Who would you choose if asked to select either Joe Smith or Kevin Garnett? Yeah, we’d pick KG too; but in 1995 the Golden State Warriors selected Joe Smith out of Maryland with the first pick of the draft. Selecting the sophomore Terrapin seemed like a great idea at the time. While at Maryland Smith averaged an impressive 20/10 double-double (points and rebounds) and had great physical tools, but his talent ceiling ended up being quite low (averaged 10 ppg and 7 rpg for his career). Overall, Smith’s career was that of a journeyman while his skills kept him in the league over fifteen years.
Yesterday we remembered Allen Iverson’s draft selection and on our Instagram page (click here) we highlighted LeBron James’s drafting. Today in Sneaker History we’re taking a different angle; we’ll take a look back at some of the best shoes worn by three players that should have been drafted before Joe Smith. Yes, there are more than three players that ended up being better than Smith but we factored in shoe notoriety (Rasheed remains absent because we covered him already, read that story here).
3. Jerry Stackhouse
Stack got buckets throughout his fifteen career to the tune of 17 ppg. Being the 3rd overall pick comes with expectations and Jerry delivered by making 1st Team All-Rookie. His best season came with the Detroit Pistons in 2001 where he averaged over 29 ppg. The UNC product ended up making two All-Star teams in ’00 and ’01; and at the hight of his popularity Fila rewarded Stackhouse with two solid signature shoes (and some not good shoes), the Stackhouse 1 & 2. As his career faded Stack wore general release Adidas and Nikes while still pulling out his OG signatures from time-to-time.
Fila Stackhouse 1
2. Michael Finley
Michael Finley will forever be under appreciated, but don’t that Fin ran the show in Dallas for years until Dirk and Steve Nash arrived (he continued to be extremely productive in the Maverick’s ‘Big 3’). Much like his draft classmate Jerry Stackhouse, Michael made two All-Star teams in ’00 and ’01, and their career averages are eerily similar (16 ppg). Late into his career a championship was added with the Spurs to Finley’s numerous accolades. A signature shoe never graced the feet of Michael Finley but he laced up with some of the best retro Jordan PEs alongside Ray Allen and Jason Kidd throughout the 2000s.
Air Jordan XVI PE
Air Jordan 16 PE w/shroud
1. Kevin Garnett
With a nickname like The Big Ticket you better be good, really good… Garnett exceeded expectations and became a legend. Accomplishments include: 2004 league MVP, 2008 NBA Champion, x15 All-Star and x12 All-Defensive teams (1st & 2nd teams combined). At the time, teams were hesitant to draft players straight out of high school so Kevin ‘slid’ into 5th place of the ’95 Draft; now-a-days there’s no way a player that young and promising goes after second overall. The career averages don’t jump off of the page (because he played 20 years and killed his averages the last six seasons) so don’t be fooled by his 18 ppg & 10 rpg. In his prime, KG could guard all five positions and score on anyone. Garnett revolutionized the way power forwards play basketball; post-KG teams thirst for strong, 7-footers, that can move like gazelles. The last thing an opponent wanted was to caught in the wrong spot against Garnett because he’d destroy them verbally and physically…
A fitting question to ask is, “what shoe company didn’t Garnett wear his playing days?” KG displayed his love for Jordans in the early years (watch his show on TNT, he still loves them) by wearing models like theAir Jordan XI, Jumpan Pro and Jordan Team 1; Jordan Brand started in 1997 under the Nike banner. The Swoosh first blessed Kevin with the Air Garnett in ’99, then the Flightposite II KG (basically a Flightposite with more aggressive lines and ankle node). The Garnett line via Nike ended in 2001 with the strikingly beautiful Garnett III. Sneaker free agency didn’t last long as Kevin quickly joined And1 and released a string of signature shoes through 2004. From 2004-2010 Adidas got on the KG train and used him, Tim Duncan and Tracey McGrady to continue the brand’s resurgence within the basketball realm. In 2004 Adidas had a website for their 3 biggest stars where you could go and ‘lounge’ with KG and listen to chill music (along with links to buy his on and off the court kicks). For the remainder of his career Anta would outfit The Big Ticket with a signature line that never quite took off in the US – shocker. The sheer number of shoes bearing Garnett’s name is astonishing.Nike Flightposite II KG
Adidas TS Commander KG