There are a lot of layers to basketball culture. There's the fantasy angle that basketball nerds and fanatics obsess about for most of the year, NBA style before games has been a story for most of this century, a lot of players cam crossover to movies, and now even guys like Damian Lillard have albums. One part of basketball culture that has been a constant for almost a half century has been basketball sneakers.
As a fantasy writer for over 10 years and a sneaker head for about 25 years, I wanted to try to combine the two of them as we wait for the NBA to come back. It took some workshopping, but I finally decided on drafting a basketball team of sneakers just like a fantasy hoops team. You'd draft the shoes based on where that player saw minutes, needing point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards, centers and utility players. Although, there are a lot more perimeter players with signature sneakers, so I skewed the positions slots a bit.
Each drafter had to select a PG, SG, SG/SF, SF/PF, PF/C and five UTIL (all positions qualify as UTIL, just like in fantasy). I assigned positions based on the shoes, so the Jordans were SG, LeBron James shoes were SF, and shoes like the Air Force 1 were C because they were popularized by Moses Malone. I had a cheat sheet of over 400 sneakers for people to pick, and shoes that weren't on the list were listed as UTIL.
People can choose their shoes however they like. If they like them because they were stylish, iconic, loved them as a kid, loved that player, or really whatever you can think of, grab 'em! Much like a fantasy draft, you want to try to wait on your "sleeper" picks on a shoe that you may love, and maybe the other drafters may not have on their radar. Player Edition (PE) shoes weren't separate sneakers, which means there's only one version of a shoe that's allowed to be drafted. Of course, you can draft as many Jordans as you like as long as your position flexibility allow it.
I've been wanting to do this for a while, and surprisingly it went off without a hitch. That may have been because the 10 people in this league proved they know their stuff when it comes to sneakers. The 10 participants were @NickKosmider, @JaredWeissNBA, @jovanbuha, @TommyBeer, @markstrot, @Ihartitz, @BryanFonsecaNY, @docktora, @noremaksnilloc and me.
There aren't any pictures in this column, but you can check out my Twitter thread that will have nine of the sneakers in one pic, and one of them with the one I picked (because it's the best one, obviously). Here's the link to the #NBAShoeDraft thread.
Throughout this column, you'll see some notes next to the shoes. Those are from the person who drafted those sneakers, and there are also some additional notes at the end of each round (I did the round recap).
We're also going to determine a winner based on this Google Form. Click this link and rate teams 1-10 (1 is bad, 10 is excellent).
1. Mike Gallagher - Jordan 11 - Most stylish shoe ever, game-changer, 72-10.
2. Ewell Collins - Nike Air Penny 1 - I zagged when everybody zigged for the Jordans.
3. Bryan Fonseca - Jordan 3 - They're the best Jordans, period.
4. Steve Alexander - Jordan 4 - All I wanted was Jordan IIIs.
5. Ian Hartitz - Nike Kyrie 3 - The first pair of shoes I truly fell in love with enough to say to hell with my shallow bank account.
6. Mark Strotman - Jordan 1 - The most iconic shoe in basketball history has withstood the test of time (35 years!) and was somehow available at 6.
7. Jovan Buha - Nike Foamposite 1
8. Tommy Beer - Jordan 5
9. Jared Weiss - Converse Chuck Taylor - I went for style and innovation over playing substance with my team and the Chucks are my favorite street shoe ever.
10. Nick Kosmider - Jordan 12
Round Recap: Jordans ran this round with six of the picks, and majority of these were late-80s and 90s jams. Obviously, the reach of the round is Ian going with Kyrie over some shoes that almost any sneaker head would say is a top-five sneaker. Mark didn't think he would get the J1s at 6, but the Kyries and maybe the Penny 1 going early let them slip. I love the Penny 1, but if I had the No. 2 pick I would've taken the Foam 1s. What a shoe. I want a pair of Jordan 12 Playoffs so bad. I wouldn't have taken the Chucks, but certainly can't argue with it still being one of the most popular shoes decades later. Full disclosure: I gave myself the first pick because I did so much work to organize this. I wanted the 11 bad. Would've been fun to do an auction draft for these. I would've spent it all because I have 12 pairs of these.
