Each year dozens of basketball shoes are released offering improved tech elements with new and impressive colorways. While it’s great to have options, sometimes it’s overwhelming when looking for the best ones to play in. To help guide you on your search we created a list of the top basketball shoes.
Nike LeBron 18
18 silhouettes later and the LeBron signature shoe series continues its run of excellence with the LeBron 18. LeBron is making a strong push for his next MVP and fifth title this season, and the 18 is pushing to stake a claim as the best basketball shoe available. The 18 features a full-length Zoom Air unit running from the heel to the forefoot. This cushioning system is tuned for speed so you can get up and down the court all game as quickly as possible. The shoe also features KnitPosite 2.0, offering you a lightweight, breathable feeling with some stretch, so you’re comfortable. There are other nice touches on the shoe, including several Air units in the tongue for 360-degree comfort of your foot. There is also molded TPU heel counter that stabilizes your foot when you’re generating force.
Under Armour Curry 8
After a lost 2020 season (and a lost year for humanity), Steph Curry is back, fully healthy, and looking to carry Golden State back to the playoffs. If he’s going to do that, he’ll need help from the Under Armour Curry 8, the latest silhouette in his signature shoe series. With a sleek new design that features bootie construction, the shoe is easy to get in and out of and gives you a sock-like fit. The shoe features new UA cushioning that is lighter and bouncier than previous iterations to keep you in the flow of the game. The UA Flow outsole provides the finishing touch by offering superior grip so that you can cut off-ball with confidence and more easily relocate for threes and jump shots.
adidas Harden 5
As James Harden settles into life in Brooklyn with two other superstars, he’s doing so in the adidas Harden 5. The shoe has many of the features you’ve come to expect from adidas basketball shoes. There is Boost cushioning, created by fusing energy capsules together, giving you the dynamic power you need to get to the rim. There is a Lightstrike midsole that’s light and comfortable, so you can move around the court with ease. To finish it off, the midsole and upper are merged seamlessly together by adidas Futurenatural, enabling you to freely move in every direction.
Nike PG 5
Paul George is off to a fantastic start this year after last season’s playoff disappointment, and he’s balling out in the all-new PG 5. George has always had a smooth, buttery game that takes advantage of his slippery athleticism rather than brute force and power. Designers at Nike have done an excellent job building a shoe that complements George’s game. It features a lightweight, full-length Air Dot Weld Strobel to provide all-world cushioning and support. It was designed to be as flexible as possible to make transitioning from offense to defense more seamless. The lacing system has been reworked so that the laces themselves do a better job holding your foot in place over the footbed. Throw in a multi-directional traction pattern, and the PG 5 shows why it’s one of Nike’s most popular signature shoes.
Russell Westbrook has teamed up with another superstar shooting guard in hopes of making a push to the Finals. In his first year at Washington, Westbrook is rocking the Why Not Zer0.4, the latest silhouette in his signature line. These shoes feature double-stacked Air Zoom units in the forefoot of the shoe to optimize the energy return Westbrook gets as he explodes to the basket over and over again. They also provide the elite responsiveness and cushioning that he craves. The rubber outsole utilizes a data-informed tread pattern that keeps you lower to the ground and ready to change direction at a moment’s notice.
With a well-deserved reputation as having one of the loudest, most intense fanbases, Philly is not the easiest city to play for. Yet, one player has not only become beloved there, he’s become an adopted son of sorts, an embodiment of who Philly is as a city and the face of one of the most iconic franchises in basketball.
Joel Embiid was drafted third overall by Philadelphia after a promising freshman season at Kansas. Originally from Yaounde, Cameroon, Embiid went from not picking up a basketball until he was 15 to being declared the savior to a major franchise. For Embiid, it had been one hell of a journey. He was discovered at a basketball camp by fellow Yaounde native and NBA vet Luc Mbah a Moute, and with him as his mentor Embiid moved to America at 16 to pursue a basketball dream. As a senior in high school, Embiid was one of the top recruits in the country and would lead his team to a state title before heading off to Lawrence, Kansas to play for Bill Self. That season, Embiid was one of 30 finalists for the Player of the Year award.
