Nike. One of the most well-known clothing brands in the whole world. Better yet, it’s one of the biggest brands in any industry. Such is its power that it has taken over the world of basketball slowly but surely. Other manufacturers compete with the ‘Swoosh’ in and around the game, but none can parallel what they have done through not only genius marketing but also using the best materials and improving them over time to make their shoes better and better.
This commitment to excellence, both on and off the court, has seen them become commonplace in nearly every young player’s hearts and closets. Today, we are going to take a look at Nike’s best basketball shoes that are currently out in 2019. We’ll break down how they got to be a leader in the market, why they are favorable, what makes them different, and then look at some reviews of the most popular options currently for sale right now. Our buying guide will seek to help answer any questions you might have about the brand. Let’s begin by taking a look at their history.
Top Nike Basketball Shoe Comparison Chart
|1. Nike Men’s Air Precision||Mid||$$$|
|2. Nike Men’s Hyperdunk 2015 TB||High||$$$|
|3. Nike Men’s Air Visi Pro VI||Mid||$$$$|
|4. Nike LeBron XIV Low Men’s||Low||$$$|
|5. Nike Men’s KD Trey 5 V||Mid||$$$|
|6. Nike Kyrie 4 Men’s||Mid||$$$$|
|7. Nike Kobe Mamba Instinct Men’s||Low||$$|
|8. Nike Men’s Air Versitile Nubuck||Mid||$$$$|
Nike Basketball Shoes Buying Guide
Nike came about through a humble start with creator Phil Knight beginning his career as a salesman for what would become Asics eventually. Knight, now renowned for his support of the University of Oregon, began collaborating on running shoes and one of the first successes of the brand was the Cortez line, which brought shock absorption and water resistance to the table for the first time. They would later have their name changed to Nike from ‘Blue Ribbon Sports’ in the late 70s and that set them up for success.
That success mainly was forged due to their excellent marketing that began to take shape in the 1980s. Nike became a juggernaut of epic proportions thanks in large part to one man: the greatest basketball player of all-time for many, Michael Jordan. By working in conjunction with Jordan, Nike exploded. Tennis shoes, or sneakers, were no longer about just being cheap. They became something every kid, and every adult, wanted to be cool. Nike suddenly had kicked off the sneaker wars in all kinds of sports as a result, and though there are plenty of negatives to go with that, it has seen shoes get better and better simply because other companies are pushing harder to make improvements and keep up with the brand Nike has become.
In Jordan, Nike had a face to represent its brand, and it was the ultimate face of success and fame. Jordan was what everyone aspired to be: a serial winner that wouldn’t stop until his hand was raised in victory with the other hand resting on the trophy. This summarized the name Nike, in fact, and it helped spur them on toward their place currently, even all these years later.
It’s no secret that Nike has a ton of big endorsement deals with stars from all over the world involved in various sports, and that is part of their success. Not only does Nike have these athletes on the payroll to wear and support their ‘colors,’ but for many of them, they also use their name and create shoes in their own likeness. These shoes have become known as “signature shoes” and they are what every athlete aspires to have nowadays after the emergence of ‘Air Jordan.’
Michael Jordan was the first to have a deal like this, and to begin with he would wear the normal ‘Swoosh.’ However, as time went on, Nike decided that he was big enough to have his own brand, and thus the signature era had begun. Effectively a spin-off from Nike, the Jordan brand has become a massive entity in and of itself. And since then, more basketball players have followed suit in his footsteps.
The next in line to the crown would be Kobe Bryant. Despite having retired a couple of years ago now, the former L.A. Lakers star remains a hugely popular that still has a ton of people buying his shoes. The other two major players that have come next are current NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Lebron James came straight out of high school wearing the same number, 23, that Jordan had wore and he was immediately called the heir apparent to Air Jordan. And thus Nike offered him massive dollars to bring him on board, and his shoes were a huge hit right off the bat, with his King James line smashing all expectations. He remains a very popular figure, even after a few moves to various teams over the years.
