Sneakers have been a huge part of the NBA culture ever since the league's resurgence in the early 1980s, and the game's biggest stars didn't hesitate to cash in. Michael Jordan helped to create an empire thanks to the shoes on his feet during one of the greatest careers of all time, and players from multiple eras have appeared in iconic commercials that rarely focused on the products they were selling.
Here's a ranking of our 12 favorite sneaker commercials ever, beginning with a dancing Vince Carter and ending with the GOAT himself.
Vince Carter saves the day
Vince Carter was once one of the league's most famous players, thanks to a dunk contest performance in 2000 that didn't even seem possible. This spot for Nike's Shox model plays off of that, as a dancing VC cruises around the neighborhood fighting crime and rescuing cats from tall trees.
Allen Iverson was known as much for his contributions to the style and culture of the game as he was for his Hall of Fame career, and while his sneakers never took off in the same way Michael Jordan's did, this 2004 spot for Reebok does a good job of capturing the diminutive guard's work ethic and competitive fire -- with a nod to Rocky Balboa, who similarly captivated the Philadelphia fanbase.
Nike's Air Force 25
In 2006, Nike brought out the big guns to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Air Force 1 model of sneakers. The Juelz Santana song became the unofficial soundtrack to the season, and all of Nike's biggest stars at the time -- including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudamire, Jermaine O'Neal, Paul Pierce, Shawn Marion, Rasheed Wallace and Tony Parker -- made appearances in the spot.
Charles Barkley is not a role model
This Nike spot featuring Charles Barkley created some controversy at the time, thanks to the in-your-face way that the important message was delivered. It was aggressive for 1993 and a risky move for a sneaker company attempting to frame itself -- and one of its high-profile athletes -- as being socially concious.
Kobe Bryant as a motivational speaker teaching "Success for the Successful" was simply fantastic. Appearances by some of the world's most accomplished individuals at the time of the 2012 ad -- from Serena Williams to Richard Branson to Kanye West -- helped sell the idea, and Bryant's delivery of the punchline was flawless.
LeBron's high dive in Nike's "Swimming Pool" spot
One of Nike's early campaigns for LeBron James involved him playing multiple members of a family of all ages, and while LeBron himself technically doesn't say a word in this 2006 spot, the rest of the characters have plenty of opinions to offer up as he's training in the pool.
Nike had a series of spots featuring Lil Penny, Anfernee Hardaway's flashy sidekick that was only a few inches tall. This 1996 one was the funniest, where Lil Penny dreams of making it big in the NBA and impressing Tyra Banks in the process. Chris Rock as the voice of the little one made every one in the series a joy to watch.
It's also the rare series where the product is prominently featured, and the cement colorway of the Air Jordan IV that appears in a different Mars Blackmon spot is one of the top three basketball sneakers ever produced.
We see the most iconic moments of Michael Jordan's career perfectly recreated by young players, which shows the amazing impact that Jordan had during his storied NBA career. The music is perfect, and Jordan's brief appearance at the end is all we need to see to be reminded of the greatness he represents.