By Phil Hecken, with Matthew Weidner
Well, it’s that time of year again: time to see the shoes the NBA All Stars will be wearing for the big game today. After a two-year hiatus, the “sneaker guide” is back. Long time readers will remember I used to do this post every All Star Weekend with Matt Powers, but with Matt apparently retired from the sneaker game, we went two years without the sneakerheads’ wet dream. I’m pleased to announce that this year the piece returns, along with a new sneakerhead reviewer, Matt Weidner.
Readers probably know that I’m most definitely not a sneakerhead, and this sort of thing is way out of my wheelhouse. But I know there are many readers who are into this sort of thing, so I’m happy today to bring you the latest in NBA kicks. Here’s Matt (for all photos below, you can click to enlarge):
What They’re Wearing — NBA All-Star Game 2019
By Matthew Weidner
NBA All-Star weekend is upon us. The uniforms released a few weeks ago with limited fanfare. To be honest, they’re lackluster from a design standpoint. I understand Nike’s preference of putting a large team logo on the center of the jersey for retail purposes, but I’m not a fan of the look. I’m not here for the uniforms, though. I’m here for the sneakers.
There are two times per season that the shoe brands show out — All-Star Weekend and Christmas Day. They didn’t disappoint on Christmas, and as you’ll see below, the 2019 All-Star Game looks like it will be the same story.
There are going to be seven brands represented in this year’s game – Nike, Jordan, adidas, Under Armour, Anta, Li-Ning, and New Balance. Unfortunately, Puma has been left out of the All-Star Game itself, but the brand will be represented in the Rising Stars Challenge by Deandre Ayton. He’ll be wearing their second model, the Puma Uproar.
If you’re wondering who I am, my name is Matt Weidner (@dubsnuggs). I’m a guy in my 30s from suburban Philadelphia. I’ve been a loyal follower of Uni Watch since I was using a BlackBerry to send in ticker submissions. Currently, I write a weekly(ish) sneaker column for 76ers-centric blog The Phifth Quarter.
Alright, let’s get to the feet.
Captain – LeBron James
When the All-Star Game sneakers were unveiled by Nike for all of their signature athletes, James’ Nike LeBron 16 was missing from the bunch. Rumors at the time were that Nike was planning to release the Nike LeBron 16 “Watch the Throne” All-Star Weekend and thusly, LeBron would be wearing them on court in Charlotte. It has not been confirmed that James will play in these for the game, but odds are high that he will be. For some backstory, Nike created an extremely limited version of the Nike LeBron 9 for the Kanye West and Jay-Z’s album and subsequent tour in 2012. Those sneakers are currently fetching upwards of $5,000.
Durant is a Nike signature athlete and will be wearing the Nike KD 11 “Aunt Pearl” for the game. A pink-clad “Aunt Pearl” version of his signature sneaker has been released since the Nike KD IV in 2012. They are named after his late great aunt who helped raise him.
Kyrie is the reigning king of sneaker collaborations. For All-Star 2019, he’ll be wearing the ROKIT x Nike Kyrie 5. ROKIT is a Los Angeles-based skate boarding and streetwear brand. As a 76ers fan, I dislike Irving the player, but if I’m being honest, these are my favorite of this year’s bunch.
Collaborated with Kawhi on 6 PEs of the OMN1S. We wanted people to vote for the debut at #NBAAllStar
But Kawhi wears whatever color he wants. pic.twitter.com/lpn7jVBBzV
— New Balance Basketball (@nbhoops) February 15, 2019
Kawhi is the only current NBA player signed to a sneaker contract with New Balance. He was a Jordan Brand athlete prior to signing with NB and has been wearing the Air Jordan XXXII low throughout this season. New Balance announced via social media that their new basketball model will debut on the feet of Leonard at the game. The last player to wear New Balance in an NBA game was the timeless Matt Bonner. My favorite highlight from Bonner’s time playing in NB were his customized Christmas Day sneakers from 2013.