Durant, meanwhile, wasn’t expected to be as good as any of the three men above him, but he has proven himself to be among the very best players in the league’s history in recent years. Starting out as Jordan had with the ‘Swoosh,’ Durant has since transitioned to his own signature ‘KD’ shoes as he has grown to be a bigger and better player. As his star power has grown, so, too, has his line and they are a good choice for anyone that wants a good pair of basketball shoes.
These four men are essentially the Mount Rushmore of Nike Basketball, and because of that you can’t really talk about basketball shoes made by the company without mentioning them and their ability to bring eyeballs to the product. While others, like Kyrie Irving and Paul George are more than just notable, these are the key figures that had to be pointed out before any discussion of Nike basketball shoes.
Things to Consider When Picking Out a Nike Shoe
There are a lot of things to consider when you are trying to select a basketball shoe. Here are a few things that you might want to think about when you are picking out what is best for you.
Weight of the Shoe
Some shoes are heavier than others, and this can have a major impact on your level of comfort. Whether you are looking to be the fastest possible or the most protected is also important. Generally speaking, all of the shoes on this list are going to give you a decent amount of protection. However, the bigger, thicker, and heavier a shoe is, the more it will protect you in most cases.
If you are a quick player that is smaller, most likely a guard, you will probably want something lighter. But if you are a player that is bigger and your game is built on size and power, which is fading away in the game even for forwards and centers, then something bulkier may not even be a big deal to you and would probably be a good idea. Remember every single ounce really does add up on your feet. The more ounces, the heavier they will feel and the more weighed down you will ultimately be.
Low Top or High Top
Closely related to the choice between heavy or light is the issue of whether to select a low top or a high top. High tops have been the norm in basketball since the beginning of time really, and they still remain the most popular option. The reason they are so popular is because of the increased amount of ankle protection that they afford. Not only do they keep you from rolling your ankle in most situations, but they also protect when you come down from a jump. With that said, there has been a movement in recent times where players are going to a low top shoe.
The desire to do so is mostly with smaller, quicker players that appreciate both swiftness and freedom of movement. There is lees to protect you, of course, but you have the chance to move quicker and utilize your natural speed, which could be your saving grace if you are playing amongst the giants. The later versions of the KD’s have moved toward a low top design because Durant favors more freedom and a less restrictive shoe. There are also options that fall in between and offer a good compromise. They are known as mid tops, and they seek to combine the best of both worlds. You get some protection but you don’t get all of the bulkiness, so it can be viewed as a win-win. This style is also see in the KD’s.
Nike Basketball Shoe Fit Guide
The Toe Box
The toe box is simply the area in which your feet reside, and some will even call this area the “toe bed” because of that. The toe box is crucial to making sure you feel good and comfortable on the court and that you remain able to play without getting blisters or other foot ailments. Making sure you don’t get them is fairly simple, really, and you can do so by making sure that you don’t have your toes resting against the end of the shoe. To avoid this, make sure you have about a thumb’s width between your toe and the end of it. If this is not present, you are probably going to end up hurting while or after you play. Too much space also is bad because it will mean your shoes move up and down as you run, causing you to slide and sometimes kick them off.
Knowing your limits isn’t just important on the court, but it’s also big off the court as well. Knowing whether you have wide or narrow feet is huge to getting the right size. If you are able to try on some pairs, which is highly suggested, you can tell easily if they are too narrow or not. If they are too narrow right away, you better believe they will be too narrow once you start to play. Most shoes nowadays are made from synthetics, but they can be harder to stretch out. So a good tip is to find a size in synthetic shoes that works and then look for leather. The leather will stretch out over time and give you more room to maneuver.
Like the width, you will know instantly if the weight of the shoe is too much for you. If you are feeling that they are too heavy to begin with, don’t assume that you will ‘get used to it.’ Instead, what happens is that they will become heavier and heavier as you go, and your coach will wonder what happened to you as you bring up the rear in practice as a result.
