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Undyed leather is naturally brownish. Some time in the past, most shoes were largely tan or brown because the were usually made of leather. As sports shoes become more and more popular, designers start producing shoes that look and feel different. The more modern shoes are designed to withstand a beating on the court. They also have to match team uniforms.
Brown basketball shoes are not common as there are no teams in the NBA that have brown as one of their team colors. The released colorways usually correspond to the most common team colors, which explains why there are a lot of whites, blues, reds, and blacks.
Adidas Crazy 1 ‘Vino’. Before the success of Kobe Bryant's low-top basketball sneakers with Nike, the Black Mamba did a short stint with the Three Stripes right after being drafted into the NBA. The Adidas Crazy 1 used to be called ‘The Kobe.’ It was the second-to-the-last signature shoe released by the German company before Bryant called it quits and transferred to Nike. The shoe features a spaceboot-like aesthetic. In 2016, or sixteen years after the Crazy 1's debut, Adidas released a sneaker collection called the ‘Kobe Vino Pack’ to pay homage to Bryant's retirement. The collection showcased Bryant's past signature shoes with them such as the Adidas Crazy 1, the Adidas Crazy 97, the Adidas Crazy 8, and the Adidas Top Ten 2000. Riding on Bryant's Italian roots, the colorways had a mix of cork, burgundy, black, and gold hits.
Adidas Crazy 8 ‘Leather/Bone/Espresso’. The Crazy 8 is still worn by NBA stars even if two decades have passed since its debut. It used to be called the ‘KB8,’ and was the first basketball sneaker created with Kobe Bryant in mind. The Kobe shoe before it was actually a ready-made silhouette for the ‘Feet You Wear’ campaign. Although visually eccentric, many swear by the shoe’s odd shape because it supports the anatomy of the foot and assists natural movement during play. The shoe was and still is a huge success. Adidas continues to release the Crazy 8 in different colorways, one of which is the leather/bone/espresso colorway that comes in shades of brown.
Adidas D Lillard 1 ‘Forestry’. Portland Trail Blazer’s point guard Damian Lillard honors his team’s city with the forestry-themed colorway of the first D Lillard signature shoes. Portland City is now known for its hip young crowd, quaint sights, and food trucks. Many years ago, the Rip City was known for its lush and healthy forest ecosystem. The colorway pays homage to this. It sports a tumbled leather brown upper that gives it a work boot appearance. The inner sleeve and tongue is dressed in a plaid-patterned neoprene fabric that is reminiscent of the warm and easy-to-wash flannels that lumberjacks used to wear. The shoe’s metallic D-ring eyelets sports a nice touch of gold.
Adidas ADAN ‘Wheat’. ADAN stands for All Day All Night, which is basically how long the shoe is to be worn. Although the suede-bound silhouette is really made for hardcore streetball; the shoe is one of the first ones to ride on the idea of making basketball sneakers look like they were meant for casual wear. The shoe is said to be one of the best performing streetball shoes released in the 2000s. Its clean wheat-colored upper is enclosed by an external zipper and an internal lace-up system.
Adidas J Wall 1 ‘Black History Month’. In 2015, four signature sneakers were released in a special colorway pack that was dedicated to retired six-time NBA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The pack included the Adidas Crazy 8, Adidas J Wall 1, Adidas D Rose 5 Boost, and the D Lillard 1. Each shoe highlighted different phases of the Abdul-Jabbar’s life. The special J Wall 1 shoe focuses on Kareem’s four year stint at UCLA from 1965 to 1969. The upper is made of brown synthetic leather that is covered in different quotes such as “Rules are What Make the Game Challenging”, “Fundamentals are the Foundation for Excellence”, “The Hook Shot is Worth a Thousand Words”, and “When the Music Changes, so Does the Dance.”
