It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that sneakers became a focal point of the NBA All-Star Game in 1985, Michael Jordan’s first appearance in the midseason classic. He famously paired his black and red Air Jordan 1s with a matching nylon Air Jordan tracksuit in Saturday’s Dunk Contest, then laced up his red, black and white game shoes on Sunday. They stood out tremendously compared to the more subdued, everyday sneakers worn by the other All-Stars. And while other players seemingly took offense at Jordan’s bid for attention, All-Star weekend would soon become a sneaker showcase.
Eventually, the shoes became a bigger deal than the game itself. And sometimes a single shoe would overshadow the entire weekend. Like in 1988, when Jordan debuted a brand-new shoe in his home city of Chicago, winning both the Dunk Contest and All-Star MVP. But by then it wasn’t only Jordan who pulled out all the stops over All-Star weekend. And sometimes a shoe wouldn’t even have to be worn on the court to stop the show.