15 Best 90s Basketball Shoes In 2024

Need to make a quick decision? My choice for the best 90s basketball shoe is the Nike Air Jordan XI.

The 90s is one of the most important years in basketball. During this time, basketball shoes from different brands were popping up here and there.

Designers were getting more creative with their designs, and colorways weren’t the thing during this time, but they made it seem like it was predestined.

It was also when Michael Jordan dominated the basketball world en route to having one of the most legendary signature lines the world has ever seen.

In this article, I’ll review some of this decade’s most iconic and legendary sneakers. Whether you’re a fan of Air Jordans, Nikes or Adidas, I surely have something for everyone on my list below.

My 15 Basketball Shoes From The 90’s

There were plenty of amazing basketball shoes in the 90s that I absolutely love. However, I will only list 15 of the best of the best that are available online. Check them out!

1. Air Jordan VI

Michael Jordan has a lot of signature shoes on this list, and one of the first iconic ones is the Air Jordan VI. It is one of his most memorable shoes because he won his first championship with these.

This signature shoe was his first championship shoe and was designed by the legendary Tinker Hatfield. It was released in 1991 and is still being released up to this very day.

What you’ll love the most about this signature shoe is its high-top design which provides amazing ankle support, and its elegant design pale compared to the shoes in the 90s.

Tinker Hatfield inspired its design through Michael Jordan’s love for cars and continued with future Air Jordan Sneakers. This shoe has amazing on-court traction and feel.

Overall, this is one of the most sought-after sneakers in the 90s, and it’s no surprise that this shoe came from one of the greatest basketball players ever to play the game.

Features:

  • Lace Locks and Air-Sole unit in the forefoot
  • Leather Synthetic and Textile Materials
  • Visible Air-Sole Unit

Pros

  • Great ankle support
  • Clean toe
  • Low to the ground feel
  • Amazing on-court performance
  • Breathable materials

Cons

  • Minimal cushioning
  • Inconsistent traction
  • Sloppy fit

2. Air Jordan V

Michael Jordan’s signature sneaker line is legendary, in my opinion. And when it comes to the best throwback shoes in the 90s, nothing beats the classic Air Jordan Vs.

This signature shoe hadn’t shown its age since, which means it was ahead of its time when it was released in 1990, making as big a splash as it did before.

Although Michael Jordan didn’t win the NBA championship with this shoe, it has since been one of its best-sellers. It is by far one of the best sneakers of its time.

The combination of durable leather construction, snug fit, and elegant design remains to be seen today. It’s a great on-court performer, and it is extremely comfortable.

One of the best things about this shoe is it comes with various colorways, which I feel can never go out of style. You can go for that instant classic retro look or a more stylish and striking design,

Features:

  • Lace Locks
  • 3M Reflective Tongue
  • Encapsulated Air in the Forefoot

Pros

  • Well-cushioned
  • Customizable fit
  • Excellent on-court feel
  • Attractive design
  • Amazing support

Cons

  • Somewhat heavy
  • Loose forefoot section

3. Air Jordan XI

The Air Jordan XI was a legendary shoe in its own right, as it was Michael Jordan’s first Air Jordan Line he wore since coming out of retirement.

It was also one of Tinker Hatfield’s favorite shoes because of the design combined with various features that make this shoe stand out from the rest.

This signature sneaker and its distinct patent leather upper are its crowning jewels. On top of that, it performs well, especially when playing on indoor courts.

It’s no wonder why the Bulls won 72 games when this signature shoe was introduced. It has everything you want: an amazing line of shoes, tough materials, breathable fabrics, fantastic fit, and amazing on-court traction.

Overall, you’d be surprised there are still plenty of Jordan XIIs on the market today, and they have different colorways. The only downside with these signature sneakers is their price. It is quite expensive.

Features:

  • Full-length Air-Sole Unit
  • Contoured Mudguard
  • Lightweight Carbon Fibre

Pros

  • Amazing stability
  • Crazy traction
  • Great lateral containment
  • Good fit
  • Elegant design

Cons

  • Too stiff
  • It needs more time to be broken in

4. Air Penny II

Penny Hardaway was a force to be reckoned with on the court. His dazzling playmaking skills and sheer athleticism caused his opposing teams to panic.

Despite many of his signature basketball shoes, the Nike Air Penny II is by far one of his best basketball shoes to date. It’s grippy regardless of what court you play, and the comfort is solid.

One major downside of this amazing shoe is its ventilation, and it is because it is non-existent. While some players don’t consider it a major downside, most of us do.

Remember, no ventilation means your feet can easily feel fatigued. However, what it lacks in ventilation makes up for it with its support.

