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Style - Kicks and Gear / Sep 20, 2012 / 1:00 pm

The Top 10 Basketball Sneakers Since 2000

Nike Air Jet Flight

Nike Air Jet Flight (photo. Sole Collector)

1. NIKE AIR JET FLIGHT
You might’ve never heard of these sneakers. Here’s why it’s best if you have: They are hands down, without a doubt, the best sneakers we’ve ever played in.

One of us in the Dime family bought a pair in his senior year of college in 2001 because he liked the sleek look of the black/zinc colorway, and because he knew Steve Nash swore by them. The minute he put them on, he felt like asking, where have these been all my life? He wore them all the time both on and off the court, and they fit like a glove. The cushioning was perfect. The low profile made the sneaker feel faster, and the shoes gripped the court better than anything experienced before.

Unfortunately, one of the best features of the sneaker – the Velcro strap that provided an impeccable lockdown fit – betrayed us, snapping in two when we went to put them on for perhaps the 1,000th time. Ever since, a few of us have looked for a pair in our size on eBay and such to no avail. They’ve never been retroed. If they ever are, we’ll scoop up four pairs so we’re covered for a decade.

So much of sneaker collecting now is about chasing hype. People want what everyone else wants and what they’re supposed to want. We loved the Air Jet Flight because it was an incredible sneaker, but very few people seemed to be checking for it. The look of the sneaker is certainly subjective, but the people who’ve played in it love it like a cult movie – basically, it’s the Evil Dead 2 of kicks.

Perhaps you have your own version of a cult classic – maybe the Huarache 2K4 (which nearly made the list) or the Zoom Flight Turbine, which we also loved. But once you sift through the Galaxy Foamposites and Jordan retroes, there are sneakers like the Air Jet Flight that are just as valuable, but in a different way. It’s undoubtedly cool to have sneakers other people covet. It’s unquestionably far cooler to discover a sneaker that feels like yours and yours alone.

What do you think was the best sneaker of the past 12 years?

Follow Bryan on Twitter at @SportsAngle.

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