Kobe USA - 1One of the most infuriating things about being a sneakerhead is not being able to own a pair that you desperately want. There are a variety of factors that lead to that conclusion, whether it be money or losing out to a bot or reseller or not waking up on time on Nike.com on a Saturday morning, but more often than not those problems can be rectified with enough money or hustle. But what if the kicks that you want are just one-off pairs that were never made to the public? Now that’s the ultimate frustration.

Watch any NBA All-Star Game of recent vintage and you’ll come across kicks that never dropped at retail. These are player exclusive colorways that actually stay that way. Chances are they are not the signatures that players like Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant wear, but rather performance models with special graphics made just for that game. Maybe part of it is the extreme rarity and part of it might be that they actually are that good, but these are the kicks that the hardcore sneakerheads want; because they can’t find it. And good luck finding them in your size.

In the past few years, those super rare kicks have made their way to Panini America, one of the country’s best curators of athlete-worn memorabilia. Thanks to exclusive contracts they have with Durant, Bryant, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and John Wall, they are able to acquire these special kicks and have them signed and sold on the Panini Authentic website soon thereafter..

Here is a quick look gallery at some of the game-worn and non-game-worn kicks the company has acquired over the years. Expect to see more in the coming months from the company.

All photos courtesy of Panini Authentic.