You can immediately feel it from the heel and forefoot thanks to its Carbon Fiber shank. This basketball shoe can last you for years because of the materials used. Overall, it is a great shoe with lots of features.

Features:

  • Nike Air Cushioning
  • Premium Leather
  • Sculpted Foam

Pros

  • Responsive feel
  • Consistent traction
  • Classic design
  • Low to the ground feel
  • Durable

Cons

  • Awkward fit
  • Minimal ventilation

5. Air Jordan XII

The Air Jordan XII debuted in 1996 in what would be Jordan’s fourth capture of the NBA title. It was the first Air Jordan to utilize Nike’s Zoom Air technology fully.

This basketball shoe also featured a Phylon Midsole, providing added bounce and shock absorption. Like most of its predecessors, it’s lacking in a ventilation department, although I felt it wasn’t a deal breaker, to begin with.

The Air Jordan XII is made of a full-grain leather upper, which adds to the durability of the entire shoe. What it lacks in ventilation makes up for its amazing traction and support.

You can immediately feel your feet are properly supported from the start, which adds to your peace of mind. In addition, the design looks pretty sleek and has yet to show its age.

This shoe is one of Michael’s popular shoes and one of the best-performing ones. Arch support is superb, has solid traction, and performs on par with some of the best basketball shoes today with new technologies infused.

Features:

  • Full-Length Zoom Air
  • Full-Grain Leather Upper

Pros

  • Amazing cushioning
  • Great traction
  • Solid ankle support
  • Durable materials
  • Excellent playability

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Needs regular cleaning

6. Jordan XIV

The Air Jordan Line almost hit every year in the 90s. The Air Jordan XIV debuted in what would be Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls Franchise.

This basketball shoe was designed by Tinker Hatfield and followed the same concept as most of his designs within the Jordan Lines, showcasing Michael Jordan’s love for sports cars.

This time, however, this basketball shoe was inspired by Michael Jordan’s Ferrari 550m. It was the last signature model Michael Jordan released during his second retirement.

The Jordan XIV performed admirably well in different departments. It is infused with Zoom Air in both the forefoot and heel areas, adding to the bounciness and comfort when going up and down the court.

Also, the midfoot shank is supportive enough with the infusion of TPU or thermoplastic polyurethane, which adds durability to the entire shoe.

This model might be MJ’s flat shoe with the Chicago bulls, but this had got to be one of the most iconic ones when he drilled the game-winning shot en route to his sixth NBA championship.

Features:

  • Nike Zoom Air
  • Genuine Synthetic Leather
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Nike Phylon Midsole
  • Encapsulated Nike Air Zoom Unit

Pros

  • True to size
  • Solid stability
  • Perfect cushioning
  • Good lateral containment
  • Solid support

Cons

  • Inconsistent durability
  • Expensive
  • No midfoot strap

7. Reebok Question

There’s nothing more polarizing than the answer himself, Allen Iverson. Like Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson was among the most popular people during the 90s.

It took him only a few years playing in the league to have his signature line. Reebok debuted the Reebok Question during Allen Iverson’s rookie campaign.

This shoe was more iconic than the Reebok Answer because it was during this time when he famously crossed Michael up and quickly pulled up, making his jump shot.

The “Question” was, without a doubt, a great performing shoe. It was designed to withstand Allen Iverson’s slithery finishes and deadly crossovers on the court.

The shoe performed incredibly well when played indoors and fell flat outdoors. Its comfort is amazing, and the lockdown is more than enough for any guards.—still a pretty well-rounded shoe with lots of history in its roots.

Features:

  • Icy Blue Eva Outsole
  • Leather Collar
  • Reebok’s Hexalite Technology

Pros

  • No heel slippage
  • Amazing on-court feel and traction
  • True to size
  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Great lateral containment
  • Fantastic support

Cons

  • The shoe is quite heavier than most shoes today
  • Dust magnet when played outdoors

8. Nike Air Foamposite

Considered by many as one of the best basketball shoes in the 90s, the Nike Air Foamposite brings something to the table as no other basketball shoe does.

It is renowned for its revolutionary design and distinct look, and the Nike Air Foamposite thrived in every basketball player’s feet. Designer Eric Avar designed these shoes.

Released in 1997, it was quite apparent that these shoes were here to last as some superstars rocked these amazing sneakers with the likes of Shawn Marion, Chris Webber, and many more.

Its translucent outsoles easily bite on any court, the comfort is amazing, lateral lockdown is solid, and the materials are jaw-dropping, to be honest. Nothing feels more premium than these.