The heel is a vital element to the basketball player, and it can be the hardest injury in the entire sport to overcome. To prevent any potential Achilles problems, you need to make sure your heel feel locked into place. This doesn’t mean you want it to be too tight, either because you do need circulation to keep going, but you also need to have a good, stable base. This will protect your feet and ankles, your hips and knees, and even your back, too.
A Quick Warning
Before we start, we need to quickly go over something. Basketball shoes have a tendency to fit differently than many shoes out there, so that is already a reason you should try them on in person. However, Nike’s, like most of their shoes to be honest, tend to run narrow and long in a lot of cases. Running narrow is a big problem, and some people don’t have that resolved by going up a size, so you should definitely try a pair on before you buy. Just be alert that this is a common problem and that it’s not just you.
Best Nike Basketball Shoe Reviews
Nike Men’s Air Precision
Leading off our list of Nike’s best and most popular basketball shoes is an affordable option that comes in a number of colors. The Air Precision looks just like it sounds: it’s precise enough to give you air while looking super cool doing so. The shoe has a new sort of look to it with what is called “an over-the-ankle” cut. What it does is has a high tongue but a lower ankle, so it is seeking to blend the high top with the low top to increase comfort and protection at the same time. It’s a relatively new idea, but it appears to be working out.
One of the major things the shoe does with this is easily allow braces and inserts to be added because of the additional room that it gives. They’ve also got great traction beneath them due to the synthetic sole, and it is good for use outdoors as a result of that, which is not always the case with basketball shoes. They are good for dusty courts as well, which is a big-time plus to keep you from sliding about. One look at them also reveals that they are very breathable due to the high amount of mesh used.
This makes them a good choice for someone that is sweaty and needs to remain aired out as best they can. Of course, it has to be said that they are very easy to get on and off because of the ‘mid top’ design and the low ankle. Some of the issues that users have experienced, however, include that the shoe is very narrow. On top of that, loosening up the laces doesn’t do much to alleviate the problem because the tongue is also a forefoot piece due to its construction. The midsole is also a little firm, which can be a problem given that so much of today’s footwear is very soft and pillowy in its feel.
- Very affordable price
- Classy modern look and design
- Ankle cut gives added mobility
- Shoe runs narrow
- Hard to loosen because of the construction
- Firm midsole too much for some
Nike Men’s Hyperdunk 2015 TB
Despite its release being about three years ago now, the Hyperdunk TB remains one of the most popular shoes sold by Nike for a myriad of reasons and remains toward the top of the list as a result. The Hyperdunk is where it is because it has a ton of colors available and makes for a great team shoe as a result of that. Even if you aren’t part of a team, the designs are great in a number of colors, and the designs are not always the same only with different colors, so that is a plus to look at. One of the things that you quickly notice is that this is a definite high top shoe.
The ankle is covered in a very big way, and the heel of the shoe is also raised as well. This will help you not only to be padded and cushioned more on the way done but also to help you jump just a little bit higher- thus the name. At the other end of the shoe, they look like normal shoes and they really start to level off a lot, making it hard to believe the way they look. Because of that, they look ‘long’ in the sense that they are not upright like a lot of shoes would be if they had the high backing to them.
The rubber bottom is made with Herringbone patterns, with two circular shapes at the front and rear. The Hyperfuse material used has allowed the shoe to give increased protection while remaining lightweight so you do not have to compromise on either objective too much. Perhaps the biggest strike against these shoes is the fact that there isn’t a ton of padding to be had in the heel area. They also run tight and narrow like a lot of Nikes, so that is another issue. Lastly, the price of them is pretty high, which can put off some people from even considering them.
- Locks in the foot without weighing you down
- Provides great traction
- Really awesome look
- Don’t have much padding for the heels or ankles
- Quite a premium cost
- Runs narrow and small
Nike Men’s Air Visi Pro VI
Another shoe that is cut out of the cloth of the first one on our list, the Air Visi Pro VI seeks to wed the good qualities of having a low top with that of a high top. In this shoe, it’s not as pronounced as the Air Precision, but there is a definite difference to be told from most shoes you see for basketball. One thing that must be stated straight off the bat is that the designs on them aren’t nearly as flashy as in most of the Nike’s, so that could be something that keeps you from wanting them. They don’t look bad, but they just don’t have a lot of pop to them and won’t draw a lot of attention as a result.
