The Nike Air Zoom Flight 96 and Our Favorite Basketball Sneakers From the 1990s

  • Nike Air Zoom Flight 96
    Nike Air Zoom Flight 96

    A sneaker made famous by Jason Kidd and Penny Hardaway, the Nike Air Zoom Flight 96 is easily one of my favorite shoes from the 1990s. Because it didn’t serve as a signature sneaker, and because it’s high moment of fame didn’t even come in the NBA — it happened with Penny during the ’96 Olympics — everyone forgets about this shoe. When it retroed back in 2007, you could find it on clearance and outlet sales racks. Now it’s about to return again, and it needs to be a part of your collection. The Zoom Air technology and the carbon fiber shank plate made this one a standout.

    BUY NOW: Zoom Flight 96

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  • Reebok Question
    Reebok Question

    Perhaps Allen Iverson‘s most famous sneaker ever, the Question might’ve weighed slightly more than the typical basketball sneaker in today’s game, but it more than made up for it by being the most comfortable shoe I ever remember playing in. The Hexalite cushioning and the showy webbing will be dope no matter how old these kicks get.

    BUY NOW: Reebok Question

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  • Nike Zoom Flight 95
    Nike Air Zoom Flight 95

    Designed for guards of all levels — and endorsed by none other than PG God Jason Kidd — these kicks were well ahead of their time. Featuring a new technology in Zoom Air to give the shoe a closer-to-the-ground feel, these sneakers also pushed the envelope in style. It’s one of the few sneakers that looks crazy on the court…and yet is still trendy enough to warrant wears when you’re out chilling.

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  • Reebok Kamikaze
    Reebok Kamikaze II

    One of my first basketball sneakers ever, I can still remember stunting in these during fourth grade. Naturally, when they returned all these years later I had to cop a pair of the black and white colorway. The shoe is comfortable with Hexalite cushioning, and has good ankle support. It’s also lighter than it appears. But above all else it’s the iconic Shawn Kemp zigzags that make this sneaker one of the best of the decade.

    BUY NOW: Reebok Kamikaze

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  • adidas KB8
    adidas KB8

    Kobe Bryant ended up leaving adidas, so now when you see this sneaker it’ll be called the Crazy 8. But either way, this is Bryant’s first great shoe in the NBA, and the one he wore during his second season. With the amazing Feet You Wear technology, making the kicks feel like an extension of your foot, Bryant took a liking to these and wore them during his famed matchup with MJ in his first All-Star Game. The design of this shoe is also what made it standout — it was different and unique, and has to be considered one of Kobe’s three best signature sneakers ever.

    BUY NOW: adidas Crazy 8

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  • Air Jordan 12
    Air Jordan XII

    Tinker Hatfield cooked up a couple of classics during the 1990s, from the V to the XIV. But overall, the XII had to be the top basketball sneaker, considering it was nearly indestructible with that vaunted ribbed leather upper. This was also the first Air Jordan to feature Zoom Air. It was a special shoe only made better by the memories Michael Jordan made in them.

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  • Nike Air Max Uptempo
    Nike Air Max Uptempo 95

    Another sneaker that I wore into the ground in college once it was re-released, the Air Max Uptempo debuted during the mid-90s and was worn by All-Stars like Scottie Pippen — he’ll show up here again shortly — and David Robinson. With the full-length Air bag and the dope branding on the leather upper, the shoe always stood out. While it looked heavy on first glance, it was anything but, and was one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever played in.

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  • Nike Air Pippen II

    When these released again back when I was in college, I didn’t just buy one pair. I bought multiple pairs. Not only were they sitting on shelves because people didn’t properly appreciate them, they were so comfortable that I literally wore them until they fell apart on the court. With Zoom Air cushioning, a tumbled leather upper, and a supporting side strip that gave them a little extra flair, designer Aaron Cooper hooked Scottie Pippen up with these.

    Not as popular or iconic as the Air More Uptempo, another Pippen classic, but I always thought these performed spectacularly.

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  • Nike Air Max2 CB 94
    Nike Air Max2 CB 94

    When the retro of the black and purple colorway returned in 2009, I went crazy. Absolutely crazy. Good thing for me that, despite these sneakers being one of my favorite silhouettes ever, everyone else was too busy buying more hyped-up releases. I got my pair rather easily.

    The only on-court downside to this shoe is a small one: It’s a little heavy, considering it was made for rugged rebounder Charles Barkley. But everything else? Amazing. Air Max unit in the heel. A straightjacket feel in the upper. The inner sock-liner. You seriously had to TRY to screw it up to wear down this shoe. I wore an all-white colorway for five or six games my senior year and my feet never felt better.

    BUY NOW: Nike Air Max2 CB

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  • Air Jordan 11 sneakers in creed
    Air Jordan XI

    It’s too bad people don’t really play in this sneaker anymore. Because of its status in the culture, no one wants to be the one screwing up their Concords or Space Jams in a random pickup game. It’s just not a good look. With that being said, these are still one of the best on-court shoes released during the ’90s. Between the ballistic mesh upper, the carbon fiber, and the patent leather, this sneaker tore up the game in more ways than one. It has literally everything you could possibly want in a basketball sneaker.

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  • Nike Air Zoom Flight 96
  • Reebok Question
  • Nike Zoom Flight 95
  • Reebok Kamikaze
  • adidas KB8
  • Air Jordan 12
  • Nike Air Max Uptempo
  • Nike Air Max2 CB 94
  • Air Jordan 11 sneakers in creed

In the year 2014, we’ve seen a number of incredible basketball sneakers release. The Nike LeBron 12 combined amazing colorways with a smorgasbord of Nike’s best sneaker technology. The Nike KD7 brought top-notch storytelling and a shoe that took the best aspects of Kevin Durant‘s previous few signature sneakers and delivered them in one. Everything else fell in line, from the Nike Hyperdunk to the adidas Crazylight Boost, which got extra props this year for delivering the coolest new aspect in on-court sneakers over the last few years: Boost.

All told, 2014 was a fantastic year to be both a sneakerhead and a basketball player. If you weren’t so obsessed with hoarding every single Air Jordan retro release, guess what? You probably could’ve taken advantage of it.

Growing up, I always had one rule for what was on my feet: At basketball practice, I couldn’t rock the same sneaker two days in a row. Actually, I take that back. I had a second rule: Rock as many 1990s sneakers as possible. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the newer releases; the first two pairs of sneakers I wore on the court as a high school freshman were the Reebok Answer V and the Nike Hyperflight (a personal favorite). It was just that I’ve always loved most of the beloved ’90s models.

With the re-release of an original colorway of the Nike Zoom Flight 96 this week at Champs Sports, we’re ranking some of our favorite basketball kicks from the past generation. Here is The Nike Air Zoom Flight 96 and Our Favorite Basketball Sneakers From the 1990s.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney