NBA All-Star Roster Sneaker Edition Western Conference

NBA All-Star Roster Sneaker Edition Western Conference

The NBA’s All-Stars Rock Can’t-Miss Sneaker Styles Way Before the Weekend. Look Back and See What’s hot, What Flopped and What Popped.

The West

 

LUKA DONCIC

Air Jordan 1 Mid “Mindfulness” by Luka Doncic

Air Jordan 1 Mid “Mindfulness” by Luka Doncic

Air Jordan 1 Mid “Mindfulness” by Luka Doncic

Air Jordan 1 Mid “Mindfulness” by Luka Doncic

 

Since 2019, the Dallas Mavericks 20-year-old phenom Luka Doncic has been a Jordan Brand athlete. There are three major degrees of NBA brand deals. The first, a Merch Deal, keeps the player supplied with on brand equipment and comes with some base salary and cash incentives. The second, the Player Exclusive Deal, comes with more money plus editions and colorways made specifically for them. The third, the Signature Deal, includes a signature sneaker. Though the details of Nike’s sneaker deals are always kept secret, one has to expect for Luka, timelines will be skewed.

 

In 2020, Luka joined a small squad of young superstars including Brittney Griner and Ben Simmons to redesign Nike classics. Luka chose the Air Jordan 1 MidS, a nod to his new Jordan family. The sneaker, clad in white from uppers to midsole, is detailed with alternating purple and nearly-mint green accents, sold out in less than 30 minutes. Over the heels, text reading “Breathe & Center” and “Center & Breathe” in a subtle, flat white color. Luka and Jordan were a conceptual match from the jump.

 

Air Jordan 1 Mid “Mindfulness” by Luka Doncic

Air Jordan 1 Mid “Mindfulness” by Luka Doncic

At some point in the last season, Doncic earned himself some Player Exclusive drops of the Air Jordan 35’s and the Air Jordan React Elevation. The Luka PE’s draw on the Dallas Maverick team colors. The 35’s are enjoying rave reviews from players, but, since Luka hit a long game-winner against the LA Clippers in the playoffs last year, Luka has been partial to the React Elevations. Some players do get PE’s in their first year with a brand, but those names are typically seen coming far in advance. No one in America foresaw the storm of Luka Doncic. With his second All-Star selection in two years, the storm has officially landed. So… what’s next?

Luka Doncic on court - Air Jordan React Elevation "Luka"PE

Luka Doncic on court – Air Jordan React Elevation “Luka”PE

Luka Doncic on court - Air Jordan 35 "Luka" PE

Luka Doncic on court – Air Jordan 35 “Luka” PE

Luka has earned his spurs in his design of the Air Jordan 1 Mids “Mindfulness” offering. His rising star is making the case for a signature sneaker in the very near future. While Luka continues driving his Mavs into the Western Conference playoffs, we’ll keep an eye out for Luka’s styles on and off the court. Check out Luka’s ProTrending Locker here, or shop the Jordan I Mids “Mindfulness” here.

Last year, Luka joined a squad of young superstars in designing a special collection for Nike. Considering Luka’s All-Star selection, his Jordan Brand deal and his rising star, a Luka shoe may be in the works at Jordan. A look back will give us an idea what to expect in the future.

 

Steph Curry

Stephen Curry’s first sneaker under his “Curry” brand has arrived, the Curry Flow 8. Stephen and Under Armor’s relationship has not been a bed of roses, but both sides have remained committed. Steph stood by UA after the disastrous Steph Curry “Chef” shoes. UA stood by Steph after the 2019-2020 season, a season some thought the two-time MVP wouldn’t bounce back from.

 

Last year was a nightmare year for the Golden State Warriors. Three of their starters, three All-Stars, were either sidelined by injury or left in free agency. In 2018, Steph Curry was in the greatest of all time conversation. By the summer of 2020, the term ‘washed up’ was floating around Steph’s name. Fast forward to now, 2021, and Steph Curry is back in the All-Star game. Just like another Bay Area before legend before him, Steph has achieved the comeback.

 

Bruce Lee "Game of Death"

Bruce Lee “Game of Death”

Stephen Curry on court UA Curry Flow 8

Stephen Curry on court UA Curry Flow 8

Stephen has never done things the same way as those before him. After he revolutionized basketball with his 3-point game, Steph made a giant of an apparel company the NBA was all but ready to write off. Steph signed a monster shoe deal with Under Armor in 2013, making Steph UA’s premier athlete. At the time, it was an unexpected and oft maligned move. As of December of 2020, Steph has his own line within Under Armor,  like Jordan has at Nike – and rumor has it UA is paying him like Jordan.

