Mismatched Basketball Shoes – Full Guide

Mismatched Basketball Shoes

Mismatched basketball shoes often end up being the talk of the town when players wear them on NBA courts.

We don’t really see people outside the court wearing mismatched shoes. But when we do, it usually means something. 

In this article, we will be exploring what it means to wear mismatched basketball shoes and why some popular players wear them on the court.

After that, we will also attempt to convince you to join in on this trend by giving you some examples of the best mismatched basketball shoes.

What Does It Mean To Be "Mismatched"?

Mismatched basketball shoes can be “mismatched” in many different ways.

1. Colors

If you have read our previous article about the story of Nike’s Air Jordan, then you probably know about the banned Jordan.

NBA used to have very strict rules about the color of shoes that players can wear on court. Air Jordan 1 was banned because it contained 3 colors—black, red, and white. 

But at the time, NBA allowed only  2 colors.

However, NBA has now lifted this ruling, and that’s why you start seeing more and more basketball players wearing different shoe colors on each foot.

2. Brands

Wearing two different brands may get NBA players into trouble because most of them would have signed a shoe deal with a specific company.
That’s why you never see any basketball players wearing Nike on one foot and Adidas on the other.
But who’s to say that you can’t mix up the brands? 
Of course, there is one concern we have about doing this: Does each of the shoe provide you equal amount of comfort and traction when you play? 
Safety and feet health are very important to us, so if you do plan on mismatching your shoe brands, make sure to test both out with some warm-up exercises before jumping into a game.

3. Patterns

Mismatching doesn’t always have to be loud. It can be very subtle.
Let’s talk about mismatching shoes outside of sports too.
Actress Naomie Harris embraced her individuality and decided to walk down the 89th Academy Awards in a subtle but fashionable mismatching choice.

The mismatched beaded straps at the ankle and the toe box makes this pair of yellow heels look more unique and instantly gives an outfit more oomph.

None of it feels mismatched at all—but it is mismatched!

What Are Mismatched Basketball Shoes?

This is straightforward enough. 

Now that we know what mismatched means, we can dive right into telling you about what mismatched basketball shoes are.

We’ll be telling you some stories that you may or may not have heard before. 

In the previous segment, we mentioned that there used to be some NBA rules about the shoe colors that players can wear on the court.

Nowadays, the rules no longer apply, so you get to see superstars like LeBron switching things up and catching the tabloids’ attention with their mismatched shoes.

So if the NBA players with strict shoe deal regulations can do it, why can’t you?

Why Do Some Players Wear Mismatched Basketball Shoes?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had a messy morning before. Somehow, your alarm decided not to go off at the time it should, or maybe your phone died, and you woke up 10 minutes before your work is supposed to start. 

At the bus stop, you look down at your shoes and realize you’re wearing mismatched shoes or socks!

Embarrassed, you have to head home to change it or call your loved ones to bring the right shoe to your workplace.

Mistakes like this happens to the lot of us.

But these NBA players are not like us, right? So why do they wear mismatched shoes for the world to see?

Turns out, most of them wear mismatched shoes to catch the media’s attention, in order to spread a message, or to simply promote their shoes.

Now let’s start with these stories one at a time.

1. LeBron James – “Equality”

In 2017, LeBron caused a stir in the media by wearing a pair of black and white shoes with the word Equality in golden engravings.

Later we find out that these are the LeBron 15 Equality PEs (meaning player exclusives).

Nike had a limited release of the Equality series, in collaboration with LeBron, to start a conversation about racial and gender equality.

"Equality is all about understanding our rights, understanding what we stand for and how powerful we are as men, as women, black or white, or Hispanic. It don’t matter your race, whatever the case may be. This is a beautiful country."

This was a very meaningful and powerful use of the mismatched basketball shoes. King LeBron was able to capture the media’s attention and made a strong statement with it.

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2. Kyrie Irving – “Confetti”

We don’t quite know whether or not it is correct to call this pair “mismatched.”

Kyrie wore the Kyrie 4 Confetti series just 2 nights before LeBron wore his Equality shoes in 2017.

Other than its unique looks, there is also a motivational story behind the design of these bright and colorful shoes. 