After the draft, there was a ton of hype surrounding Embiid, and Philly fans were salivating at seeing him take the court. Unfortunately, Embiid’s career got off to a brutal start as he struggled with injury after injury. Questions began to swirl about whether he would ever play a game in the NBA. Throughout it all, Embiid remained focused on his rehab, saying, “You can’t just sit back and hope for the best. You have to put in the work every single day. You just have to trust the process and make sure you’re working hard because it will pay off.”
When Embiid finally took the court in his third season, he quickly became a force that opposing teams were ill-equipped to handle. In a league that has gradually become more perimeter-oriented with a major emphasis on outside shooting, Embiid was dominating the paint and feasting night in and night out. Despite only playing 31 games, Embiid finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and quickly established himself as a fan favorite in Philly.
Embiid said, “I love the fans – we have a special relationship. One minute they might cheer for you and the next minute they might boo you. That just shows you they care. I’d rather play there then for another city where fans just come to the game for entertainment. I want people to care because it pushes me to be better.”
Embiid has paired his immense physical gifts with a burning desire to be one of the greatest to ever play. Now entering his sixth season, he has made clear his goals to win an MVP and bring a title to Philly. To help achieve those goals Embiid has partnered with Under Armour for his first signature shoe, the UA Embiid One. Together with designer Reggie Wilson, they have designed a shoe that isn’t just for big men but for all players.
Before even sitting down with Joel to discuss the shoe, Wilson was busy seeking out inspiration by looking at Embiid’s home country of Cameroon and studying some famous monuments and landmarks from there. He really dug into Embiid’s journey to the league and was inspired by what he learned.
One of the unique aspects of the shoe is that it tells Embiid’s story chronologically through the shoe’s colorways. Wilson is pumped to show off some of the key details in the shoe saying, “His family is really important to him, so we molded his family’s names into the backside of the TPU wing.” Wilson also noted that he loves how the outsole turned out and that people should really look for some of those smaller storytelling elements embedded in the shoe.
From a technical aspect for the shoe, there are a few things Wilson is really excited about. The first thing is the breathability of the shoe. Wilson learned from a Philadelphia trainer that Embiid’s feet would get incredibly hot during games. It became so bad that Embiid would have to take his shoes off when he was on the bench to give his feet some fresh air. “Some of the shoes he was wearing were so bulky, so many layers, and that was one of the things we wanted to avoid. We wanted to make this as breathable as possible but still strong enough for him,” said Wilson. By constructing the upper with mesh layers Wilson was able to ensure that heat was able to escape and fresh air could flow through the shoe.
Cushioning is where a shoe really makes its mark, and the UA Embiid One is certainly not lacking in that department. It’s built with HOVR technology, Under Armour’s patented cushioning tech, that provides some of the best, most efficient energy return in the game. Sitting under the heel of the foot is Micro-G cushioning to add additional cushioning.
During the design process Embiid and Wilson worked closely together to figure out the cut of the shoe. Eschewing the typical high-cut that has become common with basketball shoes they decided to go with a mid-cut, which better matched Embiid’s style of play. The cut really speaks to the versatility of shoe. Guards and wing players get the freedom they need to drive hard to the basket and big men the support they need to dominate down low.
Both Embiid and Wilson are thrilled with how the shoe turned out and can’t wait for it to become available.
About the shoe, Embiid said, “It was great working with them and I’m happy with the end result, and I think it’s going to be exciting when it comes out.”
The Embiid One will be available exclusively at eastbay.com on September 18, two weeks before any other retailer. When you purchase a pair you will also receiver a free poster with your order.
The best basketball shoes are the ones that deliver a high level of performance and also have a range of interesting, flashy colorways. What’s even the point of having the best performing shoes if they are boring to look at? For your convenience we have assembled a power ranking of the dopest colorways Eastbay has to offer.
There may be no bigger holiday in the world than the Chinese New Year, and Steph pays homage to that with this colorway of the Curry 7. Though most of the shoe is a dyke blue gray it can be forgiven thanks to the watercolor style pink lilies that cover the heel and wrap around the sides. Absolutely exquisite.
