It WAS the shoes. Ed Wagner Jr./Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images

Several years ago, big time NBA playoff moments were capped with iconic footwear. In the 1989 playoffs, Michael Jordan hit the infamous shot over Craig Ehlo. Even though his shot gained notoriety, the celebration in his unforgettable Jordan IV’s was just as memorable.

In the 1996 playoffs, the trio of Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen and Jordan turned heads by wearing the Air Shake NDESTRUKT, Nike Air More Uptempo, and Jordan XI in route to a record-breaking season.

Last but not least, how could we forget about Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue in rocking the Answer IV during Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals?

The sneaker moments that basketball and sneaker aficionados clamored for in the 1990s and early 2000s is non-existent, and I hate it. Before the wave of insane colorways and player exclusives (PEs), some shoe companies would release shoes specifically for the NBA playoffs.

While browsing Steellocker Sports and Sole Collector’s IG page, I spotted a throwback playoff picture featuring M.J. in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. The picture not only depicted a great moment in playoff history but in the realm of sneakers as well.

Jordan was rocking the ‘Playoffs’ XIII’, a shoe that was monumental in his last playoff run of his career. Although he didn’t play his last few games in them, they were a part of an iconic sneaker run in the ’98 playoffs.

The picture brought back a nostalgic feeling because it’s something that we don’t see as much. I know it sounds minuscule, but the lack of quality signature shoes for the postseason is problematic. Some will argue that fewer players have their own shoe. While there is some truth to that, most superstars rock their own footwear.

#MJMondays

A post shared by Sole Collector (@solecollector) on

When watching basketball — especially the playoffs, it’s easy to focus on the sneakers as much as the players. The plethora of dope colorways and PEs are cool, but they don’t have the look or feeling of a dope signature shoes that are just for the postseason.

In basketball and in life, sneakers tell a story. We should be able to reminisce about the time Russell Westbrook had a 40-15-10 night in his playoff Jordan XXXI’s, but sadly enough we can’t.

That said, in 2012, LeBron had one of the greatest games in playoff history dropping 45 points, 15 rebounds, and five dimes against the Celtics. Of course, it’s easy to recall the stat line, but what about the shoes?


The LeBron 9’s should have a bigger place in sneaker history, but sadly they do not Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The postseason is a stage where we see the best players and teams fight to win a championship. It was also a time where fans would eye the latest signature footwear. As much as I am a fan of today’s players, it pains me to see the stars wear everything except a signature playoff shoe. The connection between iconic kicks and memorable playoff moments is absent, and to be honest, it’s a damn shame. I absolutely hate it.

This article first appeared on The Sports Fan Journal and was syndicated with permission.

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QUIZ: 1995-96 Chicago Bulls playoffs roster

The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls posted the best-ever NBA regular season record at 72-10 before winning their fourth NBA title, defeating the Seattle Supersonics in six games. Can you name each member of that squad's playoff roster?

Score:
0/12
Time:
5:00
PG
Randy Brown
SF
Jud Buechler
C
James Edwards
PG
Ron Harper
SG
Michael Jordan
PG
Steve Kerr
SF
Toni Kukoc
C
Luc Longley
SF
Scottie Pippen
PF
Dennis Rodman
PF
John Salley
C
Bill Wennington
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