Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant headline greatest influencers in NBA sneaker world (2022)

"Money, it's gotta be the shoes!"

When Spike Lee and Michael Jordan created the iconic commercial for the Air Jordan 5 silhouette, little did they know how influential Mike's shoes would be over the entire globe.

Fast forward to the present, and sneaker culture is the single most dominant sub-culture in the world. In 2021, the sneaker industry generated $70 billion.

Seventy. Billion.

A large part of the popularity of sneakers traces back to basketball - namely Michael Jordan - and its athletes who have helped make the game so global.

From Walt "Clyde" Frazier to Kobe Bryant, we take a look at some of the true influencers and game-changers in the NBA sneaker world.

Walt "Clyde" Frazier

Jordan may have revolutionized sneaker culture years after Frazier played, but the Knicks guard was the first basketball player with his own signature shoe.

That's right. For those that may not have known, the Puma Clyde is named after the seven-time All-Star and two-time NBA champ.

When Puma approached Clyde to do a signature shoe, the always stylish Frazier had three stipulations:

  • He wanted the shoe made with suede rather than the traditional leathers used at the time
  • His signature "Clyde" had to be imprinted on every shoe
  • He asked for a new color variation for every game he participated in

“Reportedly over 390 colorswere used," saidHelmut Fischer, who worked with Puma for over four decades.

The Clyde would go on to transcend basketball and became a favorite of b-boys in the 80s who liked it for the grip it provided when they were breakdancing, along with skaters as well. In 1993, Puma started selling the shoe outside of the U.S. for the first time, making it an all-time classic in sneaker lore.

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant headline greatest influencers in NBA sneaker world (1)

NBA Getty Images

(Video) Air Jordan 10, Kobe Bryant Crazy 8, Yeezy 350 among best NBA Holiday Kicks | The Undefeated

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird

Neither one of these two icons actually had a signature shoe with Converse. They were instead part of a deep roster of players that the brand had under contract, which also included Julius Erving, Mark Aguirre, Kevin McHale, Bernard King and more.

At the time, the brand wouldn't invest money into making a signature shoe for an athlete, preferring its endorsers to wear the Converse Weapon.

The shoe hasn't really stood the test of time as sneaker tastes have evolved over the years and most young people these days don't resonate with Bird and Magic as they do with Jordan, but who could forget the iconic commercial featuring the two great friends?

“I heard that Converse made a pair of Bird shoes forlastyear’s MVP.”

“Yep.”

“Well, they made a pair of Magic shoes forthisyear’s MVP!”

Michael Jordan

Sure, there was sneaker culture before Jordan, but the culture as you know it today is all due to Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

And to think, Jordan didn't even want to sign with the Swoosh coming out of North Carolina. He was an Adidas guy and boy, did they fumble that bag.

“Adidas was really dysfunctional by that time,” Jordan's agent David Falk said in The Last Dance documentary. “They had just told me, ‘We’d love to have Jordan. We just can’t make a shoe work at this point in time.’ I wanted Michael to go with Nike because they were the upstart.”

MJ eventually signed with Nike after a little prodding from his mother and Falk, and history was made. Falk told Nike that he wanted his client to have his own shoe, and an apparel line as well.

(Video) Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Michael Jordan & The GOAT Conversation

Nike acquiesced, and the Air Jordan 1 was born.

The brand originallyexpected to sell 100,000 pairs of Air Jordans in the line's first year but those projections changed.

"Nike's expectation when we signed the deal was at the end of year four, they hoped to sell $3 million worth of Air Jordans," Falk said. "In year one we sold $126 million."

It helped that Jordan was doing some absolutely maniacal work while wearing the new iteration of his sneaker every year, and Nike's marketing took sales to a whole other level.

The shoes appealed to a wide demographic — from suburban kids to rappers, plus skaters and a whole lot more.

Fast forward to today, and Jordan Brand has become a sub-division within Nike.It's been its own entity since 1997 and has become a pop-culture behemoth.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Jordan Brand crossed $5 billion in sales over the previous 12 months.

The Jordan Brand just crossed $5 billion in annual revenue for the first time.

