A Recent History of Memorable Moments in the NBA Playoffs and the Sneakers That Blessed Them

  • Allen Iverson Reebok Answer 4
    Reebok Answer IV PE

    ALLEN IVERSON

    Iverson’s defining moment in the NBA came during Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals. That night saw him score 48 points to defeat the heavily-favored Lakers, a team that hadn’t lost a game in OVER TWO MONTHS. The biggest moment went down in basketball lore when Iverson canned a massive jumper over L.A.’s Tyronn Lue — who had come off the bench to shut him down in crunch time — and then stepped over the defender with disgust. Everyone needed this shoe after seeing this.

    Allen Iverson
    Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images
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  • Air Jordan XIV "Last Shot"

    MICHAEL JORDAN

    What should’ve been his final shot in the NBA — I’m still not over the Washington years — also capped a dynasty. Six championships in eight years, this move and shot again proved there has never been anyone more understanding of the moment. The XIVs MJ was wearing became arguably just as iconic.

    Air Jordan 14

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  • Ray Allen
    Air Jordan XX8 PE

    RAY ALLEN

    Jesus might’ve saved LeBron‘s legacy with this shot, a corner three-pointer to tie a once seemingly impossible Game 6 matchup in 2013. If this shot doesn’t go down, San Antonio wins the title and LeBron would be 1-4 in the NBA Finals right now. Not good.

    Air Jordan XX8 "NBA Finals" Ray Allen
    Jordan Brand
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  • Reggie Miller
    Nike Air Up 94 PE

    REGGIE MILLER

    Eight points in nine seconds, though. Miller was a constant thorn in New York’s side during the 1990s and during Game 1 of the ’95 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the gunner pulled off one of the most miraculous finishes of all time. Miller hit two straight triples to tie the game, and then canned two game-winning free throws to beat the Knicks, all of that coming in literally nine seconds of game time. And he did it in a sneaker known more for Penny Hardaway.

    Nike Air Up 94 PE Reggie Miller

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  • Damian Lillard buzzer-beater Houston
    adidas Crazyquick 2 PE

    DAMIAN LILLARD

    Last season saw Lillard end a first round series between Portland and Houston with a buzzer-beating triple from about three feet beyond the line, cementing his status as one of the game’s most clutch players. Rocking a player exclusive for the Crazyquick 2, Dame showed off some of the characteristics here that would later cause the 3-Stripes to give him his own signature shoe.

    Damian Lillard Game 6 Houston Rockets
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images
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  • Kobe Bryant buzzer-beater
    Nike Zoom Kobe 1 PE

    KOBE BRYANT

    The Suns and Lakers first round series in 2006 was one of the more entertaining ones in recent memory. It had it all: bad blood, physical play, technicals, flagrants, ejections, close games. Phoenix came from behind to win the series, taking the final three games, but not before Kobe put together a sensational end-game performance in Game 4. He hit this buzzer-beater while rocking a PE pair of the ZK1.

    Kobe Bryant, Raja Bell Game 4 playoffs
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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  • LeBron James buzzer-beater Orlando Magic
    Nike Zoom Soldier 3

    LeBRON JAMES

    Cleveland was shocked by Orlando during the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, losing to the Magic after dismembering their first two playoff opponents and ruining our single best chance at a Kobe vs. LeBron NBA Finals matchup. However, all drama would’ve subsided had ‘Bron not canned this amazing fallaway three-pointer to steal Game 2 for the Cavs. While wearing the Zoom Soldier 3, James went for 35 points. It was ironically maybe his weakest game of the series considering he poured in 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game.

    LeBron James Cleveland Orlando
    Elsa/Getty Images
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  • Dwyane Wade 2006 NBA Finals
    Converse Wade 1

    DWYANE WADE

    We can argue all we want over the merits of Wade’s 2006 NBA Finals performance, considering the 97 free throws he shot through the six games. But the facts remain that this might’ve been — statistically — the single greatest individual Finals run in NBA history. And he did it all with Converse, which, for him, came before Li-Ning and the Jordan Brand.

    Dwyane Wade, Devin Harris, 2006 NBA Finals
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
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  • Allen Iverson Reebok Answer 4
  • Ray Allen
  • Reggie Miller
  • Damian Lillard buzzer-beater Houston
  • Kobe Bryant buzzer-beater
  • LeBron James buzzer-beater Orlando Magic
  • Dwyane Wade 2006 NBA Finals

Was it the shoes? Sometimes you can make the case that it was or, at worst, that they at least played a part. Especially in the modern era, NBA players are constantly tweaking their sneakers to allow for better performance. Sometimes it’s injuries. Sometimes it’s circumstance. And sometimes it’s the brands. Nike and adidas both have an extensive history of upgrading and changing player signatures throughout the season, often releasing new, updated models for the NBA Playoffs.

You can find these silhouettes at Champs Sports. However, if the shoes didn’t have any historical implications no one would buy them. The “Last Shot” Jordans? They mattered because of what Michael Jordan did in them. The Answer IV? They mattered because of what Allen Iverson did in them. The Air Jordan XX8? They probably would’ve been forgotten had Ray Allen not made one of the most clutch shots ever in them in 2013.

With the NBA Playoffs starting this weekend, it’s anyone’s game. Golden State might have the probable MVP and the best record in the NBA, but San Antonio destroyed them recently and is looking as good as they ever did last year. Then in the East, ATL has been on cruise control for most of the season and yet the Cavs, with their three stars, look like the scariest team. You just never know. All you do know is that some dope sneakers will be involved, one way or another.

Over the years, there have been some amazing sneakers during the NBA’s most memorable playoff moments. Some of them were just greater than others. Here is a Recent History of Memorable Moments in the NBA Playoffs and the Sneakers That Blessed Them.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney

image via Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images