More fuel was added to the fire when Edwards got in a social media spat with Kevin Durant a few weeks ahead of the AE 1’s retail launch in December 2023, after an interview clip from Nice Kicks hit social media where the 22-year-old shooting guard said he’d love to see KD in his shoes. Durant responded on X almost immediately writing, “Won’t EVER see me put a big toe in them Mfers.”

Of course, KD is a longtime Nike signature athlete and we will likely never see him wearing Adidas ever. But the encounter sparked even more conversation around the debut signature model. Just a decade ago, Durant’s sneakers like the KD 4 and KD 6 were at the forefront of the signature basketball conversation. The back and forth was almost symbolic, like a passing of the torch to the NBA’s next generation. 

By February, the iridescent All-Star colorway of the AE 1 actually had people excited. We aren’t talking “Galaxy” pack levels, but it did feel good to see some buzz surrounding an All-Star sneaker release again after so many years of lackluster offerings. I actually had to check multiple Foot Lockers (the AE 1 is exclusively sold through Foot Locker’s umbrella of brick-and-mortar stores and before I could even find a pair in stock in my size. Edwards made them look even better on the court by swapping some lime green laces into the pair he wore on Sunday night. Unfortunately, he only tallied a meager four points in the exhibition, but he wasn’t really interested in being competitive anyway. We won’t knock him for it, especially since he literally dropped a career-high 51 last week

All of the commotion around the AE 1 has helped nurture its reputation. But that wouldn’t mean anything if the shoe wasn’t visually interesting. And it is, thanks to the wavy honeycomb panels that cover the AE 1’s mesh upper. It feels like something pushing Adidas into the future rather than focusing on the past (notice the lack of obvious Three Stripes branding). Its look almost feels like a spiritual successor to the QNTM from the now-defunct Adidas Yeezy line, which comfortably crosses between on-court and lifestyle spaces.

AE 1 lead designer Patrick Zempolich told Complex back in September 2023 that Edwards pushed them to make him a shoe that “didn’t look like anything else on the market.” 

“These shoes got my name on them so I gotta make sure they fye,” Edwards tells Complex. “I’m involved every step of the way. I trust my team to do what they do, and I’m constantly sharing my ideas, giving thoughts and feedback on everything.”

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