Interesting Facts About Basketball Shoes (With A Quiz)

When discussing basketball, two things quickly come to mind: the basketball itself and basketball shoes. Basketball, as a sport, doesn’t require much equipment, which is one reason for its popularity. All you need is a ball, a hoop, and perhaps a friend to play with. Although basketball is a sport, it also serves as excellent cardiovascular exercise. It not only tests the strength of your lower body but also your agility when dribbling. Because of the nature of the game, choosing the right shoes is an important decision.

Basketball sneakers are not only important for athletes but also hold significance for basketball fans, sneakerheads, and collectors. There is consistent discussion surrounding this topic in every NBA season, particularly regarding signature shoes. Basketball enthusiasts and NBA followers are always intrigued by this subject. In this post, we aim to satisfy some of that curiosity by presenting interesting facts about basketball sneakers. Through this post, we will delve into significant aspects such as the history of basketball shoes, the evolution of signature shoes, as well as notable firsts and lasts related to basketball sneakers, along with auction stories and more.

Check Your Facts Quiz:

Before delving into these interesting basketball sneaker facts, take a quick quiz to test your knowledge.

1. The year when sneakers were replaced by ‘Non-Skids’.

A pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars sneakers -1922
Brooke Fishwick, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Although basketball was introduced in the last decade of the 18th century, for the first few decades (more than 25 years, to be precise), basketball players wore sneakers as there were no specifically designed basketball shoes available at that time. 
  • Basketball was invented in 1891, and basketball shoes were first introduced in 1917 by the Converse Rubber Shoe Company. These shoes were specifically designed with the requirements of basketball players in mind, as well as to address the injuries that commonly occur among players.


2. The major players in the shoe industry joined much later.

Adidas Campus, 1970
  • Today, when it comes to basketball shoes, certain brands hold prominent positions in the sports shoe market, such as Nike, Puma, and Adidas. Interestingly, most of these shoe designers didn’t emerge until the 1960s. 
  • Adidas was the pioneer in designing basketball shoes, beginning in 1965. Later, companies such as Puma and Nike also entered the market, crafting footwear for basketball players during the 1970s and 80s. Prior to 1960, Converse held the position as the leading manufacturer of basketball shoes.


3. The first basketball player to have his own signature shoe.

Walter Frazier Jr
  • Point guard Walter Frazier Jr. was the first NBA player to collaborate with Puma in 1973 to design his own signature shoe. 
  • He played in the NBA for 12 years until 1979. During the early 1970s, Adidas also designed and introduced a new line of basketball shoes endorsed by former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


4. Things that make basketball shoes unique compared to other sneakers.

  • To ensure that basketball shoes can withstand the high intensity of the game, the soles are typically kept wider than those of other shoes to allow for better movement. 
  • The high-top shoes that provide ankle support are unique to basketball. 
  • Unlike other types of athletic footwear, basketball shoes and their popularity are heavily influenced by NBA players and their endorsements. 


5. Fun facts about the craze for basketball signature shoes among collectors.

Air Jordan XIII 2Pacalyp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • The most expensive shoes ever sold at an auction were Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan 13 sneakers, which he wore during the 1998 NBA Finals. These shoes sold at auction for $2.2 million.
    In 1998, Michael Jordan concluded his tenure with the NBA team, the Chicago Bulls, marking the significance of these “Last Dance” sneakers. 
  • Jordan sneakers have consistently led the pack on auction tables compared to other signature shoes. During one auction in 2020, Michael Jordan’s sneakers, which he wore in the 1991 NBA Finals, were sold for $560,000, once again fetching a significant sum.


6. The last NBA player to wear Converse shoes.

Former Basketball Player Tree Rollins
  • The name of Converse shoes will always be prominent when discussing some of the famous shoes from the 1980s.
  • Since that time, the Converse Weapon always receives mention without fail. This leather high-top shoe was worn by basketball players like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird among many others.
  • Former basketball player Tree Rollins, who enjoyed an 18-season tenure in the NBA throughout his professional career, is renowned as the final player to prominently sport Converse shoes for an extended duration.


7. When discussing basketball shoes, how can we overlook the Air Jordans? Here are some intriguing facts about Air Jordans:

Air Jordan 1 HI 622, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • The name “Air Jordan” for the shoes was suggested by David Falk, Jordan’s agent at the time. He proposed using the word “air” to symbolize Jordan’s airborne skills, often displayed during basketball dunks.
  • Designer Tinker Hatfield of Nike was the brains behind the Air Jordan line for years, but interestingly, he wasn’t in the picture when the Air Jordan 1 was launched. The very first shoes of this line were designed by Peter Moore, who was a Nike executive at the time.
  • Before signing with Nike, Michael Jordan had never worn Nike shoes in his entire life. Not only that, but when Nike approached him for a signature shoe deal, he was not convinced, as Nike was not popularly known for basketball shoes at that time.
  • The NBA has a set of rules regarding NBA players’ sportswear. One such rule prohibits a shoe’s color from being less than 51% white. The Air Jordan 1 featured the highly popular color combination of red, black, and white, which actually violated this rule. As a result, the NBA warned of imposing a penalty of $5000 on Jordan for each game.


