Many of ABA's bizarre ideas worked perfectly fine on a holiday weekend, so after the two leagues merged, the NBA took over the slam dunk contest and turned the All Star Game into a one-of-a-kind event. While the league was growing, brands and players took advantage of the informal nature of the new events to present themselves to the world, sometimes with calculated strategies and sometimes with mere luck. We reviewed 5 moments in which the sneakers stole spotlight at the All Star Weekend.
Five sneakers that stole the spotlight at the NBA All Star
The NBA All Star has been held since 1951, but for much of its history it was simply a bunch of players coming together for a single match. It was from the 70s, with the influence of the ABA, another professional basketball league, when the event began to grow and develop as a sports and sneakers exhibition.
- 1985. Michael Jordan had already had problems with the forbidden color, but the slam dunk contest didn't follow the same rules as the official matches. Not only did he participate with the banned Jordan I: during the first two rounds he also wore clothes from his collection with Nike, instead of the Bulls kit. At Sunday's game Michael wore the regulatory color, but the action of the previous day caused veterans to react and not let him have it.
- In 1991 Nike and Reebok were knee-deep into the battle to determine who'd be the most important brand of the moment, when Reebok dropped The Pump, a system that allowed to customize the adjustment through an inflatable air pump on the tongue. Dee Brown was a first-year player who used to wear Reebok simply because of the proximity of the Boston Celtics with the brand's headquarters. He was barely known and the youngest among the participants of the All Star slam dunk contest, but he gained the audience’s attention when he bent down to inflate his Pump. He won the contest ahead of the favorites, turned his gesture into a registered trademark and ended up developing a sneaker after his name.
- It was the first year without Jordan in the All Star, and Scottie Pippen set out to fill the gap that Michael left vacant. In the All Star Game, Pippen followed a similar strategy, using color as a surprise element. While Jordan had surprised the crowd with black sneakers, ten years before, Pippen was now doing it with the red Nike Maestro 2. Pippen was the MVP of the game and those red kicks became the most sought-after pair.
- By the end of the 90s adidas had managed to get many of the new NBA stars to wear their shoes; Kobe Bryant, Antoine Walker, Tim Thomas, Jermaine O'Neal and Tracy McGrady. Together with Kobe's, Tracy McGrady's sneakers were the most desired, with models that followed a clear evolutionary line. In 2004 McGrady took everybody by surprise with an adidas TMac 3 -blue for the right foot, and red for the left one. But it was't the most surprising part of the game. Ron Artest, having no shoe contract, wore different brands on each foot, and even changed models in every break.
- Launched during the 2012 All Star, the Nike Foamposite Galaxy is the perfect reflection of a time when sneakers got carried away by retro basketball and limited editions. The first Foamposite with print and outsole materials that glowed in the dark. Its launch at the Nike store in New York's Mercer Street and in a Florida mall caused riots and fights comparable to the Dunk Pigeon of almost a decade earlier. Rajon Rondo dared to use them in the game, but his most notorious moment wasn't on the courts but rather on Craigslist (a website for ads and second-hand items) in which he had somebody propose to exchange his car, a Chevrolet Cavalier, for a Galaxy Foamposite.