Another NBA All-Star Weekend is officially in the books, and we’ve got a fresh batch of great new memories from the festivities. From Quavo of the Migos dominating the Celebrity Game en route to an MVP award, to the NBA’s young guns showing out in the Rising Stars challenge (a game that practically turned into a dunk contest) all the way back around to All-Star Saturday Night where Spencer Dinwiddie showed off an impressive skill set, Devin Booker was money from deep, and Donovan Mitchell did his best Vince Carter impersonation … there was a lot of dopiness going down, and that’s all before the game itself, where the King himself, LeBron James dominated and earned MVP honors yet again in a defenseless victory.
But as much as we enjoyed all the festivities, what made the weekend so memorable was the kicks. Every brand brings out their big guns during All-Star Weekend with high profile releases, limited collabs, and extremely high levels of hype across the board. It’s nothing new. It happens every year. But this year? This year was different.
The past week was a no-holds-barred flex off between the biggest titans in the sneaker industry, with a cornucopia of great product being brought to market. Although the weekend was a universal success for all the brands evolved from both a marketing and sales standpoint, the real winners were Nike and Jordan Brand This past All-Star Weekend was the best All-Star Weekend for releases since 2012’s masterful “Galaxy”-themed releases, and may just have been Nike’s best All-Star release weekend of all time.
It’s hard to stay on top of all the madness that occurred in the last few days, so we’re breaking down the Swoosh’s highlights for you, both for your information and for the sake of validating our statement:
As the official providers of the NBA’s uniforms, Nike and Jordan Brand were not willing to be outdone during All-Star Weekend, one of the league’s biggest events of the year. With over 20 shoes dropping in the days leading up to the weekend and plenty of special heat reserved for All-Star Weekend itself, Nike flexed their marketing muscle and asserted their dominance over the LA market. Adidas put their best foot forwards with new Yeezys, great new technology, and celebrity-filled events, but Nike pulled out all the stops en route to a flawless victory.
Much in the same way Adidas did during their meteoric rise in 2015-2016, Nike won All-Star Weekend this year by listening to the consumers and having their finger firmly on the pulse of what’s cool in streetwear and sneaker culture. Customization, deconstruction, and loud, bold prints and silhouettes are the name of the game right now, and Nike brought all three of those things to the table in droves over the past week.
Let’s start at the beginning: The “90/10” pack, featuring stripped-down versions of classic silhouettes and a slate of Air Force 1 releases with interchangeable swooshes showed that sneaker customization, usually done by hand has reached a new level of popularity. Sneakerheads have been customizing and deconstructing their kicks for years on end, so to see Nike embrace it so fully, both with last year’s “The Ten” collection and these All-Star Weekend releases was certainly a nifty moment in sneaker history. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving got in on the fun with special All-Star releases of their respective signature models as well.
But “new” wasn’t all Nike did for All-Star Weekend. They used the time in LA to pay homage to Kobe Bryant, releasing his original Kobe 1’s in the classic “Del Sol” colorway, alongside collaborative pairs with LA’s legendary Undefeated. LeBron James’s Zoom Generations made an appearance in a “Wheat” colorway, and Riccardo Tisci lended his luxe touch to two Air Force I’s as well. Even the classic “Galaxy” print made a reappearance on a Foamposite, paying homage to the 2012 All-Star Weekend pack that may just have started sneaker hype as we know it today.
Independent of everything else however, the biggest victory of the weekend (even more so than the All-Star Game MVP award) was unquestionably the collaborative slate of Kith LeBron 15’s. For years, Nike Basketball has struggled to regain the cool factor it enjoyed from the late 00’s-early 10’s when their signature sneakers blew off shelves faster than LeBron sprinting down the court for a chasedown block. Sneaker culture seemed to move away from high-end, high priced performance models as a whole, but in came Ronnie Fieg and Kith, just in time for All-Star Weekend.
With the opening of a brand new LA shop, and a prior relationship with King James, Ronnie Fieg added his signature touches to the already-dope LeBron 15 (their best silhouette since the LeBron 10 in our opinion), and took the performance shoe to the next level with a royal floral embroidered pattern adorning a simple black or white colorway, truly shoes fit for a king. Nike Basketball was the talk of the town once again and although it still remains to be seen if they’ll recapture their former glory, they’re certainly sitting pretty after a busy weekend. A great signature shoe has to be wearable in the streets as well as on the court, and these have that crossover appeal that several past releases sorely lacked.
Nike also able to appeal to the creative crowd, by opening their “Maker’s Studio” pop-up in LA specially for All-Star Weekend. Influencers, insiders and a few other lucky individuals got to stop by and create their own custom Air Force I’s and Jordan I Mids with dyes, custom swooshes, and more. Fan favorites like the Air Force 1 “Taiwan” were also available only at the Maker’s Studio. That wasn’t all for events either: New Swoosh pitchman Kendrick Lamar also hosted an event releasing his “Kung Fu Kenny” Cortez and promoting women’s empowerment.
It wasn’t just the Swoosh shining during All-Star Weekend either. Jordan Brand stood right next to Nike all weekend, contributing to the massive swath of releases that were the talk of the sneaker game. From releasing Russell Westbrook’s first on-court pair of kicks and a new low-top Jordan 32 to two pairs of Jordan III golf shoes (which were gone faster than you could say FORE, likely to non-golfers), they also brought a lot of heat to the market.
Rumored for what feels like years before finally releasing, Drake’s newest collaborative sneaker, a Jordan VIII hit the streets in two colorways, next to a small run (only 230 pairs) of a brand-new Solelfly XVII Low. One for the hypebeasts, one for the old heads. Both very limited and extremely successful.
But Jordan Brand’s most successful shoes of All-Star weekend were (as always) their classic models.The “Gold Toe” I’s were a hit, as the patent leather and loud (yet still clean) detailing encapsulated the lavish spirit of the weekend perfectly.
But the biggest classic silhouette of All-Star Weekend for Jordan Brand was unquestionably the III. We’ve mentioned before that the III is geared up to be one of the biggest silhouettes of the year with an extensive list of colorways both new and classic dropping, and the “Free Throw Line” III continued that success.
The “Free Throw Line” III’s weren’t even the biggest III of the weekend though. That distinction belonged to the Black Cement III. One of the most classic sneakers of all time, back for the first time since 2011 and adorned with the beloved Nike Air stamp on the heel threw the world of sneakers into a frenzy. The most classic shoe that released over All-Star Weekend was also the best, 30 years after its original appearance.
As we stated in the beginning of the article: this was Nike’s best All-Star Weekend ever. From the promotion to the product, the creation to the execution, everything was on point … and we can’t wait to see what they’ll pull out of their bag of tricks for next year’s All-Star festivities.
What was your favorite part of Nike’s All-Star Weekend rollout? Was it the releases, the events, or something else entirely? What was your favorite shoe that released last week? Sound off in the comments or hit us up and let us know on Twitter!