All-Star Sneaker Countdown
The best in footwear from All-Star ’09, from Krypto-Nates to the socks.
All-Star 2009 was unlike any other All-Star weekend I’ve experienced. I caught Friday night’s events without sound, sitting in the back of a restaurant in Freeport, in the Bahamas. I was on the last night of a week-long vacation and out for dinner with my parents and some friends of theirs. While the Harlem Globetrotters threw a bucket of confetti at the announce crew, a guy who looked like a slimmed down version of Bleeding Gums Murphy and sang like Al Green was set up one table over from me, covering everything Elvis one minute, Louis Armstrong the next. I saw the announce crew go ga-ga over Michael Beasley’s sneaks in the Rookie-Sophomore game, and I saw D-Wade kick off his weekend of trying too hard, looking like a combination of Urkel and Nelly.
Saturday was a travel day. I caught the first two letters of GEICO/HORSE in the ATL airport, saw the three-point contest in its entirety in Minny’s airport, and watched the dunk contest early Sunday morning on Youtube after getting in late Saturday night.
Jet lag (and possibly a sugar high gone wrong) stole the majority of the second half of the actual game from me on Sunday. I woke up early Monday morning, having slept upwards of 12 hours and thought about what I saw, either live or in highlight format: Dan Majerle shooting from deep; David Robinson back in number 50; Jason Kapono doing the Raps appropriately and coming up short early in the three-point shootout; Krypto-Nate dunking over Superman, and Shaq, Kobe and Phil coming out on top, circa 2000–02. The weekend—the dunk contest in particular—delivered and every moment that didn’t involve Reggie Miller’s voice was fun.
Anyway, you know how I roll and you know what this blog is about. I’ve listed my top-10 sneakers from the weekend and some comments on those that didn’t make it in.
10. Wilson Chandler, Pony UL38 — I’ve got a soft spot for Pony. Probably because the brand makes up less than one percent of your average sneaker store’s stock. So whenever I see a pro wearing Pony, I take notice.
9. Michael Beasley, adidas TS Bounce Commander — The first sneaker I noticed during Friday night’s festivities, the stripes and Beasley get props for incoprorating the host city’s colors into the shoe and for landing in the realm of a sneaker so ugly that it looks cool.
8. Kobe Bryant, Nike Zoom Kobe IV — It’s nice to see Kobe back with the number eight, isn’t it? Wearing the most intriguing shoe in the game today, Kobe flipped up on what his anticipated All-Star sneak would be, bringing a nice amount of white into what was supposed to be an all-red shoe.
7. J.R. Smith, Nike Zoom Flight Club — J.R.’s shoe was much like his performance in the dunk contest: understated and in the spotlight for a short amount of time. The Zoom Flight Club looked just like something from Nike’s GP line from the mid-’90s.
6. Allen Iverson, Reebok Answer XII — He had no dreads on his head and AI rocked the most aesthetically pleasing colorway of the XII I’ve seen thus far. From a sneaker perspective, I wish he was still in Denver.
5. LeBron James, Nike Zoom LeBron VI — Like Iverson’s sneaker, LeBron broke out the best colorway of his shoe at the All-Star game. I’m curious as to how many more colorways the swoosh can come up with between now and June for LBJ.
4. Dwight Howard, adidas TS Bounce Commander — Superman delivered on Saturday night. Even though Dwight lost in the dunk contest, the cape, the phone booth, the 12-foot net and his Superman-themed sneakers made him the best character at All-Star weekend.
3. Rudy Fernandez, Nike Hyperdunk PE — Did you feel for Fernandez at the dunk contest like I did? The guy tried his hardest to rep Spain and everything went wrong for him. If I were Rudy, I wouldn’t have cared how much it would have cost, I would have flown Jose Calderon in to Phoenix to throw that lob behind the backboard. At least he went out in the first round with the third-best kicks of the weekend.
2. Eastern Conference, Nike Hyperdunk — It’s not too often that a standard issue shoe stands out as much as this one did. I’ll never forget that icy blue-soled shoe. For Mo Williams and Rashard Lewis, that Hyperdunk might be their best on-court memory of the whole weekend.
1. Nate Robinson, Nike Foamposite Lite Krypto-Nate — He upstaged Superman in the final of the dunk contest, so it’s only fitting that Nate Robinson’s kicks find themselves at the top of this list. Out of all of the shoes I saw this weekend, Lil’ Nate’s are the pair that I wanted the first time I saw them. I’m sure I’m speaking for millions when I beg and plead (both here and through emails) for a release of the Krypto-Nates.
Honorable mention: Brandon Roy’s Nike Zoom Phenom.
Quickly, the shoes that did absolutely nothing for me this weekend: Tim Duncan’s Bounce Commander, Chauncey Billups’ Lightning Creator, Chris Paul’s Jordan CP3 2, Nike’s Huarache ’09 East and West, Dwight’s Bounce Commander from Sunday night (it’s tough to follow up the Superman kicks) and the KD1 that Kevin Durant wore on Friday night.
Some other sneaker notes from All-Star weekend:
Props to Michael Cooper and Lisa Leslie for lacing up the Think Pink Hyperdunks this weekend…He may be the most un-gangster guy to have played ball in the ’80s, but it was somehow appropriate to see Bill Laimbeer in white-on-white Air Force 1 lows…Nominee for Most Shafted By His Sneaker Company: Yao Ming. The big man wore his Reebok Omni Hex Ride on Sunday. The same Omni Hex he wears every time he gets on the court. No Phoenix-themed colorways, no nothing. Reebok took care of AI; they couldn’t make moves for Yao?…How cool were the All-Star socks? The red (West) and blue (East) coloring up to the All-Star logo was a nice touch by the L.
Finally, I wanted to say something about the on-court debut of the Air Jordan 2K9. After the sendoff that the Air Jordan XX3 had (I saw a guy wearing a pair of the limited edition first release XX3′s on the beach this past week), the 2K9 seems to be falling short as it branches out on its own. I saw the 2K9 in person just today and my mental jury is still out on it. I think the brand needs to look at a few things before they release the 2K10, or whatever they’ll call the next one. First, they need to get it under a marquee player or two (Melo, CP3 maybe) to put a face to it. Second, Jordan Brand needs to get back to releasing this shoe in the fall at the start of the basketball season. That lets a lot more kids pick up the shoes and wear them through their own seasons and attach their own memories to it. Lastly, the price tag needs to come down. 190 bucks? During a recession? Come on, man. I liked Ray Allen’s and Mike Bibby’s the best. They should have released one of those two as the general release.