Air Jordan 1 Retro Pinnacle ‘Baroque Brown’. Thirty years after the debut of the Air Jordan 1, MJ’s first signature shoe with Nike, Jordan brand releases a special collection called the ‘Pinnacle Pack.’ The collection features shoes that sport different colorways. Each is also dressed in premium materials such as crocodile leather. Some even had 14k gold-plated Air Jordan logos and eyelets. The “Baroque Brown” colorway of the retroed Air Jordan 1 has textured high-quality croc leather overlays on the ankle collar and the Nike Swoosh. The entire shoe upper is covered in supple chocolate-brown leather.
Air Jordan 3 ‘Brown Gum’. In honor of Grammy nominated singer Anthony Hamilton, Air Jordan releases a special colorway called the ‘Brown Gum.’ This version of the third Air Jordans have white midsoles that are paired with elegant-looking gum outsoles. The shoe can be worn outdoors as the rubber compound that the outsole is made of is hard and doesn’t burn easily.
Air Jordan 4 Retro ‘Premium Ginger’. The fourth signature Michael Jordan basketball shoes were made popular by Spike Lee’s movie ‘Do the Right Thing.’ In it, one of the characters gets his Air Jordan 4’s stepped on, which basically is a sneakerhead’s nightmare. Along with the film feature, the shoe was what MJ wore as he made one of his greatest game-winning clutch shots against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 1989 Eastern Conference NBA Finals. In 2016, Jordan launched a collection that featured Air Jordans in premium and luxurious colorways. One of the shoes released was the Air Jordan 4 Retro ‘Premium Ginger.’ These brown basketball shoes are outfitted with fine wheat-colored leather. The look is completed with a gum sole bottom. These brown leather basketball shoes retailed for $400.
Air Jordan 5 Retro ‘Wheat’. Inspired by World War II Mustang Fighter Jets, the Air Jordan 5 is now rarely used for playing basketball. Years after its release, the iconic sneaker transitioned into casual wear and is sometimes considered a collector’s item. Although the shoe’s silhouette is similar to the previous AJ 4, the fifth Air Jordan is the first one in the series to sport a translucent outsole and an asymmetrical ankle collar. The shoe is re-released in a ginger suede colorway. It has a transparent lace lock and hits of icy blue colors in the clear outsole.
Air Jordan 6 ‘Golden Harvest’. Although he had already achieved so much after six seasons in the NBA, MJ had yet to win an NBA championship title. 1991 proved to be a good year for the Chicago Bulls; they finally defeated the unmountable Detroit Pistons to become the Eastern Conference champions. In the NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t hold a candle to the Bull’s impending dynasty as they only won one game out of five, giving the Chicago Bulls their first ever Larry O’Brien trophy. All throughout the season, Michael was wearing the Air Jordan 6. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the silhouette was inspired by the GOAT’s Porsche 911. MJ was said to have two requests for this model. One was to make ‘cleaner’ the construction of the toe box, and the other was to add a feature that could help him easily put on the shoe. The second request resulted in a molded pull tab on the heel and two holes in the tongue.
Air Jordan 11 ‘Chocolate Gum’. The design of the Air Jordan 11 is quite strange. The silhouette, as per Tinker Hatfield, drew inspiration from a lawn mower. In an interview, the footwear designer said, "I finally came across this higher quality patent leather that actually was not only shiny, but was also tough, scratch resistant and it would flex without cracking. It reminded me of that lawn mower, how the bottom edge of that lawn mower was really tough and designed to work in the conditions of mowing the lawn. I located [the patent leather] around the whole bottom third of the shoe for all those same reasons." Two decades after its release, Jordan still continues to launch the shoe in different colorways, one of which is the chocolate-colored version that boasts a synthetic and patent leather upper with a gum outsole. This rendition is aptly called ‘Chocolate Gum.’
Air Jordan 12 ‘Vachetta Tan’. Michael Jordan was exhibiting flu-like symptoms and a 103-degree fever back in 1997. It was game 5 of the NBA Championship Finals and the Chicago Bulls were up against Utah Jazz in a 2-2 tie. Through sheer will and desperation, the exhausted Michael Jordan scored 38 points for his team, "I almost played myself into passing out just to win a basketball game." The Bulls eventually toppled Utah’s 77-69 lead, and the game 5 was theirs. MJ was wearing the Air Jordan 12, and the original black and red “Flu Game” version was later sold for $100,000 in an auction. Years later, the shoe is released in vachetta tan suede with hits of gold. They are special edition brown basketball shoes for the ladies.
