Do NBA Players Wear New Shoes Every Game?

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According to the Denver Nuggets’ kit manager, NBA players wear 50 shoes in a regular season of 82 games or change shoes every 1.6 or 2 games. The level of play in the league is high, and basketball shoes quickly wear out if guys are often used. However, shoe replacement varies from player to player.

In a game featuring the Lakers and the Clippers in 2020, King James had a bad start going 2 for 11. A shoe change in the second half improved LeBron’s performance to 4 for 8. The King made important plays in the dying seconds, including a clutch layup from a missed floater. The deuce gave the Lakers the lead and the win.

Back then, the league had a strict uniform code that included the color of basketball shoes. The shoes must be primarily white with the team’s colors. “His Airness” Jordan 1’s was colored black and red; Jordan was fined $5,000 whenever he wore them in a game.

In 2018 the NBA relaxed its shoe rules. You can see rainbow-colored shoes worn by players.

Read on for more information about shoe change in the NBA.

How Often Does an NBA Player Change ShoesHow Often Does an NBA Player Change Shoes?

Aside from multi-million-dollar contracts, NBA players have the luxury of an unlimited supply of new basketball sneakers. Do NBA players wear new shoes every game?

The Nuggets’ kit manager stated that NBA athletes play on about 50 pairs of sneakers in a regular season of 82 games. A player slips into a new pair of shoes every 1.6 or 2 games.

However, changing shoes varies for every player. Some players wear the same shoes until they wear out, while others change their shoes every three to four games. Let’s see what players say. 

Matt Barnes 

Matt Barnes is A former NBA player who last played for the Golden State Warriors. After two to three games the shoes begin to slide and lose control.

Norris Cole

Norris Cole is a six-year veteran and played for three NBA teams: Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Cole likes shoes that hug the feet and wear 50 pairs a season.

Justin Holiday

Justin Holiday playing for the Atlanta Hawks, takes a week to change, usually when the shoes loosen and scrapes the toes.

Isaiah Thomas 

Isaiah Thomas with the Charlotte Hornets plays with the same shoes for three games, up to four at the most. But when the sides tear, he slips into a new pair.

Jarett Jack

Jarett Jack was a former Knicks player and is presently an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns. Jack likes tight-fitting sneakers and slips into fresh ones when the shoe slackens and grazes the feet.

Klay Thompson

Warriors’ Klay Thompson slips into new shoes when worn out, typically about every 12 games.

C. J. Miles

J. Miles last played for the Washington Wizards and liked his shoes to be soft but change when they become brittle.

Rodney Stuckey

Rodney Stuckey is a retired NBA player with the Indiana Pacers and wears his shoes about ten times. Stuckey replaces them when it slackens and becomes springy.

Anderson Varejao

Anderson Varejao was with the Cavaliers until he retired in 2021. Varejao wears his shoes for about 25 games and sometimes repairs them when they’re damaged 

How Different Types of Shoes Affect PerformanceHow Different Types of Shoes Affect Performance?

The design of basketball shoes evolved; new designs offer advantages surpassing the previous generation. Visual design is not essential; what matters are the details, materials, construction, and outline to provide optimum performance and safety when playing on the court.

There are basketball shoes that the NBA bans. The Concept 1 sneaker produced by Athletic Propulsion Lab (APL) increases the vertical jump of the user. The league outlawed the sneaker before the 2010-11 season because they violated the rule of an “unfair competitive advantage.” In 1984 Nike’s Air Jordan 1 was prohibited because the black and red color did not conform with the league’s uniform code. “His Airness” was slapped with a $5,000 fine every time he wore the shoes in a game.

We’ll walk you through the three basketball shoes worn by NBA athletes when playing on the hard court.


High tops are heavy, and they provide maximum ankle protection. Big guys like centers and forwards jump and lands a lot, defend, fight for rebounds put pressure on their ankles. The features of high-tops are suited for players covering these positions.

Collars secure the ankle providing firmness and support. The soft cushion absorbs the impact from landing, and the thick fabric from the padding prevents injury.

However, the weight and the collar restrict movement and impact your ability to react to spurts of speed in fast break plays or going after loose balls.

The Nike Air Jordan 34 consists of light phylon midsole material that makes your shoe feel springier like you’re floating on air. The midsole’s solid support will keep your foot in place and well-protected.


Mid-top shoes are designed to sit right around the ankle and combine the advantages of high-top and low-top sneakers. It protects the ankle but is not enclosed as high-tops, allowing players to pivot quickly and sprint. Mid-tops support all-around players who have speed and an average amount of leaping.

Adidas D Lillard is the best example of a guard shoe. You got a shoe that snugly suits your feet; the traction prevents slips and cushioning to provide spring


Shoes with low tops are an excellent option for basketball players who are quick and agile with their feet, like the point and shooting guards. These guys do lots of running, jostling, and maneuvering.

The shoe design gives you the freedom to a full range of motion. But it gives little protection to the ankle, and players prone to ankle injuries should look elsewhere.

The Under Armour Curry 9 gives traction and a great court feel. Initially, the fit is tight and narrow, but it gradually adapts to your feet eventually.

If you want to find out more details on the difference between low-top or high-top basketball shoes, we have written a comprehensive guide here.

Pros and Cons of Wearing New vs. Old Basketball Shoes Pros and Cons of Wearing New vs. Old Basketball Shoes 

After continuous use, your old sneakers wear out and need replacement. When you play basketball often, the use of new sneakers increases as the old pair breaks down.

However, there are advantages and disadvantages to purchasing brand-new shoes compared to used ones. Let’s take a look.

New Sneakers


  • Players will notice your new shoes. Rotate your Jordan, James, and Curry selections; be sure that your game matches your footwear.
  • No need to worry about your ankle, foot, and heel support; your new pair got it covered.
  • Basketball shoes go through the foot lab; popping a new pair means you’re in step with the latest technology.
  • Your new pair gives good traction. The soles have a good grip on the hardcourt, preventing slips.


  • New sneakers are stiff and can lead to foot aches or sores. The fit will adjust through constant play.
  • Pricey.

Old Sneakers


  • Shoes have a shelf life; you’re fortunate if yours exceeded theirs and you’re still using them.
  • Old sneakers perfectly fit your feet.


  • Performance-wise they deteriorate.

Can NBA Players Wear Whatever Shoes they WantCan NBA Players Wear Whatever Shoes they Want?

In 1984, the NBA cracked down on Jordan’s black and red sneakers for non-conformance with the dress code. Jordan was slapped with S5,000 every time he used the outlawed sneakers, which Nike gladly paid. In 2015, Kyrie Irving was penalized for wearing footwear without his team’s color.

After decades of shoe color restrictions, NBA commissioner Adam Silver relaxed its rule in 2018 and allowed whatever color players want on their sneakers. They can slip into any brand of shoes. Players get a chance to show their fashion chops in a game other than their game-winning plays. And you’ll see colors of neon light green, bright pink, or rainbow colors in the sneakers. Other players wear a pair with two different colors.  

Wrapping Things Up: Do NBA Players Wear New Shoes Every Game?

NBA players run about three miles a game going up and down the court. They wear the best shoes to prevent injury and give their best performance. However, do NBA players wear new shoes every game?

NBA players make many shoe changes, but it’s rare to see players switch to new sneakers every game. Feet protection is a must for these guys; they change sneakers every 3 to 5 games so footwear won’t alter their performance.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

> Why Do NBA Coaches Wear Suits?

> Why Do NBA Referees Have Numbers?

> Why Do NBA Players Tuck in their Jerseys

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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