Olympic Sneakers: Michael Jordan’s ‘Dream Team,’ LeBron James’ ‘Gold Medal’ and More Team USA Shoe Styles

Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics from June 26 to Aug. 11. The games will bring together the world’s best athletes to compete for gold across 32 sports, including basketball, soccer, tennis, and gymnastics. Nike will once again sponsor the US Olympic Committee, extending a partnership that started in 2005.

In anticipation of the upcoming Paris Olympics, here’s a look at standout sneakers worn by some of Team USA’s celebrated players, including Serena Williams, Michael Jordan and LeBron James, over the years.

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Team USA Basketball’s Converse Chuck Taylor (1936)

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The U.S. men’s basketball team at the 1936 Olympics. USA Basketball

Basketball was added to the Olympics at the 1936 Berlin Summer Games when Converse’s white All Star high-tops also made their debut in the competition.

Converse and Charles “Chuck” Taylor had been hard at work ensuring their canvas sneaker became the go-to basketball shoe in the U.S. in the 1920s and 1930s. The flashy white stood out on the court from the then-traditional black leather high-tops.

The modern (very similar) version of the classic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star in optical white.
The modern (very similar) version of the classic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star in optical white.

In the mid-30s, Converse perfected and patented its grippy rubber sole, which they still use today.

Michael Jordan’s Nike Air Jordan 7 “Dream Team” (1992)

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Michael Jordan wears his Air Jordan 7s in the quarterfinal game against Puerto Rico on Aug. 4, 1992, at the Pavello Olimpic de Badalona at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics.David Madison/Getty Images

Michael Jordan‘s Nike Air Jordan 7 was designed by Tinker Hatfield, who removed Nike branding from the style, leaving just the Jumpman. Jordan wore the sneaker in the Olympics colorway, “Dream Team,” consisting of silver, navy, red and gold accents, to win gold with Team USA at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

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Michael Jordan’s 1992 Olympic Nike Air Jordan VII “Dream Team” shoes.Sotheby’s

This victory inspired the Jordan Brand-designed Air Jordan 7 Retro OC Miro Olympic, released ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a primary-color-splashed design inspired by Spanish artist Joan Miró. Sotheby’s sold Jordan’s own signed 1992 Olympic shoes for $114,300 in 2023.

Sheryl Swoopes’ Nike Air Swoopes 2 (1996)

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Sheryl Swoopes wears her Nike Air Swoopes 2 during a playoff game against Australia at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Georgia Dome on Aug. 4, 1996.AI/Getty Images

Following the big footsteps of Jordan, Sheryl Swoopes made history as the first female athlete to have a signature basketball shoe, which Nike dubbed the Air Swoopes. The Air Swoopes were released just ahead of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the same year the WNBA was launched.

Swoopes wore the original black-and-white Air Swoopes for Team USA’s pre-Olympic tour and the patriotic Air Swoopes 2, white with a red strap and blue trim, in Atlanta to take home gold.

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The 2018 reissue of the Nike Air Swoopes 2 shoes.Nike

Swoopes main concern for her namesake Nikes were that they had proper support that women wouldn’t get from men’s shoes. She worked closely with Mari Gerber on the shoe design, which featured proper ankle support, a midfoot stability strap to cradle the foot and color-blocking for a fitting 1990s fashion flare. There were seven runs of Air Swoopes, and the Air Swoope 2 got a reissue in 2018 in a similar Olympic colorway.

Scottie Pippen’s Nike Air More Uptempo “Olympic” (1996)

1 Aug 1996:  Scottie Pippen of the Dream Team celebrates during the USA v Australia men's basketball game at the Georgia Dome at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger  /Allsport
Scottie Pippen in his Nike Air More Uptempo shoes at the Georgia Dome during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics on Aug. 1, 1996.Doug Pensinger /Allsport/Getty Images

Scottie Pippen’s 1996 Olympics Nike Air More Uptempo shoes were real head-turners, with “AIR” emblazoned in large white letters across the entire side of the shoe, against a contrasting navy blue background.

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The Nike Air More Uptempo “Olympic” 2020 reissue.

Teammate Charles Barkley wore a subtler all-white version of these kicks during their undefeated 1996 Olympics run. The Air More Uptempo was a favorite of Pippen and is often associated with the basketball star. It’s no wonder Nike reissued this colorway in 2020 to celebrate Pippen and Team USA’s Atlanta fairytale.

Michael Johnson’s golden Nike cleats (1996)

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Michael Johnson prepares to run the men’s 200m semifinal race in his custom golden Nike cleats at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 1996.Getty Images

The 1996 Atlanta Olympics were filled with iconic shoe moments. Over on the track, sprinter Michael Johnson turned heads with his shiny golden Nike spikes, earning two gold medals and breaking the world record and Olympic record, respectively for the 200- and 400-meter dash.

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Michael Johnson’s signed custom golden Nike cleats.Sothebys

Johnson worked with Nike a year-and-a-half on his Olympics shoes, which he originally wanted to look like a mirror. The mirror effect didn’t work when he was running, so he decided to go for gold. From then on, he was known as “The Man with the Golden Shoes.” His one-of-a-kind signed pair sold at Sotheby’s for $31,500 in 2021.

