The 2016 NBA All-Star Game is just around the corner, taking place in Toronto this Sunday. Featuring the best basketball players in the world, including LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant, the game will be 48 minutes of high-scoring, run-and-gun, awe-inspiring basketball. Here’s a preview to get you pumped.
Kobe Bryant’s Final All-Star Game
It’s a year of “lasts” for Kobe Bryant, and this year’s All-Star game will be no different. Kobe, who announced his decision to retire following the 2015-16 season, was selected by the fans to be an All-Star game starter, marking what will be his 18th and final All-Star appearance. Bryant has shined when competing against the NBA’s best — he has a record four All-Star game MVP awards, plus his 1998 performance when, as a first-time selectee, he arguably outdueled Michael Jordan in Madison Square Garden. Five NBA championships, 11 All-NBA First Team selections, and a regular season Most Valuable Player award later, Kobe will take the All-Star game floor one last time in Toronto. And he’ll do it in style. Nike created a special All-Star game edition of the Nike Kobe 11 Elite, which comes in a mint-green and black colorway that glows in the dark. Inscriptions and molding on the tongue and heel nod to the host city and call out to Kobe’s greatness.
What Will Chef Curry Cook Up?
Magician. Chef. Wizard. Artist. Basketball player. Whatever you want to call Steph Curry, his abilities on the basketball court are noteworthy. The reigning NBA MVP has somehow elevated his game to even greater heights this season. He’s on pace to knock down 368 three-pointers this season, which would shatter his own single-season record by about 100 threes. Curry’s prowess behind the arc is matched by his dazzling, and often mesmerizing, ability to handle the rock. If his pre-game dribbling ritual isn’t impressive enough, he makes defenders look like they’re on ice skates, the way they slip and slide around the Warriors frontman. Curry is a must-see talent, and if you want a little slice of his magic, slip on a pair of his Curry 2 All-Star game inspired kicks. It’s got ChargedForm and SpeedForm technologies that assist with Curry-level explosiveness, but still keep you light on your feet. The white colorway, icy outsole, red-stripped collar, and metallic gold Under Armour logo represent the elegance of Curry’s game, and gold specs in that translucent outsole are a nod to the best the game of basketball currently has to offer—which is Curry. Snag a pair on Feb. 13.
The Future of the NBA is Now
The All-Star game showcases the NBA’s present, future, and intersection of the two. It’s a stage where players like Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Andre Drummond, and Kyle Lowry have the opportunity to prove that they belong in the same discussion as the NBA’s elite. Leonard and Green, who are both appearing in their first All-Star games, posted particularly stellar first halves of the season. Green leads the league in triple-doubles, and is the unprofessed heart and soul of one of the best teams in NBA history. Meanwhile, Leonard has officially taken the reins in San Antonio as the team’s superstar. His suffocating defense is unparalleled (perhaps with the exception of Green), and his play-making ability has improved dramatically. The future of the NBA is here, right now.
The NBA’s Shift to Small Ball
Over the past few seasons, the NBA has noticeably gotten smaller. The power forward position is about as archaic as flip phones, with much of the current NBA game being played beyond the three-point arc. Even centers are counted on for knocking down long-range jumpshots. The shift to “small ball” is apparent in this year’s All-Star game, as no centers or power forwards are starting for either squad. We’ll likely see LeBron James and Kevin Durant, two small forwards by trade, play the center position. Whether he’s stationed in the low post or launching 30-foot threes, LeBron will be donning kicks with All-Star game style. The special LeBron 13 colorway (set to release on Feb. 11) is grey-green, calling out to Toronto’s winter sky coloring. White specks are peppered across the midsole to allude to the snowfall that frequents the host city. Kevin Durant will wear a unique pair of his own shoes (also set to release on Feb. 11), which look like an urban color block mural. The various solid colors represent the cultural melting pot that is Toronto.