Nowadays, when you think of Allen Iverson shoes, the first thing that comes to mind is the Reebok Question but to really understand the depth in Allen Iverson’s sneaker game, you have to go all the way back to his childhood days, take a brief look at his high school years, and dig deep into his college years at Georgetown before you can even begin to discuss his signature sneaker line from Reebok that began in his 1996-1997 rookie season.
While Michael Jordan will always be one of the most important athletes to sneakerheads, MJ was also the inspirational hooper for an entire generation of NBA players that came into the league in the 1990s and 2000s, including Allen Iverson. For his entire life in the public eye, Allen, aka “Bubba Chuck,” a nickname given to him as a child, has praised Michael Jordan as the GOAT, and as the reason, he ultimately decided to pursue a career playing basketball. We all know that Michael Jordan and his signature sneakers are the reason that so many sneakerheads exist today, MJ was just old enough to miss out on one crucial aspect of pop culture that has influenced sneakers since the early 1980s, hip hop. That’s where Allen Iverson crosses over into a level of popularity that few have been able to capture, but we’ll get into that.
The beginning of Allen Iverson’s sneaker legacy would normally have started in his high school years but thanks to AI sharing a throwback photo of his AAU days, we know that Iverson was lacing up Air Jordans as far back as the original Black and Royal AJ1 in 1985. As he moved on to his high school years he began lacing up some of the most classic silhouettes from the Nike Basketball line.
Allen Iverson Shoes: An Ultimate guide
High School Years
Allen Iverson was beyond a superstar athlete by the time he reached high school. He attended Bethel High in Hampton, Virginia, and was not only the starting point guard for the basketball team, but he was also the quarterback of the football team. Football was Allen’s first love and he also played defensive back, returned kicks, and when he wasn’t leading the team as QB, he was lined up as a running back. In his junior year, Allen Iverson led both the Bethel football team and basketball team to Virginia state championships and was named The Associated Press High School Player of the Year in both sports. Iverson was already well on his way to superstardom by his sophomore year of high school and during a matchup against crosstown rivals, Hampton High, AI scored 39 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in front of a near-capacity crowd at Bethel.
During his years as the point guard for the Bethel Bruins, Allen Iverson primarily wore two different sneakers. The first was the Nike Air Maestro in a black and white colorway. Like the Fab Five at Michigan during that same early-90s era, Allen Iverson rocked the iconic shoe with matching black socks. The second shoe that Iverson regularly laced up was the Nike Air Force Mid. In 1992-1993, Nike gave this model a Visible Air unit in the heel and a cross-foot strap that began on the outside of the shoe, covered much of the laces as it connected to the medial side before doubling back to the lateral side where a Velcro closure with “Force” branding locked things down. During his sophomore year, and on during the off-season where he casually racked up another national championship playing for Boo Williams’ AAU squad, Iverson rocked the “New Spruce” colorway of the Air Force Mid, a primarily white colorway with black and aqua-like green accents. It was during this AAU run where Allen and his mother were photographed by the legend, Bill Frakes.
Unfortunately, Allen Iverson’s high school days at Bethel would be cut short after he was found guilty of, wait for it…maiming by mob. The incident occurred on February 14, 1993, at a bowling alley in Hampton and despite video evidence of Iverson leaving before the fight erupted, he and 3 of his friends were arrested.
Allen was accused of striking a woman with a chair, and as a 17-year old, was convicted as an adult. The felony charge resulted in a 15-year prison sentence with 10 years suspended. Thankfully for the rest of the world, Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder overturned the decision due to insufficient evidence, and Allen Iverson was released after serving 4 months. Although he never returned to Bethel, or to high school sports, legendary Georgetown head coach John Thompson went to meet Iverson and his mother, eventually offering him a full scholarship to join the Hoyas basketball team.
In Allen Iverson’s first season with the Georgetown Hoyas in 1994-1995, he wore two of the most legendary sneakers in the Nike Basketball lineup, the Nike Air Strong and the Nike Air Up. While it wasn’t just because of Allen Iverson, these two sneakers sit near the top of the wish list for many that lived through the sneaker boom of the ‘90s. The Air Up was most famously worn by Penny Hardaway and Scottie Pippen, who both had exclusive colorways with their numbers embroidered into the heel. Like his high school days in the Air Maestro, Iverson opted for an all-black version of the Nike Air Up with minimal white accents. The Air Strong that AI wore in his first year at Georgetown was a similarly simple colorway. This model was worn by the likes of Chris Webber and David Robinson, and many other “big men” in the NBA at the time, and it was revered for the massive Air Max bubble in the heel and its Durabuck upper. Although the popularity of college hoops has fallen off since then, Allen Iverson and the Hoyas were almost as famous as their professional counterparts. Back then, NCAA basketball was televised to a sports-hungry audience that tuned in for 3-4 games per night on ESPN2. More specifically, the Big East was loaded with future-NBA talent like Kerry Kittles of Villanova, Ray Allen of UCONN, John Wallace of Syracuse, and many others, which made seeing what sneakers Allen Iverson was wearing a ritual for the true fans on every game night.