More notes from Ewell (Air Penny 1): I knew a few heads in the draft valued these sneakers as top tier and I didn’t believe this shoe would reach me back on the turn. In addition, the cultural impact of Anfernee Hardaway Nike and Lil’ Penny was God Tier. Plus MJ wore a version of the Penny in his return from his first retirement (not this version but MJ wearing your shoe was huge).
More notes from Ian (Kyrie 3): Some will call this a reach, but it’s the marquee shoe from the man that 1) Won my Cleveland Cavaliers a title with arguably the biggest shot in NBA history, 2) Eats and breathes conspiracy theories, and 3) Truly epitomizes what it means to be a swaggy player. In Kyrie we (me?) trust.
More notes from Steve (Jordan 4): The Jordan 3 was my favorite shoe of all time and I had two pairs of them when they came out back in the day. So when Fonseca pimped me I really didn’t know what to do. So I went with the Jordan IV, which is one of the few shoes I drafted that I never owned. But I did always like them. I was fine getting the 4s at No. 4.
More notes from Jared (Chuck Taylor): Might have been a reach here, but I was worried Nick Kosmider may snatch the Chucks as the draft snaked back to him before my next pick and I was confident the Question 1, my favorite basketball shoe ever that was meant for people who jumped off the ground. Plus, the Chucks were the grand finale of Virgil Abloh’s Off White The Ten collection, which was the transformative collection that got me back into being a sneakerhead. The Off White Chucks are my favorite shoes of all-time and I have exhausted every connection I have at Nike and Converse to try to get a pair, to no avail.
1. Nick Kosmider - Nike KD 4
2. Jared Weiss - Reebok Question 1 - The honeycomb air pocket in the midsole still looks futuristic and stunning to me today.
3. Tommy Beer - Nike Air Force 1
4. Jovan Buha - Nike Air More Uptempo
5. Mark Strotman - Nike Kobe 4 - Nike rolled the dice big-time with a low-top performance sneaker, and it wound up being Kobe’s best and inspired a generation of lows.
6. Ian Hartitz - Jordan 10 - Imagine leaving the first two rounds of a sneaker draft without a pair of J’s.
7. Steve Alexander - Converse Doctor J - I drew a poster for a class in 6th grade promoting the ‘Dr. J’ Converse All-Star.
8. Bryan Fonseca - Adidas Crazy Light - Best sneakers I ever played in -- made great use of them from 2011-2014.
9. Ewell Collins - Nike Air Max CB34 - Charles Barkley’s run of sneakers rivals that of Jordan’s (1-13) with consistency on and off the court.
10. Mike Gallagher - Jordan 13 - Ray Allen PE is my favorite PE for any shoe ever.
Round Recap: Five Nikes, two Jordans, and a mixture on the rest. The Air Force 1 falling outside of the top 12 was a big surprise to me. Tommy is an NYC guy, so he was thrilled here. Jovan and I have some similar taste early with the Air More Uptempo being one of my favorite shoes, and it has a ridiculous amount of color ways (he wanted the OG one). I'm a Nike Head exclusively since I was like six, but one of the shoes I almost broke my streak on was the Question 1. Just a great shoe that fits AI's style so well. A lot of ballers like the Kobe 4 and the KD 4 is another great shoe to rock for a game of hoops. The Crazy Light is under 10 ounces, and Steve kicks off his old-school run here with some Doctor J action. The Jordan 13 is easily a top-three Jordan for me, so this was a ridiculous steal to me.
More notes from Ian (Jordan 10): The smartest decision I ever made was purchasing a pair of dope shoes I truly liked with the full intention of making them everyday shoes that will have to stand up to bad weather. We all have the pair of shoes to quickly slip on in the closet; why not make those kicks swaggy as well? The Jordan 10s are my choice, and reading the GOAT’s records on the sole of the shoe remains fun.
