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Struggles of an Athlete

  • Hayk Gyokchyan

Struggles of Picking Basketball Shoes

Basketball shoes are sacred to every professional player. Picking the right shoe is critical to the way each player feels and adds a certain swagger to his game and mentality. There’s a reason only the few best players in the world have their own signature shoe because of the impact it has around the world. Shoes are the first thing people notice in a basketball player. Basketball shoes have evolved dramatically throughout the years. Technology has allowed possible making different styles and models and shapes and colors to suit the demand of ballers all over the world. Not every player can wear any shoe. There are certain specifications that each professional athlete needs in a shoe in order to perform at their peak. Selecting my shoes is one of the critical struggles I go through as I get ready for the season.


I was about 10 years old the last time I wore a basketball shoe that was NOT Nike. At that time Kobe Bryant was still with Adidas. Once he switched to Nike, so did I, aspiring that playing in the same shoes would make me play like him (made sense as a kid). Most athletes tend to stick to a brand they like best, and even to a specific model of that brand.


My shoe size is US 13, so availability hasn’t been too big of an issue. I know some players with size 16 and above who always have a hard time finding shoes because companies do not make shoes that large for every model. My foot skin is sensitive and I get blisters all the time especially in my upper heel right below my Achilles tendon. A small mistake in the fit of the shoe would drastically impact the way I could run and jump.


I wear medical orthotics in any shoe I wear when I play; therefore, I must be allowed to remove the pre-installed insoles and comfortably insert mine in the shoe without changing the fit. Some shoes such as Kobe 9 and Kobe 11 had very large insoles that taking them out would leave no cushioning, and inserting mine on top would make my heel come out.


Once the above-mentioned criteria have been met, I select the shoe that looks the best. I generally pick a color format similar to my team color (but not always). Exceptions are made if there is a really funky shoe that matches my crazy personality.

Michael Jordan has had the largest impact in the shoe game. He was the first who started adding swagger to his shoe game, paving the way for athletes in our times. He would get fined by the NBA (which Nike paid) when he first started wearing his own shoes for violating the league dress code. I have always admired Jordan shoes and have dreamt to play in them all the time. However, most Jordan shoes are not comfortable to play in at all. They are either too heavy, or too rough. I would never be able to move quite as well in Jordan shoes as I do in a lighter shoe. Jordan shoes would always give me blisters all over my foot because of their rigidness. But man are they great to look at, which is why I still wear them casually but never as a performance basketball shoe. Enter Jordan 13. One of my teammates had this pair and he was my size and for some reason I asked him to try them on. Once I did, they were very comfortable and unlike any other Jordans I had worn. That same week I found myself in a Nike store and coincidentally they were selling that same shoe. I immediately had to buy them and have been wearing them comfortably ever since.

My favorite shoe is the Kobe. There’s just something heavenly about the way my foot feels when I insert it into the shoe. It feels perfect, it’s lightweight, and it looks amazing. Every year I go through at least a couple pairs. I have been wearing Kobes for 10 years now, with the exception of the two years they decided to change the format of the insole and I could not insert my orthotics in them. During the season, I generally use 3 pairs of shoes. 1 for home games, 1 for away games, and 1 or practice. The game shoes usually last the whole season. Practice shoes sometimes get worn out. In that case I either wear the game shoes to practice or, if I am feeling generous, I would buy a new pair of game shoes and use the old one for practice. For this season, I bought white and gold KOBE A.D. low shoes for home games, grey and yellow KOBE A.D. mid shoes for away games, and I got my Jordan 13s and last year’s blue KOBE A.D. shoes that I wore to games for practice. May the shoes make me shoot like Kobe and fly like Mike.

Jordan 13s

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