The NBA All-Star Game has historically been the platform for the league's brightest stars to debut the latest and greatest shoes out of their respective sneaker lines for the season. The showcase event pins the top players in the league against each other on the court and when it comes to their footwear. Defense might be optional for three-and-a-half quarters, but fire footwear is a must and these guys won't be caught slipping.
For the matchup between Team LeBron and Team Giannis, we'll be breaking up the sneaker rankings into three tiers: These Guys Wore Shoes, Now Those Are Special and I'd Trade My Car In For A Pair. To start things off, the "these guys wore shoes" tier is for the players who simply laced up shoes because, well, you needs kicks to hoop in. The "now those are special" tier concentrates on the guys who put a ton of effort into their All-Star Game kicks and made a conscience choice to bring out some fire. Finally, the "I'd trade my car in for a pair" tier - and, yeah this has happened before - is strictly reserved for the upper echelon of sneakers that'll have the sneaker community buzzing for weeks to come.
It's time to get your NBA sneaker fill in, so let's stop wasting time and get down to some fire kicks.
TIER 3: These Guys Wore Shoes
These are all All-Star players deserving some recognition here even though they came up a little light in the sneaker department. We'll keep the rankings from 26-16 very brief and highlight a couple of the kicks that did stand out.
25. Blake Griffin
Pistons' high-flying big Blake Griffin is a Jordan Brand athlete. That fact alone holds him to a higher standard than others when it comes to on-court footwear. His All-Star Game kicks we're OK, but he could've made some calls to the Hornets owner and got a better hookup. Just saying.
24. Anthony Davis
Pelicans center Anthony Davis broke out a new pair of the Nike Kobe AD for the big game.
23. Nikola Vucevic and 22. Nikola Jokic
Enter the Nikolas! Magic big Nikola Vucevic and Nuggets big Nikola Jokic share the same first name and will share a snippet here in our All-Star Game Sneaker Rankings. Vucevic broke out a colorful pair of Nike LeBrons while Jokic rocked a pair of Nike Hyperdunks.
21. Ben Simmons
76ers guard Ben Simmons wore the standard-issue Nike Hyperdunk for his first All-Star Game.
20. Bradley Beal and 19. Khris Middleton
Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Bucks forward Khris Middleton wore similar kicks in the All-Star Game, which is fitting seeing as how they both played the sharpshooter role for Team LeBron and Team Giannis, respectively.
Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge made his seventh All-Star Game appearance and put on a display an all-red colorway of the Jordan 33. Not too shabby.
17. Dirk Nowitzki
Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki isn't a staple in the NBA sneaker community, but he is a future Hall of Famer and left us all feeling like it was 2011 with a flurry of 3-pointers in the first half of action during the All-Star Game. Here's what he rocked in Charlotte.
16. Kyle Lowry
Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry made his fifth consecutive All-Star Game appearance, and laced up the Adidas Marquee Boost in a raceway-inspired colorway.
TIER 2: Now Those Are Special
This is where the competition starts to heat up. These are the guys who took their time picking out what sneakers they were going to lace up to stand out among the league's biggest names. Let's get it.
15. Damian Lillard
Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard debuted the Adidas Dame 5 this season, the fifth edition in a very successful sneaker line. Adidas suited Lillard up with a raceway-inspired colorway of his signature kicks and they're dope enough to have us asking: What are those?!
14. Joel Embiid
76ers center Joel Embiid picked up the slack for teammate Ben Simmons when it came to the All-Star Game sneaker selection. The shoes are custom work and pay tribute to the city of Philadelphia. The Process works again.
13. James Harden
Rockets guard and MVP candidate James Harden got the raceway-inspired kicks Adidas laced all their athletes with for the All-Star game, but his Adidas Harden Vol. 3 shoes stand out just a little bit above the rest.
12. Klay Thompson
Warriors guard Klay Thompson isn't your ordinary hooper, he doesn't care about the buzz and always goes with the flow. His sneaker deal with Anta, a Chinese sportswear company, is further proof that Thompson always makes his own path. The kicks Anta sent along for the All-Star Game were one of the more unique pairs on display in Charlotte on Sunday night.
11. D'Angelo Russell
Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell made his very first All-Star Game appearance and laced up the same type of kicks that got him there this season during the big game. Russell regularly makes use of the Nike PG 2.5 when he suits up for the Nets, he brought out an especially clean pair in Charlotte.