When the Celtics lost in the previous season, confetti fell all over the place. The blue, white, and yellow pods at the outsole of the shoes resembled the confetti that Irving stepped on after his team lost the match.

Confetti soles

Image: Nike

This was the start of something new and signified the turning point for him to build a new legacy for himself in Boston.

The “Confetti” series was a strong symbol of Irving’s “win-or-learn” mentality, which we think is incredibly motivational.

3. UAB Blazers – Pediatric Childhood Cancer

Back in 2015, the entire UAB Blazers team wore mismatched shoes to raise awareness for pediatric childhood cancer

Two years prior to this campaign, the team “adopted” a young cancer patient named Elijah Seritt. Ever since then, the team has been incredibly encouraged by Elijah.

In order to raise awareness and raise money for childhood cancer patients, the team decided to wear one green sneaker and one white sneaker.

As the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

This move successfully garnered the Blazers fans’ attention, and they were able to raise some money for the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer.

Is This Trend Making A Comeback?

Before we talk about the present, let’s dive all the way back into the past.

The history of mismatched shoes is long. We can’t trace exactly when it first started, but one brand’s vision was way ahead of its time. 

Ever since 1988, Spanish footwear brand Camper has decided to challenge the status quo that shoes should be identical on each foot. 

Their Twins line include colorful sandals and leather sneakers which are mismatched and meant to be worn just like that.


Speaking of casual walking shoes, we previously wrote about good Skechers walking shoes, which we think you can now utilize as a guide to mismatching.

There is also a truly American story which we thought would be worth sharing.

In 1912, a Native American from Oklahoma named Jim Thorpe represented the USA in the Olympics.

Unfortunately, right before his competition, his shoes were stolen. In a rush, he looked through the trash and found a pair of mismatched shoes. 

Named “the World’s Greatest Athlete,” Jim Thorpe’s story left a legacy on the athletic world by proving his strength and determination.

While mismatched shoes used to be seen as a “mistake,” nowadays, they are not viewed that way anymore.

Celebrities like Paris Hilton also made headlines earlier this year for deliberately wearing mismatched shoes on Jimmy Fallon.

Alessandro Michele put mismatched shoes onto the Gucci runway with their Resort 2023 collection with a black-and-white nonmatching shoes.

So is this trend making a comeback? We would say, yes, definitely. 

Not only can you buy 2 sets of the same line of shoes; nowadays you can even buy mismatched shoes which are meant to be worn just like that.

As far as we know, mismatched shoes never fully took off as a viral trend. But here and there, you’ll notice that celebrities have ruffled some feathers with the media for wearing mismatched shoes.

Who knows? You could be the next TikTok star who ends up kick-starting a whole new viral trend by wearing mismatched shoes.

What Are the Best Mismatched Basketball Shoes?

#1 – Nike Lebron 18 Low



What more can we say? This pair of shoes is made for the brave and the bold.

With their bright and colorful patterns visible even from afar, you can mix and match them however you want.

Yes, people will stare, but for a good reason.

Our score: 10/10


Having plush cushioning for its midsole, as well as lightweight woven material for its uppers, this is easily one of the most comfortable basketball shoes out there.

Our score: 10/10


With the Air Max and React midsole, this gives really good arch support and impact absorption. 

However, its sole is also quite high off the ground, which means it might not provide as much stability as fast runners would want.

Our score: 8/10


Indoor hoopers will love this. The traction that LeBron 18 Low provides is incredible, which compensates for what it lacks in height stability. 

Our score: 9/10

#2 – PEAK Streetball Master



Stylish in a traditional sense, the PEAK Basketball Master is exactly what its name suggests.

It comes in a wide variety of colors as well, so you can mismatch them however you like. 

If you’re not a fan of the Lebron 18 Low, which may be a bit too experimental, then this is a comfortable one to start with.

Our score: 9/10


Woven shoes feel super soft and provide the best comfort. We all know and agree with this.

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It is especially thickly padded at the ankle area, which is the perfect area to add it. 

Our score: 9/10


PEAK does not sacrifice support in favor of comfort only. Even with a little side-to-side movement occasionally, especially during speedy motion, it never really feels unstable or unsafe to be in these kicks.

