Reebok Answer IV
Who: Allen Iverson
When: June 6, 2001
What: the Tyronn Lue step-over
Back in 2001, Iverson wasn’t some washed-up former superstar. He was on magazine covers. He was the subject of television stories. He was the leader of a generational revolution. That year, he was everywhere and it’s no wonder the Answer IVs became, by far, the most talked about and revered sneakers among his decade-plus line with Reebok.
The crowning moment of a season of crowning moments came in Game 1 of the Finals when he hit a shot over Tyronn Lue and then literally stepped over him right in front of the Lakers bench. It was typical Iverson: disrespectful, hot-headed, and yet we ate it up. That 48-point game was so good if often overshadows the rest of AI’s storied career.
This is one of the most talked-about shots in the history of the league, and single-handily shaped the Answer 4s legacy.
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Air Jordan 14
Who: Michael Jordan
When: June 14, 1998
What: the Last Shot
It was a perfect ending to the perfect career. Seriously, not even Hollywood could’ve made this finale any more cliché.
In his final game as a Chicago Bull, Jordan broke out the Air Jordan 14s and gave us what should’ve been the capper to maybe the most dominant career in sports. That image of Jordan taking Bryon Russell off the dribble, then pushing off, then unleashing the game-winning jumper has to be the most recognizable shot in basketball history. The original 14s will forever be known as the Last Shots because of that moment.
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You know you’ve watched too much basketball when you can recite–word for word–an announcer’s call from some game that happened 20 years ago. Inevitably, if you are that big of a fan, you start associating everything with that moment. You remember the game, where you were, the refs, pivotal plays, and even the sneakers. Over time, the basketball play becomes something more than that. It’s a piece of history, an iconic part of someone’s childhood.
The first time this happened for me was during the 1996 NBA Finals, watching Chicago beat the Sonics for their fourth title of the decade. I remember Michael Jordan breaking down in the team’s locker room, head in the corner, crying on the floor because he had won a title on Father’s Day in honor of his murdered dad, James. On his feet were the Playoff 11s.
Basketball sneakers matter, and some are launched to legendary status by what a player accomplishes in them. Today, we’re breaking down the most significant fashion and sneaker moments in NBA Finals history.
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