That means Michael Jordan made $150M+ from Nike last year alone—or nearly 2x his career NBA earnings.

The part you didn't know?

Without this man, it would've never happened.

(Video) KOBE BRYANT MEMORABILIA FOUND ABANDONED STORAGE WARS AUCTION UNIT NIKE

Here's the story 👇 pic.twitter.com/JBKzu1NqLJ

— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) June 30, 2022

Having a pair of Jordans these days has transcended more than just being a performance basketball sneaker as Jordan Brand has collaborated with some of the biggest names in luxury fashion and music, such as Virgil Abloh, Christian Dior and Travis Scott. They even gave Colombian reggaeton artist J. Balvin his own shoe, making him the first Latino artist to have a signature sneaker with the brand.

Owning a pair of Jordans is now a symbol of status. Just check the resale markets and see what some of the more limited Jordan collabs are going for, like thisOff-White Jordan 1or this Christian Dior Jordan 1.

Everyone wants to be like Mike indeed.

Allen Iverson

"He's The Answer and the problem, you don't want it with/ The way that boy go to the hole and take punishment/ The young boss of the cross for four quarters/ And from three-point land, he's all water/ Matter of fact, call him the king/ The Way he breaks down the defense, it's like he got the ball on a string"

By the time that Jadakiss spit the words in 2001 for the Reebok Answer V in a commercial, Iverson was firmly entrenched as the face of a new generation of ballers in the NBA.

Iverson, one of the most influential players of all time, had people copying his moves, his look and, of course, wanting his sneakers.

By the time Iverson entered the league in 1996, Jordan was coming to the end of his Bulls' run, and sneaker companies were looking to find the "next Jordan," a player who could move the needle on the court and culturally. Iverson embodied the new generation of hip-hop ballers.

When it comes to influence and impact on the game of basketball from a cultural standpoint, Iverson is just as important as Mike was.

Reebok's first signature shoe for the Sixers' guard was The Question.

Iverson would take home Rookie of the Year honors averaging23.5 points, 7.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game, but the enduring memory of Iverson's rookie season was him crossing up Jordan while wearing The Question.

(Video) Kobe or LeBron: Jim Jackson's unique insight expels the NBA's biggest myth | FIRST THINGS FIRST

The Reebok Question was eventually discontinued altogether in 2002 (it was retro'd again in 2016 and once again in 2022 for the 25th anniversary), but Iverson's Answer line would span across 14 iterations, making it the third longest-running signature line behind Jordan and LeBron James.

Kobe Bryant

Just like Kobe's on-court career is defined by what he did in Nos. 8 and 24, his sneaker legacy spans both Adidas and Nike.

Drafted straight out of high school, Kobe started his rookie season in the Adidas EQT Elevation, but his first signature shoe came in 1997 with the Adidas release of the KB8, now known as the Crazy 8.

After his Kobe 2 sneaker with Adidas bombed (and rightly so, it was atrocious), Bryant was so disenchanted with the German brand that he paid $8 million to be let out of his contract.

One of the stipulations of the deal was that he could not sign with another brand for a year, which led to one of the craziest sneaker seasons in recent memory.

During the 2002-03 campaign, Bryant hooped in everything from Air Force 1 highs and various Jordan retros in Lakers colors to And-1's, Reebok Questions, Reebok Answers, Converse Weapons and Nike 2K Huaraches.

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant headline greatest influencers in NBA sneaker world (2)

NBA Getty Images

Bryant eventually signed with the Swoosh in 2004 and had his first signature model with the brand released in 2005.He revolutionised basketball sneakers with the release of the Nike Kobe 4, the first Kobe low-cut signature shoe, inspired by soccer cleats.

As influential as Kobe has been in the sneaker world, culturally his sneakers weren't quite in the category of Iverson and Jordan - at least not while he was alive.

When Nike began retroing the Kobe line under the Protro banner, the shoes sat on shelves. It wasn't until Bryant's tragic death in 2020 that prices on the resale market began skyrocketing.

Nonetheless, Bryant remains one of sneaker culture's most important figures.

