The 10 Best Nike & Jordan Lowtop Sneakers Releases This Year

  • Air Jordan 11 Low Infrared
    10. Air Jordan XI Low Infrared

    I originally didn’t love these for one reason: the cement printed panel that wrapped around the heel. But I get why Jordan did that–to leave the door open for a future Space Jam Low that will create a Concord-like frenzy. As is usually the case, the sneaker grew on me like crazy when I saw it in person. And honestly, there hasn’t been an Air Jordan Low yet that hasn’t been a stellar summer sneaker. If you missed out on the Concords, you could do a lot worse than these.

    1 of 10
  • Nike KD VI
    9. KD VI “What The KD”

    I’m typically not a fan of “What The” editions, generally a hodgepodge of a bunch of different other sneakers and colorways. Well into my 30s at this point, I just can’t imagine wearing something like that. But the details on Kevin Durant’s shoe generally tell a more extensive story than other signature sneakers, making them feel more personal. As such, the 35 different graphics and colors on the WTKD are all part of a much broader story being told, and the KD VI* is a sneaker that lends itself to bolder colorways anyway. I don’t necessarily have to wear these to respect what they stand for.

    *Though not technically a lowtop sneaker, by dimensions, the KD’s fit the description more than most actual lowtops. As such, I’m counting them.

    2 of 10
  • Nike Zoom Crusader
    8. Nike Zoom Crusader

    For a long time, weekend pickup-game warriors would check Steve Nash’s feet to see what under-the-radar minimalist gem they should snag off the discount rack. (My personal favorite, and I’m firmly on record with this, was the Jet Flight.) Carrying that torch now is James Harden, whose Zoom Crusader has become a staple on the playground. With a hyperfuse and flywire upper, a neoprene bootie for a seamless fit and Zoom Air bags in both the heel and forefoot, the Crusader–which has an outdoor version for asphalt play–is worthy of a player good enough to score 25 points per game. If you want hype, look elsewhere. If you want a low-profile performance monster for summer ball, this is your sneaker.

    3 of 10
  • Nike + R.T. Air Force 1
    7. Nike + R.T. Air Force 1

    The funny part is, when I heard Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci would be helping to orchestrate a series of Air Force 1s, I actually expected something a little crazier than what we got. I mean, the guy designs shirts like this. The relative simplicity of the Air Force 1 RTs was kind of refreshing, as was the fact that your everyday hypebeast wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. To be frank, I didn’t start liking these until I got a kick out of the fact that nobody else seemed to like them. That said, I thought the black ones were pretty clean, and for a designer whose T-shirts sell for $550, the $230 price for the lows was actually relatively affordable for someone who wants a small piece of the high fashion action–without having to wear a leather kilt or something.

    4 of 10
  • Nike HyperRev
    6. Nike Zoom HyperRev

    Kyrie Irving doesn’t technically have a signature sneaker, but the HyperRev basically served that purpose for him this year, and it was a shoe worthy of an All-Star MVP. Though not technically a lowtop, they have a legit point guard feel to them, with full-length Zoom Air and only a lockdown strap above the ankle. Kyrie scored 31 points in the All-Star Game in these PE beauties–God forbid Nike had released them?–but these KI-logo-branded HyperRevs were a fine consolation prize.

    5 of 10
  • Nike LeBron 11 Low
    5. Nike LeBron 11 Low “Independence Day”

    Given his participation with Team USA, there have been a variety of patriotic-themed LeBron James sneakers over the past decade. with the LeBron X “Gold Medal” probably taking the, well, gold medal. But the LeBron 11 has two new patriotic sneakers in the offing, just in time for your Fourth of July barbecues. While the hightop and its fireworks-themed shank plate are eye-catching, I feel like the deep University Red of the 11 low has a certain simplistic charm to it. Every year, a couple of LeBron Lows end up being slept on and coveted as cult favorites. I could absolutely see this being one of them.