10. Kawhi Leonard
Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard gets a unique push on this list because he's the only player to debut a new shoe with a new brand during this game. Leonard, a former Jordan Brand athlete, recently inked a deal with New Balance and laced up the first edition of his kicks on Sunday.
9. Kyrie Irving
Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is having tremendous success with the Nike Kyrie 5 line, consistently debuting new colorways throughout this season. Irving kept that same energy on Sunday when he broke out the Nike Kyrie 5 "Rokit."
Warriors guard Stephen Curry was in his element during the All-Star Game ceremonies in Charlotte seeing as how he spent a lot of time there in his youth when his dad played for the Hornets. While in his comfort zone, Curry rocked a vibrant edition of the Under Armour Curry 6 while playing for Team Giannis on Sunday.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook debuted the Jordan Why Not Zer0.2 earlier this season and has been rocking new editions of the shoes on almost a nightly basis. Westbrook kept that same energy on Sunday, breaking out what might be the most colorful Why Not Zer0.2 we've seen yet.
6. Paul George
Thunder swingman Paul George has been riding the wave of the brand new Nike PG 3 signature since its debut earlier this season. George regularly breaks out new colorways and Player Edition models of the PG 3, which always leaves the sneaker community buzzing. He kept the wave going with the Nike PG 3 "ACG" on Sunday.
5. Kevin Durant
Warriors forward Kevin Durant Nike KD 11 "Aunt Pearl." What makes the shoes special and why Durant releases an Aunt Pearl colorway with every signature shoe is to pay tribute to his late aunt, who passed away from cancer when he was young. Shout out to Durant for lacing up these kicks under the NBA's brightest lights in honor of Aunt Pearl.after dropping 31 points in a comeback win for Team LeBron. He also rocked one of the cleanest kicks during the All-Star Game: The
TIER 1: I'd Trade My Car In For A Pair
Quick story time: Back in 2012, Nike launched the Nike Foamposite in a "Galaxy" colorway. The shoes had stars printed all across and the sneaker community just could not hold it together. Malls were shut down, news channels picked up the stories and some people even tried to trade their cars for a pair. This really happened and for the kicks these next couple of guys wore it could happen again.
4. Dwyane Wade
Heat star Dwyane Wade has been on fire when it comes to his on-court sneaker selection of late. We highlighted his recent run of insane kicks inand he kept that same run going in Charlotte. Wade broke out the Li Ning Way of Wade 7 "The Moment," a colorway that's never seen the light of day before and it was a hit. Just keeping it real, D-Wade does retirement tours in STYLE.
Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo captained Team Giannis in the showdown against Team LeBron and scored a game-high 38 points though his team took the loss. The Greek Freak didn't catch any L's when it came to his footwear though, because he broke out the Nike Kobe 4 and really put his Mamba Mentality on display. On top of the classic shoe in the rare colorway, Antetokounmpo pushed his stock even further with the heartfelt message he scripted on the kicks. Keep scrolling to catch all the feels.
2. Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker was in his building, in his element and in his sneaker zone on Sunday during the All-Star Game. Walker is big in the sneaker community -- playing for the franchise owned by Michael Jordan himself helps -- and he put that on display with a Jordan 10 PE that had us all buzzing. The vibrant red kicks were made for big games like this and Walker dished a game-high eight assists in them. Keep scrolling for the kicks below and please try to avoid drooling over a shoe you'll never get your hands on unless you consider swapping your whip for them.
1. LeBron James
Lakers superstar LeBron James is an All-Star Game sneaker legend. He's been rocking iconic games for the league's showcase event for years and they never seem to disappoint. Well, as over Team Giannis in Charlotte, The King kept the same energy when it comes to his sneakers. James broke out the Nike LeBron 16 "King's Throne," a style that brings back to life the 2011 classic Nike LeBron 9 "Watch The Throne" in seamless fashion. The marketing geniuses at Nike also used the All-Star Game and James' massive following to release the shoes publicly right before tip-off, which stole the show as far as the sneaker community was involved before anyone else got a chance to get in the mix. You want to secure the LeBron 16 and finish the collection with the LeBron 9 "Watch The Throne?" Toss those car keys over.