More notes from Ewell (Air Max CB34): If you watched any 90’s hoop you also caught the 90’s Nike commercials. Like Jordan, “Chuck” had the most iconic and his shoes delivered behind those commercials. At this point of the draft, I feel like I got the best shoe version of each of my picks. (Penny’s and CB’s).
More notes from Steve (Converse Doctor J): I had countless pairs of them throughout the years and when Dominique Wilkins gave me his game-worns in 1985 they were red Converse All-Stars, just like Doc wore. Clark Kellogg, Rick Mahorn, Mark Aguirre and a few others also gave me a pair. That was THE shoe before Jordans came along and changed everything. I once was alone with Dr. J in a tunnel under Market Square Arena back in the day and his shoes were hanging out of the top of his bag. But he said he couldn’t give them to me because he had a game in Jersey the next night and needed them for that one.
More notes from Jared (Question 1): I found my sneaker taste was formed mostly by what I wore playing as a kid and then what comes out now that I’m an adult with a credit card. My first year of playing in my town league when I was a kid, the Question 1 dropped and I was in awe while rocking some cruddy Converse Weapons.
1. Mike Gallagher - Nike Foamposite Pro - Not the Foam 1, but will take this in R3 all day.
2. Ewell Collins - Nike Flight Huarache - Iconic shoes of my childhood and this pick epitomize the cultural impact of a certain era of college hoops and the player(s) behind the shoe.
3. Bryan Fonseca - Nike PG 2.5 - D'Angelo Russell kinda made them cool to me. Saw 'em up close a lot when covering the Nets.
4. Steve Alexander - Adidas Top Ten - The Top Tens were the first big dollar shoe I remember.
5. Ian Hartitz - Nike LeBron 15 - Most money I’ve ever spent on a pair of shoes: LeBron 15 Griffey edition.
6. Mark Strotman - Jordan 6 - I’m not sure I could hoop in them, but MJ sure could when he won his first of six titles rocking the Infrareds.
7. Jovan Buha - Adidas The KOBE
8. Tommy Beer - Nike Air Penny 2
9. Jared Weiss - Nike LeBron 8 - The neon pink and aqua teal South Beach color palette is extremely my taste.
10. Nick Kosmider - Reebok Answer 4
Round Recap: Another Nike-heavy round with six picks to go with one Jordan, one Reebok and two Adidas. Huaraches Ultras are one of my favorite non-hoops shoes, and the OG basketball Huaraches are classics with a lot of color ways. A lot of polarizing shoes here with some people loving the Answer 4, The KOBE and LeBron 8s, but a lot of people aren't fans. The Jordan 6 comes off the board here, and we're about to see the Jordans fall after that one. The Penny 2 isn't close to as sleek as the 1, but it's still a top-three Penny shoe. Steve went old-school again. I would've been extremely sad if I didn't get these Foam Pros, so honestly this draft really couldn't have gone better for me to start off with the 11s, 13s and Foam Pros.
More notes from Ewell (Flight Huarache): Outside of hoops, Huaraches are freaking dope to play in and when Pippen rocked these along with the famous “Fab Five” all wearing them during their run I was hooked solidifying their status on my shoe Mt. Rushmore.
More notes from Ian (LeBron 15): The LeBron Griffey had an A+ color scheme, incredibly comfortable shoe built for balling and hanging out, as well as a nod to the coolest baseball player ever. What else could someone with the world’s jankiest jumper ever want?
More notes from Steve (Adidas Top Ten): They were over 100 bucks in 1985, which was a pretty big deal. I somehow had three pairs throughout the years and I have a retro pair I got about 10 years ago. They’re big and I still love them.
More notes from Jared (LeBron 8): These were selected primarily because of the South Beach colorway that had a tremendous impact on booth NBA and basketball shoe history. They dropped when LeBron made The Decision to take his talents to South Beach, which is probably one of the five most iconic sentences in basketball history. They led the way for unique colorway drops no signature shoes becoming a huge draw and an instant faberge egg level item on resale.
