Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard has been a lightning rod for controversy throughout the 2012-13 NBA season, and the latest release of his signature shoe by Adidas is certain to keep people talking.
As part of a large rollout of releases surrounding this weekend's All-Star festivities in Houston, Adidas unveiled the colorways their players will be wearing in Sunday's game (via Pro Basketball Talk). Among those players are Howard, Sixers guard Jrue Holiday and Spurs forward-center Tim Duncan.
Though both Duncan and Holiday have noteworthy releases in their own right, Howard's is the one that truly stands out in the crowd. Adorned with a red camouflage colorway, the Lakers star's signature shoe, the D Howard Lights, will get the "sneakerhead" community going over the weekend.
Is the design risk a triumph, or does it fall flat on its face? Let's find out. Here is a complete breakdown of the D Howard Light All-Star edition for 2013.
"Wow" Factor: 9.5/10
No matter what your ultimate judgement of these kicks is, the designers at Adidas have to be commended for taking a massive design risk here. While that's to be expected and par for the course during this round of All-Star releases, the D Howard Lights take two massive design risks for the price of one.
Any conversation about these kicks will likely start with the decision to go with a university red colorway. It evokes memories of a gaudy time in the shoe world, where Dada sneakers had a short-lived reign as an in-vogue kicks brand.
The red make sense as a matching color to the Western Conference's All-Star uniforms, but that's obviously not the way these kicks were meant to be judged. Holiday and Duncan will both be rocking green kicks, a far cry from the East's royal blue look.
Nonetheless, the bright red colorway will certainly make the shoes an instant conversation starter on the court, not unlike their namesake.
The use of camouflage is going to cause the most controversy in the "sneakerhead" community, where the pattern has been a source of derision for years. There are some, like yours truly, who like it in small doses and on special occasions. Others find it tacky and think it should be kept in the woods with the deer hunters.
That means not everyone will love these kicks, but they will be noticed by one and all. Based on that, it's impossible to give the D Howard Lights anything except a top-notch grade in this category.
I fully understand that not everyone is going to enjoy the design of these kicks. But count me among the vocal supporters group.
There are too many times where gaudiness backfires on designers—where they simply push a basketball shoe too far in a weird direction and try to force it down the public's throat as innovation. .
Nevertheless, this is a rare case where the camouflage completely makes the shoe come together as a fully fleshed-out design. It consistently keeps the shoes from ever getting stale, and red camouflage is such a unique choice—a thorough Google search left me without a previous instance of this design being used in a basketball shoe—that it works with this design and overall theme.
What was truly impressive was the all-in nature of the design. Adidas did not stop with the red camouflage, instead adding a reflective logo at the top of the tongue and silver accentuation on the heel and logo. It was a boundary-pushing design that forces sneakerheads and casual fans alike to have an opinion.
As such, the design was a rousing success for its purpose.
Among Adidas' releases for Sunday's All-Star Game, Howard's stands out as by far the best. The D Howard Lights lend themselves to design risks by nature, and the overall product is a home run as a basketball shoe.
While there is no information currently available for when these will be made available to the public, any good Howard fan or collector with some extra change in their pocket should make the D Howard Lights a top priority.
Unfortunately, the D Howard Lights ultimately lose out on the overall grade due to a lack of practical uses. There aren't many casual fans who will be able to wear these kicks with their everyday gear, unless the color red is a daily wardrobe choice. That either relegates the D Howard Light All-Star kicks to on-court wear only or as something you can only break out on special occasions.
If you're OK with that and have some money in your pocket, be my guest. But while the D Howard Lights were a win in terms of design and innovation, the kicks' inability to relate the casual buyer puts them in the "for collectors only" category.