To date, this shoe has been constantly retroed to this day, and it has been a pleasant surprise that most people have come to realize that these shoes aren’t only for looks but for performance.

Features:

  • Nike Full-Length Zoom Air Cushioning
  • Molded Upper
  • Polyurethane Midsole

Pros

  • Insane versatility
  • Luxurious design
  • Great traction
  • Solid support
  • Crease-resistant

Cons

  • Expensive
  • NIt needs more of a break-in time

9. Reebok Kamikaze II

Everyone pales compared to the Reebok Kamikaze shoe if we’re talking about some of the most iconic and memorable sneakers in the 90s.

This was one of the most used shoes by big men in the 90s. The likes of Shawn Kemp rocked this shoe. Due to his aerial acrobatics, this shoe gained instant fame and became a mainstay for the most part in the 90s.

To match his playing style, the shoe was equipped with amazing features, such as a special EVA midsole, mid-cut design, snug fit, and the right materials to withstand his constant pounding of the rim.

The shoe was an impressive performer on and off the court; it has the right balance of comfort and fit. One of its downsides is that it’s quite bulky from the rest due to the materials used to make this shoe.

Overall, if you talk about the Reebok Kamikaze, you’d immediately know that this is one of its signature sneakers of Shawn Kemp.

Features:

  • Soft Hexalite Hexagonal Cushioning
  • Lightweight Eva Midsole
  • Synthetic Nubuck Upper With Leather Hits
  • Suede Construction

Pros

  • Made of durable materials
  • Classic design
  • Soft and comfortable upper
  • Amazing performance
  • All-around grip

Cons

  • Poor foot containment
  • Minimal ventilation

10. Nike Air More Uptempo

As the years went by in the 90s, basketball shoes were getting lighter and lighter. However, the Nike Air More Uptempo was even lighter than I expected.

Despite looking bulky with a high-top design, this shoe was light, and the breathable mesh can be felt inside—materials used when making this shoe feel pretty premium and durable.

I have tested it several times on and off the court, and it never failed me for the most part. In addition,

There have been quite a few shoes from the 90s with bold designs, but this shoe features a striking design that almost some of you can instantly say was designed during the 90’s.

Overall, this shoe is a great performer. Its rubber outsole feels tight on indoor courts, and the sneaker features everything you want for someone with an explosive playstyle. Great shoes, indeed!

Features:

  • Elastic Straps
  • Nike Air Cushioning
  • Crumpled Leather Accents

Pros

  • Excellent ventilation
  • True to size
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Appealing style
  • Reliable on-court traction

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • Requires break-in period

11. Nike Air Zoom Flight 95

The Nike Air Zoom Flight 95 was ideal for point guards across the league, but no one wore it better than Jason Kidd and Tim Hardaway.

Both point guards are known for their flashy skillset, and with shoes specially designed for those, it became apparent that these were high-performing shoes in the 90s.

Despite their odd appearance, they were beasts on the court, and their insane lockdown combined with durable materials make it one of the best basketball shoes of the 90s.

These shoes are light as they come, won’t feel too bulky, and have the right balance of traction and fit. What you’ll love about these is how well they perform on indoor courts.

I also felt the Zoom Air unit which provided us with plenty of cushioning and bounce throughout my test. They are rock solid and should be on anyone’s radar looking for some shoes in the 90s.

Features:

  • Neoprene Lining
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Pull Tab Heel
  • Soft Leather Upper

Pros

  • Durable materials used
  • Toest fit snugly
  • Great Neoprene lining
  • Breathable collar

Cons

  • Minimal ventilation
  • Quite heavy

12. Nike Air Flight Lite Mid

Although the Nike Air Flight isn’t as popular as others on my list, many players were still rocking with these as they have a crazy reputation for performing well.

Its traction is reminiscent of some of the most advanced basketball shoes today, it bites regardless of what type of court you’re playing, and the high-top design provides amazing ankle support.

Using this basketball shoe, you’ll immediately feel amazing comfort; it has that bounciness that almost feels like you are walking in the clouds.

Regarding sizing, I encountered no problems. Some of its biggest fans are power forwards and centers who play the game.

The ankle support is solid, and the materials used for these are durable enough to withstand the grits and grinds of the game.

Overall, these are not the most popular ones with the likes of the Nike Air Max and Air Force Ones, but these are solid if all you are here about is performance.

Features:

  • Nubuck Leather Upper
  • Foam Midsole
  • Nike Air Cushioning

Pros

  • Amazing comfort
  • Great surface traction
  • Sufficient toe room
  • True to size
  • Outstanding support

Cons

  • Some of its parts were downgraded
  • Gets dirty easily

13. Grant Hill FILA 1

Grant Hill was one of the complete players in the 90s, next to Michael. It didn’t take long before he eventually got his first-ever signature sneaker, the Grant Hill Fila 1.

