Christmas Day has become not only a showcase for the league's best teams, but it has also become a footwear showcase for NBA players -- from the biggest signature stars to those simply looking to stand out.
Before the league loosened its footwear color restrictions before the start of the 2018-19 season, Christmas Day was designated as the first "any color combination" date on the NBA calendar. It allowed players to break away from the league's required color schemes, which added to the unexpectedness often seen on Dec. 25. Even now, as players can wear whatever they want all season long, Christmas remains a day for players to break out their best and brightest looks.
"Our hope is that the dynamic color of all of our teams, the socks that they wear, the way they coordinate their tights and the shoes that the manufacturers create in all their breadth of design and color, is a part of why you watch and embrace this game," said Christopher Arena, the NBA's vice president of identity, outfitting and equipment.
Here's an advance glimpse of some of the most unique looks that will be hitting the hardwood this Christmas.
Gordon Hayward -- Anta GH1 "Ugly Sweater"
Hayward's ugly-sweater-themed pair of his debut GH1 signature shoe by Anta features a repeat print of Christmas trees, "XMas" lettering and his number, 20.
His first signature model with the China-based company will be launching throughout the country on Christmas in a handful of colorways. The "RBCN" along the heel is highlighted on every pair of the GH1s -- a nod to his wife, Robyn, and their three daughters: Bernie, Charlie and Nora Mae.
"I'm a huge family guy, and the other thing that I think really resonates with [fans in China] is that I've never been the highest-touted player and I've had to work to get to where I am," Hayward said. "I had to put in a lot of effort and have had to be really dedicated and committed to improving."
Kyle Lowry -- Adidas Pro Model 2G
During the early 2000s, Adidas capitalized on the momentum of its prep-to-pros signings of Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady at its flagship ABCD Camp. Budding teenage stars such as LeBron James, Lenny Cooke and Carmelo Anthony made their names at the camp, all while wearing the clean, white-and-black Pro Model 2G.
The following year, Adidas created bold, patent-leather versions of the shoe for its top AAU teams, creating a statement piece for the nation's best hoopers to proudly wear. Fast forward 20 years and the patent-leather Pro Model is getting its first re-release this winter, on the feet of some of the league's rising stars and Adidas athletes who wore the sneakers during their own prep days. In addition to Lowry, players such as Jaylen Brown, Brandon Ingram and Jamal Murray are expected to wear this look on Christmas.
Giannis Antetokounmpo -- Nike Freak 1 "Soul Glo"
As the first international player to receive his own Nike Basketball signature shoe, Antetokounmpo knew he wanted to lean on celebrating his unique Greek and Nigerian background as part of telling his story. Only he didn't at first know exactly how to bring that to life.
"In our first brainstorm with Giannis, we were asking him the classic questions, like, 'Favorite food? Favorite movie?'" Kevin Dodson, Nike Basketball's vice president of footwear, told The Undefeated. "He said his favorite movie was the 'Prince Akeem movie,' and we were like, 'What are you talking about?' Then we started putting it together. We're like, 'Oh, "Coming to America."'"
An official partnership with the movie was born from that meeting, with Antetokounmpo's launch colorway of the Nike Zoom Freak 1 earlier this summer celebrating the Eddie Murphy character's fur coat and animal-print attire. On Christmas Day, the Greek Freak will once again take a page from the movie, with a gleaming black-yellow-and-red colorway of his signature shoe, which is inspired by Soul Glo, the film's fictional high-sheen hairspray.
Joel Embiid -- UA HOVR Havoc II
Though he typically sticks to a palette of team colors, Embiid is expected to wear one of his boldest pairs of Under Armours yet this Christmas. The exclusive, mismatched, size-17 sneakers in bright green and red made for the 76ers' All-Star center celebrate the holiday's classic hues, with a fading HOVR foam midsole and perforated upper that will be eye-catching from the moment the ball is tipped.
Stephen Curry -- Under Armour Curry 7 "Super Soaker"
While Curry himself might be missing from the Warriors' holiday matchup against Houston, his teammates Damion Lee, Willie Cauley-Stein and Glenn Robinson III have been spotted lacing up Curry's latest signature Under Armours often in his absence. The newest colorway of the Curry 7 honors his childhood love for Super Soaker toys, with neon, blue and orange accents throughout the shoe's speed plate, laces and upper.
Kawhi Leonard -- New Balance OMN1S "Money Stacks"
As he makes his Christmas Day debut in New Balance sneakers, Leonard is also expected to veer from his Clippers team colors for the first time this season. Inspired in part by everyone's favorite holiday gift -- good ol' Christmas cash -- the newest OMN1S colorway is styled in a variety of deep green shades.
LeBron James -- Nike LeBron 17 "More Than An Athlete"
Early in his career, James would often push his team at Nike to stick to traditional Christmas colors of red and green for his special-edition sneakers, as he liked to take a classic approach to the annual storytelling opportunity. Now playing for a 12th consecutive Christmas, James is looking to utilize the platform to expand his "More Than An Athlete" messaging.
The blue, white and black colors of the collaboration tie back to his Uninterrupted media company, while the shoe urges wearers to utilize the provided blue and black markers to write their own messages of inspiration along the erasable midsole and coated Air Max bag, like James has over the past several seasons. Even the familiar Nike Swoosh has been replaced by one styled in James' handwriting.
Kyle Kuzma -- Puma Clyde Hardwood custom
After signing a five-year shoe deal with Puma just before the start of the season, Kuzma has been working behind the scenes on a series of player-exclusive designs and colorways of the brand's latest on- and off-court models.
For Christmas Day, Kuzma went with a more quick-turn solution, partnering with custom artist Cory Bailey, aka Sierato, on a hand-painted pair of the Clyde Hardwood highlighted by winter graphics, snowflakes and ice-blue hues.
"Obviously, everyone knows I'm a sneakerhead, and that's one thing that's going to take part this year -- a lot of customizations this first year," Kuzma said.
Multiple players -- Nike KD 12 "Aunt Pearl"
Though Kevin Durant and his Brooklyn Nets won't be playing on Christmas, his shoes will grace the feet of multiple players. Nuggets reserves Torrey Craig and Monte Morris are among those who are expected to wear the latest version of the "Aunt Pearl" KDs, which honor Durant's aunt who died in 2000 after a bout with lung cancer.
"It's been a great journey since we first started this collection," Durant said on SneakerCenter. "That story is a tough journey, fighting through cancer. Those women should be celebrated for doing so, and for inspiring so many other women around the world."
This year's "Aunt Pearl" model is highlighted by pearlescent textures and a custom, angel-wing strap design. Proceeds from the pink pair will once again benefit the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
"Having family members that were affected by cancer, I thought for me, as a basketball player, it'd be perfect to help push that message, stand behind that message and inspire as many people as I can," Durant said.
"My aunt was a loving and caring person who wanted the best for everybody," he added. "To keep her story alive, for one, for my family is very important. More importantly, to help people that are affected by this every single day has always been the goal."