The reigning NBA MVP is the face of adidas basketball. Unlike Nike, the adidas athletes will all wear similar coloways of their respective sneakers. The adidas Harden Vol. 3 features checkered flag motif and other design aspects paying homage to Charlotte’s rich auto racing history.
Thompson is the marquee player for Chinese brand Anta. The Anta KT4 features removable patches commemorating his career highlights. The sneaker is predominantly white with a mid-sole complete with graphics of the accompanying patches.
Like Harden, Lillard is an adidas signature athlete. The adidas Dame 5 worn in Charlotte will also feature the auto racing theme, though with much more overt flair.
Aldridge will wear the Air Jordan 33 that was created for this year’s game. Coach’s selection Victor Oladpio would have worn this model as well, but he’ll miss the game due to injury.
Wade is the face of Chinese brand Li-Ning. He is wearing the Li-Ning WOW (Way of Wade) 7. In his final All-Star appearance, Wade will be wearing the WOW7 “Year of the Pig” which released this week. As an aside, they can use all of the PR-speak they want, but I have a 3-year-old and you can’t tell me that Peppa Pig wasn’t their design inspiration.
The remaining group of reserves for Team Lebron all wear Nike. Ben Simmons, Bradley Beal, and Karl-Anthony Towns have all worn various colorways of the Nike Hyperdunk X thus far. It is likely that at least one of them will wear the new self-lacing Nike Adapt BB. Anthony Davis has worn the Nike Zoom Kobe A.D. for games that the Pelicans have allowed him to play this season. Because the game is in Charlotte, Nike is releasing the Nike Zoom Kobe IV Protro “Draft Day” since Bryant was originally drafted by the Hornets. I wouldn’t be shocked if Davis or one of the other Nike guys laced these up for the game.
Captain – Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis has worn the 2018 version of the Nike Kobe A.D. for all games this season. Nike has hinted that Antetokounmpo’s first signature sneakers, the Nike Greek Freak 1, will debut at some point during the season, so when better than the All-Star Game? No confirmed photos have been released, but these have been floating around the internet.
Curry will wear a highlighter yellow colorway of his Under Armour Curry 6 dubbed “Coy Fish” for the 2019 All-Star Game. They are inspired by a prank he and his Davidson teammates pulled at a Japanese restaurant. Yes, I know the correct spelling is Koi. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Embiid signed a lucrative deal with Under Armour prior to this season, essentially becoming their #2 behind Stephen Curry. He recently debuted the Under Armour Anatomix Spawn, so he’ll be wearing those for the game. The past few games he’s worn a player exclusive version honoring his home country of Cameroon, so I’m sure UA will be cooking something special up for All-Star weekend.
George is one of the more recent Nike athletes to get a signature line. The Nike PG3 was released in January with a NASA themed colorway. For the All-Star Game, he’ll wear a rather subdued sneaker with Nike ACG vibes.
Walker is starting the game in his home city. He has worn the Air Jordan X for most of this season. The 1991 game was in Charlotte (and Michael Jordan owns the Hornets), so Nike has released two versions of the Air Jordan VI which MJ wore back in ’91. Though nothing has been confirmed, I have a hunch Kemba will be wearing either the Air Jordan VI “Infrared” or the Air Jordan VI created in collaboration with Charlotte retailer Social Status.
Westbrook’s newest signature model released in January. The Jordan Why Not Zer0.2 isn’t for everyone, but I like them. The sneaker lends itself well to different colors, patterns, and materials. The Zer0.2 created for this year’s game prove precisely that. They’re wild, but that’s what this game is for.
Like Team LeBron, Team Giannis has a Nike Hyperdunk X crew – Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokić, and Dirk Nowitzki. D’Angelo Russell and Nikola Vučević are Nike athletes as well, but they’ve been wearing the Nike PG 2.5 and Nike LeBron Soldier 11 respectively. Both players wear older models of other Nike signature players, so it’s unknown when Nike will do in regards to their footwear for the game. Blake Griffin has a pseudo-signature model as he has been the face of the Jordan Super.Fly line for a few years. This season he is wearing the Jordan Super.Fly MVP. The only non-Nike/Jordan player on Team Giannis is adidas’ Kyle Lowry. Lowry will lace up the racing-inspired adidas Marquee Boost low in Charlotte.