Looking at the Grant Hill Fila 1, I certainly got that retro vibe from the start. It looks bulky while still stylish and reminiscent of the distinct designs from the 90s.

The shoe features a collared heel and tongue, which can be immediately felt when your foot is fitted onto the shoe. Its cushioning is one of the best in Grant Hill’s collection.

One major downside with these shoes is that they require a certain amount of time to break in. However, once you’re already accustomed to the shoe, the next best thing is to play like Grant Hill and wreak havoc on the court.

Features:

  • Cushioned Heel Collar and Tongue
  • Embroidered Logos
  • Reflective Heel Tab

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Clean details
  • Head-turning
  • Durable rubber outsole
  • Amazing grip

Cons

  • It feels bulky
  • Requires a break-in period
  • Tight to section

14. Reebok Pump Omni Lite

The Reebok Pump Omni Lite was one of the few ones Reebok released and gained popularity in the 90s, like how the Reebok Answer and Question fared during this decade.

Amazing cushioning and lateral containment are two of its amazing features why generational sneaker fans are still rocking these classics.

After all, these aren’t your ordinary shoes. Back in the day when Adidas and Nike were producing amazing sneakers, the Reebok Pump Omni Lite was released and took the sneaker world by storm.

It embodies what most Reebok shoes are made of, amazing features combined with complex designs.

On top of that, these were relatively inexpensive back in the day. What you can get with these are phenomenal sneakers with an above-average performance at a reasonable price.

I was fortunate enough that they are still producing these to this day.

Features:

  • Hexride Cushioning Technology
  • Visible Hexagonal-Shaped Air Cushioning
  • Premium Synthetic Leather

Pros

  • Solid durability
  • Amazing Performance
  • Affordable
  • Perfect fit
  • Less time to break in
  • Comfortable cushioning

Cons

  • Ruffed out tongue
  • Inconsistent traction
  • Crease magnet

15. Reebok Answer IV

Allen Iverson’s fourth iteration of his signature Reebok line is the “Answer” IV. While the previous one released in the 90s was infused with the DMX moving air technology, they replaced it with a stiff DMX foam.

While this can be a major downside, especially for guards who love to run up and down the floor, you can alleviate this problem by wearing a more padded sock.

Still, this shoe has great lateral containment, and its low-top design is great for point guards who love to razzle and dazzle up the court. It has that same classic look with an amazing lockdown.

Aside from its downside, it is a well-rounded shoe designed for crafty point guards like Allen Iverson, Larry Johnson, and Gary Payton.

Features:

  • Textile Lining
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Lace Closure

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Amazing forefoot traction
  • Great support
  • Classic look
  • Made of high-quality leather

Cons

Honorable Mentions

Unfortunately, I can’t list every impressive 90s basketball shoe. However, I still have plenty for you if you are still looking for instant classics.

Adidas KB8

Known as the Adidas Crazy 8, the Adidas KB8 was the first shoe choice of Scottie Pippen when he left the Chicago Bulls and played for the Portland Trailblazers Franchise.

The sneaker featured an EVA midsole, Torsion System Plate, and an Air Mesh Lining. No wonder why Scottie Pippen loved this. Unfortunately, they couldn’t bring back these, which are quite impressive.

While it debuted in 1997, it was retorted back in 2007, albeit with a new name. It was later known as the Adidas Crazy 8 and was pretty impressive while it lasted.

Nike Air Force One

Nothing beats the Nike Air Force Ones if we’re talking about throwbacks like the Chuck Taylor; these are simply throwback legends. This particular shoe was only contracted to six NBA players.

It was also the first shoe to feature a flexible Nike Air Cushioning system that soon made waves in the basketball world even to this day.

Nike Air Command Force

The shoe of choice by San Antonio Spurs legend David Robinson, the Nike Command Force was a force to be reckoned with. It might be one of the best high-top basketball shoes to be worn by an NBA player.

Despite its overly high-top appearance, these were no slouch on the court. They’re great performing Nike shoes, but due to their design, they needed to be more retroed than some shoes on the list.

Nike Air Max Sensation

The Nike Air Max Sensation was the first choice for big men back in the 90s. Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber, and many more NBA stars wore it.

These are simply amazing in their own right. They were famous for their durable construction, simplistic design, and solid performance on and off the court.

Nike Air Alpha Force II

Although it was less popular than the Nike and Adidas basketball shoes on my list, the Nike Air Alpha Force II was chosen for the NBA’s Round Mound of Rebound, Charles Barkley.

