The Essential Gift Guide For The Basketball Lover In Your Life

The holidays are coming, and rather than tell you how many shopping days we have left, we’ve decided to do something a little more practical: help you. If you’re anything like us, you are impossible to shop for, and the all-seeing eye of BASKETBALL isn’t all that much of a road map.

That’s where we come in. We’ve asked a few of our favorite DIME contributors to think about the gifts they want to give and/or receive this holiday season, and no this doesn’t include giant TVs or Game Of Thrones box sets. You can find that elsewhere on the UPROXX network. Instead we’re focusing on what we know – hoops – and giving you options for the hoop head in your life (even if that person just so happens to be you).

Without further ado, here’s the DIME holiday gift guide.

Stance Christmas Day Crew Socks

Holiday socks are as much a part of the season as Christmas Vacation or egg nog. And Stance consistently delivers some of the best socks out there (and we’re not just talking about on-court wear). If I had more pairs (but I’m not flush with cash or nearly as influential as the GOAT Lang Whitaker), I’d probably wear them every day with jeans. They’re comfortable, contour to your foot, give support, and do more than you ever thought a sock could do. Plus these are festive as all heck. And there are other options. Your feet deserve to remember the reason for the season too.

– Martin Rickman


Listen—you don’t need an ugly Christmas sweater. No one does. They have little re-wear value throughout the calendar year and you’ll definitely get some looks if you wear one to the game come playoff time. But nothing says Christmas more than a completely unnecessary, seasonally-specific purchase that’s probably a bit outside your budget.

Overall, I do find this ugly sweater trend a bit strange because it’s weird to intentionally design “ugly” things. It has to affect the process a bit: You’re either trying too hard to “ug” it up or accidentally make it kind of look nice out of prideful spite. True ugly sweaters are a serendipitous bit of cosmic luck — a old thing so bad it’s actually good. Unless you’re the Sixers, you can’t just manufacture ugly and have it really ring true.

What you can do, however, is make sweaters that light up the word SLAM DUNK on the chest. That’s one way to really drive this baby home. My favorite non-glowing sweater is the Washington Wizards one that just says JOHN WALL across the chest. It’s accurate given that he’s pretty much all the Wiz have going for them, but it’s also incredibly sad.

I do genuinely think the NBA logo sweater is fly as hell, though. I’d wear that to a fancy dinner and gladly field any questions about my sanity. There are also sweater dresses available for the ladies, which I hear are hecka comfortable. And if all else fails you can go with something that is always truly ugly: slippers. Though these Sacramento Kings ones look pretty regal with that alt logo.

– Ryan Nagelhout

Run-CTY Collection

Few things in fashion or pop culture are as timeless as the iconic RUN-DMC logo. It has been made into countless parodies and homages, yet it remains cool as hell. The NBA knows what’s cool and (generally) what looks good, and they’ve made a collection of T-shirts and hoodies for every damn team in the league with a version of the DMC logo. If someone you know has a favorite NBA team, you can be confident about buying them one of these bad boys and know that they’ll be proud to wear it out in public. You can’t say that with every piece of sports apparel!

And hey, as a bonus, you can just go to the store page, scroll down and marvel at what different cities’ three-letter abbreviations are! You down with CLT? Yeah, you know me!

– Bill Hanstock

Air Jordan 3 Wool

If you’re not a boots guy, but you live in a cold-weather climate (or at the very least a place where it’s going to rain a lot and generally be not that fun outside ) your shoe game options are sometimes limited. Sure you can waterproof your kicks, but you’re always running the risk of getting stuff dirty and it not being all that warm anyway. That’s why I was so intrigued with the wool Air Jordan 3 Retros that recently dropped. They’re a great winter style, and have that extra punch for cold weather. Plus in gray, they’ll go with almost any bulky warm clothes you end up throwing on.

– Martin Rickman

Roots Of Fight Basketball and Football Collection

What sets Roots of Fight apart from most sports clothing labels is the effort that goes into selecting the icons and designing their collections. It’s not just about creating something that looks good, as much as it’s about telling a story that celebrates and honors the athletes and legends. But it also helps that Roots of Fight makes gear that simply looks flat out awesome. The boxing and martial arts collections, which have honored Mike Tyson and Bruce Lee, among many others, eventually led to a baseball collection paying tribute to Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and Roberto Clemente.

Now (and finally) Roots of Fight is offering new NBA styles that pay tribute to Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Dr. J, Darryl Dawkins, and Dennis Rodman, as well as a football collection for some of the NFL’s all-time great running backs, including Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Marcus Allen, Earl Campbell, and Gale Sayers.