1. Nick Kosmider - Ewing 33 High
2. Jared Weiss - Nike Kobe 6 - The prime Nike Kobes were starting to go and it was down to the 6 or the 5 at that point.
3. Tommy Beer - Puma Clydes
4. Jovan Buha - Adidas TMAC 2
5. Mark Strotman - Nike LeBron 7 - LeBron’s sneaker line was struggling mightily (the 4, 5, and 6 were SO BAD), and he had just made The Decision before these came out. Nike really needed to make the 7 work, and they did.
6. Ian Hartitz - Adidas Mutombo - Needed to fill the center position and decided to roll with these underrated kicks. Losing out on a full Nike team hurts.
7. Steve Alexander - Adidas Forum - Every time I go into an Adidas outlet store I always
check to see if they’ve got Forums.
8. Bryan Fonseca - Nike Air Pippen 2 - My Pippen-loving brother would've whooped my ass otherwise. These are cold, too.
9. Ewell Collins - Nike Zoom Flight 95 - Jason Kidd the player was God Tier in 95’, Hip-Hop was GOD TIER and the shoe followed suit.
10. Mike Gallagher - Nike LeBron Zoom Generation - His debut sneaker doesn't get enough love among first editions.
Round Recap: Adidas had its best round with three, but still four Nikes were tops. We had our first Puma with the Clydes, but nobody else takes Puma kicks with some of the new guys they signed recently. The LeBron 1 coming off as the fourth LeBron seemed wild to me. Ewell easily had the steal of the round with the Zoom Flight 95s as one of my favorite sneakers of the 90s. Snipe city. The LeBron 7 is another LeBron that gets a lot of love and same with the Kobe 6s. Bryan's bro loved the Pippen 2s, and they're one of the cleaner shoes of the 90s. As a Knicks guy, Tommy had to get the Clydes or else he'd be losing and snoozing! Steve and Ian went with some Adidas classics, and those Mutombos are something else. I'm not a fan of the Ewing and TMAC 2, but they certainly are unique.
More notes from Ewell (Zoom Flight 95): Gallagher and I are from the same ilk and he knew he had a decision to make between his Foamposite and Zoom Flights from our texting. I was a sophomore in high school when these came out and they looked amazing with baggy jeans. This was an easy pick and steal of the round.
More notes from Steve (Adidas Forum): I never had a pair of Forums of my own, but I could fit into the pair Terrence Stansbury gave me and Earl Cureton also gave me a pair that was too big. Stansbury’s got stolen out of my freshman dorm in 1986, not surprisingly.
More notes from Jared (Kobe 6): Though the 4 and 5 are most synonymous with Kobe’s low top movement, the snakeskin material of the 6 was just so crazy when it came out and the neon green grinch colorway made it one of my favorite shoes of the decade. I wanted The KOBE stormtrooper, but Jovan knew I was going to gun for it and stole it from me, so I had to get my second favorite Kobes. Jovan really rubbed it in though by taking my favorite T-Macs right after I snatched these puppies.
1. Mike Gallagher - Nike Zoom Glove 98 - My first pick that wasn't a no-brainer, but really wanted these joints here. Lots of cool color ways on these, too.
2. Ewell Collins - Nike Dunks - This shoe is also the model for the iconic Jordan 1 and OG 90s skater Mark Gonzales rocked these which played a part in me falling in love with this shoe.
3. Bryan Fonseca - Nike Kobe HyperDunks - The Best Kobes, and the NCAA Basketball 10 (video game) standard shoe.
4. Steve Alexander - Etonic Dreams - These were one of my favorites.
5. Ian Hartitz - Nike Air Darwin - Credit to Dennis Rodman for not only being a high-functioning crazy person, but also for stunting an underrated fresh pair of kicks.
6. Mark Strotman - Nike Kyrie 1 - Kyrie’s signature line has been outstanding from start to finish. I owned a pair of the All-Star editions before foolishly selling them.
7. Jovan Buha - Reebok Shaqnosis
8. Tommy Beer - Nike KG 3
9. Jared Weiss - Nike Kobe 5 - The Draft Day colorway featuring classic Hornets colors was the first basketball shoe I copped just for style purposes since I was a little kid.
