The beginnings of adidas go back almost 100 years. First known as Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik in 1924, adidas earned its official name in 1949 after the brand’s founders, the Dassler brothers, parted ways. Since then, the German sportswear juggernaut began dominating the arenas of running, soccer, tennis and more.
By 1969, more for adidas meant basketball. The release of its acclaimed Superstar shoe gave the brand clout that spread from the NBA hardwood to the asphalt in New York. Aptly named, the Superstar is a fashionable and functional shell toe sneaker that was originally made for getting buckets.
Over the years, adidas basketball shoes have evolved in shape, styling and technology. In the 1970s, leather high-tops supported Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as he hit his hook shots. Soon after in the 1980s, the brand introduced the Forum, favored for its luxury approach and $100 price point. And in the 1990s, the Three Stripes shook up the industry by inking deals with prodigies such as Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O’Neal. The decade that followed positioned McGrady as the face of their basketball brand, backed by the patent leather remake of the Pro Model franchise often worn in AAU and NCAA settings.
As exemplified by adidas’ distinguished talent roster, the brand has long offered performance basketball shoes built for players of various sizes, playing styles and abilities. Historically, adidas has created supportive high-top shoes for the big men that parade the paint as well as below-the-ankle sneakers made for swift perimeter players.
These days, adidas basketball is built upon collaborations with a stable of creative scorers and the label’s responsive technology. The likes of James Harden, Damian Lillard and Trae Young all have adidas signature shoes to call their own, making moves in low-top looks that benefit from Boost and Bounce cushioning. What’s the best adidas shoe for you to play in? Check out our list of the best adidas basketball shoes you can buy, below.
adidas Exhibit A
The adidas Exhibit A is a versatile model made for the player with strength and skill. Worn by Candace Parker during her win at the 2021 WNBA Championship, the low-top basketball shoe employs Lightstrike cushioning in the midsole for comfort and stability. Additionally, NBA stars such as Zach LaVine and Jalen Green have appeared in this model. The Exhibit A also has appeal in the world of rarities, as it’s been reworked by designer Eric Emmanuel and seen too in player-exclusive styles. Aesthetics aside, this performance pair from adidas is a safe bet for the two-player who impacts the game from paint to perimeter.
adidas D.O.N. Issue #3
Donovan Mitchell immediately made an impact in the NBA by winning the Slam Dunk Contest in his rookie season. The jumping Utah Jazz guard is beloved by fans for his uncanny athleticism and humble charm, boasting a balance of flash, fearlessness and leadership reserved for the greats. The adidas D.O.N. Issue #3 plays to all of Mitchell’s strengths. Featuring Lightstrike cushioning, a textile construction that allows players to leap quickly and land softly and elastic gore straps that keep the foot in place, this shoe is ideal for the explosive player that’s always on the attack. Not to mention, it’s available in a a range of eye-catching colorways — including this red and black “Louisville” style that celebrates Mitchell’s pivotal college career as a Cardinal.
adidas Dame 7 EXTPLY
Over the course of his career, Damian Lillard has become revered for his clutch shots and tough play. The adidas Dame 7 EXTPLY is the latest in his long line of signature sneakers, outfitting the Portland Trailblazers point guard with a knit upper built to remain breathable all the way into overtime. A rubber outsole and Lightstrike cushioning allow players of all abilities the access to traction and comfort, while Dame branding calls out one of the best ballers in the world. As an homage to Lillard’s love of music, the shoe is dressed in an array of bold colorways that bridge his basketball excellence with his rap resume.
adidas N3XT L3V3L Futurenatural
No laces, no problem. The adidas N3XT L3V3L Futurenatural is a progressive design that pushes the envelope of basketball footwear. A knit upper is engineered to fit the foot like a sock, backed by Boost cushioning for a loaded look that’s built for takeoff. Since arriving on court, the N3XT L3V3L line has outfitted the likes of Trae Young and Zach LaVine and has also been given the designer treatment courtesy of Eric Emmanuel. This bold basketball shoe is prime for the player unafraid to make a statement.
adidas Harden Vol. 5
Since making the move to adidas, James Harden has seen his career skyrocket. Winning MVP honors in 2018, the walking triple-double now leads the Brooklyn Nets as a title contender. His latest signature sneaker, the adidas Harden Vol. 5, caters to his herky-jerky style of play aimed at creating space. The shoe’s Boost tooling and Lightstrike cushioning assist his ability to change speeds, while an eye-catching textile upper alludes to his eccentric fashion sense. This is the ideal shoe for the high-volume scorer that moves to the beat of their own drum.
adidas Trae Young 1
Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young has made a name for himself in the NBA thanks to his deep three-pointers, lofty floaters and dazzling dribbling. Amidst the 2021 Playoffs, the flashy favorite debuted his first signature sneaker, the adidas Trae Young 1. Boasting a below-ankle build for quick cuts and fast play, the Trae Young 1 is ideal for the guard on the go. A Boost midsole provides energy return with every step, as a lightweight upper uses recycled materials for an eco-friendly feel. The shoe’s unique lacing system and creative colorways channel the youthful energy Young is known for on the court.
Adidas Pro Model 2G
In 1970, the Adidas Pro Model launched as a clean leather look favored by the finest on the NBA hardwood. By 2003, the archival classic was reimagined in a modern patent leather facade engineered for the future of hoops while inspired by the past. Recently, the acclaimed Pro Model 2G has returned for today’s game. Still sporting a shell toe and patent leather shine, the highly-regarded team shoe has been updated with Bounce cushioning to support position changes.
Adidas D Rose 4 Restomod
After arriving in 2013, the Adidas D Rose 4 returns in revived Restomod form. First released when Derrick Rose was running the point for his hometown Chicago Bulls, the performance pair has been upgraded with modern Lightstrike cushioning. A split-style upper and flexible forefoot offer a distinct look and articulated traction, backed by a Geofit collar for enhanced comfort and protection around the ankle. Players looking for a lightweight model that’s higher in cut and stronger in support will gravitate towards this modern take on a retro model.
Adidas T-MAC 2.0 Restomod
Tracy McGrady made a name for himself at the famed Adidas ABCD Camp as a high schooler, quickly rising above the competition to become the top-rated prospect in the country. As a teenager, McGrady was signed by the Three Stripes and has since become one of the brand’s most tenured signature athletes. The Adidas T-MAC 2.0 Restomod is a modern homage to the model McGrady wore with the Orlando Magic, outfitted with Bounce cushioning while still sporting the same distinct look. Pick up this pair if you’re a prolific scorer with a knack for nostalgia.
Adidas Pro Model 2G Low
First dubbed the Superstar 2G at the turn of the millennium, the Adidas Pro Model 2G Low is a below-the-ankle basketball shoe with casual cool flair. Signature stripes and shell toe styling are intact, while Bounce cushioning in the midsole gives these extra edge. Years ago, Gilbert Arenas brought this look to the hardwood as a member of the Washington Wizards. The re-engineered Adidas Pro Model 2G Low is a great wear for the athlete that prefers a clean upper and low-profile look.