That’s the rundown for this year’s game. I’m bummed that none of the brands released a sneaker based on the robes that Charlotte-billed Ric Flair wore during his heyday as king of the wrestling world. I think adidas missed the mark going with auto racing over pro-wrestling for their approach, but what do I know?
Thanks Matt! Great stuff — can’t say all these shiny new shoes do much for me, but I do love me that Steph Curry neon yellow shoe! For all those of you who watch the game (or any of the pre-game stuff), do you watch for the sneakers? Is this like Christmas day for you? If you’re a sneakerhead (or even just a fan of footwear), is this the highlight of the year?
NBA All Star Game Uniforms…
…didn’t always suck.
Like the ones above. Or the ones they wore last year. Yep, today will feature another black vs. white game, with the players divided up into “Team LeBron” and “Team Giannis” (for LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Lakers and Bucks, respectively) who chose up sides from the 2019 All Stars, regardless of conference. Yep, we’ll have to wait a little while longer before we get an East vs. West game again, it seems.
But for years this is how the game was played, frequently in blue and red (or white) uniforms, but as the years have progressed, the unis have…changed. This isn’t to say the unis from yesteryear were always great — there were some hits and misses — but they never got as bad as the current sets (if you count last year as basically the same as this time around). And hey, if we don’t have conferences, we can make a players’ jersey in both black and white, because you have to get two of your favorite player, right? Who says the jersey-industrial complex is dead!
But I digress. Paul covered those uniforms before they were officially uniforms and, to paraphrase Dennis Green, “they are what we thought they were.” Instead of adopting (or attempting to capture in some way) the Host Team’s colors or uni scheme or font or something, this year the red, white and blue on the piping is supposed to be a “tribute” to the 1991 All Star Game, which like today, was held in Charlotte.
Before I go off on a rant (and start screaming at the clouds), I wanted to bring you a look at the uniforms worn in All Star Games past — not all of them, mind you, but a good number. Ready?
Early All Star Games had plain (gorgeous) unis.
By the 1960’s the jerseys had “EAST” and “WEST” on the chest, along with the simple stars.
By 1972 the colors weren’t always red, white and blue. The ’72 game, played in LA, featured the East and West in Lakers colors, in a nod to the home/host city. Also note Jerry West with his NOF and NOB.
Note the upper/lower case fonts, in sort of an Olde English script. Can you guess where this game was played?
Not a yuge fan of the diagonal pattern.
Now THAT is a set of unis!
Yeah, they probably didn’t need to add “All Stars” to the front of the jersey. We know who you are!
Hmmm. The “EAST” and “WEST” look too crowded with “ALL STARS” on the front. I know, let’s move “EAST” and “WEST” to the lower back!
Who wears short-shorts?
All Stars shortened to All Star, and the NBA Logo are added — but damn those look good.
By the early-mid ’90s, the NBA loved sublimation. And it shows here.
You either loved or hated these two years — played in Phoenix and San Antonio, respectively. They really tried to bring out the host city flair for these.
Perhaps they were a bit “too” much, as for some strange reason, from 1997 thru 2002, there were no All Star Game unis — teams wore their respective home and road unis. I was never a fan of this format. This isn’t BASEBALL!
Ah. The return to sanity. Damn those are purdy.
By making “EAST” and “WEST” really big and diagonally aligned, the “All Star” wording becomes the size of an ad patch. Smaller actually. Might as well not be there.
By 2006, the NBA would start experimenting adding more solid color blocks to the white jersey, and more white color blocks to the blue jersey.
Very minimalist. Also very bland.
Hey, remember that color blocking thing we started in 2006? Let’s make the front of the unis one color and the backs a completely different color. But make sure the team with the white front plays a team with a white back. That won’t be confusing at all!
Hey 2008? Yeah that was a bad idea. Signed 2009.
I know. Let’s make the game color vs. color (you can’t blame Nike for this one). Also, let’s at “The” to EAST and WEST. Also, lets add a makers mark!