The DON Issue #1 has been crushing the colorway game so far. The “Stealth Spider-man” is no exception. Lime green is a tricky color to pull off, because if used wrong it can look atrocious. The adidas design team did a good job using it sparingly as more of a highlight element. The largest chunk is found on the outsole where it’s mixed with black to give off a nice lava lamp vibe that wraps around a little. The green is also used a little on the trim of the shoe, the propulsion plate, and the logo on the tongue. Set against a black upper the green really pops, bringing this seldom-used color scheme to life.
Lots of people love “Friends,” but Kyrie loves it so much he got a tattoo celebrating the show on his arm. So, it isn’t surprising he would also dedicate a colorway of the Kyrie 5 to the show. The shoe uses colors from the opening credits on the outsole and lacing system to contrast the black upper. Kyrie’s name is spelled out below the swoosh in the “Friends” font, and there is a third eye on the back of the heel (because of course there is).
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s success on the court has landed him his own signature shoe and they haven’t disappointed. Recently released was the “Roses” colorway. It is predominantly white, which gives it a cleaner, classier look. What really makes the shoe stand out, though, are the colors the designers picked to complement the white. The backwards swoosh is a metallic gold that brings a muted, calming presence to the shoe. The outsole is a bright red and there are several red accent marks on the tongue to really bring the shoe to life.
Many of the KD 12 colorways are monotone, so this ‘Youtube’ colorway is a nice surprise even if white is one of the primary colors. However, there is an excellent balance of both the white and the red to keep the shoe bright but not overbearing. The small black elements on the heel and tongue are a nice point of contrast. This is most likely the best colorway of the 12 so far.
The purple and black color combination is criminally underrated. Look no further than Baltimore for an example of how cool this combo looks when done right. This colorway is part of adidas’s Marvel Pack and is easily the big winner. The textured elements that serve as a shout-out to Wakanda are visible without being overwhelming, and though the purple feels underserved the use of a matte finish keeps the shoe understated but powerful.
James Harden is the face of Houston’s franchise and his Harden 3 “Team History” colorway pays homage to the all teams he’s played for. There are callouts to his high school team, a Sun Devil for Arizona State, and a wonderful use of old-school Houston logos. It is reminiscent of graffiti on a wall, but because many of these smaller callouts feature the same color pattern (gold, orange, maroon red) it blends together well. The all-black midfoot strap helps break up the callouts and is a nice visual reprieve.
Dame and adidas have had some interesting collaborations on the Dame 6. First was “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and now we have one with Pusha-T. A soft blue pairs well with the orange and white to give off a springtime vibe. Dame’s initials and birth year grace the side of each shoe while Pusha’s are located on the heel. There is a blank place near the toe for you to sign your own name making the shoe your own.
Kyrie has one of the more impressive collections of colorways and one of the top ones is the “Have a Nike Day.” The denim color and texture pairs well with the white to give a clean, fresh look. It also has some nice subtle color elements such as the paint splatter on the tongue and the rainbow of colors on the outsole that wraps up the side of the shoe. The element that ties everything together is the 3D “Nike” on the heel of the shoe that really pops against the denim.
is a lot of retro happening in the league right now. Throwback jerseys and
courts are everywhere, but the best so far is the ‘Mailman’ colorway of the D.O.N
Issue #1. A soft purple exquisitely blankets most of the shoe with small
touches of orange and powder blue. The mountain range on the side of the shoe is
perfect, full stop. To fully tie the shoe together, a postage stamp sits
prominently on the back half of the shoe. This colorway fully deserves the top
With the release of Apex Legends there is now a new contender in the battle royale market to clash with PUBG and Fortnite. While the concept is obviously similar to other battle royale games, the big difference is players get to select one of eight characters to use. Each character is unique in the way they look and the powers they have.
Since I think about everything in terms of basketball and shoes, I took an in-depth look at each character, and using a top-secret scientific method determined which shoe each character would wear during a pickup game.