Vince Carter’s Nike Shox BB4 “Olympic” (2000)

25 Sep 2000:  Vince Carter of the USA leaps over Frederic Weis of France to dunk during the Mens Basketball Preliminaries at the Dome in the Olympic Park on Day 10 of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.  Mandatory Credit: Darren McNamara/Allsport
Vince Carter (in his Nike Shox BB4) leaps over Frederic Weis of France to dunk during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games on Sept. 25. arren McNamara/Allsport/Getty Images

At the Sydney 2000 Summer Games, Vince Carter wore the first Shox in a navy-and-white Olympic colorway to slam dunk Team USA to glory. This was the third time in a row the American team had an undefeated Olympic run, and Carter’s Shox-fueled dunks helped popularize the new shoe. Carter’s Shox BB4 colorway was even reissued in 2012 and 2019.

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The Nike Shox BB4 House of Hoops Vince Carter 2012 reissue shoe.GOAT

Kobe Bryant’s Nike Hyperdunk Supreme “Black Mamba” (2008)

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Kobe Bryant wears his Nike Hyperdunk Supreme “Black Mamba” during Team USA’s gold medal game versus Spain during the Beijing 2008 Olympics at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium on Aug. 24, 2008. Harry How/Getty Images

Nike introduced the Hyperdunk performance basketball shoe designed by Eric Avar at the 2008 Olympics, decking out the USA, Spain, Lithuania and Puerto Rico in team colorways. Kobe Bryant wore his own “Black Mamba” colorway featuring a clear netted outer and snakeskin and metallic detailing.

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The Nike Hyperdunk Supreme “Black Mamba” shoe.

At the prior 2004 Athens Olympics, the American basketball team suffered three losses and took home bronze. Bryant joined what was dubbed the “Redeem Team” in 2008, providing essential points and blocks towards their return to gold.

Team USA’s Nike Rejuven8 Beijing (2008)

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Serena and Venus Williams in their Nike Rejuven8 Beijing shoes at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on Aug. 17, 2008.PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images

In 2005, Nike replaced Adidas as the official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, and they’ve outfitted the winners in head-to-toe Swoosh ever since. At the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, gold medalists Michael Phelps, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Venus and Serena Williams all wore the patriotic netted Nike Rejuven8 Beijing shoe.

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Nike Rejuven8 Beijing shoes.Sothebys

The legendary Williams sisters twinned in matching red-and-white versions with coordinating Nike windbreakers to celebrate their women’s doubles tennis win. A rare dark blue pair sold at Sotheby’s in 2021 for $630.

Team USA’s Nike Flyknit Trainer+ “Volt Black” (2012)

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Serena Williams and Venus Williams wear their Nike Flyknit Trainer+ “Volt Black” shoes to accept their gold medals for women’s doubles tennis at the London 2012 Olympics at the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon on Aug. 5, 2012. LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Nike made a memorable debut of its woven Flyknit shoes during the 2012 London Olympics, with many American athletes wearing neon Flyknit Racers and track spikes to compete. Every Team USA medalist was offered a pair of Nike Flyknit Trainer+ “Volt Black” shoes, an electric green and black colorway, to wear on the medal stand. Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps and more opted to rock the bright kicks to accept their gold medals.

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The Nike Flyknit Trainer+ “Volt Black” shoes.Goat

LeBron James’ LeBron 10+ Sport Pack “Gold Medal” (2012)

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Lebron James in his LeBron 10+ Sport Pack “Gold Medal” shoes during the Men’s Basketball gold medal game against Spain at the London 2012 Olympics at North Greenwich Arena on Aug. 12, 2012.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Over on the basketball court at the 2012 Olympics, LeBron James and Nike opted for a classic red-white-and-navy colorway for his LeBron 10+ Sport Pack “Gold Medal” kicks. The shoes feature a red and navy sole with clear Zoom cushioning running through it, a navy tongue and geometric mesh paneling in the white Hyperfuse upper.

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The Nike LeBron 10+ Sport Pack “Gold Medal” shoe.Goat

The version available to the public featured the sleek addition of a large gold Swoosh. That year, LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and the rest of Team USA took home gold in another undefeated Olympic run.

Track Team USA’s Air Zoom Maxfly and Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% “Rawdacious” (2021)

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Ronnie Baker of Team USA and Bingtian Su of Team China race in the N1 Olympics at Olympic Stadium on Aug. 1, 2021. Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the delayed 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Nike opted for shoes with a joyful, bright color palate called “Rawdacious,” white with splashes of neon green, orange and pink. For the runners and track athletes, Nike took their controversial yet effective Vaporfly technology, a carbon fiber plate in the midsole surrounded by foam, and adapted it for track spikes.

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The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% “Rawdacious” running shoe.Nike

Dubbed “super spikes,” 64 percent of the winners of the 33 individual track events, including hurdles and the marathon wore them during the race. The Alphafly running shoes feature a large foam sole with a futuristic “Air Zoom” bubble. The 2021 Rawdacious colorways are only available on resale sites now, although Nike sells a similar model, the Alphafly 2, for $285.

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