8. Why must basketball shoes be 51% white or black?

  • As stated above, the NBA mandates that players wear basketball shoes, with more than half of the shoes being either black or white. 
  • This rule helped maintain a professional appearance for the teams and ensured a uniform look among the players.  


9. “Interesting facts about basketball shoes from the world of women’s basketball:

Lorie Shaull/, CC BY 2.0
  • Sheryl Swoopes is not only the first player drafted into the WNBA but also the first female player to have a signature shoe bearing her name.
  • So far, only 12 WNBA players have acquired their own signature shoes, including Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, and Breanna Stewart, just to name a few.
  • Moolah Kicks is the sole basketball shoe company dedicated exclusively to crafting footwear for female basketball players.
  • Nike approached Swoopes for a signature shoe even before the formation of the WNBA. Nike and Swoopes released the signature shoe, the Nike Air Swoopes, in 1995, one year before the inauguration of the WNBA.
  • After the introduction of Candace Parker’s Adidas Ace Commander in 2010, no signature shoe was launched for over a decade for women. 
  • In 2022, for the first time in over a decade, WNBA player Breanna Stewart joined forces with Puma and revealed her signature shoe, the PUMA Stewie 1.
  • For years, prior to the introduction of basketball shoes specifically designed for women, female basketball players had no choice but to use shrunken versions of shoes originally designed for men’s basketball.


10. Fun facts about signature shoes from prominent NBA players:

Shaq Attaq IV, ReebokUSA, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


  • One of the most influential basketball players of this generation, LeBron James, received a shoe in his name in 2003, the year he debuted in the NBA.
  • The design of James’s first shoes was inspired by the car model Hummer H2, which he received as a gift from his mother during his high school days.
  • Even though Steph Curry made his NBA debut in 2009, his first signature shoe, the UA Curry 1, in partnership with Under Armour, was launched in 2015.
  • Interestingly, at the time of writing this piece, Steph Curry is the sole NBA player affiliated with Under Armour, the sportswear company.
  • Kobe Bryant, an inspiring figure to many aspiring basketball players, secured a deal for signature shoes in his second year of NBA debut. At the age of 19, he partnered with Adidas in 1997, a collaboration that endured for six years.
  • Bryant has played an important role in the transformation of preference from high-tops to low-tops among basketball players. In 2009, Bryant collaborated with Nike and launched the Nike Zoom Kobe IV, the first low-top sneaker from Kobe’s signature line in many years.
  • Reebok, the shoe manufacturer, ventured into the basketball shoe segment for the first time when they signed Shaquille O’Neal for his inaugural signature shoe in 1992. 
  • After the launch of his signature shoe, “The Shaq Attack,” Shaq was involved in directing almost all the commercials produced for the shoe line.


11. Closing Facts

Let’s conclude this post with these final, yet equally insightful facts:

Air Jordan XI Space Jam, Ric_man (talk) (Uploads), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • In 2010, the NBA banned a basketball shoe line from the company Athletic Propulsion Labs because its creators claimed that they were designed to make basketball players jump higher.
  • In 2023, Nike launched their latest innovation: the self-lacing basketball shoes called Adapt BB. These sneakers, utilizing Nike’s FitAdapt technology, adjust the shoe’s fit in real-time. Therefore, the inner space of the shoe adapts each time a player wears it, ensuring the best fit for them.
  • When it comes to players with the highest number of signature shoes released under their name, LeBron James is leading the pack, at least for the time being. Up until 2023, James had 21 signature shoes to his name.
  • It took Michael Jordan fans to get their hands on the “Space Jam” sneakers that Jordan wore in the 1996 movie of the same name. The Air Jordan 11 Space Jam shoes remain one of Jordan’s most popular signature shoes.
  • In 1991, Reebok introduced a groundbreaking pair of shoes featuring a pump mechanism, which NBA player Dee Brown donned during the Slam Dunk Contest. This moment was exhilarating for both fans and players as Brown visibly inflated the sneakers using the attached pump.
  • Famous basketball player Allen Iverson was well known for his attacking skills, but another thing he was famous for was wearing mismatched Reebok shoes in many of his NBA games.
  • Many signature basketball shoes are designed drawing inspiration from luxury sports cars. For example, the Air Jordan 14 was inspired by the Ferrari 550 Maranello. Kobe Bryant’s Kobe 1 was based on the Audi TT Roadster sports car.


The facts above demonstrate that basketball shoes are not merely footwear, but an integral part of basketball culture. With a history spanning over 130 years, basketball shoes have consistently been a focal point, sparking discussions among fans and athletes since their inception, and this trend is expected to continue in the future. We hope that the aforementioned facts have shed some light on basketball sneakers. If you have any additional facts or fun information related to basketball shoes that you would like to share, please feel free to use the comment box below.

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