It's officially NBA All-Star Weekend, a yearly gathering of basketball skills, celebrity sightings, bottle service and severe cases of sneaker head envy. Before this year's crop of kicks take the hardwood, our guy Scoop Jackson took a look at a starting five of All-Star sneakers past.
1. Nike LBJ Zoom IV Graffiti PE Friends and Family
Player: LeBron James
This was the true beginning of LeBron annually making the ASG his personal sneaker showcase. The year prior (his rookie ASG), he brought the wheat heat to the stage, but when he touched down on the Las Vegas sands with the "reverse graffitis," (original color way was white-based, black-graffiti design), All-Star games haven't been the same since.
2. Nike Foam One Galaxy
Player: Rajon Rondo
It was the perfect marriage of hype, limited edition releasing, the emergence of Instagram, prior build-up of another iconic sneak (the Jordan XI "Concord" was re-dropped the Christmas before ASG, creating the perfect vacuum for another high-demand sneaker release), re-sell price gauging by fake sneaker heads and timing in the resurrection of Foamposites. Here's all you need to know: The "Galaxy's" ASG release has been called "The Most Important Sneaker Drop of The 21st Century." Say no more.
3. AJ 1/AJ III (tie)
Player: Michael Jordan
Even though Jordan rocked each shoe in games prior to each All-Star game, it was during those All-Star weekends when 1) the shoe would be released to the public and 2) he'd put the shoe on a whole other display during the game and the dunk contest the night before. Thirty and twenty-seven years later, these two models remain the most coveted, respected and worshipped silhouettes in the Jordan Brand history but (maybe) of an entire sneaker culture.
4. Converse Pro Leather
Player: Julius Erving
It was as if Julius Erving wasn't immortal before that January weekend in Denver in 1976. But Dr. J's legendary performance in the first-ever dunk contest set the stage for his sneaker to become almost as immortal as him. Weeks afterwards, posters of Doc taking off from the free throw line lined kids' bedroom walls, followed by them (us!) begging parents for those shoes! It catapulted Converse, the then-No.1 basketball shoe company in the world, into a new "we're not just Chuck Taylor's" phase. That weekend was the beginning of their new beginning.
5. And 1 Thai Chi
Player: Vince Carter
More than the insanity he was causing early in his career while rocking signature Pumas or the "boing" that became associated with his "clearing Fred Weis" dunk while wearing Nike's Shox BB4's, Vince Carter took a shoe company straight outta the Œhood to Hollywood on one All-Star Weekend night in Oakland. Five dunks. Done. For And 1, the mixtapes, the legend of Skip To My Lou, the tours, the urban branding they executed through hooping, none had anything on what VC did for them and their only true signature shoe as a company. Sixteen All-Star Games later, they should still be thanking him.