By Phil Hecken, aided and abetted by UW Sneakerhead Matt Powers
The 2009 NBA All-Star Game is upon us this evening, and the this is what the West will wear, while the East will feature this. As Paul has explained, since the game is being played in Phoenix, the player shorts will feature a design evocative of a rising phoenix.
But, this is one of those rare instances where the players’ footwear (it’s all new and especially made for the event) trumps their uniforms, so I’ve asked Uni Watch sneakerhead emeritus Matt Powers to assist in a rundown of all the ASG kicks. I asked him to capture the sights, the sounds, the smells of a sneakerhead’s greatest
wet dream event. And I got that; I got more … a lot more. But hey, enough of my yakkin’ — whaddaya say? Let’s boogie!
According to Websters’, an epiphany can be defined as: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
Throughout my almost 32 years, I have had many minor epiphanies;
1. Watching Eric Dickerson for the first time and LOVING the Rams uni and how he wore it.
2. Joe Morris: The first and only NFL game that I’ve been to was against the Eagles in 1986. Joe Morris ripped his jersey and I scoured every garbage can at the Meadowlands searching for it.
3. Air Jordan VI: Entering ninth grade, my father was laid off. When I asked him for help buying the AJ VI for school, all he said was, “Junior, go get a job.”. That I did. I worked for two weeks at an awful gas station fixing flats and cleaning carburetors. I hated it so much that at lunch, I went out job searching around the way. Soon after, I got a new job, and a fresh pair of kicks that I treated like my first born.
5. No Basement in the Alamo: What can I say?: “It’s not for sale, Francis!”.
6. High School Helmet: I fell in love with Schutt helmets my sophomore year of HS. They gave me a Riddell junior year. I had to sneak into the equipment room my senior year to pilfer my old AiR helmet because it had failed inspection by the reconditioner.
7. Foam 1: Like a Sharpei, so ugly that they’re beautiful.
8. Sole Provider: My bible.
These all pale in comparison to what occurred on a fall day two years ago. I took a leap of faith and followed a link regarding Todd Helton and his uni-shenanigans. The truth that a professional athlete would go to such lengths not only to modify his gear but hide those modifications didn’t faze me, Hell, I had even tried to do it. I couldn’t fathom that there were people out there chronicling such events.
I had found my calling, my sneaker and cleat interest was part of what can be called an Obsessive Study of Athletic Aesthetics. Upon receiving a second opinion from Dr. Lukas, I realized that it was incurable. My only question is, and was; “What epiphany had driven everyone else here?” and what was their Todd Helton or Air Jordan VI?”
Today, I hope you catch a bit of my disease!
And so, without further ado, we bring you the players and their kicks:
Eastern Conference All-Stars
Allan Iverson: Reebok Answer 12 All Star PE: AI will be wearing a special makeup of the 12th edition of his signature shoe. Of all the versions to have followed the original Question by Reebok, a pun based on Iverson’s nickname of “The Answer”, the 12 most resembles the first of the line. Whether it is the solid colored toe box, the clear iced sole, or even the higher-than average cut of the shoe, Matt can’t help but be reminded of this fresh-faced and nearly ink-free, NBA rookie, wearing the Sixers two best uni-ideations. (The only time Reebok ever beat out Nike/Jordan at anything.) Matt’s favorite look of Iverson’s will always be from his days at Georgetown, when he attempted to share the ball with Victor Page and Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams,because he was wearing the Air Jordan XI. The first color way of the 12 was first worn by Iverson on November 14th of this season in a 106-95 win against Kobe’s Lakers. The shoe features Iverson’s initials on the tongue as well as his jersey number near the laces. Perhaps the most interesting trait of the shoes is the inclusion of the poem “Invictus” by British poet William Ernest Henley, sublimated on the TPU heel plate. The toughest small man to ever play in the NBA has been wearing many different versions of the shoe since November, this being Matt’s favorite. If you so choose, you can mosey on down to your local sneaker emporium this weekend and purchase the general released version of the Answer 12 for an MSRP of $100.
Paul Pierce: Nike Air Max P2: Matt doesn’t like bringing this shoe up in conversation because it’s story is that incredibly frustrating to the sneaker buying community. For the past few years, The Pierce’s signature shoes have only been retailed in kid’s sizes and he cannot fathom why! If the Vince Carter signature line is any indication, then Nike has decided to cut their losses because of declining sales in the sig line market. While he’s debuting the P2, he’s been wearing the IV. It’s an absolute shame because Matt simply adores this shoe. “Simple, clean design and velcro. Velcro is that magic ingredient that I cannot stay away from” Matt opines.
Dwayne Wade: Converse Wade 4: There hasn’t been much attention towards what D. Wade will be wearing in Sunday’s game however, the current edition of his signature line is The 4, which he also wore during this past year’s Olympics.
