“He’s not wearing the yellow shoes.”
That was the first thought that went through now-Vice President of Reebok Todd Krinsky’s mind when he spotted Allen Iverson on court at the 2000 NBA All-Star Game. Unfortunately for Krinsky, Reebok and retailers around the country, Iverson was supposed to be wearing the yellow shoes he and the sales team and hyped up before the game.
It started with the idea that for each All-Star Game, Iverson would wear his Rookie of the Year sneaker—the Question— in a special colorway, rather than his current Answer model.
“It was the statement, ‘I made it,’” Krinsky explained to Sole Collector back in 2009. The concept was that he would wear the shoe in the colors of the host city. With Golden State holding that year’s game, yellow and navy were the go-to look in 2000.
Prior to All-Star, the shoe was shown to Iverson in Philadelphia to get his approval on the design. “Hell yeah, I’ll wear that,” Krinsky said was his response. “So we made the shoe. We made like 15,000 pairs. Every [retailer] in the world booked it.”
So when Krinsky got word that Iverson wasn’t wearing them at the All-Star game, he was understandably in a panic in the midst of sitting with both retailers and media who’d just covered the shoe.
“I have retailers that bought it. I’ve got sales guys that are going to kill me. I run over to him like, ‘Yo, what’s going on?’ He’s like ‘Man, I can’t wear that shoe.’”
Krinsky explained that Iverson’s change of heart came from him getting mocked in the locker room for wearing a yellow sneaker. “Nowadays, everybody does it. The wilder the shoe, the better. One cat’s wearing gold. Some dudes wear one yellow and the left is red. Now it’s common, but back then people weren’t as crazy.”
The desperation even reached the point where Krinsky went to Iverson’s mom to plead his case. She agreed to talk to her son at halftime. “She tries to talk to him at halftime, and he’s like, ‘I’m not wearing that shoe; I ain’t wearing that shoe.’”
Iverson went on to finish the game in the same pair of black Answer 3s that he started it in.
“I don’t remember one play from that game,” Krinsky lamented. “I don’t remember even being in Oakland. The whole thing was a blur except the 95 voice mails the next morning about ‘What are we going to do with this inventory?’”
As for that inventory, while it still dropped at retail, without the context of the game and Warriors colors it was an oddball release at a time when sneakers were much more tame. Yet for that exact reason, it also became a cult favorite among A.I. collectors who’d heard the story about the “All-Star” shoe that never was. It also makes the shoe's Feb. 20 return that much more notable.
“That’s the gift and curse of A.I.,” says Krinsky. Although decisions like the one he made to not wear his 2000 All-Star shoe can affect business, “We love him for being so real and being his own man.”