by Zac Dubasik
The Air Jordan 17 was one of the last new models MJ ever wore on court, but what it’s most remembered for is for being first hoops shoe to hit the $200 mark. The shoe originally launched 13 years ago today, on Feb. 9, 2002, and in honor of its anniversary, we are taking a look back at some of the most expensive hoops sneakers of all time.
Nike Air Foamposite One
When the Foamposite One launched in 1997 at the retail price of $180, its price seemed unthinkable. The fact that it’s taken over 15 years for shoes to start regularly hitting in that range says a lot about just how crazy that price really was.
Nike LeBron 10
While originally rumored to top out at $300, that was for a deluxe version, which included a set of Nike+ components. The actual shoe itself retailed for “only” $180, and debuted Nike’s full-length Max Zoom bag.
Nike KD V Elite
The KD line’s first shoe to flirt with a true premium price came by way of the Elite edition of the KD 5. The shoe featured a drastic shift from the standard edition of the 5, with a low cut, carbon fiber heel counter, and caged heel Zoom unit.
Air Jordan 17
Five years would pass before a shoe would retail for more money than the Foamposite One, and the one to do it was the Air Jordan XVII. But the fact that it came packaged in a metal suitcase meant that probably that whole $200 wasn’t going to the shoe’s performance.
Nike Hyperdunk 2011 Elite
One of the first shoes to receive the Elite treatment, this performance-enhanced edition of the Hyperdunk 2011 actually improved on an already outstanding shoe. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for every Elite shoe.
Nike Kobe VII Elite
Rather than improving the shoe’s performance, the extra carbon fiber found on the Elite edition of the Kobe VII mostly just made the shoe more expensive. Unlike the Hyperdunk edition, this Elite was a performance disappointment.
Nike KD 6 Elite
The KD line hit its highest price point ever with Elite version of the KD 6. Along with that price, it featured the same Max Zoom cushioning unit first seen on the LeBron X.
Nike Kobe 8 Elite
Injury prevented Kobe from ever wearing his then-most expensive sneaker on-court. The Elite edition of the Kobe 8 added carbon fiber to the heel, along with Kevlar to the Flywire and laces.
Nike LeBron 11
The LeBron 11 may have cost $200, but it looked like a million bucks. Unfortunately, you could easily find better playing shoes for half the price.
Nike LeBron 12
The LeBron 12 didn't jump in price from the 11, but it did debut some new technology. LeBron's return to Cleveland was accompanied by a new take on Zoom Air in a hexagonal pattern.
Air Jordan 2012
The deluxe edition of the Air Jordan 2012 may have been expensive, but it included two different height booties, and three interchangeable midsole options. It also included a large and extremely functional carbon fiber shank.
Before “Hyperposite” became a technology, used on the LeBron 11, it was its own model - which was still made, and used, over two years after its introduction.
Nike Kobe 9 Elite
The Kobe 9 switched things up from what we’d come to expect from the Elite line, by releasing the higher-priced edition before the standard shoe, rather than for the Playoffs.
Air Jordan XX9
The Air Jordan XX9 carried over the Flight Plate introduced by its predecessor, and paired it with a new performance woven upper. It also introduced a Flight Web support system to the already high-tech package.
Of all the shoes on this list, there’s probably no higher tech than that found on the adidas_1. The shoe featured a computer that claimed to make micro adjustments to its cushioning. Based on the fact we haven’t seen it used again since, aparently we must be able to get along just fine without the ability of computer-guided micro adjustments to a shoe’s cushioning.
Air Jordan XX8
While hardly considered a “deal,” the Air Jordan XX8 can claim one thing that nothing else on this list can: Regardless of its price, it was the best performing hoops shoe of its time.
Nike LeBron 9 Elite
The Elite edition of the LeBron 9 may have been one of the most expensive shoes ever when it released, but it will be most remembered for something far different than its price, or generous allotment of carbon fiber. It was on LeBron’s feet when he won his first championship.
Nike LeBron X Elite
Not every Elite edition of a hoops shoe ended up performing better than the standard edition, but in the case of the LeBron X, it actually did. A symmetrical cut and additional carbon fiber made the shoe both faster and more supportive.
Nike LeBron 11 Elite
While previous Elite editions of LeBrons added carbon fiber, the 11 Elite looked more like a takedown. Its playability fared even worse than the standard edition on court.
What list about expensive basketball shoes could be complete without mentioning the $65,000 Reebok Question? Sure, you could put diamonds on the laces of any shoe and charge five figures, but Reebok actually did it. And you could even really buy them directly from Eastbay.