10. Nick Kosmider - Nike Kobe 9
Round Recap: If we're not counting Jordans, this is the most Nike-dominant round of the draft with a whopping eight of them here (nine Nike/Jordan in the first). We had a little Kobe run here, and personally HyperDunks are my favorite shoe to play in these days. It was a little surprising to see the Dunks fall this far as one of the more popular shoes even these days. We had a lot of unique shoes here with the KG3, Kobe 9s, Darwins and Shaqnosis kicks coming here. I also went weird with the Gloves. My friends in grade school used to roast me and called them astronaut shoes, but obviously they didn't get to me 22 years later. Oh yeah and Steve went old school.
More notes from Ewell (Nike Dunk): Round 5 was supposed to be my Nike Blazer pick but I thought they would slide when a center run was kind of happening, but Tommy Beer sniped me on his turn. But I’m not mad for picking the most versatile shoe out of the whole list. From B-boying, skating, college hoops, streetwear and overall hype alone (see SB Pigeon Dunks).
More notes from Steve (Etonic Dreams): I bought a pair when they came out, and then was given a pair by ‘Akeem’, as well as Karl Malone, who was wearing them his rookie season. The pair he gave me were neutral and he colored the Etonic logo with a purple marker. Times have changed a little since then.
More notes from Jared (Kobe 5): Once again, Jovan sniped my pick by taking the obnoxiously beautiful Shaqnosis, and my original round 5 projection, the Glove 98, was long gone. I still had the Kobe 5 and his debut sneaker at the top of my draft chart by a mile, and I was pretty sure Nick was going to snatch the 5 if I didn’t take them. The 5 was very similar to the legendary 4, so I felt pretty good about adding it to my collection
1. Nick Kosmider - Reebok Omni Pump
2. Jared Weiss - Adidas KB8 1 - It’s ironic that as someone who grew up rooting against Kobe, I ended up picking three of his shoes in a row.
3. Tommy Beer - Nike Blazers
4. Jovan Buha - And 1 Tai Chi
5. Mark Strotman - Nike KD 9 - My favorite shoe on this list from a performance and style combo standpoint. This shoe is gorgeous, comfy, durable, and light.
6. Ian Hartitz - Nike Huarache 2K4 - Loved the Huarache design growing up and truly believe their mid-2000 baseball cleats were must haves.
7. Steve Alexander - Jordan 2 - I took these, mostly because I bought a pair of them when they came out.
8. Bryan Fonseca - K8IROS - Spencer Dinwiddie did my pod once.
9. Ewell Collins - Nike Command Force - The Admiral shoes are clunky but most C shoes fit this mold.
10. Mike Gallagher - Nike Air Max CB34 2 - Barkley had some underrated sneakers in his career, including these.
Round Recap: Five Nikes as the leader yet again, and we finally see the Jordan 2 come off the board after no Jordans since pick 26. Most sneaker heads believe the 2s are the worst J 1-13, but to each their own. Tommy went with another city favorite in the Blazers. Bryan is out here for the #brand with some Dinwiddies to go with the DLO PG 2.5s from round three. It was a mild surprise to see any of the pumps fall this far. Dee Brown pumping those up for the dunk contest was one of the best in-action ads for a pair of sneakers ever. The Admiral Command Force shoes are some of the clunkiest shoes ever, and they're the quintessential shoe for bigs of that era. The Huarache 2K4 is another polarizing shoe, but I was certainly eyeing that one. I almost took the Barkley 2 on my last turn, so I was really pumped to get 'em here.
More notes from Jared (Adidas KB8): This was my first basketball shoe and it was the coolest thing I had owned in my life at that point. I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was and how thick the cushioning was, plus I could finally dunk on a 7’ hoop in these! Between the memories, the story of the shoe and the perfect balance of the wavy midsole style with a clean black leather upper, it’s an avant-garde classic that stands the test of time.
