The 2011-2012 basketball season is winding to a close with the NBA Finals in full gear.  Our look back at the sneaker releases of this year starts off with the boldest color schemes of the year.  Customary for the basketball footwear industry is limited releases, special color schemes, as well as signature themes.  This year saw the ever present All-Star specials, as well as the Chinese Year of the Dragon represented by almost all of the brands.  Fittingly, our list begins with the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season.

The Adidas adiZero™ Rose 2 - Christmas L-Train

9 – Adidas adiZero™ Rose 2 – Christmas

Christmas day 2011 saw the return of the NBA after an extended lockout that wiped out the first two months of the season.  The season started of with a marquee match up at Staples Center where the Los Angeles Lakers welcomed the Chicago Bulls.  Reining MVP Derrick Rose would make his first appearance in the adiZero™ Rose 2 with the special red “L-Train” version.  One of the top performers of the season, the L-Train brought Rose and the Bulls a last second victory.

Adidas adiZero™ Rose 2.5 and adiPower Howard 2 - 2012 All Star

8 – Adidas adiZero™ Rose 2.5 and Howard 2 All-Star

Pulling out all the stops for All-Star weekend 2012, Adidas outfitted their main superstars in two of the brightest colored sneakers on the court.  Both the Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard stepped on the court in mono-colored versions of the Rose 2.5 and Howard 2 respectively.  The High Energy color scheme matched the star studded event perfectly.

Reebok Wall Season 2: Zig Encore - 2012 All-Star (Rising Stars)

7 – Reebok Wall Season 2: Zig Encore – All-Star

2010 number one pick John Wall had a tough sophomore season.  The Washington Wizards labored to losing season, as Wall had an up and down season.  One of the bright spots for Wall was being a participant in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge for Team Chuck (Charles Barkley) during All-Star Weekend.  His first official signature shoe came in an Eastern Conference inspired color scheme for that weekend.  Grey, black, and blue, this version of the Zig Encore has a special star graphic with a speckled zig sole.

Nike Zoom Kobe VII - Easter (Poison Dart Frog)

6 – Nike Zoom Kobe VII – Easter (Poison Dart Frog)

This year, the Zoom Kobe series came in the form of a “System,” offering interchangeable midsoles.  Customary to the series in recent years is the theme of Kobe and his black mamba persona.  For the VII, a theme of predators was chosen, and for Easter, the animal of choice was the poison dart frog – appropriately displayed on the heel.  Matching the skin of the dangerous amphibian, the camouflage-like look is colored in a mint green, making it cool and fresh for the Spring.

Adidas adiZero™ Rose 2.5 and adiPower Howard 2 - Lei Feng Tribute

5 – Adidas adiZero™ Rose 2.5 and Howard 2 – Lei Feng Tribute

Adidas comes in again at the number 5 spot with a special tribute.  Paying homage to Chinese military hero Lei Feng, olive colored versions of the Rose 2.5 and Howard 2 were released this Spring.  A special print engulfs the upper, with Chinese characters and gold accents etched around the shoe.  The military theme is complete with a thick fleece lining.

Under Armour Micro G® Bloodline - Hunter/Camouflage

4 – Under Armour Micro G® Bloodline – Hunter/Camouflage

Brandon Jennings has taken the mantle as the face of Under Armour Basketball.  For his second signature shoe, the Bloodline, the company released a variety of color schemes representing the path of the young star to the NBA.  Landing at the number 4 spot is a Milwaukee inspired camouflage version of the Bloodline.  Fit for a hunting expedition, the upper carries forest colored camouflage with 3M accents.  A bright orange strap helps these shoes stand out on the court.

Li-Ning Hero and Turningpoint (Porcelain) - Year of The Dragon

3 – Li-Ning Hero and Turningpoint (Porcelain) – Year of the Dragon

The Year of the Dragon was a prominent theme through all the brands this season.  As one of the largest and most popular sneaker companies in China, Li-Ning paid tribute to the Dragon through their whole basketball line.  The Hero version features an all orange upper with blue splotches, while the Evan Turner signature Turningpoint takes on an all over print inspired by the designs of vases during ancient times.  Both models were released in limited numbers, making them two of the most sought after performers of the season.

Nike Zoom KD IV - Year of The Dragon

2 – Nike Zoom KD IV – Year of the Dragon

Kevin Durant has been making a statement all season long, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals.  On the verge of winning his first championship, the Nike Zoom KD series has also ascended with the IV.  This Year of the Dragon version carries a smooth Green Abyss/Current Blue color scheme with a dragon graphic throughout.  An embroidered “35” logo covers the tongue, while the strap swoops around the shoe in dragon scales with a Nike swoosh logo prominently displayed in Bright Mango.

Nike Lebron 9 - All-Star

1 – Nike Lebron 9 – All-Star

The 2012 MVP takes our number 1 spot for the best color scheme/theme of the season.  One of the most popular signature lines today, the Lebron 9 carried the tradition well this year with a number of eye-popping color schemes.  This bright orange All-Star special is fitted with a glow in the dark sole.  Nike brought a “galaxy” theme for All-Star weekend, as this Lebron 9 featured a snap shot of outer space for the inner lining.  A special Lebron star logo patch finishes off this bold performer on the tongue.