Taking design cues from high-profile players, team colours and cutting-edge technology, basketball shoes have paved the way for a new wave of industry-defining sneakers. The NBA has long supplied the footwear industry throughout its history, with iconic on-court moments giving life to off-court trends, all the while providing fans with a physical connection to their favourite stars. From Michael Jordan’s game-changing trainers to Nike’s Air Force 1, we’ve rounded up the best basketball sneakers of all time.

Air Force 1

A pioneering silhouette that’s defined today’s sneaker market, the Nike Air Force 1 was the first on-court shoe to house Nike Air technology. Despite taking over a decade to break into the basketball game, the AF1 was soon contracted to six of the era’s best NBA players, known as the “Original Six.” Lauded for its comfy fit and high performance, the shoe’s basketball roots fueled its popularity within the early ‘00s music scene, becoming synonymous with hip-hop culture. Now, a certified cult classic, the Air Force 1 appeals to basketball, music and fashion fans alike.

Air Jordan 1

Widely acknowledged as the sneaker that started it all, the Air Jordan 1 set the precedent for all sport-lifestyle shoes to follow. Released in the ‘80s after Michael Jordan was drafted to the Bulls, Peter Moore and MJ worked together to create a comfortable sneaker that was “different” and “exciting”. After initially causing a stir with the notorious “Banned” Jordan 1 (a black and red sneaker that cost Nike and Michael Jordan $5000 every time MJ wore them during a game), Moore went on to create a portfolio of iconic colourways, including the ‘Chicago’ and ‘Taxi’. More than three decades later, the Jordan 1 remains one of the most celebrated trainers to have graced both the pavements and court.

Air Jordan 3

Originally released in 1988, the Air Jordan 3 was the first pair of Jordans created by legendary designer Tinker Hatfield. Instantly recognisable from the elephant-printed mudguard and retro silhouette, the AJ3 was built on performance, as per MJ’s request, with soft leather, a stable frame and a flexible mid-cut design. The kick’s clean lines and spacious upper provided the perfect backdrop to an array of tones which remain popular to this day — ‘Dark Iris’, ‘Fire Red’ and ‘Racer Blue’, to name a few — making it a firm fixture of sneaker culture.

Air Jordan 11

A cornerstone of the Jumpman brand, the Air Jordan 11 was first released after Michael Jordan returned from retirement following his brief baseball phase. Worn by MJ in key moments both on and off the court, this sneaker gained worldwide approval thanks to its framed upper, chunky silhouette and patent leather mudguard. The ‘Concord’, ‘Bred’ and ‘Cool Grey’ colour schemes soared to instant success, followed by a playful Space Jam collaboration with Warner Bros series Looney Tunes. A shoe that’s stood the test of time, retro revivals and basketball-inspired colourways take the top spot as the most sought-after sneakers from the range.

Air Jordan 13

One of the last models to be worn by Michael Jordan during his final season with the Bulls, the Air Jordan 13 takes inspiration from MJ’s “Black Cat” nickname. The trainer is engineered with an unconventional eye design that captures the basketballer’s tenacious playing style, and a distinctive outsole resembling a panther’s paw. Putting innovation and heritage at the forefront of the design, the AJ13 is also fitted with a carbon fibre plate and Zoom Air technology to deliver an agile shoe that belongs in the sneaker hall of fame.