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Top 15 Rare and Forgotten Basketball Shoes

We’ve covered the best basketball shoes for centers and now we’re going to take a trip back down memory lane. Are you ready for a sneaker history class? We’ve dug into the books (well, more into archives and Youtube videos to be honest, but still a tonne of them) to come up with this top-15 of old-school / rare basketball shoes you’ve probably forgotten about.

All the signature kicks on the list were graded on two scales from one to five: mix of rarity and value, measured in Jordan Rookie Cards and style, measured in Scalabrines… because he’s clearly the most stylish NBA player to step foot on the court.

15. Reebok Pump DW

 

One way to make a hit pair of shoes is to have them endorsed by a spectacular athlete. In 1990 there were few players more spectacular than Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks. Aptly nicknamed The Human Highlight Reel, Dominique would go on to win the 1990 Slam Dunk Contest in, you guessed it – a pair of Reebok Pumps!

 

The sneakers themselves were the first pair to get a revolutionary internal Pump system, the logo of which was an orange ball on the tongue of the kicks – which for a short while became as popular as Jordan’s Jumpman symbol. There is no denying that Reebok Pumps were stylish and innovative but in the last 5 years or so they have been in demand again as a retro/throwback shoe making them slightly more common place but you’re still unlikely to see a pair of them on the basketball court any time soon.

You won’t struggle to find a pair online from anywhere between $50-$90.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

14. Adidas T-Mac I

 

The first pair of Adidas Tracy McGrady’s signature shoes, the T-Mac I, was introduced in 2002. Although McGrady himself was on the rise and one of the most intriguing young talents in the NBA at the time, his first custom sneakers were somewhat awkward, with signature Adidas shell toe stretching to the sides of the shoes.

To his credit though T-Mac was well ahead of the curve of the RED/BLUE mismatching shoes that hype beasts are all over with the most recent Kendrick Lamar sneaker release. That’s right T-Mac had this style going on in the 2004 All-Star game.

If you hunt around you’ll be able to cop a pair of the originals for $110-$148 online. They’ve even been rereleased in Lebron James Irish high school colours…and before you ask yes Lebron did used to get around in Adidas before his NBA playing days.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

13. Reebok Answer I

 

Remember the Answer? That guy Allen Iverson, who used to dominate the league where an average player was almost a foot taller than him? Whilst he may not have made our list of the tallest NBA point guards, Iverson did have one of the greatest signature sneaker series of all-time and the second longest-running series among basketball shoes. It all began in 1997, with the Answer I, light and smooth, just like Allen himself.

A quick search online and you’ll have no issues finding a pair of these for between $140-$180.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

12. FILA Grant Hill

 

Before the injuries derailed his career, Grant Hill was a special talent, a nightly triple-double threat and a marketable American idol. In 1995 guys from FILA swooped in and designed their best-selling sneaker model, FILA Grant Hill. According to official company reports, FILA sold 1.5 million pairs of the shoes during the first season, which was good enough for the second fastest-selling model, trailing only to Air Jordans.

You’re unlikely to be able to get these in any brick and mortar shops but they’re around online for between $95-$130.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

11. Nike Air Max CB34

 

When the king of basketball shoes Michael Jordan retired for the first time, Nike made an effort to gear up more active NBA players. In 1994 Sir Charles Barkley himself got his custom made pair of Nike Air Max. The shoes were nothing special in terms of innovative perks, but they completely reflected the athlete they were created for: original, a bit clumsy, yet strong and powerful. If the sneakers could talk, I bet they would be talking smack all the time.

They’re pretty uncommon place nowadays, particularly if you’re looking for bigger sizes but we managed to find them at around $160-$190 in some online stores.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

10. Reebok Kamikaze II

 

Originally designed and engineered for Shawn Kemp, the Kamikazes II became the highlight of the whole zigzagged reebok sneakers series. Now, they might not look that appealing today, but back in 1996 the design seemed fresh and innovative. So was the Hexalite cushioning technology, which made the shoes light and comfortable. Coincidence or not, Kemp’s career year was the year he started wearing Kamikaze II…

$100-$135 to cop a pair of these bad boys online, stash pocket not included.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

9. Adidas EQT Elevation

Adidas EQT Elevation

That’s the pair that was created for Kobe Bryant in 1996. Yes, you’ve read that right, Kobe wasn’t always playing in low-cut elegant Nikes. During his rookie year Mamba rocked Adidas EQTs and even won the Slam Dunk Contest in them. These shoes are somewhat of a forgotten chapter in Kobe’s illustrious career.

