From Jordan to Nike to everything else, the Portland Trail Blazers have been a home to some of the most celebrated players in the sneaker world. Here, we take a look at the most iconic kicks in team history.
The deeper you dive into Portland Trail Blazers’ history, the more you realize that shoes — simple as they are — haven’t always been a source of positivity for the organization. For every young, talented, Blazer player to ink a shoe deal, there’s always been somewhat of a painful story to tell.
There’s the little-told story of how Michael Jordan used his homicidally-competitive trash talk to mentally disintegrate Clyde Drexler mentally during their Dream Team run, just months after beating him in the 1992 NBA Finals, potentially changing the course of his entire superstar career:
"“Michael reported gleefully to the Bulls’ coaches that one day Clyde Drexler showed up at practice with two left sneakers. Unwilling to admit his mistake and borrow a shoe from someone else or go back and get another one, he went out and played with a sneaker on the wrong foot. To Michael Jordan, who always looked for psychological weaknesses in his opponents, that was a sure sign of Drexler’s insecurity. He carefully filed it away, to be used some other day if necessary.”"
There’s also the group of conspiracy theorists who suggest that the attention Damian Lillard got after the game-winning shot in Houston in 2014 — commercials, billboards, and, you guessed it, a lucrative shoe deal that approached millions upon millions— created an ambage for LaMarcus Aldridge’s departure in the summer of 2015.
You probably can’t tell the story of the Trail Blazers and shoes without mentioning that, just as you can’t tell the story of sneaker deals in basketball without the state of Oregon. It was here, in these roots, that Nike’s billion-dollar industry was birthed, when University of Oregon track-and-field coach Bill Bowerman founded the company in 1964.
Over the next five decades, Blazers players used shoes to tell their own stories artistically through endorsements and colorways. And for that reason, today, we’ll take a look at ten of the most iconic shoes in Portland Trail Blazers’ history.
As long as the player signed a shoe deal during their time in Portland, they’ll be counted, (so, apologies to hometown-hero Darius Miles, who had personal-edition Air Jordan shoes as a Clipper and Cavalier, Isaiah Rider, who donned legendary Converse kicks for Minnesota in the 1994 Slam Dunk Contest, and as Meyers Leonard, whose colorways in Portland were always a joy to watch, among others).
That being said, let’s lace up, and see what we’ve got.