The NBA returned this week, albeit from the bubble of Disneyland Florida. And while the resuming fight for the 2020 championship brings numerous talking points, it’s the sartorial side that we’re interested in today. For decades, the NBA has been a provider of WTF style moments, wild hairstyles, and, of course, standout footwear. Player exclusives, signature silhouettes, and the releases that we mortals can actually get our hands on — the NBA is a melting pot for sneaker spotting.
LeBron James is one player to have been graced with his own sneaker line, having been signed up by Nike in 2003, aged just 18. Almost two decades later, LeBron James is searching for his fourth championship ring and still showing off an impressive rotation. In honor of one of the NBA’s greatest all-time players, we’ve been searching through the archives to bring you some of King James’ best on-court and off-court sneaker moments. Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, we’re also giving you the opportunity to cop each and every one of them on the GOAT site or via the app.
In March this year, before Covid-19 forced the NBA pause, LeBron sported the LeBron 17 Low “Bred” during a Lakers game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Released in the same month, the almost all-black signature sneaker is contrasted with a vivid University Red Swoosh and detailing, with LeBron branding at the tongue and heel.
LeBron James kicked off his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, a team he first played with for seven years, and eventually returned to for four years in 2014. This image was taken during his second season with the Cavaliers, and shows James wearing the second shoe of his Nike partnership — the Zoom LeBron 2 “Midnight Navy.” Featuring full-length Zoom Air cushioning, the Zoom LeBron 2 comes with a removable ankle strap for support, as well as LeBron’s signature lion logo.
Following his return to the Cavaliers, LeBron ended the Cleveland team’s championship drought during the 2015-16 season. In a game against the Los Angeles Lakers in February 2016, James wore the “Black History Month” LeBron 13, released earlier that year in homage to black athletes around the world. The “BHM” sneaker combines a mesh upper and a sock-like construction with references to Pan-African textiles.
Standout sneakers aren’t just seen on the court, though. When it comes to NBA style moments, a great deal happens during player arrivals. LeBron is seen here on the way to a Lakers game, a team he joined in 2018 and still plays for. On his feet are the Nike Dunk Low “Kentucky” sneakers, a retro edition of the 1985 classic released in March 2020 in celebration of the Dunk’s 35th anniversary.
Turning up to a Lakers game against the Sacramento Kings in 2018, LeBron went for a wild, print-clash look that was topped off by a luxe-looking red blazer. To match, James wore the “Chicago” Off-White™ x Nike Air Jordan 1, a sneaker that was part of Virgil Abloh’s “The Ten” project with Nike. Bearing Abloh’s signature deconstructed aesthetic, the sneaker features a Swoosh held on by blue stitching. However, as a highly-coveted piece, it doesn’t come cheap.
Here’s LeBron arriving for a Lakers game against the Washington Wizards at STAPLES Center in 2019, sporting an extra loud pink Nike track top. Not to be outdone down below, the number 23 opted for the atmos x Nike Air Max 1 “Elephant” sneaker, a remaster of the coveted 2006 collab between the Japanese retailer and the Swoosh. The shoe was re-released again for Air Max Day and makes use of the “Elephant” print, a part of Basketball sneaker history.
LeBron showed his love for Off-White™ once again en-route to a Lakers game against the New York Knicks in January this year. Keeping warm in a long coat, green track top, and bright orange beanie, James paired his apparel colors with the Off-White™ x Nike Dunk “Pine Green” sneaker from 2019, which comes with orange Flywire secondary lacing.
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