The world of basketball has given us so much.
Not only is the sport itself a thrilling experience to watch, with its constant action and drama being portrayed on the field. But it is also the birthplace for some of my favourite shoe models of all time. And while I don´t play basketball anymore, I still do watch the games being played and also shot some hoops with my colleagues or my friends, whenever I have the time.
One of the key elements of playing basketball is the shoes. You may at first look at a basketball shoe and think “well it looks a bit different but what makes this a basketball shoe?” The answer to that question may surprise you.
Basketball shoes are designed to accommodate a bunch of factors. We are talking traction, mobility, shock absorption, cushioning, adaptive fitting, durability, stability, ankle support, breathability, etc. These are just some of the factors that need to be considered when designing a basketball shoe. And while those things cover the performance part, Brands also needs to make the shoe look good, which can sometimes prove to be a challenge.
But what are some of the best basketball shoes for men out there? And is there even a noticeable difference between the models?
I’m here to answer these questions. And today we are going to look at 4 popular basketball shoes for men, and discuss how well they perform.
Just like with my last article about sneakers for women, we are going to change up our regular criteria for this article. They are as follows
1. How well is the traction of the shoe?
2. How is the cushioning of the shoe?
3. How does it fit?
4. How are the materials?
5. How is the support?
6. What’s the price?
There are undoubtedly more factors I could go by, but these 6 basic factors are in my opinion the most frequent questions people ask themselves when they buy a basketball shoe.
Whether you are a first-time buyer or just someone looking for their next pair to replaced their current beaten down one I Hope this article will prove helpful.
But enough talk lets get down to business and look at some of the most popular basketball shoes for men and how they compare to each other.
The Air Jordan XXXII
aaaah yes The Air Jordan brand. I think it comes as no surprise that we can´t talk about basketball without mentioning Jordan brand. After all, it does carry the Name of the greatest basketball player of all time (even though some might say that title belongs to Lebron but that’s a topic for another day) and you can´t be the greatest without having a shoe line.
I have in former articles mentioned my love for the Air Jordan line, I even wrote an article about the best Air Jordan shoes for men.
But we are not talking about retro models here, we are talking about performance shoes only. And while it may not be a retro, I’m happy to say that the Air Jordan XXXII not only looks good. But also performs exceptionally well.
One of the issues of the Air Jordan XXXI was the traction, It just wasn’t as good as its competitors. And when you are in a high energy game, you can´t have yourself slipping on the court. The Air Jordan XXXII fixes this issue and grants the player a great deal of stability and traction on the court.
The XXXII also delivers a good amount of cushioning in both the forefront and back front of the shoe, with unlocked zoom air in the front and ordinary zoom air on the heel, so you can expect a great mix of not only great stability but also comfort.
Which is amazing because when talking about basketball shoes, you usually only get on or the other. So it’s nice to see both elements present in the XXXII.
This Does, however, mean that the Air Jordan XXXII does require some break-in time to make the zoom technology work. But from what I´ve read online it only takes 1-2 hours to break these in.
The fit of the shoe itself is decent, and if you intend to get these I would recommend going true to size if you don´t intend to try them on in a physical store first. They do have a great lockdown on your feet when you wear them but as you break them in you may experience that you have to adjust a little bit.
Next, on the list, we have the materials. The Air Jordan XXXII utilizes Nikes awesome Flyknit material on the whole upper. But unlike other Flyknit shoes where it may feel too loose and come off as flimsy. The Flyknit on the XXXII is stable and feels more structured.
Jordan brand also did a good job with the overall support for the XXXII with a solid internal heel counter for your foot, so it won´t slide to the sides when you are playing. And for ankle support, you have the options to choose between a “mid” and “low” version of the shoe.
The difference in both models lies in whether you want your ankles to move more freely, or if you want to have them more stabilized. This, of course, depends on the person in question and I think it’s nice that Jordan brand gives us this option.
Last but not least you have the price and Jordan brand does not differentiate between retroes or performance basketball shoes when it comes to pricing.
The Air Jordan XXXII is the most expensive shoe out of the 4 we are going to cover. But unlike with a lot of retro models you actually get a quality product with the XXXII.
A stable and comfortable shoe, and a great choice if you want you balling to be done in a pair of Jordans.
The Adidas Harden Vol. 2
Out of all the players in the NBA, there are some I think are more entertaining to watch play than others.
While it may be cool to watch Curry making 3-point baskets constantly, it does become boring in the long run.
That’s why I like players like James Harden and Russel Westbrook. Two great aggressive players who are not afraid of getting up close and personal. And everybody knows that you can´t be a great player without your own shoe.
The Harden Vol. 2 has had a mixed reception. But one thing people can agree on is that the Harden Vol.2 is made for outdoor play.
The traction of the shoe itself is troublesome on the indoor courts due to the design of the sole and the thick rubber. But most people do agree on that while it may prove slippery indoors it fares surprisingly well outdoors, and does provide a better grip when playing.
