All the Gear a Guy Needs to Start Playing Pick-Up Basketball Again

You don't have to drop $200 on a signature shoe. This stuff will get the job done.

June 11, 2021 11:42 am
pick up basketball gear
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A few weeks ago, I borrowed a friend’s basketball shoes in order to play some Saturday morning pickup.

They were a half-size too big, which I didn’t think would be an issue. But before we even finished a game of “first to eleven, win by two,” I could feel a pair of golf ball-sized blisters forming on the soles of my feet. It ended up taking a few days and few too many band-aids for the hot spots to clear up.

Which was a real bummer, because I otherwise had a great time playing hoops again. I missed way too many layups, but I got a great workout in and even hit a game-winner. My friends resolved to start a new tradition for the summer.

It’s proved a worthwhile call to action for me to restock my gear. I wore the same pair of basketball shoes for about eight years, and now there’s no traction on the outsole (hence the borrowed pair). When I started researching shoes, I was surprised to see the vast majority of options are signature shoes for NBA players: overpriced and only available in garish colorways.

Fortunately, I found a suitable pair for a casual player like myself, who needs to get a few airballs out of his system during warmups. I also came upon some ideal wares to round out the outfit: a tank, shorts, socks, boxer briefs. Find my pick-up picks below, plus a couple necessary accessories, and make plans to get out there this summer. You won’t regret it.


Nike Fly.By Mid 2 Basketball Shoes

When it comes to basketball shoes, Nike is still untouchable. But there’s no reason to pay for KD’s or Kyrie’s if you’re only playing a couple times a month. These have a durable upper, responsive cushioning, and come in six colorways, If you’re looking for a bit more swagger, go for the Nike Renew Elevate, priced at $73.

Alternative Apparel

Alternative Men’s Keeper Tank

A cotton tank is a classic look at the courts. Easy to take off if you’re on skins, light and unobtrusive if you’re on shirts. I have a few of these from Alternative Apparel, and like to wear them for runs and lifts, too.


Rhone Mako Short

Rhone? Basketball? Believe it or not, these training shorts are actually endorsed by Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler. The Mako Short is customizable to your preference: lined or lined, 7″ or 9″ inseam, various colorways to choose from. They’re the priciest thing here, but always get the job done and have unlimited cross-training potential.


Stance Icon Sport Quarter Sock

Remember: bad socks get in the way of great shoes. I like Stance’s sporty quarter socks. The brand has been around for 12 years now, and this pair is designed specifically for the lateral moves you make while cutting to the basket.


Saxx Sport Mesh Men’s Boxer Brief

We’re huge fans. Saxx figured out a way to keep everything in its place during activity, with a design it named the “ballpark pouch.” Chuckle all you want, their briefs are comfy, flexible and moisture-wicking as hell.


Corkcicle Sport Canteen

Don’t rely on park water fountains in the post-pandemic era. Corkcicle makes some of my favorite water bottles — this one is triple-insulated to stay cold for hours at a time, and has a built-in straw tip.


Wilson NCAA Replica Basketball

So you can get some work in if you show up a little early. Wilson makes my favorite indoor/outdoor ball on the market. Spalding’s options can feel a bit too fake and rubbery, while the leather finish here is reminiscent of the real thing. Save 20% on your first order from Wilson.

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