For Bubba Chuck’s second and final season as the leader of the Georgetown Hoyas, AI took his sneaker game to another level. Iverson began the 1995-1996 season wearing yet another iconic sneaker from the mid-’90s Nike Basketball line, the Nike Air Way Up. While players in the NBA like Scottie Pippen wore the Air Way Up in colorways specific to their teams, Allen Iverson became one of the most famous players to lace up the black and white version. In January of 1996, Allen Iverson laced up the Air Jordan 11 “Concords” and continued to wear the iconic Jordan model through the Big East Tournament, leading the Hoyas to the championship game against Connecticut. Unfortunately for Iverson, the only bucket that Ray Allen hit in the second half of the game turned out to be the game-winner for UCONN. As the Hoyas and AI marched into the NCAA Tournament that year, the world watched in awe. Iverson led Georgetown into the Elite 8, scoring 111 points in the four games they played before losing to Marcus Camby and UMASS. Regardless, Allen Iverson and the Air Jordan 11 were forever tied together in sneaker history.
Allen Iverson was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the first pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. When Allen arrived in Philly, a new nickname was clearly in the works thanks to the tattoo of a bulldog on his left arm with the words “The Answer” above it. The actual origins of the nickname are still a mystery and Iverson was actually sued by a family member over the nickname in 2003, but as AI stepped onto the floor for the 76ers for the first time on November 1, 1996, Reebok had already created the iconic Reebok Question, an ode to the nickname that would become Iverson’s most famous. The fact that Reebok had the Question ready to go for opening day turned out to be a selling point in Allen signing with Reebok over Nike.
The Reebok Question was Allen Iverson’s first signature sneaker and the shoes were on his feet in many of his early iconic NBA moments. The most significant of which was when Allen first squared off with his idol, Michael Jordan. On March 12th of 1997, the Chicago Bulls played against the 76ers in Philadelphia in what would become a GIF-worthy evening decades later. MJ and AI had faced off twice already, the first time in Chicago Jordan led the Bulls to a 29 point victory. In the second matchup, Iverson bested MJ in the points scored column putting up 32 compared to Jordan’s 31. The third time was poised to be the charm as Iverson and the 76ers were starting to play much better together. Although Allen brought his “A-Game” and scored 37 points and shot over 65% from the field, the only thing that really outlived that night was his crossover on Michael Jordan.
Iverson and the Sixers wouldn’t beat the Bulls at all during that season, which considering the Bulls 72-10 record, shouldn’t come as a surprise. With Allen Iverson averaging over 23 points, 7.5 assists, and 2.1 steals per game in his rookie season, and a highlight reel of killer crossovers that embarrassed defenders, countless SportsCenter-worthy slam dunks, as well as his first 50 point game, Iverson was named Rookie Of The Year.
Originally, the Reebok Question featured Reebok’s fan-favorite cushioning system, Hexalite. As the name suggests, Hexalite was actually made of hundreds of hexagon-shaped elements that are assembled in a honeycomb shape that Reebok touted as capable of dissipating 23% more energy than EVA foam, while being 3-4 times as durable. With the cushioning decided upon, Allen Iverson and Reebok set out to make The Answer’s first signature sneaker and came up with a design that paid tribute to his favorite shoes from his idol’s line, the Air Jordan 11. The long-standing rumor is that the first 5,000 pairs of the original Reebok Question were made with red suede toes before a pearlized blue toe and pearlized red toe were released. The “keep it simple” approach to the colorways made the Question easily identifiable on court, even during the pre-high definition television days. The success of Iverson’s first shoe was so much better than Reebok anticipated that the Question was produced for another 4 years in countless team colorways before finally being discontinued in 2002.