 

The Curry Flow 8 is a light-weight sneaker by design In fact, Under armor claiks it is a “rubberless show.” Mesh textile uppers with reinforced lateral midsoles maintain the negligible weight of the Curry Flow 8 while still providing the support needed to cut into the lane. The synthetic paneling boasts Pebax ® tech, a stronger thinner alternative to more plastic-heavy or rubber  materials.

 

Under Armor Curry Flow 8 "

Under Armor Curry Flow 8 “

Steph’s inspiration for the Flow 8 was water. The way water finds the path of least resistance, the way it wears down boulders to pebbles, the way it moves, back and forth. Another Bay Area native, Bruce Lee, has a famous quote about water, “Empty your mind; be formless, shapeless – like water… Be water, my friend.” The latest colorway to drop “Flow Like Water” comes clad in all yellow with white outsoles, in salute to the famous yellow jumpsuit Bruce Lee wore in his final film, “A Game of Death.”

Bruce Lee’s philosophy of philanthropy is more than a token to Steph. In January, after the release of the “Flow like Water” colorway, Steph & UA distributed 62 pairs to underprivileged school kids in the Oakland school districts. Chances are, as those kids grow up, we’ll be seeing a lot of Curry brand loyals styling in the Bay Area over the next decade. For more on Steph’s style moves, keep an eye on his ProTrending Locker. Shop the Curry 8 “Flow Like Water” here.

Stephen Curry’s latest drop has him back in the All-Star game. The Curry Flow 8’s have been his choice on-court this season. 

Curry’s altruism goes deeper than the Sneaker Game..

 

LEBRON JAMES

LeBron drops have come like meteors in 2021. Michael Jordan is the only player with his name on more kicks than the Los Angeles Lakers’ forward. And, thus far in the 2020-2021 season, LeBron has been doing what he’s been known to do, wearing a fresh pair of sneakers every week. As if his All-Star caliber play wasn’t enough to keep LeBron in the global spotlight.

Nike LeBron 18 “Chosen 2”

Nike LeBron 18 “Chosen 2”
Retail: $225
– “The Chosen 2” colorway is a joint effort between LeBron James and Kylian Mbappé, forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain. Both LeBron’s and Kylian’s logos, and a ‘Chosen Two’ ambigram logo, is over the tongue, as well as a double swoosh over the toe. The color combination of Paris Saint-Germain and the lakers, combined with the translucent sole and black Knitposite 2.0 uppers, gave this shoe a savage look on the court.

Nike LeBron 18 “Los Angeles By Night”

Nike LeBron 18 “Los Angeles By Night”
Retail: $200
– The Los Angeles sunsets inspire this colorway of the LeBron 18’s. The magenta Knitposite 2.0 upper and navy blue heel clip represent the west-coast sunset. The two tone soles symbolize the sight of night creeping over the Hollywood Hills with the lights of downtown dimming the night sky.

Nike LeBron 18 “Reflections”

Nike LeBron 18 “Reflections”
Retail: $225 (sold out)
– One of the first colorways to drop of the LeBron 18’s this season, “Reflections” has been sold out since it dropped. The white flecks sprinkled on the black, Knitposite 2.0 paneling uppers represent the open expanse of space. The detailing under the translucent heel clip and on the tongue look, from a distance, like swirling galaxies. The “Reflections” release was intended to celebrate LeBron’s ascension to the top of the NBA’s universe with his fifth league championship.

Nike LeBron 15 “Griffey”

Nike LeBron 15 “Griffey”
Retail: $200
– LeBron’s love for retired MLB Hall of Famer Ken Griffey jr is no secret. The “Griffey” colorway uses the color scheme of Griffey’s iconic Nike trainer from the late 90’s. The subtle black and white with slashes of Seattle turquoise works as well now as it did when The Kid was slugging homers for the Mariners.

From Player exclusives to foreign-only drops, check out our 10 favorite  LeBron sneakers rocked by the King this season. For more of LeBron’s off-court styles, check out leBron James’ ProTrending Locker here.

Nike LeBron Ambassador 13 PE

Nike LeBron Ambassador 13 PE
Retail: unavailable
– The sleek color combination of grey nd black is always a safe bet. The dull grey of the Knitposite 2.0 uppers and midsoles are smoothly upstaged by the shimmering black swooshes and heel clip, flowing under the shoe’s center. This colorway, were it to be made available, would be one of those basketball kicks you bust out for any occasion.