LeBron James: Nike Zoom Lebron IV: With so many make ups of this shoe being created by Nike, it is amazing that even King James remembers what he’s supposed to be wearing at any given time. The special All-Star make-up of the shoe features a gradient color scheme of navy, aqua and white coordinating nicely with the uniforms of the East squad. The shoe also prominently features the All Star ‘09 design that all of the game specific Nikes will be adorned with. Other than the colors and ASG branding, this version does not differ very much from the various Special Edition and general release pairs that he has worn throughout the season, most recently being these. Matt states, “On a personal note, these are the first shoes within the Lebron lineage that I have liked the looks of. Although at times confusing, I think that Nike has done a fine job of marketing and promoting the shoe, thus creating interest. My favorites being these and these.”
Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard: Adidas TS Bounce Commander: Much like what Nike has done for years with their Force and Flight lines, Adidas has been and will be outfitting their frontcourt and backcourt players differently. Instead of Charles Barkley and David Robinson opposing Michael Jordan, Ron Harper, and Scottie Pippen, this time it is players like Garnett, Howard, and Tim Duncan versus Chauncey Billups and Devin Harris. Both Garnett and Howard have been wearing many different colorways of The Commander. Matt tends to steer clear of big man shoes, mainly because at 5’10”, “I am NOT a big man.” These traditionally have more cushioning than the lighter, sleeker guard based shoes. Adidas has begun incorporating their Bounce technology into their hoops shoes, with great success. “I am actually a big fan of the Bounce system,” Matt continues. “Perhaps, some of you might have seen this on the boards as proof positive.”
Jameer Nelson: Converse Assist: Nelson will not be playing. He most likely would have been wearing the Converse Assist, the pre-eminent team shoe from Nike-owned Converse that has been made into PE’s for most of their players this season, including Udonis Haslem, Acie Law IV, Kirk Heinrich, and Mike Sweetney.
Danny Granger: Nike Zoom Phenom: This shoe is an update to last year’s Sharkley that was very popular. The Phenom is a combination of the Nike Ndestrukt and the Air Max Sensation, Chris Webber’s sig shoe. The zoom air and overall aesthetic of the shoe are what make th shoe atractive to 30 year olds being reminded of the great Nike Hoops shoes of the late 90’s. Retailing at 90$, they are unlike other Player Exlusive models in that you can purchase those of Rudy Gay, Brandon Roy, and Deron Williams for but a few dollars more.
Rashard Lewis: Nike Hyperdunk: Lewis has always worn very cool PEs. Lately, he has been wearing the Foamposite Lites, but is choosing to wear the ASG Hyperdunks. As far as PE’s go, these are rather bland other than the blue color blocking. They feature some of Nike’s most innovative technology combining their flywire structural support with the lunarlite foam cushioning in the forefoot and zoom air in the heel. At 13 ounces, they weigh three ounces less than the average basketball shoe. An excellent guard shoe and the most popular shoe in the NBA, the NCAA and the Olympic games.
Chris Bosh: Nike Huarache 2K9: Bosh is playing it safe and will continue to wear what he has worn for most of the season, albeit in Nike’s stock ASG makeup. This is the latest version of the classic Huarache line, first worn by the Fab Five at Michigan. Unfortunately for Nike the Huarache 08 was seriously overshadowed by the introduction of the Hyperdunk and has not fared very well.
Ray Allen: Air Jordan 2009: Jesus Shuttlesworth has been wearing different Jordan Brand styles all season: There is very little difference between Allen’s kicks and those that Joe Johnson will be wearing. A bit of color blocking is about the only major difference. The entire side panel and heel is draped in blue.
Joe Johnson: Air Jordan 2009: The latest edition of the Air Jordan line will be worn by three of this years’ All Stars. Johnson, a member of Jordan Brand, never disappoints with his choice of shoes, however Matt is not a huge fan of these kicks because they are too similar to the Air Jordan XIV for his taste however component wise, they are top of the line. Their cushioning is beyond outstanding as is the traction control of the sole. What is not outstanding is the $190 price tag.
Devin Harris: Adidas TS Lightning Creator: Harris, like Billups will be wearing the guard based shoe. An Adidas man since his days at ‘Sconsin, he seems to have found his comfort zone in the swamps of dirty Jersey. These shoes are chock full of technological advances included Clima-Cool vents and the Torsion structural component. Response across the web has been negative but Matt, personally, likes them a lot.
Chris Paul: Air Jordan 09: Paul, almost more than anyone within the Jordan Brand stable, has become the face of the brand. He has worn the largest amount of JB PE’s this season and is planning on wearing the latest edition of the Air Jordan 09’s. Much like the PE’s that Allen and Johnson will be wearing for the East, Paul’s will feature red accents instead of the West’s blue. The accents will be on the tongue, midsole, and ankle area.