    6 of 10
  • Nike KD VI
    4. Nike KD VI “Illusion”

    I loved all the All-Star signature releases, particularly the Gator King LeBrons. But the KD VI should not be slept on. The nickname, cool in itself, refers to Kevin Durant’s unique and diverse skill-set for someone as tall as most centers. The upper has hand-drawn flourishes designed to pay homage to the fluidity of KD’s game, and the glow in the dark outsole supposedly represents its “spark.” As I mentioned earlier, for a sneaker collector who appreciates the story behind his pairs, the Illusions have the same attention to detail and personal meaning that all of Durant’s signature sneakers seem to have. It didn’t hurt that he scored 38 points in these in the All-Star Game.

    7 of 10
  • Air Jordan 11 Low
    3. Air Jordan XI Low "Nightshade"

    I absolutely loved the blue snakeskin Jordan XI Low that released back around Y2K, but I put off getting a pair until they were all gone. All these years later, I didn’t pass on the opportunity to right that wrong. The Nightshade Air Jordan 11 featured a black upper with a green snakeskin mudguard, sitting on top of a translucent blue sole. I wasn’t sure about the color combination at first, then it grew on me quickly when I saw a pair in person. They didn’t quite match the Concords in terms of hype, but that’s not saying much, and I doubt it’ll be another decade and a half before we get a snakeskin pattern on the XI again.

    8 of 10
  • Kobe IX Elite Low “Beethoven”
    2. Kobe IX Elite Low “Beethoven”

    These don’t release until Aug. 16, but they’re already hotly anticipated given that the Elite Low HTM, which also featured flyknit, only released in Milan. According to Nike, the sneaker pays tribute to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony–who knew Kobe was a fan?–with its “timeless” grey color. All I know is they remind me a whole lot of these Flyknit Trainers, a summer staple. The Beethovens will almost certainly follow suit.

    9 of 10
  • Air Jordan XI Low Concord
    1. Air Jordan XI Low Concord

    Any time an XI releases, it’s going to be something of a big deal, especially if it’s an OG colorway. Especially if it’s the Concord. Especially if it was worn by Michael Jordan during the victory parade for the Bulls’ first championship after his return from the baseball diamond. The Concord Lows had never actually seen retail shelves before, which only added to the fervor. The cherry on top–for me, at least–was the amazing picture demonstrating that Concord Lows were Jordan’s sneaker of choice when he plays beer pong. (Who wants to bet he sank that ball?)

    10 of 10
  • Air Jordan 11 Low Infrared
  • Nike KD VI "What The KD"
  • Nike Zoom Crusader
  • Nike + R.T. Air Force 1
  • Nike HyperRev
  • Nike LeBron 11 Low
  • Nike KD VI "Illusion"
  • Air Jordan 11 Low "Nightshade"
  • Kobe IX Elite Low “Beethoven”
  • Air Jordan XI Low Concord

I don’t think there’s any question this has been the year of the Nike lowtop basketball sneaker, and in my estimation, it’s about time.

Lowtops have always seemed to have been somewhat slept on, despite the fact that in most cases they look identical to highs with jeans, and arguably better with shorts on. The same people who went nuts for Taxi Air Jordan XIIs back in the winter turned up their noses at pretty much the same sneaker in a lowtop version just two years prior, and that was at a retail price of $115. (I bought a pair; I kind of wish I’d bought two. It’s the perfect summer sneaker.)

Easily the top lowtop on everyone’s list was the Jordan XI Concord low, which sold around 350,000 pairs the week it released. But if you’re not completely blinded by the patent leather, there have been plenty of worthwhile lowtops this year, including a patriotic LeBron James model coming out this week, as well as the USA-themed Kobe 9 EM low shown above.

With a research assist from sneaker authority DeadstockNYC, here’s one lowtop fan’s list of the best Nike lows I’ve seen this year.

Follow me on Twitter at @SportsAngle

Nike Kobe 9 EM Low
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Nike Kobe 9 EM Low
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