In a Sneaker Freaker first, we sent our new roving reporter Brad Graham off to Dallas to cover the NBA's annual All Star Weekend event. After a grueling 14-hour flight direct from Sydney to Los Angeles and armed with his media pass, camera and notepad, Brad got up close and personal with a host of the NBA's hottest players, rubbing shoulders with the big wigs of the game. Throwing down some pretty solid paparazzi flare, thanks to exclusive courtside views and access, Brad recounts the daily events as they unfolded, drops knowledge on who wore what and spots a celebrity or two in the mix!
Day One (Thursday, February 11) found SNKR FRKR frantically packing, being selected for everyone's favourite game show - Custom's Random Airport Search - and enjoying the warm glow of Duty Free before taking a thirteen-hour United Airlines flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. From there we enjoyed a near-canceled connecting flight to Dallas, attempting to land on what can only be called Hoth x Dagobah. We rolled through for a late check-in at Dallas' Renaissance Hotel and managed to get a few hours of much-needed sleep.
Day Two (Friday, February 12) was non-stop. Following our press credential pickup we spent time on Center Court at the Jam Session inside Dallas' Convention Center, talking kicks with this year's Rookie and Sophomore classes. Next it was onto Hyatt Regency Dallas for a junket-style, forty-five minute round table sit down with the various members of the 2010 All Star rosters. This was followed by an NBA Cares ‘Day Of Service', before heading out to the American Airlines Center for the Rookie vs. Sophomore game.
During the Friday night game, the Sacarmento Kings' Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi played in the Nike Air Max Rise (with Casspi's pair featuring an Israeli flag near the heel). Swedish native and Detroit Piston Jonas Jerebko was seen with his homeland's flag appearing in place of Casspi's. Brandon Jennings was well-represented in his not-for-retail Under Armour Prototype 2. Fittingly, rookies James Harden, Taj Gibson, DeJuan Blair, Stephen Curry and Jonny Flynn all wore the Nike Air Max Rise (in their respective team uniform colour schemes) in what was a near clean sweep for the Swoosh. Finally, rookie Dunk-In contest winner DeMar DeRozan rocked a pair of Nike Zoom Kobe Vs in a red/black/white makeup to match his Toronto Raptors uniform.
The Sophomore crop of Marc Gasol, OJ Mayo, Anthony Morrow and Russell Westbrook all showed up in the Nike Air Max Rise, each pair matching their respective team's uniform, while Kevin Love sported the Nike Blue Chip II. Italian born Danilo Gallinari looked crisp in his Reebok Talkin' Krazy II, while the Los Angeles Clippers' Eric Gordon played in the lone pair of adidas TS Supernatural Creators. Also repping the triple stripes were Brook Lopez and Michael Beasley, both lacing up in a pair of adidas TS Supernatural Commanders.
Day Three (Saturday, February 13) gave us time to enjoy an All Star practice session before joining the Jordan Brand 23/25 Experience. The highly interactive and consumer-driven space included priceless memorabilia and NikeID stations for fans to customise their favourite Jordan kicks. During the weekend, everyone from Dwayne Wade to legendary Jordan Brand designer Mark Smith appeared in the space and celebrated the brand's rich history. Rich Medina, Bun B (from rap duo Underground Kings) and sneaker aficionado Bobbito Garcia joined forces to drop knowledge in a panel discussion that was both entertaining and informative, while new school Hip Hopper (and self-confessed sneaker addict) Wale rocked the V.I.P room later that night.
Inside the American Airlines Center, media was served an all-you-could eat buffet while former Slam Dunk Champion Spud Webb joined SNKRFRKR for a chat. Big timers such as Jay-Z, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Paul Simon, Mary J. Blige and Jamie Foxx were all spotted sitting courtside.
Shannon Brown's custom designed Nike Zoom Kobe V IDs made up for his lack of creativity and style in the Slam Dunk Contest (which saw Nate Robinson collecting his third trophy, surpassing Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins as the contest's only three-time winner).
Day Four (Sunday, February 14) coincided with Valentine's Day. We celebrated by visiting Dallas' biggest landmark, Lee Harvey Oswald's grassy knoll. From there it was onto the Ant Hill where a Guinness World Record for attendance was set with 108,713 people (including Floyd Mayweather, Miss Arizona, Avatar's Joel Moore, Spike Lee, Puff Daddy and Ludacris) crammed in for Sunday night's All Star showcase at the Dallas Cowboys' $1.2 billion stadium. Shakira and Alicia Keys performed at halftime but the real highlight came via the world famous Dallas Cowboy's cheerleaders.
The All Star Game's Most Valuable Player, and new Jordan Brand headliner, Dwyane Wade rocked his silver/white All Star PE Air Jordan 2010s: the freshest kicks on court. Despite being on crutches, Chris Paul managed to look superfly all weekend with his signature CP3.III Jordans. Fellow Jumpman23 All Stars Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson both played in their special Air Jordan 2010 All Star make-ups, while Carmelo Anthony sported a special Western Conference edition of his Melo M6. Rising star Kevin Durant wore his Nike KD2 in a limited All-Star colour scheme. Fellow debutantes Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams both played in the Nike Cradle Rock Low and Hyperdunk Low respectively, while All Star staple Paul Pierce rocked a fine pair of Nike Air Legacy that were so crisp you could hear them coming through the speakers!
The team-orientated palette of Nike's Chlorine Blue (Eastern Conference) and Daring Red (Western Conference) make ups (the work of Nike Basketball Colour Designer Eugene Rogers and Nike Basketball Product Graphic Designer Erick Goto) came correct but didn't come close to matching the unique colours on the adidas uniforms.
Day Five (Monday, February 15) gave us an opportunity to enjoy another 14-hour United Airways flight with SNKR FRKR finally touching back down in Oz on Wednesday, Feb 17 (aka Michael Jordan's 47th birthday). With the dust now settled on our whirlwind tour of Dallas, Texas, we can safely say that ‘Wrestlemania for Hoop Heads' is like nothing else on Earth. Bring on L.A. in 2011!
Words and images by Brad Graham