Let’s add some sublimation to the color vs. color! And how about 3 stripes down the side of the jersey?
Make the 3 stripes bigger!
Hey, how about a giant logo? And sleeves! Wait, wait…how about TV Numbers too!
Well, the weekend will be spent in NYC, with Brooklyn and the Knicks both serving as hosts, so while this was technically black vs. white, it was done with the Nets and Knicks unis in mind. Also note the FNOB/Number/LNOB on the jerseys. Also, the teams did away with the East vs. West designations.
Teams returned to simpler unis and EAST and WEST designations. The unis also featured an ad patch.
The last ASG with adidas unis would be kind of an anthracite vs. gray affair. The ad patch is still there.
The first ASG in Nike (actually Jordan Brand) unis, the East/West conferences were done away with again, and all teams wore a monochrome team logo on their chest. Rear numbers were ghosted, and the unis were about as minimalist as you could get. I mean — the game’s really all about the footwear anyway, so why not let the players show that off with as little to distract them as possible. Just a Jumpman, and ad patch, and a logo.
Enjoy the game tonight kids! I won’t be watching — not out of spite, I actually am playing and teaching curling. I may get home in time to see the last 5 minutes (which is about the only time in the game any actual defense will be played). But that’s if I decide to turn it on…
(Another) Uni Mystery, Solved?
Reader Paul Bielewicz sent the following e-mail to the Uniwatching G-mail account:
While researching something else, I came across an interesting tidbit in the Rochester, NY Democrat & Chronicle newspaper (Feb. 25, 1915) regarding the New York Yankees’ 1915 uniforms. This article (see clipping attached) refers to “blue, cardinal and green stripes” on the “confederate gray” road uniform.
Interestingly however, Dressed to the Nines shows a plain gray (non-pinstriped) road uniform for the 1915 Yankees. It does show a pinstriped uniform for 1916, but the image is too small to discern the color of the stripes.
Link to Dressed to the Nines:
I’d be curious to know which one is correct.
The newspaper clipping in question is below:
Anthony Emerson was manning the account when this item came in. He forwarded it to Paul, who in turn reached out to Todd Radom (as well as MLB Historian Tom Scheiber) to see if either knew the answer.
Of course Todd did (here’s his reply). Also note that at the time of this reply, Tom hadn’t yet responded:
Absolutely-I even made mention of them in this post, from 2013.
Correct me if I wrong, Tom, but we found no evidence that they were actually worn in-season?
This item came up for auction a while back: ex-Barry Halper, which makes it suspect.
Make sure you click on Todd’s article. But if you didn’t the key line is here:
1914 would mark the last season that the Yankees’ home uniforms did not feature pinstripes. 1914 also represents the last season that the club wore their interlocking “NY” on their road jerseys. The team’s 1915 home uniforms still utilized the interlocking “NY,” but it was now set against a field of navy blue pinstripes—a look quite familiar nearly a century later.
While the new road uniforms were quite creative, blue, red, and green pinstripes proved to be but a passing fad for the team. [Emphasis mine — PH]
So — it appears as though the DDTN listing for the 1915 Yankees is wrong. Or is it? The clipping Todd references in his email refers to a home (rather than road) uniform. Did the Yankees scrap the multi-color stripes for the road uniform in 1915 (going with the plain gray shown on DDTN)? And did the team wear road pins in 1916? That answer is “Yes” — as Todd mentioned in this article, but those pins weren’t multi-colored.
