Sneakerhead Book Club

Sneakerhead Book Club: Basketball Sneakers That Changed The Game by Slam Kicks

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Sneakerhead Book Club is a semi-regular series reviewing, you guessed it, books about the kicks you love. In this second edition, we leaf through Basketball Sneakers That Changed The Game from Slam Kicks.

When it comes to unmistakable classics of the sneaker world, ones that anybody (enthusiast or not) can identify, there’s one common thread running through them.

They were built for the basketball court.

Signature models like the Converse Chuck Taylor and the entire Jordan range come to mind real quick. Those are obvious. But what about the adidas Superstar, or the Nike Blazer or Air Force 1?

While all of those shoes are more likely seen accompanying a fresh ‘fit these days than they would be on the hardwood, they all have basketball heritage.

And in Basketball Sneakers That Changed The Game, from the crew at Slam Kicks, you can dive right into that hoops history lesson. OG sneaker and basketball writer Russ Bengtson, Scoop Jackson, Lang Whitaker and John Brilliant take you on a trip down memory lane, where you’re absolutely certain to flip a page and come across a pair that gives you a jolt of grade-school nostalgia.

Featuring a perfect blend of hoops photography from the NBA and the blacktop, snaps of sneakers deadstock and almost-dead, and the stories behind them, Basketball Sneakers That Changed The Game begins the journey with the aforementioned Chuck Taylor All-Star all the way to the Nike LeBron X and a look at “the future.”

While the caveat here is that the book was published in 2013, and as such doesn’t cover kicks that have come along since then, the timeless classics are all present and accounted for in bold color.

You’ll also find personal stories from each contributor woven through the book giving insight into their own beginnings as a sneaker enthusiast, from digging through dusty racks at the back of shoe stores for hidden gems to chasing down NBA stars at airports for enormous game-worn kicks.

Some favorites of mine:

  • adidas Pro Model (1972), most recently worn by Nuggets star Jamal Murray in the 2020 NBA Playoffs;
  • Nike Dunk (1986), the “Be True To Your School” print ad is just phenomenal;
  • Reebok Pump Omni Lite (1991), there ain’t a single ’90s kid who didn’t want a pair of these after watching Dee Brown pump his up before throwing down at the 1991 All-Star Weekend slam dunk contest in Charlotte;
  • Nike Shox BB4 (2000), nothing screams “early ’00s” like the Shox shock-absorption system. Oh yeah, and THAT Vince Carter dunk.

Sneaker culture and basketball culture have long been intertwined, and this is the perfect time capsule with which to look back on a bygone era of shoes. Grab it for your coffee table or use it as a checklist to fill out your retro rotation.

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Got a suggested title for Sneakerhead Book Club? Shoot us an email with your recommendations, or let us know if you’d like to submit a review of your own.