The shoe featured a midfoot strap that was quite a new thing during the 90s, and the full-grain leather material made its mark when durability was tested.

Overall, these are great shoes with plenty of promise when they were still worn in the 90s.

Puma Clyde

Who else remembers the Puma Clydes? This shoe debuted in 1971 when PUMA signed with the NBA’s face of the league, Walt “Clyde” Frazier.

The shoe was patterned to be suede leather and had a low-top design because Clyde wanted it dyed every game because he wanted to wear different colors for every game.

If we’re talking about the classics with the likes of Chuck Taylor and Air Force ones by Nike, the PUMA Clydes are also up there.

Why Do Basketball Players Love The 90s Shoes?

There are plenty of reasons why most basketball players like rocking the 90s shoes: Air Jordans, Nike Air Force Ones, Reeboks, and Converses.

One of the most obvious reasons why players love the 90s shoes is because they want to know how it feels to wear these basketball shoes in the present.

Some of these are already discontinued, while some are still being retroed. Some basketball players want to become some of their idols, like Charles Barkley and David Robinson rocked some of these shoes.

Some wear them to represent someone from the past, especially the 9os. The only problem most basketball players encounter when wearing them is comfort.

During this decade, there’s little innovation in these shoes if you compare them today.

These players are sneakerheads. They want to try new things, especially to have a feel of what it’s like to wear shoes from the 90s and how you can play with them.

Whether they were 90s basketball shoes because their idols rocked with them or looked down on their sneakers and felt good about it, each player has their reason why they love playing with 90s basketball shoes.

What To Look For When Buying A Basketball Shoe From The 90s

Before heading out to your local thrift or sneaker shop, here are some things you need to look out for when choosing the best basketball shoes from the 90s.

Fit

You want something that fits. When your shoes don’t fit the way they should, they can get pretty uncomfortable quickly.

This feature is important if you plan on playing them. Remember, you can only play your best if your feet are squashed tightly or loosely in your shoes.

I always recommend trying them out to get a good feel of the fit. Some shoes are true-to-size, and some shoes that need one size up.

Budget

Apart from the Jordan Lines, some 90s basketball shoes are already discontinued if they aren’t retroed yearly.

Due to their rarity, most are significantly more expensive than most shoes today. I recommend considering your budget and taking it from there. Jordans are expensive, and some of these throwbacks are also expensive.

Only pay what you can afford. Most of the time, people buying expensive shoes don’t find fulfillment in them because of how much they pay to get those.

Comfort

You will want to wear something comfortable. The only problem with some 90s basketball shoes is comfort. Most of them aren’t infused with the technologies today.

Look for those shoes with a lot of padding and ones with big soles that provide plenty of cushioning.

As most shoes are retroed, some are already infused with today’s technologies regarding comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you have questions about the best basketball shoes in the 90s, you might find them below.

What Was the Most Popular Shoe in the 90s?

As I’ve mentioned, several shoes have been made throughout the decade. From Adidas, Nike, New Balance, and Converse choosing one can be challenging.

However, Jordan shoes with the Jumpman Logo were the most popular ones.

What Shoes Did NBA Players Wear in the 90s?

The Air Max Ones, Jordan Lines, and Reebok Shoes were among the most widely used shoes in the 90s. My list included some of the most worn shoes in the 90s.

The Awesome Choices

Here’s the summary of my top picks:

  • Nike Air Zoom Flight 95
  • Nike Air Flight Mid
  • Air Jordan XI

Best Budget: Nike Air Zoom Flight 95

The Nike Zoom Flight 95 is the best Nike shoe if you are on a tight budget. It doesn’t compromise quality over quantity.

It is made of durable materials, has a sleek design, and is a great-performing shoe dedicated to guards. Overall, a great shoe that is ideal for guards.

Best Value: Nike Air Flight Lite Mid

The Nike Air Flight Lite Mid is still the best value for money, even if its design has aged pretty fast. These are still great shoes in terms of performance and traction.

Best Overall: Air Jordan XI

I recommend that you get the Air Jordan XI if you have the means and ways to get it. Its patent leather and distinct design remain one of its main selling points.

The translucent rubber outsole bites regardless of the environment you play it with—great performance, legendary design, and a shoe rich in history.

Conclusion

I feel very fortunate that brands like New Balance, Nike, Adidas, Puma, and Jordans gave us something to look out for when it comes to dope sneakers.

Almost all of us are aching for that 90s basketball shoe that rarely drops in either Nike or Adidas stores.

If you ever happen to see one of these, be sure to get a chance to try it, as it may be your last time witnessing them due to their rarity.