All-Stars Kevin Durant and LeBron James will square off on February 17. And they'll be wearing special shoes.
The 62nd NBA All-Star Game will tip off in Houston on February 17, 2013.
Coincidentally, that's also Michael Jordan's birthday. He'll be 49 years old. His present will be another year of resting assured that no player is better than him. Yet.
We can argue all we want about the All-Star rosters, the merits of fan voting and all the worthy reserves that got snubbed (sorry, Stephen Curry), but what's done is done.
As for the All-Star game gear, let the debate over jerseys and shoes rage on!
Adidas produced this year's jerseys and Nike got the shoes. Which one should we run out and buy first? Which should we heckle and ridicule on Twitter?
Here are grades for all of it.
All-Star Jerseys: B-
Just like the authentic jerseys that teams wear on court during the season, the All-Star jerseys are made by adidas, the official on-court apparel provider of the NBA.
Last year's game in Orlando featured some rather uninspired uniforms. They had a color fade which my wife tells me is known as "ombre." Then again, aside from Disney World, I'm not sure what the city of Orlando has to inspire a designer.
Houston has a little more to offer. They're not stunning, but they're a good blend of an uncomplicated, classic look with some modern twists to boot.
Here's a picture of the jerseys from adidas' Twitter account on January 16:
As of January 28, the picture had 136 retweets and 62 favorites, so I guess twice as many fans prefer royal blue than red or perhaps they just prefer the conference by a 2:1 margin.
Per the NBA's official release, the jerseys draw an array of creative thrust from the host city:
The uniforms take inspiration from Houston's rich aeronautical history and the speed of the jet planes that dot its skies. The uniforms' eye-catching impact camo pattern evokes the world's fastest fleet of aircraft with the classic silhouette of a basketball net.
I'm honestly not sure what an "impact camo pattern" is exactly, but the coloration on the jerseys does look slightly mottled. As for the silhouette, based on the twist they've given to the bottom of the uniform, this perhaps means that it's tapered? I'm not exactly sure as of yet.
These foes will be teammates in Houston.
Naturally, adidas has worked their triple-stripe design into the side of the jersey and it will also be featured on the flank of the shorts, per the NBA's press release.
If you're thinking that the letters and numbers look slightly strange, that's because they've been "inspired by the stenciled style on jet planes." So, in case you're not getting the point, today's above-the-rim NBA features players that are essentially like human fighter jets.
Next year, we might just spray paint the uniforms on them!
The jerseys also feature a "specially-engineered mesh to provide maximum mobility and breathability" which will help our human fighter jet overlords play even better basketball. Even though the players won't be exerting as much effort in Houston as they would during an actual game, mobility and breathability (is that even a word?) are still important.
According to adidas' VP of Global Basketball, Lawrence Norman, "every year we look forward to introducing performance innovations that help the best basketball players in the world lift off and take their games to the next level in front of a global audience."
Performance innovations are always good, but during the upcoming All-Star Weekend, you can basically expect a lot of puns and references coming straight out of Apollo 13.
Jrue Holiday is a first-time All-Star this year.
Adidas Shoes Overall: B
Again, the designs draw their inspiration from Houston's aviation history, which encompasses a military camouflage just like the adidas jerseys. Bleacher Report has the picture of these on Twitter, from SLAM's report:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 30, 2013
Adidas has made an all-new version of their Crazy Fast sneakers, and a "bold, green zest NBA All-Star edition will be worn on-court" by Holiday and Duncan, as well as "Rising Stars Challenge and NBA All-Star Saturday Night participants."
Additionally, Howard will lace up an "All-Star edition signature…impact camo red colorway" version of the D Howard Light.
The strange tension about the "impact camo pattern" is that it is "designed to stand out on the court, showcase bold style and evoke the exhilaration that comes from being faster than your opponent."
While I'm not a huge fan of the green camo look (which is not intended to camouflage anything, but rather to stand out), the shoe design is sleek and straightforward. They are surely great sneakers for hitting the court for a pickup game, but also stylish enough to wear off the court.
I prefer the red (despite my feelings about Howard), which blends the camo pattern more seamlessly. They also feature a "reflective tongue made of chrome material inspired by the backside of a compact disc to pay homage to his passion for music."
It is quite a coincidence that I also have a passion for music, but the tongue and chromed stripes on the heel will be catching the light and catching eyes too. Additionally, the Crazy Light 2 weighs just 9.5 ounces, making it the "lightest basketball shoe on the planet."
That's good, because my hops need all the help they can get. These kicks are available on February 1 online and in stores around Houston.
Nike Shoes Overall: B+
Not to be outdone, on January 22, Nike released some "special shoes" that were also inspired by the space program happening to be based near Houston.
Of course, most people are more likely to be salivating over the shoes than the jerseys and Nike has written up a lush and fantastic backstory.
These are all releases in the Galaxy line from the "Nike Space Program (NSP)" and they literally (allegedly) come from another planet.
Overall, there is not a lot of common ground between the three pairs, but they all feature bold colors, some sweet detailing and Nike's usual shoe technology that probably doesn't make a difference for someone like me with a paltry vertical leap.