Reebok The Answer
For his second season, Reebok unveiled yet another technology-packed basketball shoe for Allen Iverson, The Answer. Equipped with one of Reebok’s most popular cushioning systems, DMX 10, and a hidden lacing system, it was clear that Reebok had another successful signature model on its hands. Beginning in November of 1997, the Answer released in three colorways during the 1997-1998 NBA season, including the original black and gold version, as well as the white and red version that appeared in the video game-like commercial for The Answer.
While AI’s on-court presence slipped ever-so-slightly in his second season, the 76ers won 11 more games as Iverson inched closer to All-Star status, and kids around the world tried to mimic Iverson’s behind the back crossover from The Answer commercial. The third of the original colorways was the first of the Answer line to stray from the traditional jersey colors of the 76ers. The Collegiate Navy colorway of The Answer 1 was not only a unique colorway for the Allen Iverson signature line but it was also the first to feature patent leather.
Reebok Answer 2
The 1998-1999 NBA season was truly the beginning of the pro sports world recognizing Allen Iverson’s greatness. Although the season was shortened to 50 games due to the lockout, Iverson led the league in scoring with 26.8 points per game and was named to the All-NBA First Team. Unfortunately, there was no All-Star Game during the shortened season, and Iverson’s second Answer model received little love from sneaker enthusiasts.
That could be attributed to the fact that when it was originally released in November of 1998, most people didn’t see Allen Iverson in the shoe until the lockout ended in January of 1999. The dedicated AI fans will remember Iverson leading the 76ers into the NBA Playoffs for the first time, defeating the Orlando Magic, and giving Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers a run for their money before losing the series in 6 games. Iverson averaged 28.5 through the playoffs while wearing the black and white pair of the Reebok Answer 2 (with gold accents tying back to original The Answer release) and the first of the take-down Iversons, the Reebok Team DMX Answer Lite. Although to be fair, the Team DMX Answer Lite was barely half an ounce lighter in weight and was priced at the same $115 point as the Answer 2, so the terms “take-down and “Lite” were hardly accurate. Both the Team DMX Answer Lite and the Answer 2 featured “Iverson” down the forefoot and featured “DMX Lite” cushioning. The 1998-1999 season also marked the first time that colleges began wearing Allen Iverson’s signature shoes.
Reebok Answer 3
Coming off his best season in the NBA, Allen Iverson was rewarded with a fresh new six-year $70 million dollar contract from the Philadelphia 76ers and his third shoe in the Answer line from Reebok. The Answer 3 featured DMX cushioning, a full-grain leather upper, and a stitching pattern reminiscent of the Air Jordan 12. Originally released in November of 1999, the Answer 3 originally came in a handful of colorways that included red/white, black/white, white/black, along with team colorways like royal/white, and navy/white. The Michigan State Spartans won the NCAA Championship in 2000 while wearing the white/black Answer 3 and the green toe Reebok Question.
Speaking of Questions, as it became clear that AI would become an NBA All-Star for the first time at the 2000 NBA All-Star Game in Oakland, Reebok made a pair of Questions to celebrate the occasion. The only problem was that Allen wasn’t feeling the yellow and blue colorway inspired by the Warriors jerseys at all. He ended up wearing the Reebok Answer 3 in the black and white colorway for the entire game despite agreeing with Reebok’s Vice President, Todd Krinsky, to wear the Warriors-inspired leading up to the game. 6 years later, Reebok would release the Warriors-inspired colorway of the Question as a part of the ten-year anniversary releases. Anniversary releases of the Answer 3 were also rumored
Reebok Answer 4
For Allen Iverson’s most successful season, he laced up the Answer 4. Like the previous Answer models, this shoe used full-length DMX cushioning but noticeably featured an aesthetic that stepped well beyond the design restraints of the previous Iverson shoes. Iverson led the league in scoring averaging 31.1 points per game and leading the 76ers all the way to the NBA Finals.
On the way to the Finals, Allen Iverson laced up a pair of Reebok Questions for the NBA All-Star Game in Washington D.C. where he won his first All-Star Game MVP Award.
Stepping back into the Reebok Answer 4, he shocked the world by winning game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers in Los Angeles. Of course, the legendary “step over” moment in Game 1 has become infamous in its own right. Unfortunately, the duo of Shaq and Kobe, plus the rest of the Lakers legendary lineup was too much to overcome, despite Iverson averaging 35.6 points per game.
In 2021 Reebok released several classic colorways of the Answer 4
Reebok Answer 5
The Reebok Answer 5, aka the A5, was introduced to the world by rapper Jadakiss and Allen Iverson in the legendary commercial in which Jada claims he keeps an extra pair in the car in case he has to take you to the park.
