The traditional image of basketball shoes is of the perennially popular basketball boots that are now mainly worn as casual street wear. With their thick rubber soles and colourful, ankle-high, canvas uppers, these boots seem never to go out of fashion, and new styles involving trendy designs and desirable logos appear on the shelves every few months.
Nowadays, basketball is played in more athletic boots than these. Think of live or televised matches you have seen and you’ll remember that America’s finest players were not running and jumping around in canvas sneakers. Indeed, the most recent shoes bear virtually no resemblance to their streetwise relations.
Basketball boots are generally still ankle-high shoes, since the foot and ankle need all the support and protection they can get during fast manoeuvres, sprints and tackles. The best shoes are designed so that the ankle is supported but not entirely encased, as it is vital that the player can move his feet naturally and quickly in order to dodge and dash his way down the court.
In keeping with the style of most athletics shoes these days, basketball boots have uppers made of high-quality flexible leather, and rubber soles to ensure grip. The vast majority of them are lace-up shoes, although some of the best-known manufactures like to mix things up now and again with avant-garde laceless varieties. The main benefit of wearing laced shoes, of course, is that you can choose how tight you want them and alter the fitting according to the unique shape of your feet.
While most styles of basketball shoe are very plain indeed, with just a logo or image emblazoned on the sides, it is possible to pick up a pair of one-off or limited-edition shoes with special motifs and slogans, and often specialist online shoe shops or auction houses can be the best place to find these. If you prefer to buy your shoes in a store – and this is advisable if you are not entirely sure of the exact size or style you are after – there is generally no problem at all doing so at almost any sports shop within the United States. In other countries, where basketball is a rarer pastime, it is a good idea to check online for local retailers, and to phone ahead and ensure they stock your item.
You should treat your basketball shoes as you would other athletics shoes, and bear in mind when you buy them that you will do a great deal of running and jumping in them, so a perfect fit is absolutely vital to guarantee you play at your highest level.