Men's Basketball Shoes

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Stick around the game long enough, and you'll see all kinds of trends in the world of men's basketball shoes. Some of these do in fact provide added value--at least functionally if not aesthetically--to customers concerned about comfort and safety on the court. Others, it seems, are nothing more than crafty gimmicks designed to justify exorbitant prices.

In the late '80s, "pumps" first made their appearance on the basketball shoe market. These sneaks offered basketball-shaped (and colored) pumping mechanisms on the outside of the tongue, which kids could inflate and deflate to their heart's content. The additional air was purported to fill the gaps between foot and shoe for maximum support when cutting or sprinting. The theory itself was sound, but in practice, the shoes were more of a distraction than an asset, which explains why this trend was so short-lived.

Other Trends in Men's Basketball Shoes

There's something about the concept of air that has tickled shoe designers' fancy throughout the years, since the compound later made an encore with Air Jordans. Technically, the Air Jordans came first (around the time of His Airness's emergence as an NBA star), but the idea of observable air via tiny windows around the heel resurfaced well after miniaturized pumps disappeared. Parents of teenage kids were collectively hit with a case of sticker shock as they learned that this air, so freely available throughout the shopping mall itself, had been repackaged and placed on display racks with 150 to 200-dollar price tags.

While no empirical study has yet weighed the relative advantage accorded by pumped air, additional heel air, or even automatic lacing devices (a newcomer to the realm of men's basketball shoes), these conceits have been entertaining to watch. No one can rightly say what the next generation of men's basketball shoes will bring, but one fact remains. All the bells and whistles in the world cannot compensate for sub-par talent standing in those shoes, so stick with the skill-development and conditioning drills.

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