Nike LeBron Ambassador 13 "Empire Jade"

Nike LeBron Ambassador 13 “Empire Jade” Retail: $200 (exclusive drop) – The “Empire Jade” release features a special red tag on the heel with Chinese lettering in gold and 3-d printed copper swooshes. The red tassel is reminiscent of the adornments on martial weapons in China and Korea. The mint colorway went well with the Lakers white on white away jerseys.

Nike LeBron 18 “James Gang”

Nike LeBron 18 “James Gang”
Retail: $200
– The “James Gang” colorway’s design is inspired by the James family, LeBron’s wife and three children. There is an option with black Knitposite 2.0 uppers and flywire straps. The white and grey option the King chose to rock popped a bit more on the court.

Nike LeBron 18 PEs

Nike LeBron 18 PEs
Retail: unavailable
– Of course LeBron James will have more Player Exclusives than any active player. The metallic heel clip and deep purple Knitposite give the silhouette a look both flashy and deep. White soles and tongue keep the shoe from looking too austere, with double gold swooshes knit over the toe.

Nike LeBron 18 PEs

Nike LeBron 18 PEs
Retail: unavailable
– Another drop just for the King, this PE uses the Lakers’ away colorway. Sparse white on white uppers, flywire support and soles separated by a streak of deep purple midsoles recede to an elaborate heel clip. LeBron’s logo of embellished gold is atop the purple mold of the heel flecked with gold dusting.

Nike Air Tech Challenge 2 “Black Lava”

Nike Air Tech Challenge 2 “Black Lava”
Retail: $130
– Dubbed a 90’s court classic by Nike, the Air Tech Challenge II is making its debut in the new millennium. Originally designed by Tinker Hatfield, the mind behind the Jordan III design, the new colorway “Black Lava” uses padded, premium black leather for thevuppers and tongue. Pale orange on the tongue lining, swoosh and under the toe represent lava seeping through volcanic rock.

Nike LeBron Ambassador 13 PE

Nike LeBron Ambassador 13 PE
Retail: unavailable
– The sleek color combination of grey nd black is always a safe bet. The dull grey of the Knitposite 2.0 uppers and midsoles are smoothly upstaged by the shimmering black swooshes and heel clip, flowing under the shoe’s center. This colorway, were it to be made available, would be one of those basketball kicks you bust out for any occasion.

When you are LeBron James, you wear Nike x LeBrons. Even still, King James is going harder than usual this year with a fresh pair of  kicks every week.

 

NIKOLA JOKIC

Nikola Jokic on court Nike Zoom Rize 2

Nikola Jokic on court Nike Zoom Rize 2

Nike’s Team shoes hold the least value of Nike’s models for sneaker heads. Typically made enmasse for high-school and collegiate squads, the Team shoes are easy to come by and rarely the subject of innovation. But, playoff run by playoff run, the Denver Nuggets’ All-Star center Nikola Jokic might be changing that.

Nike Zoom Rize 1

Nike Zoom Rize 1

Nike Zoom Rize 1 Nike Zoom Rize 2

Nike has provided Player Exclusives for Nikola in his style of choice, the Nike Zoom Rize 2. The Zoom Rize 1 was built for sturdiness and durability. The thicker material of the uppers in the construct of the 1’s is replaced with a lighter mesh material in the 2’s. The ankle collar on the 2 is padded, reinforced with added cushion,  to make-up for thinner materials used. The platform for the heel is incised, though the tread on the sole remains the same basic pattern. The shoe’s platform is slightly reduced. The overall result of the changes renders a significantly lighter Zoom Rize 2.

The PE’s Nikola has been rocking this season display the Jokic logo he and Nike developed. The mostly white colorway with splashes of the Nuggets’ gold & blue split the sole down the middle and the swoosh above the molded detached outsole. As Nikola’s prominence among the NBA’s elite grows, Nike will be sure to deliver the big man his own sneaker one day soon. Till then, take a look at the options Nike has available of the Zoom Rize 2’s here.

Nikola has his own logo on his own Player Exclusive. We take a closer look at the improvements in the Rise 2 versus the original 2019 release.

 

KAWHI LEONARD

Kawhi’s signature New Balance shoe debuted last All-Star Weekend in 2020. Is the typically stoic Kawhi is showing some of that Fun Guy flair with his shoe designs, or is the Claw trying too hard?

