When Nike announced their slate of 2016 NBA All-Star kicks, all the usual suspects were there, headlined by the final Kobe Bryant All-Star Game shoe. But there was a glaring omission that everybody knew existed: the Nike Kyrie 2 All-Star. Because Kyrie Irving did not make the team this year, Nike obviously pulled the sneaker from the press release, but not before shipping them out to retailers as it turns out. As we speak, there are more than likely a few thousand pairs of Kyrie 2 All-Star in the air right now heading back to Memphis.
The Nike Kyrie 2 All-Star is not rare by any means. Had Kyle Lowry not made a late push in the All-Star voting and surpassed Irving for that second backcourt spot in Toronto, few people would talking about Irving’s All-Star kicks. It should not command a premium in the secondary market and it should not have sneakerheads clamoring for its release beyond being better than the Nike LeBron 13 All-Star and the Nike KD 8 All-Star. It’s just a nondescript (well, as nondescript as an All-Star Game shoe can be) drop in another underwhelming year of signature shoes designed for the NBA’s showcase event.
But thanks to Lowry and one glaring detail on the shoe, the Nike Kyrie 2 All-Star is the latest in a growing list of releases that have been held back after months of leaks by the blogs only to never to see the light of day or be repackaged as something totally different. Some recent examples of this were Nike’s Championship Packs for LeBron James when he did not win the NBA Finals, a Nike Air Zoom Flight 96 that honored Allen Iverson and the Red October Nike Air Trainer Cruz.
For the supposed Nike LeBron 11 Championship Pack, Nike held back on dropping them as a two-pack like they had in previous years and released them separately as special edition colorways. Meanwhile, the Zoom Flight 96 Iverson actually made it to stores but were subsequently recalled after Reebok made a fuss about it. And the all-red everything Cruz is all but a fantasy now for Kanye stans.
So what is that one glaring detail? It’s the removable star patch on the Kyrie 2 All-Star’s upper that you see up top. Nike has really pushed the patch concept as of late, placing it on a variety of classic kicks like the Nike Air Max 1 and others. For this year’s Nike All-Star collection, each of the kicks had unique badges that tell the story of their connection to the city of Toronto. And one of the patches just so happens to celebrate the number of times each Nike athlete has been an All-Star, so LeBron James has 12 stars on his shoe, Kobe Bryant has 18 and Kevin Durant has 7. The Nike Kyrie 2 All-Star has a 4-star patch. If Kyrie Irving had been voted in – which seemed like a lock for a while there – this would have been his fourth All-Star appearance. Oops…
So what does Nike do now with what is probably tons of Kyrie 2 stock? Destroying them is one option, but that feels like a waste of money, especially since the sneaker world is aware of its existence. Assuming that the patch is the only flaw, they could just manually take them all out and replace it with something totally different and rebrand it with a new story. It’s not entirely out their nature to do that; a few years ago, a factory error on the sole of the Air Jordan 9 Photo Blue ended up becoming the best thing for Nike as they released the correct colorway and then hyped up the drop of the error variant by encouraging sneakerheads to “capitalize” on their mistake.
But what if they never release the Kyrie 2? Then congrats to anybody that managed to sneak our a pair as they now have an unintentional grail. Meanwhile, thousands of perfectly fine kicks are just sitting in boxes and will possibly live out the rest of their existence in deadstock condition waiting to be unearthed someday. Maybe some top men will study them in the meantime…