In 2018, LeBron James arrived in Los Angeles with 13 postseasons and eight straight NBA Finals appearances. His first season with the Lakers was disappointing due to a lingering groin injury.
But James spearheaded the Lakers’ rise to the top by November 18, 2019, when he beat Michael Jordan by becoming the first player to record a triple-double against all 30 NBA teams. Afterward, he honored Jordan by saying, “I wear the number because of Mike. I think I fell in love with the game because of Mike, just seeing what he was able to accomplish.”
LeBron James gets his game on and his Nike shoes
Nike, in search of the next Jordan to sell its athletic shoes, took an $87 million-dollar chance on 18-year-old James right out of high school. Since then, he signed a lifetime deal with the brand. By choosing Nike at the beginning, just like Mike, James turned down a whopping $115 million from Reebok. Adidas, offering only $60 million, did not stand a chance.
Nike has produced a special edition LeBron sneaker every year from 2003 to 2019. The first edition was the 2003/2004 Air Zoom Generation. Subsequent annual editions all include LeBron’s name. In addition to the 17 official LeBron athletic shoes, Nike has produced many colorways, Soldier and Ambassador variations, lifestyle editions, and low-top LeBron James versions for younger boys, older boys, and serious hoopsters.
The most recent Nike and LeBron shoe collab
The latest edition, the Nike LeBron 17 / XVII: 2019-20, is as dazzling as his moves on the court. This ditches the rainbow colors for a commanding black shot with gold and iridescent colors. Materials are what Nike calls Knitposite, which is essentially thick Flyknit like the Battleknit used on two previous LeBron shoes. However, some sections are coated and welded together for strength.
The shoe combines first-of-its-kind Max Air in the heel with two Zoom Air pods in the forefoot for comfort and responsiveness. The breathtaking and fearsome lion’s head applique from earlier editions is also on the shoe.
According to Bleacher Report, James’ signature Nike shoes are among the most popular sneakers on the market. He loves to see his competition wear his shoes, says it gives him a mental edge.
James said, “If you just a guy that’s just like, you actually just go to Foot Locker or somewhere, you just get a pair of ‘Brons and you want to wear ’em on a Tuesday night vs. me? I’ma bust your ass. Straight up.” Nike does not include that quote in its marketing campaigns.
As of now, it looks like James is having the best season of a player over the age of 35 in NBA history. Aside from thrilling his fans, the finance and marketing teams at Nike are way over the hoop.
And the winning Nike is?
Will the legendary James ever fit into his hero Michael’s shoes? We doubt it. Jordan wears a size 13 shoe and James needs a size 15. For the competition, Jordan would most likely offer one of his Jordan 11s, his favorite Nike shoe and perhaps the classiest of the line. He wore them his first full season back from his unexpected retirement.