Maybe this mystery isn’t quite solved after all…
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Sometimes mimicking the football team is awesome: Hawai’i batting helmets have that state outline design from the football helmets (from PodKATT). Also from Max G. … On Friday night, Holy Cross went with unusually wide pant stripes (from Squatchee on Top). … Gorgeous uniforms for Georgia Tech (from Josh Gibson, who notes they “Get It”). Also from Josh: here’s another look at those unis. … The New York Mets are gearing up for the golden anniversary of their 1969 World Series win — with a marketing push that’s aimed at social media-obsessed millennials (from John). Paul immediately noticed the article contains factual errors. Yeah, the phrase Let’s Go Mets goes back a bit further than 1986 (from Jim Daly). You might want to read the comment chain following Paul’s tweet too. However, maybe there is a different explanation. … ICYMI: The maker of Cleveland’s ballpark mustard is removing the Chief Wahoo logo from its branding and packaging to maintain longstanding ties with the Cleveland Indians baseball team. The mustard did this at the request of the Indians. … The Visalia Rawhide will hold its first ever Design-a Jersey Contest for children ages 16 and under. The winner will have their jersey worn by Rawhide players on Sunday August 4th. … Not sure when this pic was taken, but check this out: Everett AquaSox wear tequila sunrise throwbacks (from Matt Shevin). Hmmm, maybe it’s a throwback after all (from Chris Richards). … Youngstown State have a mono-red uniform (from J. Bunnell). And they are sporting rups! (from Robert Hayes). … Nice cap/uni patches found in a Brooklyn store (from Max Frankel). … Toy Fair New York revealed some MLB mascots (from Brinke). … Remember that question about the “Nash” patch on the Vandy uniforms in yesterday’s ticker? It appears we have an answer (from DarthVandy). … Looks like the Syracuse Ladies were sporting anthracite jerseys yesterday (via Paul). … OK, this is kinda bizarre. The text for this tweet reads, “All Japan wrestlers played a Japanese baseball team. Pictured are Giant Baba, John Tenta, R&R Express & Joel Deaton.” Aside from the awesome mono-green unis, it appears both teams are named for the colors of their uni (from Steve Flack). … The Angels have now placed Luis Valbuena’s jersey next to Nick Adenhart’s old one in the club’s spring training facility. Valbuena and José Castillo were killed in a robbery in Venezuela in December (from Mike Chamernik).
NFL/Pro News: Advertising goes back a long way, often in seemingly innocuous ways: “Never knew the Chargers had a tie-in with the Dodge Charger,” writes Russell. This still was taken from 1973 via the fantastic vintage greatness of ‘This Week in Pro Football’.” … CROSSOVER ALERT! Check out Hugh McElhenny and Tom Flores in Roller Derby action with their game unis! (from Peach). Also posted in “Grab Bag.” … “Found this gem cleaning out my closet,” says Micah “2001 XFL inaugural party in Vegas hosted by UPN where I was working. Do people remember UPN carried 3 XFL games nationally a week? Do people even remember UPN?” … Eric Gamborg seems to think Noah Jackson was wearing his jersey backwards in this football card. … This is interesting: rather than use “traditional” deals to achieve their look, the AAF’s Salt Lake team paints their shells blue, then tapes off the stripes, then finishes the helmets in silver (from Andrew Lind). This is similar to how Michigan paints their famous Winged helmets. … WOW! Check out the LA Rams debuting their new uniforms (from 1973). From Old Time Football. … Our pal John Turney asks “ANy guesses as to what is on this sticker, Willie Laner 1973?”
College Football News: My SMUW uni trackers never take the off-season off! Rex Henry was searching through old photographs and found the Florida State Seminoles wearing white jerseys and pants in a 2009 game against UCF. … The 1976 Indiana State team in dark blue with red accents and ‘school initials’ across the shoulders. “Funny Look” says LoLo Phynarski. Almost looks like “150” across the shoulders, but it’s “ISU.”
Hockey News: From Friday night: Grand Valley State University vs. Aquinas College hockey. Number 5 with no nameplate. It was the only jersey on the team without one (from Griffin Skinner). … On February 23rd, the Sioux Falls Stampede will change their name to the Sioux Falls Wiener Dogs (from Spencer Seaner). … “I don’t know if you know, or maybe one of your followers do,” asks Chris Covers. “The Adidas number kits for the Edmonton Oilers, it originally had holes in the numbers, but looking at some game worn jerseys, the holes look printed. Did they change to a print pattern?” Anyone? Update: We have an answer. … Good vs. Evel: Last night, the Lone Star Brahmas (NAHL) wore Kenievel themed jerseys (from Dustin Perez). … There was almost literally a herd of cows in the stands for a women’s ice hockey game between Williams & Middlebury for 1st place in NESCAC (from Paul Friedmann).
