LeBron James' Signature Shoe Power Ranking: The Top Seven Kicks
As all media types, bettors, and fans across the country wait with bated breath to watch and listen to LeBron James' over-hyped free-agency move later today, let's take a look at the shoes that made Akron's own special.
Whether he stay puts in Cleveland, moves a few miles west to Chicago, does it his way in New York/New Jersey, or ventures out to warmer temps in South Beach, Florida, it's a no-brainer that King James' Nike footwear will still sell regardless of his next move.
Prior to his rookie season, Bron Bron, at the age of 18, signed a $90 million contract for seven years, apparently to take the Beaverton, Ore., sneaker company to new heights that even dear old Michael Jordan could not reach.
Before the ball drops and his fate is determined, here's a reflection of the best and worst of No. 23's (or will it be No. 6 next year?) collection. From the inaugural Air Zoom Generation to the Air Max LeBron VIII, we will all be witnesses.
8. Air Max LeBron VIII (2010)
Soon to be unveiled to the entire world once LeBron speaks of where he lands next, photographers took pictures of LeBron's latest shoe when he hosted his basketball skills academy at the University of Akron earlier this week.
Some parts seem cool (the red and white swoosh, the lion on the tongue, the foam at the sole), but other parts, like the unusual mixture of suede and synthetic carbon fiber, will make this shoe hard for some buyers to keep clean.
Is this a sign of things to come? Will LBJ take these funny-looking boats somewhere along the East Coast? Or will they remain in terra firma, his Midwestern roots in Ohio? Stay tuned...
Let's regard the others while trying to digest this mishmash here, shall we?
Grade: I (Incomplete, To Be Determined)
7. Zoom LeBron V (2007)
The classic black and red version looks great, but this blue and white patent-leather one is horrible.
The design of the strap across the upper part of the forefoot makes the shoe garish. It resembles an American football cleat and not a basketball sneaker.
6. Zoom LeBron IV (2006)
The concept of IV was not bad, but it was not spectacular either.
If an architect or anyone else with an eye for fashion/shoe design were to see this creation, they may love it.
But to the common eye, this shoe is (and looks like) a black-and-white question mark gone wrong. That or a combat boot spilt open by a hand grenade.
Or Oreo cookies that were surfing on Waikiki Beach.
5. Zoom LeBron II (2004)
The strap located by the ankle part of this shoe that reads "Nike" is unnecessary and makes a pretty decent sneaker slightly annoying.
The whole world knows that LeBron signed a big shoe deal with Nike. Nike doesn't have to show the world that it "owns" LeBron at all in this second edition.
4. Zoom LeBron III (2005)
Even though the two straps at different regions of the forefoot do make III seem a bit odd, that's the only big problem with this shoe.
Critics have said that this was one of the best-made LeBron signatures, allowing for more flexibility and lateral movement, due to a better outsole that II (see Slide Four) didn't provide.
Yet patent leather on LeBron's shoes over the years has worked for him, as this was the sneaker that almost took James to the NBA Finals in his second season, losing to the Detroit Pistons in the Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals.
3. Air Max LeBron VII (2009)
A continuation of the Zoom LeBron VI style, VII decides to go a little more daring and lightweight than its predecessor.
It doesn't knock the shoe down in its more sophisticated style, but the suspension bridge-like lines laced on the side panels, called flywire, make it seem a bit sickening. However, the shoe's look rebounds with the patent leather and composite foam padding around the base.
Still, it's not a bad shoe because it took LeBron to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. And with a quick exit at the hands of the Boston Celtics, the shoes led him to the drama this summer in the NBA's most intriguing free agency period ever.
2. Air Zoom Generation I (2003)
There's no fluff or anything exorbitant about this shoe's appeal. And that's a good thing.
It was a royal yet humble welcome to LeBron's entrance into the NBA in 2003.
Who knew that something so simple (good emphasis on heel and forefoot support) would later be expanded upon in a series of (mostly) masterpieces fit for a king?
1. Zoom LeBron VI (2008)
You can look at this shoe at the tongue, insole, instep, forefoot, wherever, and you still get the same result.
It's sleek, ergonomically efficient, aerodynamically sound, and oozing of confidence a la the Air Jordan VI.
This sneaker cannot be beaten, which is why LeBron won his maiden MVP award and first NBA All-Defensive Team selection.