Not only was the Answer 5 one of the most popular models in AI’s signature line, but it was also the first shoe to come after Iveron’s new lifetime Reebok deal. In 2001, Reebok set up a trust fund that is set to pay out $32 million in 2030, while paying Bubba Chuck $800,000 every year until then. Of the colorways that were released, the black/silver, and white/silver, were hands down the most popular, along with the white/red colorway that Allen wore for the All-Star Game that year. On the court, AI and the 76ers couldn’t repeat their NBA Finals run but AI added another scoring title to his growing list of accomplishments by averaging 31.4 points per game. A few days after the frustrating season, the infamous “practice” incident took place.
Reebok Answer 6
While on the court, AI had a new focus for the 2002-2003 season in which he played in all 82 games for the very first time, his footwear didn’t keep up. Allen Iverson’s 7th signature shoe, the Answer 6 released in November of 2002 and took on a new aesthetic that seemed to fall in line with the era. Shoes of that year included smooth silhouettes like the AND1 Spree Mid, Dada CDubbz, Nike Air Max Chosen, and Hyperflight. Unfortunately for AI and Reebok, the Answer 6 never really made the impact that previous Iverson shoes did. The design featured a zipper construction that loosely harkened back to the Answer 4 but Reebok decided to ditch the DMX cushioning system that had become synonymous with Iverson’s shoes.
Reebok Answer 7
For the Answer 7, Iverson’s eighth signature sneaker, Reebok returned to the DMX cushioning that was a part of their early Answer success. The 2003-2004 season for the 76ers was quite the mess. Coach Larry Brown was out and the team never really got it together under Randy Ayers or Chris Ford. For Iverson, that meant more disappointment. Injuries also meant an even more uphill battle to make the Answer 7 relevant. Reebok tried the nostalgia play by releasing a white with green and yellow inspired by Iverson’s high school. Allen even wore a player exclusive Answer 7 “USA” in the Olympics but that team turned out to be even more disappointing than the Sixers. Reebok added a longer-lasting rubber to the outsole called Duracourt but in the end, none of the efforts made the Answer 7 any more popular with sneakerheads.
Reebok Question 2
In a valiant attempt (sarcasm) to bring back the Reebok Question line for 2004’s Olympics, Reebok created the Reebok Question 2. Despite being worn by AI as he led Team USA in scoring, the Question 2 came up shorter than the team itself.
Reebok Answer 8
In November of 2004, Allen Iverson and Reebok released the Answer 8, which used a design aesthetic that resembled the original Reebok Question’s colorful toe box. The Reebok Answer 8 also used a unique ventilation system that used the shapes in the form of the number 8. On the court, Iverson was virtually unstoppable in the Answer 8. He led the league in scoring by averaging 30.7 points per game and added another All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award to his trophy case, but Allen being Allen, instead of wearing his signature model, he wore a special makeup colorway of the Reebok ATR Pump. Needless to say, the Answer 8 never found its footing in the hearts of sneaker enthusiasts.
Reebok Answer 9
In the most drastic changes in direction for the Answer line, Reebok launched the Answer 9 in November of 2005, the first of Allen Iverson’s signature shoes to feature Reebok’s Pump 2.0 technology. Thanks to the Pump technology and a higher cut design that resembled the aforementioned ATR Pump, the Answer 9 was one of the heaviest basketball shoes on the market, weighing in at 18.2 ounces. For perspective, that’s over an ounce heavier than a pair of Nike Air Foamposite Pros. Bubba Chuck still delivered Philly 33 points per game but unfortunately for Allen, that same season a guy named Kobe Bryant averaged 35.4 for the Lakers.
Reebok Answer 10
For the 2005-2006 season, Reebok returned to the Pump system and also added a zipper closure, which gave the Answer 10 a wild aesthetic. To further drive home the bold design, Reebok released equally aggressive colorways, including the famous “Money” colorway that featured $100 dollar bills in an all-over print. None of the gimmicks worked off the court, and on the court, Iverson was traded to the Denver Nuggets, ending his run as one of the most popular players in Philadelphia 76ers history.
Reebok Answer 11
The design team at Reebok went hard on the creative side of the Reebok Answer 11 by giving it split personalities with one side representing Allen’s “mortal” side, and the other representing his “immortal” side. The marketing team also leveled up the efforts for the Answer 11 by partnering with Microsoft to create a limited edition colorway in partnership with the launch of the Microsoft Zune. That in itself should tell you all you need to know about the success of the Answer 11.
