Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Reebok
For more than 30 years, the sneaker industry has blessed us with the hottest pairs of kicks. However, countless times we’ve seen releases that were deemed must-cops, establishing them as the best shoes available on the market. With sneakers dropping all the time, it’s easy to get caught up in the endless announcements, forcing what should be fire kicks to go the way of forgotten hotness.
The responsible thing for publications to do in this situation is to drum up the most underrated sneakers of all time. As per usual, we’ve your back. We combed through nearly 30 years of sneaks to find the most underappreciated pairs you may have forgotten through the laces of time. While you might have a pair of several of these, there are definitely others you completely overlooked and will likely search for on the resale market.
9. Nike Air Command Force
This pair was fire emoji before emojis were even a thought. The Nike Air Command Force were hi-top sneakers that looked good in jeans or while playing hoops. If you delve back far enough, you’ll see a young San Antonio Spurs player named David Robinson rocking these when he made the jump from the U.S. Naval Academy to the NBA.
8. Reebok Pump Blacktop
Who remembers Reebok Pumps? The shoes with a pump on the tongue that pushed air into the shoes and supposedly gave you more agility on the court. Whether that’s true is up for argument, but you can’t deny the Blacktop models of this line were definitely hot in the early ’90s.
7. Converse Jack Purcell
What, you think we’re just about basketball shoes? Think again. For all the love Chuck Taylors have received over the years, the Converse Jack Purcells are a nice alternative that doesn’t get enough credit for being a great casual shoe. In all honesty, these look better than Chucks because they have more detail and are super affordable.
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6. Air Jordan 9
Air Jordans are almost always a sure bet. But as much as they’re considered the GOAT shoes on the market, it never seems like the 9s get enough credit. Michael Jordan wore these in Space Jam, but all anyone remembers shoe-wise from that flick is the 11s because those are arguably the greatest basketball sneakers ever. But get yourself some 9s and you’ll have a pair of rugged Js that deserve more limelight.
5. Nike Air Shake Ndestrukt
The Ndestrukts made their way back onto the market through retro releases in 2017, but it appears sales might not have been the greatest and prices dropped like crazy. Ask any ’90s sneakerhead and they’ll tell you the “Rodmans” were legit and they would definitely cop a pair.
4. Converse Aerojam
Ah, yes, the “Grandmamas.” These were dope back in the early to mid ’90s for one reason — the advertising included then NBA star Larry Johnson wearing them with an outfit to make him look like an old lady who could ferociously dunk. Hence, the “Grandmama” nickname. Converse did their best to get these on your feet, but they played second fiddle to brands like Nike and Reebok. Still, they convinced me my grandmother could hoop.
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3. Basically any pair of Patrick Ewings
Patrick Ewing will go down as one of those guys who could never win an NBA championship because he dealt with the same roadblock everyone of that era was burdened with — contending with Michael Jordan. Despite his lack of titles, his sneaker company has still produced some dope urban kicks that go well with almost any fashion trend out there. There are countless models and colorways from this brand, so deciding on one is almost impossible. But this pair — known as “Focus” — is a good reference.
2. Nike Shox BB4
Nike’s Shox series has seen a number of models, but the ones worn by dunking legend Vince Carter in the early 2000s are some of the best they’ve ever produced. The player himself has campaigned for Nike to retro release these shoes, but to no avail as the shoe giant still has these in the vault (and off our feet). Here’s hoping Vince can convince them to get these back on the market.
1. adidas Superstar
The legendary “shell toes” are a staple that don’t get enough mention in today’s conversations about the hottest sneakers in history. Personally, I’ve had close to a dozen pairs of these over time. They’ve been worn by everyone from Run DMC to NBA superstars, spanning decades without having to update design for any reason, easily molding to various fashions. For all the pairs of Adidas ever released, these will always be the ones that keep them in touch with ever-changing trends.