Once Zion Williamson enters the league and gets his own signature shoe Gibraltar will definitely be switching over, but for now he needs a shoe that can handle his build and power. He’s the type of pickup player who isn’t necessarily better than you at basketball, but he’s so big and strong that it’s pretty impossible to stop him. That’s why he’s definitely rocking the Lebron 16’s in a game. It’s important he has an excellent cushioning system to absorb all his weight when he lands after posterizing your shooting guard on an alley-oop. With combined Max and Zoom Air cushioning, the 16’s will make sure to take the strain off Gibraltar’s feet and legs. He’s also going to need an excellent support system, because if his ankle leans any type of way, that could easily lead to a sprain. With BattleKnit 2.0 and an external heel counter, the 16 is going to give the big fella all the support and stability he needs.
Bangalore has one job: shoot. And let me tell you, shooters gonna shoot. She is the focal point when you lead an offensive attack, and no matter how fast she may be going she is always under control. No doubt she is lacing up the Harden 3’s. Everyone on Bangalore’s team understands that their job is to stand behind the arc and let her go to work. She may kick the ball out to an open shooter, but no defender is really expecting a pass. Thanks to the Harden’s leather upper Bangalore’s able to change directions in the blink of eye while still feeling locked in, and the herringbone outsole ensures no slip-ups as she stops and starts on a dime. You may love playing with her, you may not, but there is no denying her greatness or her impact on the game.
Mirage is all about confusion. The team of decoys he can deploy as his ultimate or the holographic decoy as his tactical are all designed to make you look like a fool as you light up the wrong person. Mirage is the ultimate trickster. When you’re matching up on defense before the game, he’s the one you are desperately trying to avoid guarding. Then, however, your teammates look at you and say, “You should probably take him,” and you mutter some choice words under your breath. You know he is going to embarrass you at some point with his handles, either by crossing you for easy baskets or sitting you down on a step-back. That’s why Mirage was made to wear the Kyrie 5’s. The curved outsole aligning with the new Air Zoom Turbo keeps him upright and cushioned as he attacks from every angle, and the mesh upper keeps the shoe flexible and supportive so no matter where Mirage is on the floor, he is comfortable.
Everyone loves playing with a character like Lifeline. She’s the ultimate teammate. She makes the right pass almost every time, and the way she moves without the ball opens up scoring opportunities for other players. Lifeline may take the occasional heat check shot, but you allow it because she always taps her chest and says, “My bad.” She will follow up every bad shot by competing harder on defense, which you appreciate. Lifeline also definitely plays exclusively in long sleeves, and is for sure running in some Curry 6’s. The full knit upper keeps the shoe breathable while also providing a compression feel so that Lifeline can ball in comfort and stay focused on making the right play every time. The HOVR cushioning system gives that zero-gravity sensation so that it really feels like Lifeline is gliding through the defense and around screens.
If Bloodhound is on your team then you are feeling good. If he’s on the other team, and he’s picked you up on defense then you are definitely annoyed. He is going to ask about, and then be confused by the score every five minutes. He’s going to face guard you all game even though you aren’t good enough to earn that treatment. It’s also pointless to even try and take Bloodhound off the dribble because he’s going to be in your airspace step for step. By that point, you’re working so hard on offense that your defense slips, and he’s going to start stroking threes from deep in a nice pair of PG 3’s. The shoe’s outsole pattern was inspired by moon craters and keeps incredible traction in all directions. The padded collar keeps Bloodhound comfortable without sacrificing agility, so he can grind all game long, and slither his way through thickets of screens into an open three.
Sometimes you have to ask Wraith whether she understands that this is a pick-up game and not Game 7 of the Finals. She is full-throttle all the time, moving like a lightening bolt around the court so you think she is in one place one moment, but then you turn and realize she’s on the other end of the court. Wraith is definitely a gunner on offense, but you respect it because she’s playing so hard and can make some incredible passes to set you up for easy buckets. She is most definitely a talker on defense and has the most coordinated outfit in the gym all the way down to her WHY NOT 0.2’s. Zoom Air cushioning gives the responsiveness that allows her to explode off of every step while staying lightweight. The only reason Wraith doesn’t run out of her shoes is the midfoot saddle that helps keep her locked in, ready to move in an instant.