Still, Nike's graphic "extraordinaire" Erick Goto and color whiz Eugene Rogers drew inspiration from the space program, just as adidas did for the All-Star jerseys. But these shoes are significantly more dazzling.
As the philosophers at Nike explain:
Space exploration defies practical reality. To launch into space on a mission to reveal the unknown can be mind-boggling. Extraterrestrial species, undiscovered planets, new constellations—there is no limit to the potential for discovery. These unlimited barriers also apply to Nike Basketball’s design philosophy—no limits, no restrictions, rooted in exploration and discovery.
So prepare yourself for an unlimited, unrestricted journey of discovery into the unknown!
Wait, is this a Twilight Zone episode or a shoe release? I suppose they don't call it a "launch" for nothing.
While they do admit that it is fictitious, they also boast that the "2013 collection specially built for Houston pushes the limits with meaningful, in-depth storylines." So maybe it is an actual episode of Twilight Zone.
LeBron James' Shoes: A-
As Nike informs us, "Our heroes appear in a distant universe, where players are not just stars...They come to life as fictional planets on each of the three following shoes."
LeBron James' shoes are called the "LEBRON X," and they are an "indestructible force originating from planet NSP-LJ6." Again, that planet name signifies that it was discovered by the Nike Space Program.
It gets better from there. Apparently, LeBron draws his dominance from a "volcanic surface in the planet’s mantle." He came to Earth on a meteor made of black diamonds, which as we all know is the "galaxy's hardest substance."
Just to be clear, these shoes from NSP-LJ6 are the purple ones in the previous slide. They feature a tapered tongue and a nice red accent around the sole. The signature swoosh is also inverted and blends into the design of the shoe nicely.
I'm a sucker for purple when it's done right, and these are quite elegantly designed.
Kobe Bryant's Shoes: B
Nike instructs us to "strike at light speed" with the "Kobe 8 system." Well, his All-Star shoes are part of that system, so strike away! Just remember that the mass of a body in motion relative to the observer.
Nike claims that the KOBE 8 SYSTEM was "engineered to the specifications of Kobe Bryant’s Houston mission." Oh, and these originated on the planet NSP-KB24, btw ("Nike Space Project Kobe Bryant 24," by the way, if you need help cracking the code).
According to Nike, the "Ice Mamba circles the volatile surface as guardian of the five rings," so these have been "built for Bryant’s lightning speed and precision."
They're the red shoes in the video for slide 3, by the way. Strangely, they're low tops, which appeal to me, but the colors are a bit too garish for my liking. The red has a pinkish hue, and the bright green clashes brutally with it.
While they certainly do look extraterrestrial, I think I'll stay on Earth.
Nevertheless, Kobe's special shoes do feature "Nike Zoom in the mid-sole insert," as well as a "Nike Engineered Mesh upper and tactile traction." So I can only assume that if I purchase them, I'll be able to dunk.
Kevin Durant's Shoes: A-
The Durantula is indeed from another planet. How do you think his arms got so long?
His shoes are the KD V. Nike imagines that his shoes are actually "Dark Matter" which "remains a puzzle for scientists." As you may have already guessed, they come from the planet NSP-KD35.
Early readings indicate that the planet is "simultaneously solid, liquid, and gas—properties that make his game adaptable to any situation." So now we know that Kevin Durant is made up mostly of water, which is what I would have guessed anyway—I got a C in Biology and Chemistry in high school.
Basically, Durant's shoes are lime green with red laces and a teal tongue. They're actually fairly simple, certainly the plainest of the three, and the classic black swoosh is featured prominently on the side.
While I don't have KD's skinny calves or his ability as a pure scorer, I do like the shoes for their classic look. They have a simplicity that works well if someone observing you is not aware of your "Houston mission."
They also feature a "combination of Nike Zoom (forefoot) and Nike Air (heel) cushioning along with Hyperfuse upper and dynamic heel support." So that's good too.
Brook Lopez is also a first-time All-Star. He replaces Rajon Rondo.
Nike was certainly proud of their All-Star endorsers, but after Rajon Rondo's ACL injury they lost one of their competitors.
The NBA announced on their offical All-Star Game Twitter account Wednesday that Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez will replace Rondo for the Eastern Conference:
Brook Lopez of the @brooklynnets has been named by NBA Commissioner David Stern to replace injured East All-Star Rajon Rondo of the Celtics— 2013 #NBAAllStar(@NBAAllStar) January 30, 2013
So at least the Nets have one All-Star.
With the game less than three weeks away, we can expect more such gear to drop soon.
And Nike is hard at work. They boasted, "Nike Basketball has also joined forces with Nike Sportswear to create a special product collection based around Area 72, a top-secret facility where shoes take on a life of their own."
Unlike Area 51, I'm sure the powers that be will be telling us all about Area 72 in the very near future. The shoes go on sale on February 15, two days before the actual All-Star game. Joy Sewing of the Houston Chronicle has also previewed more of Nike's collection on her Shop Girl blog.
I'll be updating you about more All-Star gear when it drops. Maybe we'll even see special commemorative socks like the houndstooth ones that the NBA released for the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons game on Jan. 17 (per Detroit Free Press).
Until then, I'll be on planet NSP-SH83.