Reebok Question 3
In 2007, Reebok tried once again to revisit the Question series of Allen Iverson’s shoes. Unfortunately, the design wasn’t well received and also looked somewhat similar to the Answer 11, making it even more difficult for sneaker enthusiasts to get into it. Iverson did have some good PE colorways of the Question 3, including a pair that read “THXPHILA” that AI wore in a game against the 76ers in Philadelphia on March 19, 2008.
Reebok Answer 12
In 2008, Reebok ditched the bulky designs and returned to a streamlined aesthetic with the Answer 12. However, after just 3 games in Denver, Allen Iverson was traded to the Detroit Pistons. With the trade came a change in jersey numbers that saw Allen Iverson in a jersey number that wasn’t 3 for the first time since he was playing football in high school for Bethel. The trade forced Reebok to adjust the “I3” logo on the tongue to say “AI” and also forced them to change the number embroidered into the toe box from 3 to 1, his new number in Detroit. The Answer 12 featured DMX Ride cushioning, which was generally well-received but the traction on the shoe suffered because of the bulkiness of the cushioning system.
Reebok Answer 13
In 2009, Allen Iverson signed with the Memphis Grizzlies but only ended up playing in 3 games before taking a leave of absence and eventually being waived. AI retired, then came out of retirement to sign with Philadelphia to play his final 25 games as a Sixer. It goes without saying, the “radiator fan” aesthetic of the Answer 13 never has a chance to flourish. Whether that was because of AI’s lack of play on court, or because of its forgettable design, the Answer 13 would become an insignificant piece of the final chapter of Allen Iverson’s NBA career.
Allen Iverson After Basketball
After rumors that Allen Iverson may return to pro-level basketball in China, and a short stint playing in Turkey that was cut short by injury, AI officially announced his retirement in 2013 after declining an offer to play in the NBA D-League. Coincidentally, Reebok attempted to bring Iverson’s shoe line back that same year.
With Reebok struggling to keep their basketball line moving in the right direction, Allen Iverson’s iconic Reebok Question was recreated with modern technology and labeled as the Q96. The Reebok Q96 used DMX Foam and a breathable synthetic upper, which made it one of the better performing shoes in the Allen Iverson line. Nonetheless, in 2013 adidas announced that Reebok would be ending its performance basketball category.
Reebok Answer 14
In 2014, after a nearly 5-year hiatus, the Reebok Answer line received an unexpected revival in the form of the Answer 14. Using an aesthetic that harkened back to the Answer 3, a vented upper, and lightweight DMX Foam cushioning, the Reebok Answer 14 brought a touch of hope for the continuation of Reebok’s Answer line. In the end, the 14 would be the end of the Allen Iverson Answer signature line.
Off Court Legacy
It should go without saying that Allen Iverson’s impact both on the court and off the court was more than nearly every other player the NBA had ever seen. From the hip hop aesthetic to the tattoos, cornrows, and baggie clothes, Bubba Chuck not only had every kid on the planet attempting impossible crossovers, but he also had future NBA players like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and countless others, imitating his style for years to come. With Iverson’s popularity, Reebok capitalized by creating countless apparel pieces for the gym and the streets, but also, a lifestyle line of sneakers known as the I3 line. The Iverson I3 line included a DMX I3 lifestyle shoe, an Air Force 1-like I3 Pressure, the I3 Basketball, and numerous variations of each. In 2018, the I3 line reemerged with the release of the I3 Legacy, a mashup of Iverson shoes that paid tribute to Allen’s signature line.
With Allen Iverson’s iconic style forever inspiring the fashion side of basketball, Reebok has worked with AI on countless occasions to bring attention to other silhouettes in their catalog, including the Reebok Club C, Reebok Workout, and many others. In fact, back in 2018 Allen Iverson laced up the Reebok Club C, Gucci Slides, and Givenchy Slides in a photoshoot for Ronnie Fieg’s KITH brand. However, staying true to his rebellious nature, Allen Iverson is also known to throw on a pair of Air Jordans on occasion to pay tribute to his idol. The most notable time was when he was announced as a new member of the Hall Of Fame and showed up wearing the Air Jordan 4 White Cement.
While Allen Iverson’s own signature line is nothing short of iconic, it’s the inspiration of others that furthers his importance in the sneaker game. From Kobe Bryant to LeBron James to Isaiah Thomas to James Harden, the Reebok Question and Reebok Answer lines will continue to be an important part of Allen Iverson’s legacy as more retro releases continue for years to come.