(Video) Pawn Stars: $1,000,000 for Michael Jordan’s “Space Jam” Sneakers (Season 18) | History

FAQs

Who was Michael Jordan's biggest inspiration? ›

When Jordan was growing up, his basketball idol was Walter Davis. Davis spent 15 years in the NBA, 11 with the Phoenix Suns, who drafted him with the fifth overall pick in the 1977 NBA draft. Davis was a six-time NBA All-Star, and Jordan modeled his game after Davis.

What did MJ say to Kobe about shoes? ›

In 2003, when the two superstars faced each other, MJ got the win. This led to MJ telling Kobe that, "You could wear the shoes but never fill them." You can guess what happened next, Kobe made it his life's mission to defeat Mike the next time the two played against each other.

Did Kobe ever say he was the greatest? ›

Kobe Bryant calls himself the greatest of all time, ahead of Michael Jordan and Lebron James. “I'm the best, Michael is second best, Bron is the third best.”

What is Kobe Bryant known for? ›

Kobe Bryant, the 18-time All-Star who won five NBA championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Lakers, died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020. He was 41.

Who is greatest basketball player of all time? ›

1. Michael Jordan – Most Points per Game – Most Finals MVP. Who is the best basketball player of all time? Michael Jordan is the best in the top 10 basketball players of all time.

How is Michael Jordan an influencer? ›

Way before the Social Media era, Jordan became the most prominent and global influencer, he turned into a walking brand. Whatever shop/logo was seen in the background of any photo of Jordan, became an instant worldwide success. Products flocked to be part of his success, and Jordan turned into a household name.

Who did Kobe say was the goat? ›

Kobe Bryant Calling Lakers Legend GOAT Over Michael Jordan in Unearthed Video Divides NBA Community. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was one of the most gifted players of all time.

Is LeBron better than Jordan? ›

LeBron James' statistics indicate that he is a much better overall basketball player. While Jordan scored more overall, LeBron is a more efficient player, shooting better from two and three-point range. LeBron is also a much better passer and rebounder than Jordan ever was.

Is Kobe better than LeBron? ›

As far as free throw percentage, LeBron is a career 73.4% while Kobe is a career 83.7%. On the defensive end of the court, Kobe finished his career with 12 total selections on the NBA's All-Defensive team ( nine times on the all-defensive first team and three times on the all-defensive second team).

Why is Kobe Bryant inspirational? ›

A generation of basketball players embody him. Even for all of Kobe's money and fame, fans identified with him because he put in the same grind everyone else goes through. He's the kind of person and player who made everybody around him better, which in turn earned him the respect of his competitors.

How did Kobe Bryant impact the world? ›

He had friendly relationships with many of the game's best players, passing his knowledge onto the next generation of superstars. Additionally, Kobe became a leader in the growth and development of Women's Basketball. He developed strong relationships with rising stars, most notably, Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon.

Who is the best player in the world all time? ›

#1 Lionel Messi (Argentina) - seven-time Ballon d'Or winner. The Copa America triumph cemented Lionel Messi's place as the greatest player of all time.

Who is the best player in the world? ›

Best Football Players to Watch out for 2022 Football World Cup
RankingPlayer NameClub/Team
1Lionel MessiPSG & Argentina
2Robert LewandowskiBarcelona & Poland
3Kylian MbappePSG & France
4Cristiano RonaldoManchester United & Portugal
6 more rows
13 Sept 2022

How has the Jordan Brand changed the world? ›

The Society That Formed. Michael Jordan's partnership with Nike started a new wave of merchandising athletes with products. Michael Jordan's fame helped Nike to become one of the most famous known athletic brand in the world. Air Jordan shoes became very popular with kids who wanted to play basketball.

What are 3 interesting facts about Michael Jordan? ›

He is a 14-time NBA All-Star. He once had 10 triple doubles in 11 games. He had the game-winning shot when he was at the University of North Carolina, against Georgetown University in 1982. He retired from the NBA three times: 1993, 1998, and his official end in basketball came in 2003.

How did Michael Jordan influence fashion? ›

Michael Jordan's signature shoe in 1985 created a wave of change in the way men looked at clothing. “It was the first time that an item of clothing—an athletic shoe—became a status symbol,” Peskowitz said. “He was the first person to ever have a signature shoe, which is such a huge part of our business now.