– Ashley Burns

NBA Christmas Day Jerseys

A tradition unlike any other, the NBA always drops some unique jerseys for their incredible slate of Christmas Day games. This year’s are no different, with the script having that certain holiday feel without being overbearing or kitschy. They’re just different enough to take one of your other favorite jerseys out of the rotation, but not so crazy that you wear it once and don’t feel like you can’t wear it ever again. Feel free to wear the Steph Curry one when you’re stuck pondering all the 3-1 leads you’ve blown in your life.

– Martin Rickman

Retro NBA Dishware

Last Christmas, my amazing roommate got me a retro NBA coffee mug, which when filled each morning with the finest whole-bean, fair-trade coffee Trader Joe’s has to offer, helps me steel myself for a long rewarding day of basket-blogging. The only problem is that this is the only one I own, so I’d like to start a collection. They make a lot of contemporary versions for today’s teams, but I want the old-school ones with the retro team logos and loud gaudy colors and cheesy cartoonish designs. For instance, this commemorative championship stein for the now-defunct Sonics would be a particularly great gift.

Mugs are preferable, but any other NBA-related dishware would be a welcome addition to my future cabinet of basketball curiosities.

– Jamie Cooper

’47 Apparel

By now you’re likely sensing a pattern. And said pattern is that the DIME staff loves throwback basketball apparel. Hats, shirts, socks, mugs, all of it. In terms of comfort, nobody’s beating ’47. I can personally vouch for it. The shirts have a good feel and are just as good to toss on while working from home – or having a lazy Saturday – as they are going out. The Hardwood Classics stuff will get you noticed, and sweatshirts like this Cavs one are so cozy they’ll get in your regular rotation.

– Martin Rickman

Black Santa Collection By Baron Davis

Baron Davis is no stranger to trying new things. And this holiday season, he started another company called Black Santa, which as he puts it, gives “people the ability to dream and imagine something different” in the African-American community. He’s planning on rolling out other characters throughout the next year, but the first is “Black Santa.” There are shirts, sweatshirts, infant clothing, sweaters, ornaments, and more. It goes along with the #GivingHasNoSeason campaign.

“With all that’s going on in this country,” Davis said in a release, “and particularly in the African-American community, I want to offer heroes and role models through storytelling. Black Santa is the first character. His mission is to celebrate diversity, the joy of giving and the magic of good. He’s here to bring people together and have fun.”

– Martin Rickman

A Basketball

You can go out and spend your hard-earned money on a gift for a basketball fan that they may never use. Or you can get a hoops fan a practical gift, something they will love and use for years.

That something is a basketball. Not a super fancy basketball – although you shouldn’t be cheap about this – but a plain ol’ basketball. Get a ball that, when your loved one goes and plays at a gym or at a park, there is no debate – this is the ball everyone is going to used, because it’s a nice basketball.

I have this ball. It rules and we use it whenever I play pickup at my local gym. If you want a ball that can be used outdoors, get one! Or get an indoor/outdoor one for versatility!

As we all know, ball is life. It’s hard to have a good life if you don’t have a good ball. Get your loved ones a good ball for the holidays.

– Bill DiFilippo

Sprayground NBA Backpacks

You’ve seen Sprayground packs around even if you didn’t know the brand. They’re taking over. And with drops from J.R. Smith to Antonio Brown, it was only a matter of time before they got into the NBA licensing game too. The style is bright with pops of color and bold designs. It’s impossible not to notice these. They’re lightweight, have pockets in the right places, and are comfortable. Remember when L.L. Bean monograms were the back to school must-haves? Well, something tells me Sprayground is next.

– Martin Rickman

Starbury Elite Lightup

Former NBA All-Star and overall fascinating dude Stephon Marbury released a new rendition of his iconic ‘Starbury’ sneakers earlier this year. Marbury released the original ‘Starbury’ in 2006 for just $14.98, claiming that everyone should be able to afford a quality basketball sneaker, and that his $15 shoe was just as good as the $100+ sneakers companies like Nike and Jordan were selling. I cannot confirm nor deny Marbury’s claim because I never owned a pair of the original Starbury’s. I didn’t realize what a fun piece of basketball culture those $15 sneakers were going to be. I wish I had bought them when I had the chance.

Marbury is back at it again, sharing the same message that ultimately boils down to ‘cool shoes don’t need to be hundreds of dollars’ with the release of the Starbury Elite Lightup. The sneakers, of course, light up, and for $49.98 you can get that basketball buddy of yours a ridiculous signature shoe from a basketball player that hasn’t been in the NBA since 2009! I almost forgot to mention that you can control the lights with an app on your phone that can also pull music from your iTunes library, making the lights on your new Starbury’s dance to the beat of any song you desire. That is a lot of wonderful basketball nonsense for $49.98.