Even the backs of them just say “Air” and have little frills, while the bottom’s grooves are there and rather plain looking, too. With that said, they have the comfort edge on a lot of shoes because of their construction and they also come in at a very reasonable price that will not be too difficult for most to pay. The use of Phylon in the midsole has helped them bring you not only a large degree of comfort but also does so without weighing you down much at all. While that does the work in the middle part of the shoe, the heel has the Air-Sole unit to give you protection from impacts and absorb shocks.
One thing that can annoy some people is that the insoles are not removable. They are glued in, meaning if you wanted to put your own in there it would have to be placed on top of the ones already in them, or they would have to be cut out. Like so many Nikes, they are also small and narrow.
- Good price
- Mid top construction
- Phylon heel helps protect from impact
- Rather plain look
- Can’t remove insoles
- Small and narrow fit
Nike LeBron XIV Low Men’s
Coming in at a fairly middle of the range type of price is the first signature shoe on the list, the LeBron XIV. Coming in a number of colors, headlined by a scheme that reminds you of his two stints in Cleveland with the Cavaliers, the designs and colors are really great in most instances. One of the differentiating factors about them is that they are very much a low top.
There is no in between to be had here, instead they go all in with the idea. In fact, the thing that sticks out the highest in the air is a strap in the back that aids you with putting them on! Just remember that if you are going with a low top that you won’t get as much ankle support, so don’t be shocked and then complain about that when you see them giving you a lack of support.
That’s not what they are made to do, after all. One thing that has to be said in the negative camp about them is that they are not good shoes for outdoor games or games where the floor is not properly swept. Whether it is because the court is dusty or just because of the material is up for debate on this one. Another thing that can be expected in shoes without a high top is that they come off easier, and that seems to be the case with this particular pair of LeBrons, so that is something to keep an eye out for. Transitioning back to the positives here, and it’s easy to see why people like them: they are light and made from a lot of suede to help you glide around effortlessly while remaining cool. Overall, if you are smaller, quicker player that doesn’t need much protection, it should be plenty fine for you.
- Decent middle price
- Low top gives quick movement
- Very pleasing looks
- Doesn’t provide a lot of ankle support
- Not good for dusty courts and/or outdoor courts
- Foot doesn’t stay in place well
Nike Men’s KD Trey 5 V
in most people’s minds, Kevin Durant trails LeBron James, so it’s fitting that his shoe comes after King James’ here in this list. The KD Trey 5 is Durant’s secondary line, a more affordable line meant to reach out to more people than the normal KD’s. With that said, you don’t really miss a whole lot here with these shoes. They look great, have a ton of different colors to pick from, including a great yellow and gold choice, and they have a great amount of traction for any and all courts that you could play on.
One of the trademarks of this particular shoe is the different approach that is used with the laces. They go nearly all the way across the shoe and are quite thick, helping to lock you in while dispersing the pressure more evenly to free you up, something Durant appreciates greatly in his own game. The internal heel prevents any slippage from occurring, too, so that is something to look forward to when you try them on. The mesh used also makes them very lightweight and breathable, something that forerunners in the game would have loved to have had when they played.
One of the downsides of the shoe is that it does tend to run long, much like Durant when he’s guarding you on the wing. In addition to that, they take a lot of time to break in, meaning you will have to ease into them or risk feeling some pain for a little while. Lastly, the impact protection isn’t the greatest and can cause soreness.