Why Kobe is the goat? ›

He is known as a scorer, but he was so much more than that. Kobe Bryant was a great defender and elevated his team when it mattered most. He is one of if not the most clutch player of all time. His 36 game-winners are the most by any player in NBA history.

Is Kobe a goat in basketball? ›

Kobe Bryant's storied career includes five NBA titles, two scoring titles, a league MVP award and lots of cool moves and shots. Indeed it has been a nice ride for the now 33-year-old veteran.

Who do NBA players think the GOAT is? ›

NBA greats backing Michael Jordan

11-time NBA All-Star, Charles Barkley: "In my opinion, Michael the GOAT. And LeBron, to me, I've always said he's closer to Magic Johnson than he is to Michael."

Who is the goat MJ or LeBron? ›

Michael Jordan is often viewed as the greatest NBA player to ever live, and a poll commissioned by ESPN found 73% of NBA fans believe Jordan is the superior player overall.

Who is more clutch MJ or LeBron? ›

Jordan hit on eight of his first 16 clutch attempts in the playoffs, just one more than LeBron. Though that gives him a 50 percent ratio to LeBron's 43.8, one shot really isn't that much of a difference. So Kudos to LeBron.

Why is MJ the goat? ›

Jordan has held on to the title of GOAT for the better part of 30 years and to this day his resumé appears untouchable. He won all six of his Finals appearances and won Finals MVP in all of them. He was named regular-season MVP five times, has 10 scoring titles and was named Defensive Player of the Year.

Who is more popular Kobe or LeBron? ›

It just goes to show that LeBron really has taken over as the more popular player, largely because of his impact within the country. Kobe certainly makes a bigger impact around the rest of the globe, but "global impact" includes the country in which the NBA actually takes place.

Who is the best basketball player to live? ›

1. Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is widely known as the game's greatest player—and for good reason. "MJ" accomplished everything possible in the game, piling up on the stats and awards.

Who is better Kobe or MJ? ›

To add icing on the cake you can say that Jordan had an overall statistical output than Bryant. He averaged more points (4.8 PPG), rebounds (0.9 RPG), assists (0.6 APG) while shooting 4% better than Bryant. It's true, Jordan was an excellent shooter.

What made Kobe Bryant a great leader? ›

The thoughts of Kobe Bryant on leadership include: Single-minded focus on winning. Incredible attention to detail. Unwavering dedication to preparation.

How did Kobe Bryant help society? ›

He participated in the league's NBA Cares initiatives, where he helped build homes and basketball courts, stocked food pantries and supported reading initiatives. Bryant was the official spokesman for After-School All-Stars, a national children's charity that provides after-school programs to 72,000 kids.

What values does Kobe Bryant have? ›

Kobe Bryant
  • Persistence. "I've played with IVs before, during and after games. ...
  • Candor. “A lot of leaders fail because they don't have the bravery to touch that nerve or strike that chord. ...
  • Ambition. “You are responsible for how people remember you, or don't. ...
  • Inspiration. ...
  • Individualistic.

What is Kobe's slogan? ›

"Friends come and go, but banners hang forever." We got a good laugh out of it at the time, but it appears Bryant's not messing around with this lonely motto. Thanks to a hawk-eyed NBA fan, it appears Bryant has trademarked on a variation of that phrase for Kobe, Inc.: "Friends Hang Sometimes / Banners Hang Forever."

Who influenced Kobe Bryant? ›

Growing up watching Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan performing on the court was an inspiration for Kobe Bryant. He witnessed these stars putting extraordinary efforts and talent into the game. The five-time NBA champion looks up to the idols that made him figure out what's best for him.

Why is Kobe the greatest? ›

Kobe is the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history. He is second in All-Star appearances (18), won five championships, was MVP once, and averaged 25 points per game. He also was named to the All-Defensive team 12 times, second-most in league history. There is much about every player's game that cannot be measured.

