Kobe. LeBron. KD. And of course, Michael Jordan, who made athlete kicks a cultural sensation. Chances are you know all about these stars’ signature sneaker lines. But did you know that Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah had his own shoe, featuring a rooster on the side? Or that young tennis phenom Michael Chang was the man who brought Reebok Pumps to the tennis court? Below are seven athletes you might not know, or perhaps forgot, who had their own signature sneaks.
It isn’t often that a football player gets his own signature shoe, especially before he plays a single down in an NFL game. Keyshawn Johnson, the gregarious wide receiver drafted by the New York Jets in 1996, had the adidas Key Trainer ready to go for him before he got to his first NFL training camp. Twenty years later, the shoe is set to return as a retro.
Yeah, that Damon Jones, the guy who averaged 7.7 points off the bench for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2006. Jones played with a certain someone named LeBron James, who was already huge in China. That same year, Chinese brand Li-Ning signed the Cavaliers shooting guard to a two-year deal, making him the first NBA player to represent the brand. Although Jones was not given an official signature shoe, he became the face of the brand’s Yu Shuai 1 sneaker.
Photo: Freshness Mag
The youngest male player to win a major—he won the 1989 French Open as a 17-year-old—Michael Chang also had one of the flyest signature shoes in sports. Reebok laced Chang up with the Pump Court Victory to bring its Pump technology to the tennis court. Debuting on Chang’s feet in 1990, the Court Victory included a pump made of tennis ball material on the tongue. It was retroed in 2012.
RELATED: How Reebok Got Into the Retro Game
Isiah Thomas was one of the best point guards in NBA history, so maybe the fact that he had his own signature shoe will not surprise you. But we bet you didn’t know it was made by ASICS, a company best known for its running, training and wrestling footwear. The company doesn’t even make basketball shoes anymore. But in 1992, the brand made Thomas’s shoe, the Gel-Spotlyte, which is being re-released this month.
Photo: Sole Collector
You know that many of the biggest names in women’s basketball—from Sheryl Swoopes to Rebecca Lobo to Lisa Leslie—had their own signature shoe at one time or another. But don’t forget Dawn Staley, the former University of Virginia, U.S. Olympic Women’s team and Charlotte Sting point guard. Her sneaker might have had the best technology of all the WNBA signature lines. Three years after signing with Nike in 1996, Staley was given her own shoe, the Nike Air Zoom S5.
Unless you’re really entrenched in the sneaker game or a founding member of the Revis Island fan club, you’ve probably forgotten that two years ago, Nike gave the cornerback his own training shoe. The Nike Zoom Revis debuted in 2012, but it seems largely to have been forgotten, as evidenced by its wide availability at outlet stores.
RELATED: Nike Reveals the Zoom Revis Signature Shoe
Photo: Kicks On Fire
The pony-tail rocking Chicago Bulls rebounding machine may not be a flashy player on the court, but that didn’t stop French brand Le Coq Sportif from signing him to a six-year endorsement deal in 2007. Three years later, Noah received his first signature shoe in both a home and away “Bulls” colorway. Each featured his number 13 on the heel and a rooster (the brand’s logo) on the upper. Noah left the company in 2013 for adidas and sported the Crazyquick during the 2013-2014 NBA season.