– Tony Xypteras

Dickies ’67 French Terry Hoodie

Everyone needs a good sweatshirt around the holidays. What Dickies lacks in flash, it more than makes up for in comfort and durability. The workwear brand takes pride in clothing that stands up to pretty much anything you throw at it, which is important for ballers who are trying to get in some shots outside in cold weather. Plus, with classic style, you’ll be able to rock any kicks you want with this sweatshirt and not run the risk of clashing or being too showy.

– Martin Rickman

Homage Vintage Collection

I’m a sucker for retro anything, which is probably why I refuse to acknowledge any time an arena gets renamed or whenever a team changes its logo even a little bit. But for people who aren’t like me and eat up everything vintage, Homage offers a nice middle ground. Their collection is fashionable and doesn’t beat you over the head with nostalgia. There’s a ridiculously good Cincinnati Royals t-shirt in there. And some Bad Boys stuff. And even old All-Star logo shirts. The hardest thing will be trying to decide which thing you want more than the others.

– Martin Rickman

NBA League Pass

Give someone the gift of basketball. As in, all of the basketball there is. The NBA League Pass has been a godsend for hoops dorks for years and a welcomed addition to any fan’s cable subscription, especially as a gift. You can pay for a few teams, the entire league or a couple of games and let your loved one watch all of the Russell Westbrook triple-double-mongering or DeMarcus Cousins referee-admonishing they can handle. Yes, the connection for online viewing can be wonky, but the NBA usually gets that figured out by like, the all-star break, so it’s the gift that keeps on giving. League Pass is even better for those who travel, as iPad and cell phone viewing is much better than another round of Candy Crush or whatever game they use to get through the doldrums of an airport.

– Eddie Gonzalez

Fine Art, Basketball Style

Basketball fans can be tough to please if they already have everything needed to enjoy or play the game, like a League Pass subscription or a lucky jersey. To find an original and creative gift for the basketball obsessive in your life, one has to look no farther than a stylized painting of iconic players like Kobe or MJ in action.

“An original painting must be expensive!” you think, and of course they are, but if an extravagant gesture like this is in your price range for Christmas you could do worse than hanging a piece of art depicting Steph Curry swishing a shot on the wall of the TV room. There’s always the alternative option of buying a print if it’s not quite your style to drop $3k on art. Put Steph or LeBron on a throw pillow for the holidays instead!

– Whitney McIntosh

Jacob Weinstein Prints

Perhaps better known as the artistic flair behind the FreeDarko books, Jacob Weinstein makes some incredible NBA art. I genuinely want to own most of these, especially Charles Barkley as a parade float, Shaq as a clown, and Kobe Bryant studiously assembling a ship in a bottle. The only reason I didn’t include the Jordan print is because it’s already on my wall. They’re all stunning, thought-provoking, and would probably make me look smarter and cooler than I actually am.

Even the prints that no longer make sense are great. I still want this Kevin Durant As a Boy Scout print even though that version of the Thunder fell apart long ago. And if you want to get some super rare art, his pen and ink originals really go the extra mile.

– Ryan Nagelhout

Space Jam Jordan 11 Retro

Nike and Jordan Brand love to treat sneaker lovers with an annual Jordan 11 Retro and this year’s no different. Well, actually, it is. Back for the first time since 2009, the ‘Space Jam’ colorway is always a fan favorite and this year commemorates the 20th anniversary of the classic flick the namesake is drawn from. This year’s retro has a higher cut on the patent, includes Nike Air branding and sports a look more reminiscent of the pair His Airness wore in the ’95 playoffs during his return to the court. To top it off, Jordan added a fresh detail with the 45 on the heel, another nod to MJ’s return and just the type of detail that will send that special recipient in a tizzy when they open up your gift. Available at Jordan Brand retailers on Dec. 10 for $220.

– John Gotty


If you know anyone, anywhere, that is both a hoops fan and happens to own a Playstation, Xbox, or PC capable of playing games, I think you’re morally obligated to buy them NBA 2K17 this holiday season. Not only is it the best basketball video game ever made, but you should be able to find it for as low as $30 depending on how skilled you are at hunting down them good deals. Even at full price, NBA 2K17 is a must-have for basketball gamers, and in all honesty, if you know the theoretical person described above, you can stop reading our Holiday Gift Guide now. Go get them NBA 2k17.

– Tony Xypteras

For a look at more must-have gifts this holiday season, take a look at our other guides.