Who is the 2nd greatest basketball player ever? ›

Wilt Chamberlain

Why is Kobe not considered goat? ›

When considering the greatest player of all time, they simply would not average 7.6 points in any season or 15 points or 19 points. If a player did, they would not be GOAT because they had to become good in the pros. The GOAT would be a beast from the beginning to the end. Kobe got good but didn't start good.

What is Kobe's slogan? ›

"Friends come and go, but banners hang forever." We got a good laugh out of it at the time, but it appears Bryant's not messing around with this lonely motto. Thanks to a hawk-eyed NBA fan, it appears Bryant has trademarked on a variation of that phrase for Kobe, Inc.: "Friends Hang Sometimes / Banners Hang Forever."

Why is Kobe Bryant inspirational? ›

A generation of basketball players embody him. Even for all of Kobe's money and fame, fans identified with him because he put in the same grind everyone else goes through. He's the kind of person and player who made everybody around him better, which in turn earned him the respect of his competitors.

Why Kobe is the goat? ›

He is known as a scorer, but he was so much more than that. Kobe Bryant was a great defender and elevated his team when it mattered most. He is one of if not the most clutch player of all time. His 36 game-winners are the most by any player in NBA history.

How did Kobe Bryant change the world? ›

He had friendly relationships with many of the game's best players, passing his knowledge onto the next generation of superstars. Additionally, Kobe became a leader in the growth and development of Women's Basketball. He developed strong relationships with rising stars, most notably, Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon.

Who is the greatest athlete of all time? ›

Greatest Athletes of All Time
  • 8) Babe Ruth. ...
  • 7) Deion Sanders. ...
  • 6) Pele. ...
  • 5) Michael Jordan. ...
  • 4) Muhammad Ali. ...
  • 3) Jim Thorpe. ...
  • 2) Bo Jackson. ...
  • 1) Jim Brown. In high school, he earned 13 letters playing five sports: football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and track.

Why Kobe is top 10 all time? ›

He is indeed a top 10 player of all time. The MVP award, the Finals MVP awards, the All-Star selections, the total points, Mr. 81, his clutch ability, five NBA championships—all great points and this is why he is a top 10 player.

Why is LeBron the goat? ›

There is no denying the greatness of LeBron James. He's an 18-time All-Star in 19 seasons (he missed out in his rookie season). He's a four-time MVP, a four-time champion and a four-time NBA Finals MVP. He's even the league's all-time scoring leader when you combine the regular season and playoffs.

Who was better than Kobe? ›

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Abdul-Jabbar accomplished more than Kobe could ever dream of. The master of the "sky hook" earned 19 All-Star selections, six MVP awards, and is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points. Kobe, however, has an excellent chance of surpassing his six titles.

Is Kobe in the GOAT debate? ›

“GOAT” Coach Gregg Popovich Inserted Kobe Bryant Into the GOAT Debate With an Honest Michael Jordan Admission. Even though Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players of all time, his name doesn't come up as often in the GOAT debate. He often gets overlooked for Michael Jordan or LeBron James by the media.

Videos

1. What’s your favorite Kobe Bryant’s shoe? #Shorts
(EBKICKS)
2. Ice Cube on Meeting Snoop for the First Time, and Kobe Bryant's Legacy
(TheEllenShow)
3. Why I'm Not In The NBA... Professor Answers Top Google Questions
(Professor Live)
4. Remembering Kobe Bryant’s legacy after jury awards millions in damages in lawsuit | Nightline
(ABC News)
5. Iverson predicts how many points Jordan would average in today's NBA | EP. 33 | CLUB SHAY SHAY S2
(Club Shay Shay)
6. Kobe Bryant LEGENDARY Performance VS James Harden At Drew League!
(Hoopmixtape)

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Manual Maggio

Last Updated: 11/04/2022

Views: 6282

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Manual Maggio

Birthday: 1998-01-20

Address: 359 Kelvin Stream, Lake Eldonview, MT 33517-1242

Phone: +577037762465

Job: Product Hospitality Supervisor

Hobby: Gardening, Web surfing, Video gaming, Amateur radio, Flag Football, Reading, Table tennis

Introduction: My name is Manual Maggio, I am a thankful, tender, adventurous, delightful, fantastic, proud, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.