Air Jordan 22 ‘Basketball Leather’. Four years after the greatest basketball player of all time left the NBA court, Air Jordan continued to spread the legacy of Michael Jordan through the release of yet another wave of his renowned Air Jordans. The 22nd Air Jordanswere designed by the legendary D’wayne Edwards, who also created the Air Jordan 21. According to him, the 22’s design elements were inspired by one of the deadliest airborne weapons of the military, the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. This model is said to have one of the best ankle lockdown among all Air Jordan shoes. It features an interchangeable I.P.S. suspension system in the midsole and a titanium midfoot shank. For Michael’s 44th birthday, the Air Jordan 22 is released in a special colorway that uses premium pebbled leather that looks like the skin of an actual basketball.
Nike Air Force 1 High 'Baroque Brown'. Designed by Bruce Kilgore, the Air Force 1 originally drew inspiration from Nike hiking boots. The shoe was one of the first Nike basketball shoes that had an Air unit at the heel. Its popularity blew when Nike recruited six NBA players called ‘The Original Six’ to endorse the shoe. These Nike shoes were released in 1982 and ran for about two years. When the model was discontinued, many young people incessantly asked for Air Force 1s that local shoe shop owners approached Nike personally to rerelease the shoe. The subsequent re-stocking of the shoe ushered in the now common practice of retroing classics. The shoe now has low, mid, and high versions. It has also been released in more than 2,000 colorways. In 2014, a colorway called ‘Baroque Brown’ graced the sneaker community. It has a brown leather upper and solid gum outsole, giving this version of the Air Force 1 a working boot look.
Nike Air Max Huarache 2k4 'Premium Brown'. This was the first Nike shoe that Kobe Bryant wore after he signed with the Swoosh. Rumour has it that Nike gave Kobe the Huarache 2k4 instead of a namesake signature model since the player was by then still plagued by an alleged sexual assault case that year. It was a win-win decision really because the Huarache 2k4 was designed by no less than Eric Avar. It was lightweight, well-cushioned with Zoom Air units, and boasted a secure ankle containment via the velcro strap. The Huarache 2k4 was a court favorite, and it was also worn by Manu Ginobili, Paul Pierce, and other NBA players. After being in the market for more than a decade, the 2k4 was released in a ‘Premium Brown’ colorway. This version sports a brown suede upper that screams solid performance with a dash of luxury.
Nike Air More Uptempo 'Wheat Flax'. Popularly associated with swingman Scottie Pippen, the Air More Uptempo rose to popularity when Scottie wore it during the 1996 NBA Finals against the Seattle Supersonics and again in Team USA’s Olympic basketball games. Pippen’s team won both competitions. He was subsequently named the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. The Nike Air More Uptempo, for its part, didn’t really need any help building up the hype. This loudly branded shoe attracted so much attention because of the huge “AIR” stitched onto the side panels. The shoe was designed by Wilson Smith and was inspired by wall graffiti and pop art. In Fall 2014, the Air More Uptempo is re-released as brown basketball shoes that have nubuck uppers. Reminiscent of Timberland shoes, the rendition was called ‘Wheat Flax.’
Nike KD VII NSW Lifestyle 'Hazelnut Mango'. Released under Nike Sportswear (NSW), the KD 7 Hazelnut Mango is the second lifestyle shoe in Kevin Durant's illustrious signature shoe lines. The colorway is inspired by the Native American Indians who lived in Oklahoma. The hazelnut suede upper and the Flywire-esque straps resemble the look of a moccasin. The pull tab at the back has elements that reference the turquoise and coral jewelry of the Native Americans. Inside the shoe is a bright mango colored leather that provides an interesting pop of color.
