Since the early 1980s, NBA All-Star Weekend has been one of the most important times of the year for sneaker enthusiasts. Each year, brands pull out all the stops to get their footwear on the feet of basketball’s best players for the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, the NBA 3-Point Shooting Contest, the NBA All-Star Game, and all of the surrounding festivities. Over the years there have been countless sneakers released for All-Star Weekend, which often coincides with Michael Jordan’s birthday. That said, let’s take a look at 7 All-Star Inspired Sneakers Every Collector Should Own, beginning with one of MJ’s greatest pairs.
Before Michael Jordan won 6 NBA Championships with the Chicago Bulls, he won the hearts of Chicago fans, sneaker enthusiasts and aspiring basketball players worldwide by flying from the free throw line in the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. On that day, Michael Jordan wore the Nike Air Jordan III in a colorway that has become known as the “White Cement” version. While original Air Jordans typically aren’t wearable due to their age, there have been many retro versions over the years that would make great additions to any sneaker collection. The most popular variation is the Air Jordan III Retro 88 released in 2013, which is about as true to the original design as it gets. Plus, if you prefer your sneakers to be black, Jordan wore the Black Cement AJ3 during the All-Star Game that weekend.
Though he has played in every All-Star Game since 2005, surprisingly, Lebron James was not selected for the All-Star team in his rookie season back in 2004. He did, however, play in the Rookie All-Star Game, and wore one of his most important sneakers ever. King James played in his first signature sneaker, the Nike Air Zoom Generation. The design is famous for having been inspired by LeBron’s Hummer SUV, and the colorway was inspired by his love for Timberland Boots. Not only is this a significant collector’s shoe, but it’s also returning this year in an Air Zoom Generation Retro version made of the popular Vachetta Tan leather that sneakerheads love.
The same year that LeBron played in the Rookie All-Star Game, Tracy McGrady laced up one of the most memorable adidas sneakers ever. T-Mac wore a mismatched pair of his adidas T-Mac 3 in the 2004 All-Star Game, but it wasn’t just any old pair. He had a pair of his adidas signature shoes specially made for the game. Both shoes were made of shiny patent leather, but the right was royal blue, and the left was red. This unique combo made his shoes impossible to miss, and this will forever be remembered as one of the most iconic sneaker moments in All-Star Weekend history. Luckily, they re-released, and you can get a pair for your collection now.
Shaquille O’Neal had countless All-Star appearances over the years, but his 1996 sneakers should be included in any serious sneaker collection. Shaq wore the Reebok Shaqnosis, a mesmerizing design that stood out from the rest that year. In an incredible performance, the Diesel scored 25 points wearing the black and white (or is that white with black) Reebok Shaqnosis yet didn’t win the Most Valuable Player award for the game. That would go to the man wearing the next sneaker on our list.
If you asked sneaker enthusiasts, the 1996 NBA All-Star game would most likely be voted as the best of all time when it comes to footwear. Not only did you have Shaq in the Shaqnosis, David Robinson in the Nike Air 2 Strong, Jason Kidd in the Nike Zoom Flight and Shawn Kemp in the Reebok Kamikaze II, but you had the sneaker that many collectors would consider the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan 11. MJ’s “Columbia” Air Jordan 11 featured an all white upper with shiny patent leather and not only did he capture the MVP award in San Antonio, but his kicks even captured the attention of fans new to the sneaker obsession. These classic Air Jordans were re-released in 2014 and, many would argue that they are one of the most important pairs ever made.
The Slam Dunk Contest has always been a showcase for sneaker brands. You could argue that Dee Brown’s Reebok Pump, Vince Carter’s And1 Tai Chi, and many others are the preeminent pieces. However, the story behind and rarity of the “Kryptonate” Nike Foamposite Lite that Nate Robinson wore in 2009 make them one of the most collectible All-Star sneakers ever made. The lime green kryptonite-inspired colorway that Robinson wore to beat Dwight “Superman” Howard was limited to only 100 pairs and remains on the wish list of many collectors, but you can get your hands on them here.
Kobe Bryant had many notable All-Star sneakers during his years in the NBA. Before he signed with Nike, The Mamba had a handful of great adidas sneakers like the Crazy 8 he wore in the 1998 Slam Dunk Contest and the ”Sunshine” Kobe 1 he wore in 2001 to score 19 points. But if you’re looking for the most collectible Kobe Bryant All-Star shoes, look no further than the last pair he wore in 2016. These Nike Kobe 11 All-Star editions are the actual pair worn by Kobe Bryant himself during his last NBA All-Star Game before he retired. It doesn’t get any more rare when it comes to All-Star Inspired Sneakers Every Collector Should Own.
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