This is because of their EVA sole which gives solid support for a strong push-off.

Our score: 9/10


We can all agree that squeakiness defines traction. This set provides really good traction in outdoor settings. 

If you play indoors, the only issue may be dusty courts. As long as you don’t mind dusting it off manually every few years, then you will have no problem with its grip at all.

Our score: 9/10

#3 – LZDZN Men’s Basketball Shoes



I don’t know about you, but the bold design is very appealing to me.

The blue, red, and white design somehow feels just right. For the black pair, the orange add-on really stands out and will surely catch the attention of passersby.

Our score: 9/10


Everyone in the reviews section says that this pair of shoes gives really good comfort. 

But if you’re not a fan of heavyweight shoes when you play, then maybe this will be too much of a drag for you.

Our score: 9/10


Its high-top sock design is meant to protect you from ankle injuries. However, the soft insole may not be suitable for those with flat feet or those who require strong support.

Otherwise, they’re a pretty heavyset, so you should feel safe and supported while running around the court in this.

Our score: 8/10


Whether you’re on the court or slippery floors, LZDZN is ready to give you excellent torsional rigidity.

In a way, they’re ready to catch you before you even fall!

Our score: 9/10


#4 – Joomra’s Men Sneakers

Joomra Red
Joomra Blue


Calling it “sexy” repeatedly, one user mentioned that the shoes are so stylish that she almost didn’t want to wear it outside.

Undeniably, they are very stylish and come in many different colors. If it were up to us, we would pair up the red and blue together. 

Our score: 9/10


The outside is soft like silk, and the inside is also soft and comfortable. Of course, the last thing you want in a pair of shoes is to get blisters or to feel trapped in them.

Well, with their soft high-top collar, your ankles are bound to be protected.

Our score: 9/10


Their cushioning gives you a good springy feel, and some agree that they provide good arch support too. 

However, some users did mention that, for true hoopers, adding proper insoles would give better support for playing.

Our score: 8/10


Someone in the comments said, “It grips whatever you’re walking on except for ice.”

We think this is a pretty solid testament to its grip. 

However, it is made of more basic rubber materials, so it may not be satisfactory for professional athletes who are used to a louder squeaky grip.

Our score: 8/10

#5 – Under Armour Lockdown 5

Under Armour White
Under Armour Black


We think the black and white pairing looks super sleek and clean. 

Nothing really immediately jumps out at you, but it still looks like something you would wear on a dress-up day.

Our score: 8/10


Comfort is a guarantee in almost all Under Armour lines. 

However, since this is built to lock your feet and provide support, it comes at the cost of tightness. 

If you have bigger feet, even with the right size, it might be too tight for you. 

Our score: 8/10


It is named “lockdown” for a reason, you know? Under Armour gives really good support around the ankles, and the uppers are very close to your skin, so you can be sure to feel supported every step of the way.

Unfortunately, the thin cushioning does not provide very much impact protection for dunkers and heavier individuals. 

Our score: 8/10


Basketball players have only good things to say about the bites of these shoes.

Whether it’s a dusty court or the rough terrains of the outdoors, the Lockdown series gives super strong grip. 

Our score: 9/10

Why You Should Try Mismatched Shoes

We’ll start convincing you with a quote by Helena Bonham Carter, who paired red and green heels at the Golden Globes.

"Why not wear mismatching shoes? Who says we can't? I was just having fun. For me, fashion is all about fantasy and putting unlikely things together. That's what I love. I genuinely love dressing up."

Wearing mismatched shoes is a way to express your own sense of individuality.

Obviously, making brave fashion decisions is not for everyone. 

For example, I prefer sticking to comfortable clothing.  I don’t dress myself up to make a statement. I simply want to look presentable and feel at ease at the same time.

However, you might be one of those people who prefer being a little more bold and adventurous. 

In that case, wearing mismatched shoes might be the first step you can take in your experimental fashion journey.

Read Also:  20 Best Quality Men's Dress Shoes Under $100 — Review

Is It Okay To Wear Mismatched Shoes?

Having seen many Reddit discussions about this, we cannot help but take part in them as well!

Our answer is yes, of course it is okay to wear mismatched shoes!