1. Mike Gallagher - Nike Air Max Uptempo 95 - This shoe was ahead of its time and a lot of shoes followed suit.
2. Ewell Collins - Adidas Superstar - From RUN-DMC to breaking, this shoe epitomizes everything about hip-hop and its culture.
3. Bryan Fonseca - Adidas Attitude - Needed a center and these don't suck.
4. Steve Alexander - Nike KD 10 - My 12-year-old son picked these simply because I felt like I had to step out of the 80s for a moment.
5. Ian Hartitz - Jordan Melo 5.5 - Getting the first pair of Melos in round 7 was a steal.
6. Mark Strotman - Jordan 34 (Zion) - This shoe is just OK (I’ve never hooped in them), but in 20 years we’ll look back at it being the first Jordan that Zion Williamson and Luka Doncic ever wore. It’s going to be an iconic shoe in that sense.
7. Jovan Buha - Nike Kyrie 4
8. Tommy Beer - Converse Weapon
9. Jared Weiss - Nike Flightposite - I’ve never understood why people call the Flightposite ugly but then the Foamposite is so legendary.
10. Nick Kosmider - Nike Kobe 11
Round Recap: Nike wins it again with five here. I went with the OG Uptempos that Pippen wore, besides that it was mostly newer Nikes. Most Jordans were under MJ, but I gave the 34 to Zion because they signed him to such a huge deal to basically sell those shoes. The Bayou Boys are dope, and there's a new Rui Hachimura PE that came out that is lovely. The Flightposite is commonly called one of the ugliest shoes out there, but I dig it and will never fault anyone for any kind of posite. Ewell went Run DMC style here with the Superstars, which was a bit of a surprise with many people going with the old-school kicks throughout this draft. As you saw in The Last Dance, the Weapons were the jam of the 80s, but MJ wrecked it.
More notes from Ian (Melo 5.5): Millennials point to the ball-hog edition of one of the game’s swaggiest players; just don’t forget all the big shots and cornrow goodness from his time at Syracuse and with the Nuggets.
More notes from Ewell (Adidas Superstar): The iconic shell-shoe is GOD TIER in terms of street wear style and widely known around the world and I’m surprised Steve Alexander didn’t grab these sneakers earlier. Lastly this was the signature sneaker for the GOAT Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
More notes from Jared (Flightposite 1): The Foamposite One is on my Mt Rushmore, but that obviously went off the board quickly. Thankfully, there have been a few posite variations and my favorite was the Flightposite 1, KG’s first Nike signature shoe that debuted with this gorgeous iridescent gold patina hardshell and a zip cover to the laces that looked sleek as hell. Compared to the Foam Ones, the differences are so minor that the Flightposite is basically the Foamposite with a cover over the laces. To be fair, the Flightposite 3 is the ugliest shoe ever made and it’s a felony to wear them in over 23 states. The royal blue colorway of the Flightposite 1 had this glow to it that made it look like shoes worn by robot space aliens fighting over a galactic crystal. It was a tough choice over its successor, which had a more bionic and industrial look. But I prefer the flow of the Flightposites 1, that looks like it’s almost alive. Most importantly, the commercial series to launch them featured a young(ish) Patton Oswald and KG taking on Tim Duncan and a massive crowd in the park. It was in the prime of when high production value elevated the signature sneaker commercial, back when that actually existed.
1. Nick Kosmider - Jordan 8
2. Jared Weiss - Nike KD6 - The What The? Colorways from Nike are always amazing and this one may be my favorite.
3. Tommy Beer - Fila Grant Hill 2
4. Jovan Buha - Reebok Kamikaze
5. Mark Strotman - Converse Wade 1 - As a Marquette alum, I’ll always love these. My CYO team won the city championship the year these came out, and I wore them along with the D-Wade leggings.
6. Ian Hartitz - Reebok Shaq Attaq - Amazing player, meh shoes. Iconic? Yes.
7. Steve Alexander - Brooks Dominique Wilkins - I still have a ton of Unique promotional materials I
collected back in the day.
