A Brief History Of The Basketball Sneaker

Today the sneaker is possibly the most ubiquitous shoe known to humankind, look around and you are sure to see someone wearing a pair! It’s hard to believe that not that long ago there was no such thing, and one must wonder how people managed without them! The first example of this incredibly popular, versatile shoe was produced by the Liverpool Rubber Company back in the 1830s. Originally meant as footwear for the beach, the growth of leisure activities and sports like basketball ensured that by the 1920’s there was a sneaker for every diversion!

The first basketball sneaker was produced in 1917 and was quite a simple thing when compared to the super high-tech Air Jordans of today that Nike has taken to incredible new levels of profit. Back then the Converse All-Star was the height of basketball sneaker technology and bears little resemblance to its modern descendants. Let’s take a brief look at the history of the amazing basketball sneaker:

In 1908 the Converse Rubber Shoe Company was founded. They produced the first official basketball shoe called Non-Skids in 1917. They hired Chuck Taylor, a pro basketball player, who used his experience to make improvements to the design like better ankle support and a more flexible sole, and the All-Star was born. The Converse All-Stars were chosen as the official shoe of the Olympic Games in 1936 and held that title until 1968!

In the 1970s Converse had more competition, so they differentiated themselves by offering their shoes in more colour options than just black and white, as well as making improvements to their rubber soles. Unfortunately, these efforts, although a sign of things to come, weren’t enough, and the brand fell out of favour with pro basketball players. Move over Converse, here comes Nike!

Nike released The Bruin in 1972 and the Blazer in 1978 which featured new design improvements like leather uppers. Although other companies made basketball sneakers, Nike dominated all through the 1980s by signing famous players up for endorsement deals, a practice that continues to this day. In 1985 Nike partnered with Chicago Bears superstar Michael Jordan to create the Air Jordan 1, beginning a long dynasty.

The 1980s also saw the emergence of more sneaker brands like Ewing and Reebok. The 1991 Reebok Pump was endorsed by Dee Brown, a Celtics player who won the NBA Dunk Competition that year. Emerging NBA star Kobe Bryant endorsed the Adidas Crazy 8. Nike continued to introduce new Air Jordan models.

In the year 2000, Nike rolled out its new Shox technology with the Shox BB4, and in 2003 Lebron James played wearing the Nike Air Zoom Generations. The cutting-edge shoe science being developed was touted as giving players a boost and new sneaker launches continued to increase. The Nike Kobe V, Adizero, Nike Kyrie 1, Lebrox X, and more were trotted onto the court as fast as they could make them!

Today, basketball sneakers are more popular than ever, and even have a devoted fanbase called “Sneakerheads” who are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for collectable designs! Whether you play basketball or not, the shoes are here to stay, and are more popular than ever!

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