Ranking the NBA’s Greatest Christmas Day Sneakers

  • Air Jordan 16
    15. Air Jordan XVI "Christmas" PE

    2013

    Allen also rocked a pair of Christmas-themed XVIs last year against the Lakers, further establishing himself as the dude on Jordan Brand who consistently rocks the best player exclusives. Jesus wore these on the court without the tree green shroud, but I still say it only adds to the overall layout, considering the “Ray Allen 34” branding, as well as the glossy finish that makes it feel like you’re opening a present. With a speckled midsole and red inner lining, this was definitely a standout.

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  • adidas D Rose 5 Boost

    adidas

    14. adidas D Rose 5 Boost “Bad Dreams”

    2014

    Team allegiance aside, as purely a fan of basketball, it’s good to see Derrick Rose back on the court and doing his thing. When D. Rose and the Chicago Bulls square off against the Los Angeles Lakers this Christmas, the superstar will do so in a “Bad Dreams” version of his latest signature shoe, the adidas D Rose 5 Boost. Now, while the shoe is far from the traditional Christmas-themed look, it takes a more abstract approach to Yuletide that we haven’t seen prior.

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  • 13. Jordan Melo M9 “White Christmas”

    2012

    Sure you’ve got your greens and reds, but another color that truly captures the holiday spirit is white—as in the white featured on the Jordan Melo M9 “White Christmas” in 2012. A pure shoe for a pure shooter, the “White Christmas” had as clean an aesthetic as we’d see in quite some time in the world of hoops kicks. The subtle hits of green and red on the heel loop and the tongue made it clear that it was time to start singing your favorite Christmas carols.

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  • Under Armour Spawn Anatomix

    Under Armour

    12. Under Armour Anatomix Spawn “Grinch”

    2013

    UA’s footprint on the NBA Christmas scene is relatively small, but last year, with the help of its superstar Stephen Curry, the brand upped the ante with the Anatomix “Grinch.” The shoe featured a clear holiday theme with varying shades of green and pops of red on the laces, branding, and outsole.

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  • Nike KD V “Christmas”

    Nike

    11. Nike KD V “Christmas”

    2012

    The year 2012 was arguably the best when it comes to Christmas-edition sneakers. Nike put out an insane offering that belonged on every sneakerhead’s holiday wish list. Among the notable decked-out models was the KD V “Christmas,” which featured a 8-bit design inspired by a video game console that KD received during one childhood Christmas.

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  • Jordan Brand

    10. Jordan CP3.VII “Flight Before Christmas”

    2013

    Appropriately dubbed “Flight Before Christmas,” last year’s CP3.VII holiday kicks were a nod to the crazy amounts of travel that occurs globally during the winter season. It was a welcomed departure (pun intended) from the traditional Christmas Day approach to holiday sneakers. Instead of evergreens and Christmas ornaments, this version of the CP3.VII featured radar imagery taken straight out of a flight control room.

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  • Nike KD7

    Nike

    9. Nike KD7 "Egg Nog"

    2014

    It’s rumored that growing up, Kevin Durant’s favorite childhood drink was egg nog. So Nike took that little bit of seemingly irrelevant information and ran with it. The result? The KD7 “Egg Nog,” which will be worn by its namesake superstar on Christmas Day this holiday season.

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  • Nike Zoom Kobe VII System “Christmas Cheetah”
    8. Nike Zoom Kobe VII System “Christmas Cheetah”

    2011

    Kobe isn’t your average baller, and his Christmas sneakers from 2011 were far from average, too. Nike ditched the traditional green and red color palette and gave the Zoom Kobe VII System a more menacing holiday treatment instead. The shoe featured a fierce purple and lime green color scheme and was capped off with a special leopard skin graphic on the upper. The red laces tied it all together—no pun intended.

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  • Nike LeBron 11 “Christmas”

    Nike

    7. Nike LeBron 11 “Christmas”

    2013

    You’d be hard-pressed to find snow in Los Angeles — where Miami played last Christmas — but during last year’s holiday season Nike brought the chill from South Beach with a special edition LeBron 11 iced out in a mint colorway with Christmas green and red accents. The Swoosh combined a snowflake print with a royal palm and dubbed it kaleidoscope “palmsicle.” The frosty translucent outsole was just the proverbial icing on the cake.