Nike LeBron X EXT 'Hazelnut'. The Nike LeBron 10 EXT is an ‘extension’ of the on-court LeBron 10 shoe and is made solely for casual wear. Although the same technology is found on the EXT version, the shoe looks less flashy without the colorful panelling. It gets its premium look from the high-quality suede used in the upper. The hazelnut upper is balanced out by the hits of bright tidal blue on the tongue, laces, and the Swoosh. These brown basketball shoes from Nike still come with a full-length Zoom Air unit in the midsole.
Nike LeBron Soldier XI 'Wheat Gold'. The shoes in LeBron’s Soldier line are lighter and less bulky than those that are from LeBron signature mainline. The Soldier 11’s silhouette is similar to that of the Soldier 10; it just adds an extra midfoot strap. This slight tweak improved the lockdown and flexibility of the shoe. The LeBron Soldier XI witnessed how LBJ carried the Cleveland Cavaliers from a 3-1 losing streak against the Golden State Warriors to a 3-4 victory in the 2016 NBA Finals. A year later, the Soldier 11 is released as brown basketball shoes. This version is aptly called ‘Wheat Gold’.
Reebok Kamikaze 2 Mid 'Wheat'. The Kamikaze 2 is the second release from Seattle Supersonics power forward Shawn Kemp’s shoe line. It became popular because of its wavy lines and aggressive design. These Reebok basketball shoes are great for outdoor use due to its sturdy build and thick solid rubber outsole. Its midsole boasts the Hexalite technology in the heel and forefoot, and it is topped off with an Ortholite insole that ensures comfort and responsiveness. Kemp wore this shoe when he played for the Western Conference team in the 1996 NBA All-Star Game. Later that year, he also wore it in the NBA Finals where the Seattle Supersonics got beat by the Chicago Bulls in a 4-2 series. Around 2016, the Reebok Kamikaze 2 resurfaces in a wheat colorway. The shoe features earthy dark brown and wheat on the upper. Its midsole sports white and orange.
Reebok Pump Omni Lite ‘Brown/Purple. Although the Reebok Pump had already existed for two years, the brand’s technology took off as Boston Celtics’ point guard Dee Brown pumped his Reebok shoes right before he took his first dunk in the 1991 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Winning the competition that year cemented the shoe in the public’s mind. Although the original Reebok Pump Omni Lite sported a clean vintage look, several retroes such as the brown/purple rendition have taken the shoe to other heights. The dull brown color is given a new life when it is paired with purple and bright red details. The cement midsole keeps everything well-balanced.
Brown: What Does It Stand for?
‘Brown’ came from the Old English word ‘brūn,’ which means ‘dark’ or ‘dusky,’ that later evolved to “broun.” This Old English word is also the origin of the now popular word ‘brunette.’
Considered to be one of the oldest natural occurring pigments and one of the most common colors on earth, the color brown has been around since the beginning. From the color of the soil, wood, skin, and hair, brown is fairly present in the natural world.
Umber and ochre, both shades of brown, were the dominant hues in the prehistoric cave paintings discovered by archeologists in Spain and France. Umber comes from the combination of iron oxide and manganese oxide. Ochre is a mixture of ferric oxide, clay, and sand.
An interesting story is that during the 16th and 17th century, painters used a type of rich brown pigment called mummy brown. It was made from myrrh, pitch and powdered Egyptian mummies. The tint’s instability as a pigment and the dwindling mummy population ceased the use of mummy brown, today pigment-makers have found other minerals and synthetics to create the brown shade.
Since brown is fairly common in nature such as the soil, untreated fabrics, and other materials; the color used to be associated with simplicity, poverty, and humility. During the medieval ages, peasants wore simple brown tunics since the dyed fabrics were much more expensive and were reserved for the nobility. Franciscan monks wear brown religious habits to signify that they are in the service of the destitute.
In today’s world, brown has gained a more positive meaning with the boom of environmentalism. The color is associated with natural organic products. It is very effective when used in the product’s packaging. Unlike in the past, brown is now seen as elegant. People who look tan are assumed to have gone on a vacation. Basketball shoes, when released in a brown colorway, look sophisticated and premium. In fact, brown basketball shoes are usually part of limited or premium packs as the color, as said, is uncommon among sports kicks.