You know who is just happy to be out on the court balling with his friends? Pathfinder. Sure, he wants to win, but he also recognizes that there are more important things in life than basketball. So, he is going to pull from deep, throw some fancy passes, and apologize to the other team when he fouls someone. He’s also going to make you laugh unintentionally with some self-deprecating humor. He loves the Dame 5’s because they are one of the few low-tops available. Plus, Bounce cushioning helps keep Pathfinder comfortable and light on his feet, and the herringbone pattern on the outsole ensures excellent traction.
Caustic is the 50-year-old man at the gym running 5s with a bunch of 20 somethings. He’s constantly complaining that no one is trying hard enough on defense and is wondering why on Earth everyone is taking so many gosh darn threes. He is a constant talker, calling out screens, switches, and on offense he yells for you to swing the ball a half second after you get it. However, he will pull out some nifty moves leveraging his patience and pump fake to get you off balance so he can get a clean look at the basket. He is also 5000% wearing the newest Kobe’s. The Zoom Air heel unit provides responsive cushioning, allowing him to try and keep pace with the young guns. The cord lacing system and synthetic bootie keep his feet secure, lowering the chance of him turning an ankle.
Chances are you’ve encountered these types of people both on and off the court, and you probably even have some of these tendencies (I, for one, am a Pathfinder). Let us know which one of these types of players you think you are, and any of your other thoughts on the list.
Golden State and Cleveland have been on a collision course all season long. The Trilogy is finally underway as the league’s two best teams and biggest stars battle it out in the championship for the third straight year.
With that in mind, we’re taking a look at the signature sneakers. Who wins the title remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt about these championship-caliber kicks.
King James has plenty of signature shoes to choose from, but the Soldier line has to be considered a favorite after last year’s championship performance. This year, the Nike LeBron Soldier 11 added a fourth strap for an even greater locked-in feel. At the same time, the Soldier 11 utilizes Zoom Air cushioning to provide the explosive abilities that LeBron has become so well known for.
LeBron has said he loves the lighter, faster, sleeker, and stronger feel he gets while wearing the Soldier line. The Soldier 11 is made with that in mind, providing the ultimate locked-down fit without sacrificing explosive abilities, making it perfect for LeBron’s quest for another championship. Read more about it here.
Kevin Durant is hunting for his first championship, and has a brand new shoe to do it in. The KD X offers a similar look to its predecessor, but has subtle upgrades that help refine the shoe and ultimately Durant’s game. The KD X utilizes the best Flyknit construction ever to be used on a basketball shoe, engineered specifically for flexibility, breathability, and support where Durant needs it most.
A full-length Zoom Air unit offers responsiveness that’s perfect for KD’s offensive attack and defensive prowess, while the oversized laces provide more lockdown and an original look. The shoe also marks Durant’s 10th anniversary with Nike – you can read more about that here. What better way to celebrate than with a new shoe and a championship ring?
Kyrie Irving’s late-game heroics helped end the city of Cleveland’s title drought. Now, Irving is back for another championship and to further establish his reputation as one of the game’s most clutch players. His Kyrie 3 sneakers are built with his fancy footwork and hot handles in mind. He needs solid lockdown, plenty of strength and support, and enough flexibility to utilize his entire offensive repertoire.
The Kyrie 3 is a guard’s dream. It’s made specifically for stop-and-go moves at a moment’s notice. The outsole curvature allows for seamless transitions in any direction, allowing Irving to move quicker, cut faster, and blow by defenders with ease. Who knows, maybe it’ll even help Irving hit another game-winner in crunch time.
The back-to-back MVP leads his team into battle, where Golden State looks to recapture the title that was taken from them last year. Curry can run the court like no other point guard, with one of the game’s deadliest shots, most dangerous handles, and passing abilities that are second-to-none.
The Curry 3Zer0 is built to withstand the intensity of the playoffs and all of the crucial moments that will arise. The streamlined sneaker offers the same ankle support, comfort, breathability, and cushioning as the Curry 3, but in a minimalized silhouette that is equipped for the season’s most important stage. It’s championship season, and the two-time MVP is looking to re-take the throne.