For the second year in a row, Nike didn't outfit teams in Christmas-themed uniforms for the league's annual holiday, but that didn't stop players from taking the court with holiday-inspired sneakers, as Christmas Day continues to be one of the footwear industry's biggest launch pads.
LeBron James kicked off his 2018-19 #LeBronWatch campaign, bridging coveted concepts from the early days of his Nike signature series, along with some of the brand's most iconic themes in company history, each splashed atop the open canvas look of the LeBron 16.
While James is once again celebrating his long lineage with Nike, PJ Tucker has been busy tracking down some of the rarest LeBron sneakers ever made. Originally made for James and just a handful of friends and Nike employees in the summer of 2009, the colorful and cartoonish shades of the LeBron 6 model Tucker wore against the Thunder were inspired by one of James' favorite cartoons of the 2000s, "Family Guy." The deep drop shadows and yellow, red and blue hits draft off of Stewie Griffin's character, with detailing even down to the yellow suspender buttons incorporated into the design.
Tucker had been on the hunt for a pair ever since, only recently finding them in his size 14 a few months ago. While a pair has never been sold publicly, there is a size 11 currently listed online for more than $20,000.
At home in Oakland, California, Stephen Curry continued his series of local tributes for his new Curry 6 sneaker. More than a year ago, Curry tapped a dozen local children for a design workshop for what would become the "Christmas In The Town" colorway.
The Oakland-area elementary school students worked up a batch of snowflake and basketball designs that were featured along the icy-blue clear outsole of the shoes, while the insole graphic incorporated a printed "Bay Area" font and a basketball ornament-laden tree. Curry surprised each kid earlier in the week with their own pair and a ticket to the Warriors' Christmas Day game.
These kids helped Steph design his new shoe ... so it was only right for them to get their own pair, along with tickets to see its debut on Christmas Day vs. the Lakers.— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 24, 2018
(📍 @UAbasketball) pic.twitter.com/zk0XXdxPg7
Adidas and Jordan athletes across the board broke out brand-wide themed silhouettes in matching looks. Jaylen Brown and James Harden each showcased Adidas' paintbrush-inspired pairs, with splotches of green, blue and red serving as the main graphic, along with snowflake accents along the heel panels and tongues. Harden's Vol. 3 signature model had even more added detail, with the names of his closest family members and friends each lettered onto the shoe's elastic forefoot strap.
Jordan headliner Russell Westbrook and Knicks tandem Tim Hardaway Jr. and Noah Vonleh each wore Christmas lights-inspired kicks, with vivid red, green, blue and yellow light bulb prints framed by black and neon panels. Westbrook's Why.Not signature model played up the graphic most, while it was only spotted along the collar lining on the more vivid neon Jordan Hustle team shoe.
Last but not least, Kevin Durant stole the show with one of the more creative Christmas themes to date -- a nod to none other than Scrooge McDuck and his famed "money bin," with coins and dollar bills playfully splashed along the midsole and upper panels. The timing also worked well, after Durant's rather upfront comments last week on his approach to free agency.
"I just want to make sure I get as much money as I can on my next deal, so I can stack up my money and figure it out," Durant told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. "That's the plan: Play basketball and stack money."
Kobe Bryant once wore "Grinch"-themed kicks on Christmas Day, a tongue-in-cheek play on spoiling the holiday for the opposing team. Durant has perhaps set a new bar for holiday-themed sneakers.
Check out all of the best special-edition pairs worn on Christmas Day, and be sure to vote for your favorite holiday kicks in our poll below.