Yao Ming: Reebok Pump Omni Hex Ride: Yao will be wearing a more tame version of the Pumps that he wore during the Olympics. Reebok stands behind their hex-Ride technology in addition to their Pump P105 inflation system. Personally, Matt prefers the original Dee Brown version.
Amare Stoudamire: Nike Foamposite Lite: If there really is a home court advantage, then STAT will be the main recipient. As far as Matt is concerned, Nike has thrown all of their design know-how into his PE, the Foamposite Lite. Not only do they feature an interesting shade of red, they are adorned with some great graphics. Matt elaborates, “This past week, I literally spied them on a strangers feet at a range of about 300 yards and was drawn to them like moth to a flame. I literally walked into the store where he was shopping and started a conversation with him, and yes he spoke too! Turns out, he too was an EKIN and sneakerhead, whose mecca is the House of Hoops on 125th Street in the Bronx. This is the spot where anyone willing to drop 225 dollars can have their very own pair of ASG kicks.” Stoudamire has been wearing these, in various color combinations, over the past month.
Chauncey Billups: Adidas TS Lightning Creator: At Colorado, Billups wore Nikes, however since entering the league, he has strayed from the path, first with the Vector, and then the three stripes. Matt has shunned non-Nike hoops shoes but his bias is decreasing. “Not only is Adidas designing better looking shoes, they are incredibly comfortable. I would definitely consider wearing the guard-based Creators.”
Kobe Bryant: Nike Air Zoom Kobe IV: When these kicks first hit the web, sneakerheads were up in arms about the ankle coverage of the shoe. A return to low tops would not be tolerated. People though that Gilbert Arenas was crazy when he started wearing lows, but the trend is spreading. What the shoe lacks in height, it more than makes up for in technological innovation. Flywire, zoom air, lunar foam, icy soles for some break-neck looks. These shoes are beautiful.
Dirk Nowitzki: Nike Air MAX Spot Up: Dirk has always been a bit of a mystery to me. The simple fact that Nike markets signature shoes for him proves that Beaverton considers him to be one of their marquee athletes, however, Matt is frequently underwhelmed by his kicks. The same trend was true of Dirk during the ’08 Olympics when he wore a very bland make-up of the Zoom BB2. Not to be all bad, Matt did like his Germany themed Hyperdunks. The Air Max Spot Up has comes in a gradient red make-up matching the Western All-Star uniforms. The sneaker is highlighted by white accents not unlike other Air Max shoes features a large visible Air bubble and an embossed Air Max logo wrapping the heel, similar to that of the Air Max Brazen running shoe. Designed mainly for big men, this too, is a blue-collar shoe.
Tony Parker: Nike Huarache 2K9: Matt states, “I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed with our friend from over yonder. His choice of 2k9’s leaves a little to be desired, from a shoe-heads’ perspective. Sure they perform well, but give us some flare, some bells and whistles. I guess he has enough of that in his life.” And…it seems that the basketball bug is spreading to Mrs. parker’s co-workers.
Tim Duncan: Adidas TS Bounce Commander: Like his game, his shoes are nothing flashy yet extremely, fundamentally sound. I have expressed my love for the Bounce system but would hesitate in purchasing said shoes because of their weight and a physical inability to buy anything other than Nike for basketball. Blame Wieden and Kennedy for that one. In a strange turn of events, Nike is placing a lot of their hopes in the resurgence of the Foam and Flightposite lines. It was the defection of players like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett that slowed the progress of those classic shoes including the Flightposite 1 and the Foamposite Max.
Steve Nash: Nike Air Zoom MVP: Perhaps the most interesting of the new kicks being rolled out for the 09 ASG. The Nash MVP is based on the Canuck’s favorite Nike, the Air Max ’90. They are an extremely well performing shoe with excellent traction and zoom air cushioning. Many players across the NBA are already wearing them including Bobby Jackson and Ben Wallace. He is also a disciple of the low top trend and has been for some time now. This years edition will also be a “considered” trash talk version made from recycled materials similar to last years.
Pau Gasol: Nike Hyperdunk: Gasol is a member of the Kobe cult in LA. Most of the lakers either wear Kobe’s sig shoes or variations of them. Gasol has stuck with the Powermatic as well as the Hyperdunk this season and has chosen to wear the stock version of the HD for the ASG. Nike is unveiling their Hypermax this coming spring. I guess I could hope against hope that I would actually see someone wearing them as opposed to the vastly over-extended Hyperdunk.
AND Finally…Pretty Boy Paulie sent me the following E-Mail and pics late last night. Highlights from the NBA dunk contest:
Not sure if ya caught some of this and/or if others have hit you up with all of the info and pics but Nate Robinson broke out “Kryptonite” Nike Foamposite Lites and the Knicks St. Patty’s day uniforms. One pic looks like his sneakers are literally illuminating. Plus a shot of Dwight Howard and his UTRA tight aerodynamic jersey.