Whether you’re an avid player looking to make a killing on the court or a collector looking to make a killing on the open market, you’ll want to know which styles of basketball shoes are the best of 2012. Basketball shoes have evolved over the years into the ultimate fusion of technology and art, and the mania that leads up to their release dates rivals (if not surpasses) that of any other product. Much like the legendary ball players for which many of the shoes are named, you’ll need speed, stamina, and smarts to get a hold of these beauties. Here are three that are well worth the effort.
That the iconic basketball shoe that has dominated the market since 1985 still remains a force to be reckoned with in 2012 should come as no surprise. In fact, you could confidently say that the original Air Jordan was the sneaker that started it all, and its legacy continues with a good-looking, durable shoe that offers the comfort and performance you’ve come to expect.
The composite upper boasts one-piece construction and Flywire bundles for strength and support; while the cushioned inset, foam midsole, and a Nike Air unit in the heel absorb high impacts. A multidirectional track pattern in the rubber outsole and well-placed flex grooves mean that you’ll be able to move fast and change direction with confidence. Keep an eye out in 2012 for a hot retro version of the Air Jordan IV in white cement.
To be a ballplayer worthy of having your own shoe, you have to be able to adapt to any situation. Enter the Kobe VII, less of a shoe than a “system,” a multipurpose basketball sneaker that can be adjusted for either speed or protection, depending on what the game requires. It’s the two inserts that fit inside this well-designed low-top shoe that are the key to the Kobe VII System’s incredible versatility: one has extra cushioning and a hi-top cuff for when you’re on the attack, while the low-profile alternative allows for optimal agility.
The shoe itself is a study in lightweight support and undeniable style, and the “skins,” or modified animal print designs that grace the shoe, put its predatory nature clearly on display. Keep an eye out for a much-anticipated new colorway called "Invisibility Cloak," a purplish hue that appears to change color depending on your angle, like a sort of urban-edged camouflage.
Another old favorite when it comes to consistently stellar basketball kicks is the Nike Total Air Foamposite Max, and this style doesn’t disappoint for 2012. The shoe capitalizes on the lightest material for its state-of-the-art cushioning: air. The stitch-free, single-material construction of this shoe continues to deliver an exceptionally snug fit, as well as durability that doesn’t sacrifice breathability. A game-changer upon its initial release in 1996, the Foamposite remains one to watch this year. Keep an eye out for the highly anticipated release of a hot new colorway, ‘Galaxy,’ which features an out-of-this-world color palette on the upper and an outsole that glows in the dark.