LeBron James only played 15 minutes and didn’t appear in the second half when the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Sacramento Kings in their final seeding game. But his time on the court nonetheless was marked with the debut of the Nike LeBron 18.
It marked the first time James laced up his latest signature shoe in a non-practice setting. He had previously been photographed wearing the LeBron 18 to the arena, only to switch into his current model.
James’ forthcoming signature shoe is due to release in September. It features a cushioning system comprised of Air Max in the heel and a full-length Zoom Air Bag.
“At this point, LeBron has spent half his life with Nike,” footwear designer Jason Petrie said. “We wanted to make him a shoe that played with this idea of two halves. How could we keep improvising on the Max Air value that LeBron loves, but use the forefoot half to sharpen the low-to-the-ground, micro-shifts that LeBron needs to cut and transition down the floor?
“We’ve gotten near-surgically detailed on these features so that the sum of the shoe’s parts come together for LeBron, and for every kind of player.”
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The upper of the LeBron 18 draws from James’ previous three signature models to create a new knit that is lightweight and durable.
“You’ll also see in the upper how we integrated a cable-inspired rib cage,” Petrie said. “They reach all the way down into the footbed, allowing this macro support-system to work with the knit.”
On the traction front, Nike used generative design, a method used in the brand’s Sport Research Lab. The forefoot is divided into quadrants with thin ridges that get more pronounced toward the heel of the shoe for a stricter grip.
LeBron assisting more ways than one
James won his first career NBA assists title this season, and he also is among those lending a hand to the shorthanded Lakers staff inside the bubble. After helping the Lakers to a win in their seeding games, James lent a hand to Lakers staffers as they were loading heavy equipment into an elevator.
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