8. Bryan Fonseca - Langston Galloway Customs - GTA, why else?
9. Ewell Collins - Keds Pistol Petes - These with a pair of cuffed up jeans is iconic street wear and an underrated shoe that serves as an alternative to the more famous predecessor Chuck Taylors.
10. Mike Gallagher - Nike Zoom Flight 96 - Perhaps one of my personal favorites, rarely gets much love from sneaker heads.
Round Recap: Only two Nikes! Reebok had two, but after that it was the biggest mixed bag. Mark had gone all Nike/Jordan throughout the draft, but he snapped the streak here to make me the only full Nike/Jordan guy (mission accomplished!). I was going all Nike/Jordan regardless. Langston Galloway's customs were one of the fun sneaker sub-plot stories of the season, and he had some bangers all year. A lot of iconic non-Nikes here with the Keds, Hill 2, Shaq Attaq and Kamikaze here. The KD8 is vastly underrated among shoes in the last decade. There are some really cool color ways. It was kind of a big shock to see the Jordan 8 fall this far, and a lot of people love the Bugs Bunny edition of those. My pick was extremely easy. I didn't have any Penny yet (Foam Pros aren't Penny), but Penny wore the Zoom Flight 96 in the Olympics. I bought a pair of these a few years ago and they're one of the most comfortable basketball shoes I own. They don't have the best grip on a so-so indoor court, but they're great outside. Also a nice consolation prize for me not landing the Flight 95s in R3.
More notes from Steve (Brooks Unique): The Brooks Unique was Dominique’s signature shoe after his deal with Converse ended and I had a pair that I bought and rocked. Side note – His brother, Gerald, who played for the Knicks, gave me a pair of low-cut Uniques in 1986.
More notes from Jared (KD 6): I really wanted either the KD 9 or 10 because of how the oversized tube laces created such a beautiful flow over a great silhouette. But I had prioritized the Kobes and missed out, and I needed a KD. I haven’t loved most of his silhouettes, but KD always has some of the most fun and wild colorways, never shying away from a vibrant and wide-ranging color palette or eccentric patterns. The KD 6 was unique being a very straight low top that looks like a soccer shoe, but it has all sorts of cool angles to pieces of the upper and amazing layering of different patterns and vibrant colors.
1. Mike Gallagher - Nike Total Air Foams - The Duncan Nike to show some love to Pop and one of the best bigs ever. Can never have too many foams.
2. Ewell Collins - Nike Air Max Sensation - They were surprisingly light and nimble on the court just like the player for being a shoe for a “big.”
3. Bryan Fonseca - Jordan Melo M11 Best Melo.
4. Steve Alexander - Nike Air Force 2 - I probably owned four pairs of Nike Air Force 2s, mostly in the late 80s in college.
5. Ian Hartitz - Dellavedova Peaks - Maybe my favorite non-LeBron/Kyrie Cavaliers player ever. Delly personifies the city of Cleveland. I wasn’t leaving the draft without these shoes.
6. Mark Strotman - Nike Shox BB4 - No idea how these were around in Round 9. Vince Carter. Frederic Weis. ‘Nuff said.
7. Jovan Buha - Nike Zoom Kobe 1
8. Tommy Beer - Nike PG1
9. Jared Weiss - Jordan 14 - The 14s were modeled to looks like a Ferrari engine and while they may be polarizing, they have always been at the core of my philosophy of sneaker design
10. Nick Kosmider - Adidas Harden 2
Round Recap: Nike is back with six in this round, and two Jordans on top to totally dominate here. I went into this draft thinking I would take the Sensations, but stylistically they're a lot like the Uptempo 95s. Jared had said that he selected the 14 almost strictly because of Jordan's last shot on Bryon Russell. The 14s started some really rough years for Jordans. Somewhat surprisingly, there were not many newer PG kicks coming off the board besides the Kyries. Nobody was really feeling the Damian Lillard, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, John Wall and others until very late. I went with the Total Air Foams here to show some love to Tim Duncan, but it's one of the heaviest shoes out there. You don't wanna be wearing these in 100-degree weather. My man Ian took the Delly. He really did.