There are definitely certain dos and don’ts when it comes to wearing mismatched shoes, which we will fully guide you on in the next segment.

For example, I wouldn’t wear mismatched shoes to a big business meeting. That’s when being formal and looking professional is super important, right?

But otherwise, what’s wrong with trying to be a little different? 

Here we have gathered some tweets about mismatched shoes which can provide some further insight into what other people think about them.

Vanessa Ewart-Northrop
Vanessa Ewart-Northrop@diseasekneez
Read More
I’m so annoyed that mismatched shoes are not a common occurrence. Why does everyone wear the same shoe on both feet
Tony Tone
Tony Tone@d1tma
Read More
Finally got in bed and my mama calls me to bring her a shoe to work cuz she wore mismatched shoes 🤦
⚰️ʞ: & the depths of #HalloweenHorrorfest 🔪💀🎃
⚰️ʞ: & the depths of #HalloweenHorrorfest 🔪💀🎃@fableboyblue
Read More
I wear mismatched shoes, silly shirts, funny hats, unique socks; things that individualize me. It helps build relationships with the kids I work with. It does make me better at my job, too. I know it helps, & it's professional for the kind of work I do, to be what I naturally am.

DOS and DON'TS of Mismatched Shoes

DO choose opposite colors

We would recommend mixing and matching colors that are complementary to each other. For example: red and blue, black and white, blue and orange.

DON’T choose different styles

If it’s sporty on one side, it should be sporty on the other. We don’t make the rules. 

Don’t be funky on one and classy on the other, it would totally clash and just end up looking a little trashy.

DO make sure your shoes go well with the rest of your outfit

If you’re wearing monochromatic tops and bottoms, then it would make sense to have some colorful kicks to make them stand out.

DON’T overdo the colors

When the rest of your fit is already bright and colorful, wearing yellow, green, or purple kicks will just make people want to look away. It’s just a mess.

DO mix up the patterns

Like Naomie Harris, you can switch up the patterns a little bit. For example, the Camper shoes also have a lot of mismatched designs that are very subtle, but you can’t deny that they’re also very refreshing to look at.

DON’T mix up the shoe types

Remember when Zayn Malik made headlines for wearing a sneaker and a boot while going on a hike? Yeah, we remember it all too well.

Not only is this potentially harmful for your feet but it also simply doesn’t look great. Like we said, a little bit of variation is okay. Too much of it can be questionable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do different basketball shoes make you jump higher?

The answer is no. As much as we would like to answer yes to this question and redirect you to a specific pair of shoes that make you fly higher to make that drunk, we can’t.

Some shoes were banned in the NBA in the past for causing an “unfair advantage.” 

In NBA’s 2011–2012 season, the Athletics Propulsion Labs (APL) were banned for allegedly increasing players’ vertical jumps. 

We’re not quite sure how exactly their technology caused a ruckus amongst those who set the rules for NBA games though.

This is because multiple verdicts have shown that, no, they do not increase your vertical jumps. Like all basketball shoes, they are mainly only made to protect your ankles and feet.

At the end of the day, the best thing to do is to simply practice your vertical jump. 

That’s the one thing we can guaranteepractice does make perfect!

Do basketball shoes really make a difference?

Yes, they do. Basketball players play like this: run, stop, jump, run again. Compared to sprinters or marathon runners, this is highly strenuous and demands a lot more ankle support, which normal running shoes cannot provide.

Precisely because of this, many basketball shoes are built with high-ankle collars and are heavier to maintain stability for frequent jumpers.

Therefore, like we always say, dress for the occasion!

Wear running shoes for running only. Wear basketball shoes for basketball only. This is to minimize your risk of injuries and to maximize your performance. 


All in all, we think that wearing mismatched basketball shoes is a highly underrated fashion statement which deserves more attention.

Not only do they make good statements for your sense of individuality, they also have a rich history of getting important messages across. 

As we have seen with LeBron’s mismatched basketball shoes titled “Equality,” this fashion trend can be very meaningful and powerful.

With that said, if you want to incorporate this into your daily wear, it is important to do it right. Don’t mix and match randomly without giving it proper thought. 

We hope that you have learned some interesting facts from this article and had as much fun reading as I had researching and writing it!

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