Kawhi Leonard on court New Balance KAWHI PE colorway

Kawhi Leonard on court New Balance KAWHI PE colorway

Somewhere along the line, “Kawhi” became synonymous with fun. The Los Angeles Clippers forward, on the court, could care less about the perceptions the public have of his fun-loving side. Two NBA championships and two Finals MVP awards is pretty fun for everyone involved.

How Kawhi ended up in his superstar sneaker deal with New balance is a tale Nike would consider very “not fun.” A mega-contentious lawsuit in 2019 saw the separation of the Swoosh and the Claw. Kawhi took his clout to New Balance, the basketball shoe company that didn’t make basketball shoes. Now, with two releases under his belt, Kawhi and New Balance are taking their talents to all-Star Weekend 2021.

The New Balance x Kawhi “KAWHI” sneaker debuted in 2020 New Balance boasts in their release of the cutting edge tech used in the KAWHI’s. The performance plate sewed into the material under the arch and padded mid-ankle collar work to provide stability and support. The FuelCell ® foam in the lateral midsole is designed to maximize energy return while landing or cutting. The woven uppers, inspired by Kawhi’s signature cornrows, use Kinetic Stitch ® threads, which New Balance claims provides a snug lockdown without constricting the foot’s natural movements.

 
New Balance KAWHI "Jolly Ranchers"

New Balance KAWHI “Jolly Ranchers”
Release: Oct 31 2020 Retail: $159.99
– The New Balance x Jolly Rancher collab yielded a few t-shirts and some sweatpants, but was centered around the KAWHI sneakers. The candy-painted colors give the eye so much to take in, one could miss the Jolly Rancher characters on the tongue, giving the classic Kawhi deadpan expression behind Kawhi’s name in the Jolly Rancher font.

New Balance KAWHI "Jolly Ranchers"

The colorways released so far have ranged from black to Jolly Rancher. Like, the candy company. Kawhi is all business on the court. The black on black KAWHI’s and PE’s represent Kawhi’s on court persona so well. Team first selflessness.

Kawhi on-court KAWHI “Blue Raspberry”

KAWHI “Blue Rapberry”
Release: Nov 23 2020 Retail: $160
– The “Blue Raspberry” is an exclusive within an exclusive. The KAWHI x Jolly Rancher “Blue Raspberry” sneaker is only available via retail from Foot Locker family stores. Notice on the ankle collar, the blue raspberry character with a “hahaha” speech bubble and Kawhi-esque deadpan.

Kawhi on-court KAWHI “Blue Raspberry”

KAWHI “Blue Rapberry”
Release: Nov 23 2020 Retail: $160
– The “Blue Raspberry” is an exclusive within an exclusive. The KAWHI x Jolly Rancher “Blue Raspberry” sneaker is only available via retail from Foot Locker family stores. Notice on the ankle collar, the blue raspberry character with a “hahaha” speech bubble and Kawhi-esque deadpan.

 Considering the creative control Kawhi enjoys with New Balance, one must wonder if the “Jolly Rancher” drop doesn’t represent Kawhi’s other side, the Fun Guy. And, the thing is, the Jolly Rancher colorway isn’t even the wackiest KAWHI drop.

Kawhi on-court KAWHI "Seismic Moment"

New Balance KAWHI “Seismic Moment”
Release: Nov 11 2020 Retail:$160
– When Kawhi left his NBA Championship Toronto squad, announcing his signing with his hometown LA CLippers, New Balance released the KAWHI “Seismic Moment” colorway. On that same day, July 5th 2020, a 7.1 earthquake shook LA. The “Seismic Moment,” now doubly appropriately named, became available three months later.

Kawhi on-court KAWHI "Seismic Moment"

Kawhi on-court KAWHI “Seismic Moment”

Check out some of the wildest New Balance KAWHI releases and decide for yourself: is Kawhi  making wacky fly, or is the Claw grasping at straws trying to prove he’s the Fun Guy?

New Balance KAWHI "Snowman"

New Balance KAWHI “Snowman”
Release: Dec 15 2020 Retail: $160
– The “Snowman” release utilizes semi-shimmering arrangements over the heel around the toe structure add to the icy, winter-monster motif. On the tongue, the typical KAWHI logo is replaced by the clawed hand of a yeti around a basketball, a nod to Kawhi’s preeminent nickname, the Claw.

New Balance KAWHI "Snowman"

New Balance KAWHI “Snowman”

Check out some of the wildest New Balance KAWHI releases and decide for yourself: is Kawhi  making wacky fly, or is the Claw grasping at straws trying to prove he’s the Fun Guy? Keep an eye on Kawhi’s PreTending Locker or in depth looks at Kawhi’s off-court styles.

 

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