- Good price
- Really awesome looks
- Thick shoelaces disperse the load
- Tend to run long
- Takes some time to break in
- Impact protection not among the best
Nike Kyrie 4 Men’s
While none of these shoes have looked bad at all as of yet, it’s got to be said that the Kyrie shoes just look phenomenal. Both the colors and the designs, both on the top and bottoms of the shoes are tremendous and deserve a lot of attention and admiration for them. Even the logo used, a ‘K’ symbol with marks on it, looks classy and like a must-have. Considered a mid top, and it very much is one, it combines a little bit of extra comfort and mobility with some added protection to keep one of the game’s best guards in the action.
The aforementioned Zigzag ‘Flex Groove’ on the bottom is designed to give you excellent traction as well as flexibility, while the forefoot is kept protected by Flywire cables to help you cut on the court quickly and abruptly. Mesh is also used a lot in the shoe, helping you to remain cool, calm, and collected on the court. The problems begin with the fact that, you guessed it, they run small. They also have issues with breaking in to them, so you will need to set aside time to do so and have a plan or you might experience some discomfort. Also, the front toe can begin to tear after a lot of use, so that is worth considering.
- Top of the class designs
- Mid top combines best of both worlds
- Flexible and supplies good traction
- Takes time to break in
- Runs small
- Toe shoes wear and tear
Nike Kobe Mamba Instinct Men’s
Still a major player in the world of basketball shoes and its sales figures, it comes as no shock to see one of Kobe Bryant’s shoes included in this list. And it comes with no surprise that it’s the Instinct given the brilliant looks of the shoe in a number of great colors. In addition to being a great basketball shoe, these are probably the best looking shoes for casual wear on the list due to all of the color choices and just the casual nature of them. But make no mistake, the Mamba can still strike when it’s needed to.
Despite their low top status, they have the ability to pack a punch quickly while also protecting you thanks to the Lunarlon midsole that helps take the impacts you get from repeatedly hitting the floor day after day. The Mamba is also incredibly comfortable as well, and one of the main positives to note is the fact that its traction is very good. You will find that both dusty and clean courts are equal with these shoes, which simply is not the case for all shoes made for basketball. Many wearers have commented on how secure and supportive they have made them feel despite them being a bonafide low top, so that is also a major plus in their corner. They also come in at a mid-range price, so that is a factor that has to be considered, too.
Onto the bad… the biggest thing to point out is the fact that they are too tight. This is both in terms of width and length, with many wider footed people finding themselves ultimately unhappy with these shoes. The midsole also has a design to where the drop-in can dig into the feet, and it has caused some consumers to develop blisters. They also appear to be made for people with high arches, so they don’t always help those that are flat footed.
- Mid-range price as lethal as Kobe’s jumper
- Good traction anywhere
- Awesome designs
- Blisters can be caused by midsole
- Too tight and not wide enough
- Meant for people with high arches
Nike Men’s Air Versitile Nubuck
Another mid price option, the Air Versitile is one to consider if you are looking for something to get you started. It doesn’t come with a whole ton of flash to it, but most of the colors look good if not a little bit plain. Thankfully, color isn’t everything, because these shoes have a lot of good going for them. The use of the nubuck and mesh together makes them lightweight and breathable, and it helps increase the durability of the shoes as well.
Like a lot of the Nike lines of late, the heel has seen an adjustment made to it to make it lower than the midsole, giving it a now familiar look that blends the good of the high and low tops together. The ‘bootie,’ the part of the shoe that locks in your rear foot, if you will, is made out of mesh even and it gives you a sock-like feel. The Achilles notch is padded to give you comfort and also to help lock your foot into place as you run and jump. One of the things that they use is an air bubble in the sole of the shoe that is supposed to increase your jump and give you a springy feel.
However, this has caused issues for some wearers because the air has slowly let out for some of them. That could be a reason to steer clear of this pair. They’ve also had complaints from users that wore them frequently and claimed that they wore out over time, so that is a bit of a worry if you need something for prolonged use.