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  • Nike

    6. Nike Kobe 8 System “Christmas”

    2012

    Last year’s Kobe 8 System “Christmas” was good, but the previous year’s edition was even better. Nike kept the snake-inspired design that is so closely associated with the Mamba but gave it a festive twist, with pops of red, yellow, and blue on the scales to represent a Christmas tree garland.

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  • Air Jordan X “Christmas” PE
    5. Air Jordan X “Christmas” PE

    2013

    Somehow, some way, Ray Allen always manages to become the recipient of some of the most exclusive Air Jordan sneakers known to mankind. Last year during Christmas was no different. In 2013, Jumpman blessed the 18-year vet with not one, but two holiday PEs in the AJ X “Christmas” and the AJ XVI “Christmas.” They were both solid shows of the holiday spirit, but the AJ X, with its red upper and green and white accents, was particularly festive.

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  • 4. adidas Crazy 8 “Nightmare Before Christmas”

    2013

    “Nightmare Before Christmas” has been a consistent theme for adidas Christmas sneakers in recent years, however, the special holiday treatment was at its best when featured on last year’s Crazy 8 drop. While the shoe’s all-over royal purple look was pretty fierce on its own, the glow-in-the-dark elements that illuminated your feet when the lights went out truly put this shoe in the nightmarish category.

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  • Nike Kobe 9

    Nike

    3. Nike Kobe 9 "Knit Stocking"

    2014

    If there was ever a basketball shoe that screamed Christmas, it’s got to be this year’s Kobe 9 “Knit Stocking.” Seriously, take a look at the festive red and white-knitted upper, the candy cane-inspiration, and the “Mamba’s Greetings” and tell me you’re not instantly overcome with holiday spirit. I’m even considering swapping out my Packers stocking and hanging these shoes up on the mantle instead.

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  • 2. Nike Zoom Kobe VI “Grinch”

    2010

    There’s a reason why the Nike Zoom Kobe VI “Grinch” was dubbed by many as one of the most memorable Christmas-inspired sneakers of all time. Featuring a bright Volt colorway reminiscent of the notorious holiday-hating Dr. Seuss character, the shoe made it clear that Kobe wouldn’t be messing around when he took on the LeBron James-led Miami Heat on Christmas of 2010. While the Heat eventually went on to win that game, Kobe, clad in his menacing green sneakers, was the real winner.

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  • Nike

    1. Nike LeBron X “Christmas”

    2012

    The fact that the vibrant red that graced the LeBron X “Christmas” was inspired by diamonds and not Yuletide is irrelevant here. The fact of the matter is that the entire Nike Basketball “Christmas Day” collection in 2012 was legit, and the LeBron 10 was the leader of the pack. The sun-washed green on the outsole, laces, and branding offered perfect contrast to the red-hot silhouette, and undeniably gave it that holiday-appropriate look.

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  • Air Jordan 16 "Christmas" PE
  • adidas D Rose 5 Boost
  • Under Armour Spawn Anatomix
  • Nike KD V “Christmas”
  • Nike KD7 "Egg Nog"
  • Nike Zoom Kobe VII System “Christmas Cheetah”
  • Nike LeBron 11 “Christmas”
  • Air Jordan X “Christmas” PE
  • Nike Kobe 9 "Knit Stocking"

Ah, Christmas—a time to gather with loved ones and celebrate all that’s good in the world. And in sneaker terms, a time for footwear brands to show off their holiday spirit with custom, special edition shoes that even ol’ Saint Nicholas would be proud to wear on his 24-hour journey spreading joy across the world. From Nike to adidas to smaller brands like Li-Ning and PEAK, everyone is bringing their A-game on Christmas because they know there is no date more important all year in the NBA.

While Christmas will always be, first and foremost, about gift-giving and the celebration of life, there’s no denying that Christmas-inspired basketball shoes are now just as holiday-appropriate as stocking stuffers. Each year—naughty or nice—we sit patiently waiting to see what holiday magic the Nikes and adidas’ of the world have cooked up for us on December 25. In recent years, we’ve witnessed an array of Christmas-themed basketball shoes grace the hardwood (and retail shelves), some inspired by traditional holiday happenings, and others with a more contemporary approach to the season. While they haven’t all been hits, you have to hand it to the hoops footwear industry for getting into the proper holiday spirit and blessing us consumers with more to look forward to on Christmas than just candy canes or lumps of coal.

In anticipation of the forthcoming holiday season, we took a look back into the archives to see which holiday sneakers have shined the brightest. Join us as we Rank the NBA’s Greatest Christmas Day Sneakers.

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image via Nike