Ninety percent of basketball is looking good. This, I believe, we can all agree on. The other 10 percent, the basketball part, is necessary, too—at least if you want to play for Team USA. In this spirit, I've ranked the top 10 shoes ever to grace the court on the feet of the American men's Olympic basketball team. Big stage, fly kicks. This is what the game is all about.
NBAE/Getty ImagesAndrew D. Bernstein
Honorable mention: And1 Tai Chis
Made famous by Vince Carter at the 2000 Dunk Contest, the And1 Tai Chi is a great looking shoe that looks good in almost any colorway you can find—which makes sense, given its bloodlines drawing on the Jordan 12s (and after this, seemingly inspiring the wraparound contours of the T-Mac). But I can't give it more than an honorable mention here, because Carter only wore the Tai Chis for the 2000 Olympics photoshoot. He played in a different kick (more on this soon).
10. Adidas TS Commander “USA” (2008)
Like Dwight Howard, the TS Commanders are [nods appreciatively] aight. Dwight switched to the Commanders during the 2008 Olympics after a trial run with the Rapid Bounces. They're a little aggressive with the heel cushion, but overall a decently thought-out shoe.
9. Nike KD 9 “USA” (2016)
Some people love the new KD 9. Other people appreciate the colorway and flyknit but believe its looks overly much like a long gravy tureen for your feet. I'll let you decide where I fall on this matter.
8. Reebok Question 2 “Olympics” (2004)
Professional analysis on Allen Iverson's American-flag stamped Question 2s: Truuuuuuuuuuu.
NBAE/Getty ImagesNathaniel S. Butler
7. Nike Shox BB4 (2000)
This is the kick Vince Carter actually wore in the 2000 Olympics: the Nike Shox BB4, which he sported in multiple colorways. It's also the shoe he had on when he jumped over Frederic Weis of France. These shoes could run for president.
NBAE/Getty ImagesNathaniel S. Butler
6. Ewing Athletics Eclipse “Olympic” (1992)
WHAT ARE THOOOOSE, PATRICK EWING? Really. People wanted to know, because whatever you think of Ewing Athletics—Ewing's personal shoe brand—the Eclipse "Olympics" were kind of hot. Even if the tongue was roughly three feet long and read like a novella.
5. Nike Air Force 180 (1992)
Charles Barkley is a big dummy who shouldn't have a TV show discussing food trucks, much less the state of race relations in America. But this a shoe-ranking, and the Air Force 180s he had on as a member of the '92 Dream Team were pretty on-point. So he had that going for him.
4. Nike Air More Uptempo (1996)
I'll take five. Gary Payton for mayor of Seattle. Anywhere, really.
3. Nike Air Ballistic Force (1992)
David Robinson and John Stockton both wore the Nike Air Ballistic Force, possibly the most underappreciated kick to ever grace an Olympic basketball game. It isn't flawless, but it manages to incorporate gold tastefully and somehow makes an aggressively large velcro strap look right. I want to hug whoever made it (I see you, Tinker Hatfield).
2. Olympic Nike Air Flight Lite (1992)
This isn't the best picture of it, but the Air Flight Lites worn by Chris Mullin and Scottie pippen at the 1992 Games were gorgeous, despite being largely outshined in history by our crowning shoe...
1. Air Jordan 7 “Olympics” (1992)
Could it be anything else? Nope. Not even a little bit. Ever since Jordan put his arm over Magic Johnson in the locker room and kicked his leg up, sneaker heads have lusted over the Air Jordan 7 "Olympics" and its three-tone red, white and blue sole. And with the Air Jordan Retro 7 "Tinker Alternate"s dropping Saturday, more than one person reading this right now will be up early tomorrow morning massaging their wallet on the screen trying to get a pair in their cart.