Not saying that it can´t be used indoors. But the shoe does perform better outdoors when comparing the two.
The Harden also properly has the most amount of boost out of any of Adidas´s shoes.
If you know anything about Adidas you know that their golden goose for now is their boost technology and then it comes to cushioning on The Harden vol. 2 they do not skip on the boost.
The shoe has a complete heel to toe thick Boost sole that provides amazing comfort mixed together with amazing energy return so you are well protected against heavy impacts. And at the same time have great stability when playing.
The fit of the Harden Vol. 2 is true to size, but it may prove to be a bit to narrow on the toe area. So if you are the kind of person who worries a lot about your shoes being too narrow, then I suggest trying these on in a store before going out an purchasing a pair.
The materials of the Harden vol. 2 are broken down into two separate areas on the upper. Those being the back and front of the shoe. On the back you have a synthetic/textile upper while on the forefront of the shoe you got a mesh material that gives a great amount of movement for your feet.
The Harden does, as I mentioned before, provide a great amount of boost and thus creates a great amount of support for your feet throughout your whole foot. And the mix of great lockdown design and boost technology provides a stable shoe that is smooth to play in.
The pricing of the Harden vol. 2 is also a bit more forgiving than that of the Air Jordan XXXII, coming in at 140$/140£ and depending on the time you are reading this, are actually on sale for almost half price at Adidas.com
while the Harden vol. 2 may lack traction, the synthetic upper alongside the thick boost sole provides a durable basketball shoe with a lot of speed that will help you mow down your opponents.
The Kyrie 4
Even though he may have been pushed into the shadow of Lebron James. Kyrie has proved to us in Boston, that he can hold his own on the court without King James.
And for this, he more than deserves his own shoe. And when talking about one of the best basketball shoes of 2018 the Kyrie 4 immediately springs to mind.
While the Kyrie 4 doesn’t beat the traction of the Kyrie 2, it does provide a good amount of grip on the court even though it may prove to be a little slippery in the beginning, until you break them in.
Unlike the previous Kyries, The Kyrie 4 comes with full length cushioning and a lot of Air Zoom technology, that while may need some time to break-in time, will provide you with a smooth, comfortable shoe that creates a good transition between your heel and forefoot when playing.
While The Kyrie 4 does improve on its cushioning, the improvements do result in it the Kyrie 4 fitting a bit snuck in the beginning until you break them in. Despite this, I would recommend going true to size on these.
But I also heavily recommend trying them on in a physical store first if you frequently run into the problem of shoes being to tight for you.
The materials of the Kyrie 4 is also great coming in a mix of engineered mesh and backed nylon which provides the shoe with a great look.
And when it comes to supporting you bet the Kyrie 4 got you covered as well, with a great internal heel counter to keep your foot solid and a firm design overall.
The price of the Kyrie is also a huge plus, coming in at 120$/105£
The Kyrie 4 provides the player with a little bit of everything you need when playing basketball. And if I had to recommend a shoe out of all the 4 presented here, then it would be the Kyrie 4.
You just can´t go wrong with a shoe like his.
The Nike PG 2
While I may not be a big Paul George fan, I do appreciate it when a player shoe is released, that not only is a great shoe in o itself. But a great choice if you are playing basketball on a budget.
With a retail price of 110$, the PG 2 provides a great option for those who only have so much money to spend on basketball shoes. But who at the same time want some bang for their buck.
While the traction of the PG 2 isn’t amazing, it isn´t bad either. Most people would say that it is fairly decent and a great choice if you play indoors and is concerned about traction.
The PG 2 also comes with a massive Air Zoom unit, that covers the whole midsole. So not only does it provide a good amount of comfort. But it will also provide a very smooth transition between your heel and forefoot.
Due to the choice of mesh and good looking suede, the PG 2 has as I understand, no actual breaking in time which means that the shoe is a straight of the box performance shoe which is always a great design choice.
Although the shoe itself doesn´t require the player to break them in, it is important to note that the low lace part of the shoe is made of an adaptable material.
The fit of the PG 2 is true to size, but as I mentioned before the low lace part of the shoe is adaptable and will change as you play in them. So keep that in mind when you try them on for the first time.
The support of the shoe is not anything to write home about, unlike with the other shoes on this list. But it is adequate and the back section of the shoe provides a firm grip that wraps the shoe nicely around your foot.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this shoe is a perfect basketball shoe for the player who is on a budget, with a retail price of only 110$/95£ and is easily a great example of proving that great basketball shoes don´t have to be expensive.
And that’s it, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. And I hope it helped you ease some decision making on what basketball shoe to buy next.
please feel free to leave a comment below with your suggestions on what I should write about next, or if you have a specific good basketball shoe in mind that I didn´t mention in this article, then feel free to leave the name of the shoe down below as well.