A basketball shoe is a specific type of athletic shoe made for the sport of basketball (in case you haven’t figured that out). Like all sport-specific athletic shoes, basketball shoes carry their own structure, engineered to maximize performance. Basketball is a rigorous sport that requires heavy usage of the legs and feet, so comfort and support is of paramount importance. They are customarily cut higher to protect ankle-related injuries, but lower-cut basketball shoes have seen more frequent use over the last decade.
The basketball shoe has its origins over a century ago, and perhaps into the 19th Century. While the Spalding Company is credited as the first producer of the basketball shoe in 1907, there has been some evidence that another company, Colchester Rubber Company, produced a basketball shoe first. In 1893, Colchester went out of business, and an estate sale revealed some pairs of these athletic shoes. They were found just miles away from the birthplace of basketball, which further leads industry historians to believe that Colchester is the originator of the shoe.
Basketball shoes aren’t restricted to the hardwood or asphalt. The most iconic shoe in the sneaker subculture, the Air Jordan, is, in fact, a basketball shoe, and the Jordan signature line is without a doubt one of the pioneers of the entire shoe-collecting, shoe-obsessing culture. The gained prominence of basketball shoes as a fashion item is due to the fact that NBA fans get to own and wear the shoes worn by their idols. It was a first-hand way to experience playing like a pro, allowing young children and teens to be “like Mike”. Nike, adidas, AND1, Reebok, and other basketball shoe purveyors have experienced success due to impressive sales of basketball shoes, and continue to play a part in the sport culture. The popular Nike Air Force One was originally a basketball shoe, but is now considered an urban fashion/lifestyle item.
As footwear technology progressed over time, so has the design of basketball shoes. The Converse Chuck Taylor, one of the earlier and most recognizable basketball shoes, is in stark contrast with today’s shoes that utilize advanced cushioning and stability tools like Foamposite, Air Max, Zoom Air, A3, Hexalite, etc., and the disparity in design is night and day.
Basketball is an easy-going sport that can be played at any time, by any one. It is played worldwide by both men and women, and is considered to be one of the marquee events during the Summer Olympic Games. There are professional leagues worldwide, for both men and women. The continuing popularity of the sport will only ensure basketball shoes as a mainstay of athletic footwear.