(Editor’s Note: Today’s article continues our 2017 NBA Playoffs basketball coverage called 40 Nights of Hate, as the next two months of our lives will be devoted to the greatest postseason basketball tournament known to mankind. Some of our arguments will be rational, many others will be irrational. To hate is to love, as the basketball gods toy with our lives like James Harden does oafish 7-footers on switched pick-and-rolls. Enjoy our 40 Nights of Hate coverage, or despise it. Either is acceptable.)
Several years ago, big time NBA playoff moments were capped with iconic footwear. In the 1989 playoffs, Michael Jordan hit the infamous shot over Craig Ehlo. Even though his shot gained notoriety, the celebration in his unforgettable Jordan IV’s was just as memorable.
In the 1996 playoffs, the trio of Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen and Jordan turned heads by wearing the Air Shake NDESTRUKT, Nike Air More Uptempo, and Jordan XI in route to a record-breaking season.
Last but not least, how could we forget about Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue in rocking the Answer IV during Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals?
The sneaker moments that basketball and sneaker aficionados clamored for in the 1990s and early 2000s is non-existent, and I hate it. Before the wave of insane colorways and player exclusives (PEs), some shoe companies would release shoes specifically for the NBA playoffs.
While browsing Sole Collector’s IG page, I spotted a throwback playoff picture featuring M.J. in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. The picture not only depicted a great moment in playoff history but in the realm of sneakers as well.
Jordan was rocking the ‘Playoffs’ XIII’, a shoe that was monumental in his last playoff run of his career. Although he didn’t play his last few games in them, they were a part of an iconic sneaker run in the ’98 playoffs.
The picture brought back a nostalgic feeling because it’s something that we don’t see as much. I know it sounds minuscule, but the lack of quality signature shoes for the postseason is problematic. Some will argue that fewer players have their own shoe. While there is some truth to that, most superstars rock their own footwear.
When watching basketball — especially the playoffs, it’s easy to focus on the sneakers as much as the players. The plethora of dope colorways and PEs are cool, but they don’t have the look or feeling of a dope signature shoes that are just for the postseason.
In basketball and in life, sneakers tell a story. We should be able to reminisce about the time Russell Westbrook had a 40-15-10 night in his playoff Jordan XXXI’s, but sadly enough we can’t.
That said, in 2012, LeBron had one of the greatest games in playoff history dropping 45 points, 15 rebounds, and five dimes against the Celtics. Of course, it’s easy to recall the stat line, but what about the shoes?
The postseason is a stage where we see the best players and teams fight to win a championship. It was also a time where fans would eye the latest signature footwear. As much as I am a fan of today’s players, it pains me to see the stars wear everything except a signature playoff shoe. The connection between iconic kicks and memorable playoff moments is absent, and to be honest, it’s a damn shame. I absolutely hate it.
Columbus, Ohio born. Ron is a first-ballot healthy hairline hall of famer. He spent the summer of ‘08 eating calamari pasta because of OJ Da Juiceman. He also loves to write about sports while listening to Sada Baby. Follow him on Twitter @Ron_Hamp