Custom sneaker endorsements are one of the biggest signs of success for a sports star and are often a sign that you have made it so far that huge companies want to pay you a lot of money to make a shoe designed just for you.
Whilst the initial sneaker deal was Chuck Taylor’s legendary deal with Converse, which created a shoe so iconic it is still worn by millions to this day, it was Michael Jordan who made the sneaker endorsement, and the sheer volume of rare Jordans for sale highlights how well this worked.
However, given that nearly every successful basketball player ever since has tried to follow in MJ’s footsteps, they cannot all be winners. Even His Airness himself did not always have a winning shoe as the likes of the Air Jordan XVI can attest.
Here are some of the most unique, baffling and hideous examples of sneaker drops.
Adidas The Kobe 2
Sometimes called the single worst sneaker of all time, Adidas’ ill-fated partnership with the late Kobe Bryant seemed to produce disaster after disaster for the career LA Laker and the German shoe brand much better known in other sports.
Infamously inspired by the similarly ungainly Audi TT Roadster car, it tried to bring an era of car design that itself hasn’t aged well to the world of footwear, being built from the outside in.
In the end, when the Lakers were making their finals run, he opted for the Kobe 1 instead and bought himself out of his contract to get away from the awful shoes.
Stephan Marbury’s brand tried to do something truly wonderful by providing a high-quality pair of basketball sneakers at an affordable price, especially in 2006 when the market started to skyrocket for Jordans.
In one sense, the Starbury 1s are fantastic shoes given that they cost £10, but unfortunately when the price is that low compromises needed to be made, and the result was cheap detailing, an underdeveloped brand and acres of empty white space.
Dada Sprewell Spinners
The last word in completely baffling custom sneakers, Latrell Sprewell’s signature shoe featured custom spinning rims on the ankle in what can only be described as the most early-2000s design choice ever.
The story of the spinners is even more bizarre. Despite stories that he invented them that were the result of his rather bizarre on-court antics, the shoes were originally made by a company called Davin Wheels, who in 2001 was struggling badly.
They asked Mr Sprewell to promote the shoes and he showed them off on an episode of MTV Cribs. This helped them take off, but Davin Wheels were upset that people called them Sprewell Spinners even though he had nothing to do with their development.
After this partnership ended, he worked with Dada to create the Sprewell Spinners we know and gaze in horror at as a fairly poor shoe with a truly ridiculous spinning rim that rattles and spins whenever you take a step.
Whilst rappers and other celebrities having their own sneaker line is a more common occurrence these days, the 2002 partnership between hip hop artist 50 Cent and Reebok to create a line of shoes surprised everyone at the time.
The problem was that whilst Reebok is a much braver, bolder apparel company now, there is very little ‘custom’ about the G-Unit shoes. They were bulky, heavy and looked way too similar to Reebok Classic shoes everyone already had.
They also had so little to do with Curtis Jackson that if the G-Unit name wasn’t on them you would have no idea they had anything to do with 50 Cent.
One of the worst and most bizarre tie-ins for a performer who had two games with his name on them, one of which was the inexplicable 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.