Wilt Chamberlain played his legendary 100-point game against the New York Knicks while wearing Converse Chuck Taylors — perhaps the least supportive sneakers on the planet. But a lot has changed in the basketball world since then. The team Chamberlain played for, the Philadelphia Warriors, are now a California team. And basketball wasn’t yet the massive media empire that it is today; Chamberlain’s game wasn’t even televised. The Knicks getting dunked on? Well, at least some things never change.
Suffice to say, the footwear that players wear has changed a lot, too. In most athletic endeavors, be it soccer, running or basketball, shoes will often the most critical piece of gear you buy. As important as shoes are, their most important companion tends to get overlooked — socks. It doesn’t matter how comfortable or supportive your shoes are if your socks do a bad job of controlling moisture or if they slip down your shoes while running. The same goes for basketball socks since you’re constantly pivoting and moving backward and side to side while playing. Your socks have to be able to conform and adapt to the sport’s dynamic footwork.
The best basketball socks will be made from a blend of synthetic materials, as opposed to cotton. As comfortable as cotton is, it does a poor job when wet. Cotton absorbs a lot of moisture and takes a while to dry, while synthetics like polyester are moisture-wicking; they pull sweat away from your feet. Basketball socks will also feature cushioning for support and compression to reduce discomfort.
Basketball socks are available in low-cut, ankle, or traditional crew-cut styles. The style you choose will likely be a matter of preference. Of course, basketball socks can also be a style statement if you choose a pair that reps your favorite team. We’ve rounded up some of the best basketball socks you can buy, whether you’re part of a community league or just playing a game of pick-up. Many of these socks are sized to be unisex, too.
1. Nike Elite Crew
Nike has so long dominated the basketball shoe world, it’s not surprising that they also make some of the top basketball socks, too. The Elite Crew is a crew-cut style, extending up to the lower calf. It comes in a range of colors, although many are low in stock in certain sizes. Black and white are available in most regular sizes. They’re cushioned for comfort and have an arch band for a secure fit. Traction strips near the forefoot help provide support to common stress areas. The socks are made using Nike’s Dri-FIT tech that promotes breathability.
2. Bombas Performance Basketball Calf Sock
Yep, the podcast socks. Bombas has built a massively successful brand off the back of their superbly comfortable socks and underwear, which you might hear ads for on a variety of popular podcasts. Bombas also make socks for a wide variety of athletic activities, including basketball. These socks have what they call Hex Tec, which is a panel of honeycomb stitching that helps provide cushioning and promote breathability. The Y-stitched heel and seamless toe help reduce in-shoe movement, keeping the sock in place and reducing chafing. For every sock purchased, Bombas donates a pair.
3. Jordan Everyday Max
For a more affordable option from Nike, this three-pack of Jordan socks provides performance features without the high price tag. They come in a pack of three, which costs about as much as some single socks. The ankle cut is a good mid-length to suit different shoe styles. The socks have padded panels to provide comfort and support where needed while retaining breathability.
4. UA Drive Quarter Socks
Perhaps because they’re not as popular as Nike, Under Armour’s products have an underdog identity — they outwork and outperform many others without being as expensive. These quarter socks are good for basketball and they have a unique contrasting panel along the upper that provides support and cushioning. The socks have a seamless toe for comfort, and the socks are left and right contoured for a customized fit.
5. Stance Hoops American
While they’re best known for trendy casual socks, Stance took one big step into the world of athletics by partnering with the NBA — in fact, they were the official on-court sock of the league for a time. If you want to make a patriotic statement on the court, consider these American flag basketball socks from Stance. They have some cushioning throughout the sock to keep you comfortable, while the ankle support helps reduce chafing. Mesh panels promote breathability, and the seamless toe reduces chafing. The socks are made primarily from nylon, rather than polyester, which is known as one of the most durable synthetics.
6. Adidas Superlite Low-Cut Basketball Socks
It’s no surprise that Adidas, a European brand, focuses more on soccer than basketball. But the three stripes brand has dipped a toe into the world of basketball, including offering signature shoes by stars like Harden and Lilliard. Pair those shoes with Adidas affordable low-cut basketball socks. They’re one of the most affordable options on the market, making them great for anyone who likes to play casually. They come in a pack of six. They’re lightweight yet cushioned, and they’re made from breathable polyester.
7. New Balance x Stance Hoops Socks
Just like a skilled basketball player, New Balance and Stance performed a crossover we didn’t expect. The legendary 115-year old footwear brand teamed up with the decade-old sock maker on the perfect pair of performance socks. They have cushioned support with breathable mesh panels to keep your feet dry yet supported. They’re available in a few different colors as well.