More notes from Ewell (Air Max Sensation): I can remember working the whole summer just to blow my whole savings to buy these iconic Chris Webber Nikes in both colorways. I was so pumped on the player from his college playing days to his stint with the Golden State Warriors.
More notes from Steve (Air Force 2): I had ‘em in charcoal grey, orange and Kentucky blue and I still think of them as the most comfortable pair of hoops shoes I ever wore. I always keep my eyes out for those as well, but never seem to find them.
More notes from Jared (Jordan 14): I needed some more 90s heat and I still didn’t have a J on my roster. All the Js I wanted went early, and I’ve never been a Jordan-head anyway. So I wanted to wait until the end and snatch a forgotten classic. Sure enough, the first Jordans I ever wore were still available, and they were a pair that meant so much. Most importantly, these were the shoes he hit the shot in and were the final Jordan of his Bulls career.
1. Nick Kosmider - Jordan 33
2. Jared Weiss - Fila Hill 1 - They were so much like Hill, subtle, elegant and just outstanding.
3. Tommy Beer - Starbury
4. Jovan Buha - Nike Zoom 2K3
5. Mark Strotman - Nike LeBron Solider 10 - The shoe worn by the greatest player ever as he completed the greatest comeback ever.
6. Ian Hartitz - Big Baller Brand ZO2 - These shoes suck but I support not hating a player just because of their loony father.
7. Steve Alexander - Jordan CP3.4 - I needed a point guard and the Chris Paul Jordans seemed like a logical place to go.
8. Bryan Fonseca - Nike Nestruckt - To kick people in the face after grabbing boards.
9. Ewell Collins - Nike Air Unlimited - This is another Chris Webber/ David Robinson sneaker worn by the famous Fab 5 and the shoe where the Admiral scored 71 points against the Clippers.
10. Mike Gallagher - Nike Lil Penny Posite - The Lil Penny commercials are the GOAT shoe commercials.
Round Recap: Ian goes from Delly to Big Baller Brand. He deserves to be roasted into oblivion. Besides that, this round was all over the place. Bryan actually sniped Ewell with the Nike Rodmans, and basically all of these shoes aren't exactly the cleanest of the draft. Because I didn't get the Penny 1 or Foam 1, I needed another Penny here, so I went with the Lil Penny. That's Tyra Banks fool!
More notes from Ewell (Nike Air Unlimited): My last and final pick wasn’t on the list and I knew I could wait till my final pick before I snatched one the holy grail of sneakers on my list of iconic hoop sneakers. The straps and the aesthetic of the sneaker are what attracted me to a sneaker that many forget in the pantheon of hoop sneakers.
More notes from Steve on his draft: Had Gallagher and I figured out sooner that LeBron was wearing Diamond Turfs at one point, I would have taken them pretty early. I loved the Deion Sanders version and Mike pimped me on the hoops version before I figured out what was going on. I’m looking forward to doing this again someday and you can bet I’ll have me some Diamond Turfs next time around.
More notes from Jared (Fila 95): The last thing missing from my collection was an early 90s shoe, ideally one that wasn’t super mainstream. The OG Grant Hill was the perfect choice, as Fila was not one of the premium basketball sneaker brands and he was one of my favorite players as a kid. It’s so easy for younger generations to not comprehend how great Hill was, but he would’ve been a multiple-time MVP if he never got hurt. But these kicks just had that crisp early 90s look with some gorgeous lines around the eyelets to give them extra personality.
Here's what the board looked like with the colors for positions:
There were a lot of shoes still left on the board. Nobody pounced on the Sprewell Spinners, no Webber Dada and a lot more. Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was nobody taking The Answer 1. Growing up in New Jersey, there were a lot of those when I was growing up, including my brother. No Curry, Dame, Wall, Russ, Dwight Howard, Klay Thompson, or Kawhi Leonard either. I was also surprised nobody went with the Air Max Force that Barkley rocked in the Olympics. Nobody wanting the Air Pippen 1 was a big shock to me, as well.