NBA All-Star Weekend is a true spectacle. You could argue that it’s the only All-Star event in any of the major sports that people still care about. How many people know that the NHL All-Star Game already happened? If people care about hockey at all, they are more likely to look to the Winter Classic as a midseason diversion. The Pro Bowl? That’s turned into a full-blown gimmick with a fantasy-style draft. But that can’t hide the fact that half-speed football is incredibly boring. In baseball, having the Midsummer Classic’s outcome determine home-field advantage in the World Series does instill it with added importance, but the Home Run Derby still ends up being the primary focus.
In the NBA, however, All-Star Weekend still means something. Even the celebrity game can be entertaining. And the dunk contest has worked out some of its kinks so that it doesn’t just become a brickfest. Then when you get to the game, it’s a lesson on fundamental basketball, playing as a team, and stifling defense. OK, it’s certainly not that, but anytime you get to see Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry, and Russell Westbrook play on the same team together, it’s worth watching.
It isn’t just for the play on the court. It’s also for the kicks on the player’s feet. NBA All-Star has always been a place for sneaker companies to unveil new models or crazy colorways. As in many things, no one did it better than Michael Jordan, who used the game as a place to reveal his latest signature shoe and generate an immense level of hype in a time before the rise of the internet. If you wanted to see the new Air Jordan, you had to watch the All-Star Game. Today the player’s edition models that guys wear are chronicled for even the most obscure regular season game. But players still bring out the heat for All-Star. Just take a look at the sneakers that every All-Star starter will be rocking in Toronto this Sunday.
Kobe was only 19 years old when he played in his first All-Star Game and has been named the game’s MVP four teams. For the the Mamba’s final All-Star, he will be stepping out in the Elite version of his 11th signature shoe. Featuring a Flyknit material, the pops of green on the upper and outsole are meant to look like the Northern Lights.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: AIR JORDAN XXX
The Oklahoma City Thunder guard has been the player of choice to reveal new editions of the Air Jordan. He was the first player to set foot on the court in the XX9 and also debuted the XXX, with its unique mix of knit and woven materials on the upper and the iconic Jumpman logo on the toe.
STEPH CURRY: UNDER ARMOUR CURRY TWO Not flashy, but classy. That’s the best way to describe the sharp looking Curry Twos that the reigning MVP will lace up in the All-Star Game. Steph’s sneakers have a white upper that is set off with gold accents. The clear outsole helps tie the minimalist look together.
KEVIN DURANT: NIKE KD8
With the exception of his first season and last season, Durant has never had less than 30 points in his six All-Star Game appearances. KD has also never been shy about sporting some colorful kicks during the game. This year, the upper on KD’s sneakers is inspired by the international flags which fly outside Toronto’s city hall and elsewhere. They also come with cool removable patches that can be attached to the tongue and heel for a customized look.
KAWHI LEONARD: AIR JORDAN XX9
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is not only playing in his first career All-Star Game, he’s starting. At the time of writing this, it still wasn’t known exactly which sneakers Leonard would make the occasion in. But he has been stepping out quite a bit this season in the Air Jordan XX9 as well as in retro models like the Air Jordan 5.
EASTERN CONFERENCELEBRON JAMES: NIKE LEBRON 13
King James will look more like a general when he takes the court in Toronto. The olive green used on the upper gives these LeBron 13s a military feel that is reinforced by the pins that can be affixed to the tongue. Perhaps these sneakers will be the key to LeBron winning his first All-Star Game MVP award since 2007-08.
PAUL GEORGE: NIKE HYPERLIVE
The Hyperlive that the Indiana Pacers forward will wear has a low-profile silhouette that almost makes it look like an indoor soccer shoe. Canadian fans will surely love this colorway, which has a red inspired by the country’s flag and a gum-colored outsole that is reminscent of a maple tree.
CARMELO ANTHONY: JORDAN MELO M12
The only other basketball player with more signature Jordan models than the New York Knicks star is MJ himself. But instead of slipping with age, the new Melo M12 is Anthony’s best looking shoe in recent memory. The minimalist mesh and leather upper gives the kicks a more refined look, while specially-placed pads inside keep the shoes feeling secure on the court.
DWYANE WADE: LI-NING WAY OF WADE 4
D-Wade is not messing around with his All-Star kicks this year. The platinum-colored upper is iridescent so that it shows different colors depending what angle you look at them from. Perhaps Wade can use them to distract his defenders during the game. Only 100 pairs of these will be created.
KYLE LOWRY: ADIDAS CRAZYLIGHT BOOST 2.5
The Toronto Raptors guard has the responsibility of representing the host city in the All-Star Game. He will do so in a unique pair of Crazylight Boost 2.5 sneakers that glow in the dark. Like Kobe’s shoes, the color on these is a nod to the Northern Lights that shine in the upper part of Canada, hence the unique purples and teals on the upper.