, ACL and LCL, and prevents your knee from minor-to-medium injuries for a very reasonable price.
EX-701 has one remarkable feature; especially when compared to other hinged knee braces:
It’s equipped with 4-way strap system (other braces typically have 2- and 3-way straps) which helps keep the brace in place without constant re-adjusting, which can definitely be a pain in the, hmm, knee.
When I first came across the Bracoo, I was surprised why so many of my veteran teammates complained about the prices on solid-to-good knee supports: you can find this particular model very cheap and it works rather well if you don’t have any significant injuries or degenerative conditions to your knees.
Bracoo original patella stabilizer provides extra stability and helps relieve stress from displacement; and thick (yet very breathable) layer of neoprene fabric combined with the support wrap contributes to added stability in the knee and solid ACL, PCL and MCL protection.
I wouldn’t recommend Bracoo as your post-operation active recovery knee brace and it’s definitely not to be confused for an A+ knee supporting system, but it’s a rock-solid “B” and this brace does the job better than most braces in the price range.
The CrossFire has probably beaten all but two knee braces from our top 10 in the “comfort” column: it’s very light and its ActiveSeam material brings about rave reviews for superb silkiness and ventilation.
This BioSkin brace is also much more affordable than other braces in the class, and proves to be a great find for taller players with a history of meniscus or MCL/LCL issues.
With all that in mind, the CrossFire topped out as just the eighth best brace on our list, because its support structure (or lack thereof) fails to provide the necessary protection for torn and surgically repaired cruciate ligaments (ACLs and PCLs), and these are arguably the most common knee injuries.
Mava Sport is an embodiment of “simple yet effective” and “solid yet unspectacular”. It doesn’t have a flashy look or design, but it’s undoubtedly one of the best braces for torn meniscus and prevention of hyperextensions, with its stabilizers’ system and tight fit. Average price on Mavas is very reasonable on Amazon, and the brace is so multi-faceted, it can really be 3-in-1:
- your knee support for basketball,
- your gym-time knee protection
- and you everyday brace,
as it’s comfortable, non-restrictive and durable at the same time. But as it is the case with the CrossFire, Mava cannot be recommended to athletes with serious ACL and PCL injuries in their past.
It costs HOW MUCH!?
Let’s get one thing straight. The FullForce by DonJoy is not cheap but…
There’re two valid reasons for such pricing: first of all,
- DonJoy is an acknowledged manufacturer of top-class knee braces, who is known to produce custom braces for high profile professional athletes (spoiler alert: we’ll meet these guys again further down the top 10).
- The second reason is that FullForce is arguably the best knee brace for ACL tears. It provides great protection, made of aircraft-grade aluminum and doesn’t hinder your range of motion at all.
But still, it gives full-scale stability for only one element of a complex and troublesome knee joint and for that price you’d want the brace to do something else. At least to turn your water into wine.
The Gladiator name fits this knee brace to a T: strong built, intimidating look, very durable and versatile at the same time.
Gladiator’s rigid support system and solid side hinges help limit painful twisting and unwanted movement in the knee.
What I like most about this BioSkin product is its top-level comfort grade and the Visko gel ring that goes around the patella opening to ease joint swelling.
A number of orthopedists even prescribe this particular knee brace as a recovery gear after arthroscopic knee procedures, which give the Gladiator even more credibility as an almost perfect knee support for basketball and make the price a fairly reasonable one.
The ligament protection part is where the brace drops the ball: it grades out very well for medial and lateral ligaments, but provides good, not great stability for damaged ACLs and PCLs.
Another DonJoy masterpiece of a knee brace and yet another specialist (although an elite one). The Legend SE-4 is a tad more versatile than the #6 FullForce, as it comes in a variety of packages on Amazon: for ACL, ACL and Combined Instability, PCL, PCL and Combined Instability, all in DonJoy’s patented slick design.
The Legend SE-4 provides unreal levels of protection, even for athletes with severe ligament and cartilage conditions, but at the same time it doesn’t hinder your natural movement and it is so light you probably won’t feel it after some 20-30 minutes of sheer adjustment to the brace itself.
Limited versatility is what stops the Legend from breaking top 3 of the list. Plus it might be wise to invest in a soft knee sleeve to use together with this brace, if you have a tender skin, to avoid mild chafing and irritation after extended usage.
The Shock Doctor 875 beats out the two previous braces on the back of its price (compared to #5) and versatility (compared to #4). All in all, it is a cheaper and lighter version of the #5 Gladiator, but capable of providing same levels of comfort, mobility and stability with a lot lower price!
It might take some painful breaking in in the beginning, to allow the brace to conform to your knee, but after that it’s easy and comfortable movement in all directions.
Although as it is the case for #5 Gladiator, the 875 Ultra Knee Brace is a perfect brace for meniscus and MCL/LCL injury recovery and prevention, but it is not at its best protecting cruciate ligaments of the knee joint if you have a full ACL or PCL tear in your recent past.
Our second spot deservedly goes to the 429X Knee Brace by McDavid for all kinds of ligament and cartilage stability its rigidly built frame provides: lateral, medial, rotational, collateral, you name it!
Patellar support system of the brace and its overall durability are top-notch as well, and it also helps that it won’t cost you much.
The second place is a ceiling for Mc David’s 429X because it turned out to be slightly uncomfortable, a bit more constricting and less hi-tech than the best knee brace on the list.
Man, these guys at DonJoy…
Their Armor Knee Brace blew the tops of our rating categories across the board in terms of stability, mobility and versatility.
The Armor was designed specifically for athletes involved in extreme or contact sports with a thought in mind not to hinder the speed, fluidity and range of motion of an athlete, which makes it THE best knee support for basketball players.
The DonJoy Armor is medically prescribed to treat and prevent moderate to severe knee instabilities and to foster recovery from cartilage and ligament reconstructions. It even corrects your natural gait and lowers risks of suffering a ligament tear by limiting the amount of time your knee joint is in an unnatural and harmful position.
Although it’s important to note that this particular knee brace is not highly recommended for athletes with severe PCL instabilities, but all the other advantages make it too hard not to give the Armor the top spot on our list of top 10 knee braces for tall people.
Please note that this list is a review only and cannot be used as a guide,as the author’s, his teammates’ or editor’s knees and knee conditions may differ from those of yours. Please consult a specialist before purchasing any protective gear to make sure it fits your case 100%.
Stay safe out there.
Further reading: Top ankle braces for basketball players.