- Fits like a glove
- Lots of mesh makes it breathable
- Padded Achilles helps with impacts
- Not the best of looks ever
- Air bubble can leak
- Wears out over time
Conclusion & Final Nike Basketball Shoe Recommendations
It is easy to see why Nike has become such a big player in the world of sports, and specifically in the game of basketball. As the years have gone on, Nike has only gotten better and better. Whether it has been because of fellow competitors or their own superstars asking them to make changes to the shoes to be a better fit and feel for them, they have grown and developed better shoes. Each of the shoes listed above have built off of years and years of work and trials, and it has resulted in them being the best that they can be so they can meet a purpose for you. After today, you can rest assured that you know a lot more about Nike basketball shoes and will be able to look for what you need in them!
FAQ’s About Nike Basketball Shoes
I’m a Woman Basketball Player, What Should I look for in Nike Basketball Shoes?
Unfortunately, most of the signed athletes are not women, and most of them do not have a signature line, so usually the ladies have to settle for a men’s size. In most shoes, this is discouraged, but with basketball shoes you don’t see as much difference across the genders. For that reason, you can usually take your current Nike shoe and subtract a size and a half from it to get the desired fit. Of course, it would be the best idea to go to a store and try them on just to make sure, but that should get you a ballpark number for the correct fit for women’s basketball shoes.
How Can I Get a Different Colorway?
If you don’t like the colors that are presented to you, you can always design your own. There is a tool on the Nike website, called the NikeID, which will allow you to pick your own customized colorway and add designs of your own as well. The prices might go up as a result, but it is a tool that many have liked using for those that want that little bit extra flash to their shoes.
Are Basketball Shoes Good for Casual Wear?
The answer to this question is an undoubted “yes.” Basketball shoes are typically very comfortable to wear and are designed so that they can be worn for hours at a time. While this is not always the case, it is very safe to assume you will be able to wear a pair all day comfortably- assuming that you have the right size and fit that is. Some shoes, like running shoes and other types, aren’t always good for all-day wear, but basketball shoes are a lot like tennis shoes and can do a great job in most instances.
When Do I Need to Replace My Basketball Shoes?
The answer to this question is one that only you will know. Are your feet hurting after a practice or a game? If the answer is yes, then you probably need to make a change in your footwear. The reason why is because even the best shoes start to wear out after a while. Many of Nike’s shoes are constructed with the very best and most advanced materials, but it can be tough for them to uphold the continuous strain of jumping up and down over and over. For this reason, you need to change them so you can avoid injury. Gradual strains have been shown to be worse for basketball players than anything because they go unnoticed over time and add up to be terrible injuries, so you can avoid that by replacing your shoes as soon as possible after you start to notice pain or discomfort.
Can I Run in Basketball Shoes?
Can you run? Yes, absolutely. Should you run? No, not really. Basketball shoes are made not only for up and down the court movement but also for side-to-side. Running shoes are typically meant for straightforward running. Despite having more versatility, the basketball shoe isn’t good for running because they are bigger and thicker, making them more heavy and harder to maneuver. in. This isn’t very conducive to running, where you want to be as efficient in your steps as possible. So it’s definitely not encouraged to use basketball shoes for running, and you definitely shouldn’t be doing the opposite, either!
Will Nike Basketball Shoes Allow Me To Jump Higher?
Marginally, maybe. The truth is that while basketball shoes have been show to give a slight amount of aid to those in terms of length in their jump, it wouldn’t be right to claim that Nike or any other brand will help you measurably gain height on your leap. Instead, it comes down to your own legs and the strength in which they have in them that will determine how high you can jump. So, maybe just having basketball shoes that are ‘springy’ out of the box and properly fitted will help you set your personal best, but they aren’t going to magically have a 5’2’’ person dunking all of a sudden “Like Mike.”
Do I Need to Play Basketball to Buy Nike Basketball Shoes?
Absolutely not, you don’t have to be player to buy Nike basketball shoes. In fact, a good chunk of the buyers for basketball shoes from the brand are huge fans and love to collect them. If this is you, then you can safely assume you are getting a good quality product. Even if you don’t collect and just want a good shoe that is breathable and comfortable to walk around in and show off a little in, then this is a good place to start your search.