NBA News: Until the NBA’s “Jersey of the Future” is a reality, what do you do with your favorite NBA jersey when your favorite player gets traded? Well, you recycle them in interesting ways (from Sons of Johnny LeMaster). … Ben noticed an All Star cap that has writing a bit too large to fit on the panel. … On Milwaukee asks, “Could this horned headwear be the new cheesehead?” (from Jeff Ash). … Blissfully, the jerseys for the skills contest last night had no ad patches (from Matt). Also noted by Chris Mycoskie. There were also no ad patches for the 3 point contest (from Hit The Glass). Several others also noted this. … Steph Curry at All-Star Saturday wearing the same jacket he wore as a young kid while watching his dad in the 3-point contest (from Mark Fogarty).
College Hoops News: The Georgia Southern Mens Hoops team recently wore throwback uniforms with sleeves (from Jason Greer). … Looks like Ball State has a new throwback coming (from Kyle Shaner). … The UMass Lowell womens team threw it back yesterday. … Ooooh, check out these nice throwbacks for Nebraska (from @give_teddy). … “I was surprised by what I saw on this freeze frame shot from UNC at Wake Forest today,” writes Dave Garabedian. “It appears that a conventional (old school?) twine basketball net has been attached to the rim with a thinner nylon cord.” … “Somewhat reasonable color vs color matchup for Penn State-Purdue (yester)day,” notes Tom Whitfield. … HBU wore their outstanding throwback striped shorts last night (from Chris Mycoskie).
Soccer News: Sonny Bill still won’t wear the Bank of New Zealand advertiser logo on his Auckland Blues jersey collar due to his religious beliefs (from Ian MacPhee). … Here’s a follow up to Friday’s ticker item about Man United’s “1970s-era throwback jersey” – the “Icon” jerseys this year are a template that Adidas is using for all of its major European client teams. “Although the color schemes are, in theory, supposed to evoke classic team color combinations, none of them use era-appropriate crests, all of the crests are monotone, and they incorporate the 3 stripes in really awful ways,” says Andy Riley. You can read more here. … Orlando City have released their 2019 home kit (from Josh Hinton). … Altrincham Football Club made history by wearing uniforms the club’s director called “full rainbow” Saturday. The kit includes a logo with the words “Football v. Homophobia.” Here’s a bit more on that.
Grab Bag: I have to admit, I LOL’ed at this one: Griffin Smith found this gem about requiring politicians to wear ads for the companies from whom they take money. … CROSSOVER ALERT! Check out Hugh McElhenny and Tom Flores in Roller Derby action with their game unis! (from Peach). Also posted in NFL. … Toray Arrows women played a home game in Ehime and joined the Ehime mascot Mican afterwards with some headgear to match (from Jeremy Brahm). … A plan to discontinue the use of white graduation gowns for female seniors at Foxcroft Academy has sparked a debate among students, alumni and others in the community between those who favor the traditional boys-in-burgundy, girls-in-white garb reflecting school colors and those who think the change eliminates gender bias (from John Dankosky). … Albany and Syracuse both wore chrome domes in yesterday’s Lax matchup (from Dan Murtaugh). … There was a new “Jay” — the Johns Hopkins mascot — unveiled yesterday at their lacrosse game (from Griffin Smith). … “Not sports, but cool article on chain-stitching, Nudie-type suit maker here in Indy,” writes Otis Freeman. “At one point he bought up Singer chain-stitch machines and created a user community.” … The 4-foot ring at 2019 World Junior Curling Championship has a tartan design, notes Wade Heidt. He adds, “Shows the lighthouse in the 12-foot, which is part of the event logo.” I cannot begin to tell you how awesome this is. … Also from Wade, a new National Lacrosse League team will be called the Halifax Thunderbirds, they are the relocated Rochester Knighthawks.