Surprisingly we found these online for as low as $110-$150 but not before we got caught up on YouTube re-watching the highlight reel of KB24’s last game… ridiculous.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

8. Reebok Pump Omni Lite

In the 8th spot we have back-to-back Reebok Pumps and back-to back Slam Dunk Contest winners: in 1991 Boston Celtic Dee Brown literally pumped up to win the SDC and boost Omni Lites popularity.

 

The sneakers were a lighter high-tech version of their predecessors. And a tad better looking too.

There really is no better basketball taunt than pumping up your Reebok’s at the foul line. Grab some of these online for $115-$155 and do yourself a favour…

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

7. Reebok Answer IV

 

It might be a funny tweak of Fortune, but the most memorable moment of this signature sneaker pair occurred in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, when Allen Iverson infamously stepped over Tyronn Lue, who is coaching the Cavaliers in this year’s Finals. Of course, Iverson also won the MVP award that year and almost single-handedly led Philly through the playoffs, all in the Answer IV. The shoe itself boasted a full-sole DMX cushioning air system and a slick design with I3 logo on the sides.

Make a statement in a pair of these for between $125-$170 at online retailers.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

6. Reebok Shaq Attaq 4 (Insta Pump)

 

The Insta Pumps’ themselves are not as popular as some of Shaq’s other signature kicks, but they scored highest grades in both technology and exposure in 1995, when they were released. Ankle support and the Insta Pump system made the sneakers so comfortable, that Shaq wore them in the NBA Finals that season. Well, we all know that didn’t turn out well for his team…

Bring down some backboards in a pair of these for anywhere between $140-$190 online.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

5. Converse Aero Jam

Rare Larry Johnson Basketball Shoes

Some of you might not now, but the Converse is famous not only for old-school Chucks’. Back in 1992 the company was already experiencing somewhat of a decline in popularity, but they still managed to come up with this engaging model for the then Charlotte Hornets forward, Larry Johnson. Like Johnson himself, the sneakers were powerful, bright and unique.

These have been rereleased in a bunch of colour-ways over the years and can cop them online for as low as $110-$150.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

4. Nike Zoom Flight 98 “The Glove”

Zoom Basketball Gary Payton

Gary Payton a.k.a the Glove was one of the meanest defenders and intense competitors the NBA has ever known. Many people remember him, but not many people remember that GP had actually rocked pretty nice signature sneakers in 1998, with a unique soft cover, “the glove”, on them. The shoes look good with or without the glove, and they’re comfortable to wear too.

These are definitely still head turners in 2016 and can be pretty scarce but if you do some digging they’re around for between $145-$195.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

3. Nike Foamposite One

Rare Penny Hardaway Basketball Kicks

In 1997 Nike introduced their break-through Foamposite technology. Combined with a great futuristic design, the kicks seemed to be poised to rule the sneaker game for the years to come. The same could be said about the player they were created for: Anfernee Hardaway (His one-cent “Penny” logo was placed on the shoes) was an ultra-versatile athletic guard with enough skills and potential to become a generational talent. Unfortunately, injuries mounted, Penny got lost and Foamposite Ones went the same way.

Although there has been some rereleases of these over the years they are hard to get your hands on and you can expect to have to dig pretty deep in to your wallet at prices between $230-$310.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

2. Adidas Ewing Rivalry

Patrick Ewing Original Shoes

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In 1986 Adidas tried to come up with signature sneakers to counter Nike’s Jordans. They did just that with Patrick Ewing first custom shoes, the Rivalry. The kicks’ crude design and classic look made them one of the most popular sport and lifestyle models, especially in the New York Knicks colour-way. The Rivalry is an unofficial “mother” to several popular Adidas shoes.

If you’ve got as much swagger as Spike Lee and think you can pull these off, you can cop a pair for $170-$230.

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

1. Adidas Jabbar

Original Jabbar Sneakers

Speaking of old-school and classics. Kareem’s unmistakable style, efficiency and fundamental play are reflected in these shoes. You’ve probably seen something like these a million of times, but had no idea where this look originated. The Jabbars’ look simple, but beautiful and they became the foundation for what Adidas and other companies do sneaker-wise.

Even the rereleased versions of these will set you back as much as $250-$270. If you’re after a pair of originals from the 70s on the other hand you’re talking upwards of $1300…

Style Points (out of 5)

Brian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut OutBrian Scalabrine Head Cut Out

Rareness / Value (out of 5)

Micheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-CardMicheal-Jordan-Rookie-NBA-Card

 

Have some different opinions, ones that you would have liked to see included or hunting for any particular rare basketball shoes? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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