When LeBron James burst onto the global sports stage in 2001, nobody could envisage just how successful he would be in his career. Considered one of the best basketball players of all time, LeBron has achieved everything possible in the sport. Over the past two decades, LeBron James has cemented himself as one of the greatest athletes of his generation. His signature contract with Nike has allowed him to create a legacy that could match that of Michael Jordan.
Having signed a lifetime deal with Nike (which is valued at over €1 billion) in 2015, LeBron has remained a loyal member of team Swoosh. From PEs to rare pairs of Dunks, LeBron has had access to some of the most sought after sneakers on the planet for most of his adult life. As you would expect, this has brought with it a number of great sneaker moments. With that in mind, we thought we’d round up the top 10 LeBron James sneaker shots.
We’ll be delving back into the extensive LeBron James sneaker archive and pulling out 10 of his best sneakers. Whether its Nike Dunks or Off-White™ x Air Jordan 1s, LeBron has got it all. Without further delay, let’s take a look at LeBron James’s best sneaker moments.
Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 1/97 VF (2018)
Back in 2017, Sean Wotherspoon won the Nike Vote Forward competition and was given the chance to release his own signature Air Max. The community-focused project was the first time that Nike had allowed a member of the public to design their own sneaker. Needless to say that the Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 1/97 caught the attention of the globe. Of course, when you are one of the most famous athletes on the planet and also happen to know the big wigs at Nike, you’re going to get treated to some rare sneakers.
LeBron James was spotted rocking the Sean Wotherspoon Air Max 97s ahead of a game in the NBA. The bright corduroy Air Max 97 upper is contrasted by an Air Max 1 sole. These are a slick pair for anyone to have, even if you are LeBron. Considering that LeBron has a US15 foot, it’s safe to say that there are probably very few pairs of these made. Paired with acid wash jeans, a black leather biker jacket and a blue beanie, this is one LeBron style moment you won’t forget.
Union LA x Air Jordan 1 “Blue Toe” (2018)
After signing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, LeBron had a lot to live up to. With the Lakers having names like Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson as former players, LeBron’s signing was a monumental moment in sports. The city of LA needed someone to pick them up after the post-Bryant era, something that is still yet to happen. Although LeBron may not have made a huge impact so far, his sneakers certainly have.
Spotted ahead of a matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves, LeBron pulled out some serious heat. Rocking the Union LA x Air Jordan 1 “Blue Toe,” LeBron caught the attention of the sneaker community. Union’s collab was one of the most sought after sneakers of 2018 and for good reason. Paired with a Dries Van Noten sweater, Cartier bracelet and a Lakers snapback, this was one LeBron outfit that all sneakerheads were jealous of.
Nike LeBron VIII “South Beach” (2010)
In 2010, LeBron James had parted ways from the Cleveland Cavaliers. As his first professional club and located in his home of Ohio, it was a big move for LeBron. However, the offer of playing for the Miami Heat was something that LeBron knew he could not ignore. Whilst some Cavs fans may not have forgiven LeBron for his decision, it didn’t stop them from seeing just how his signature sneakers would change. Arguably the most sought after Nike LeBron of all time is in fact inspired by the Magic City.
Dubbed the Nike LeBron 8 “South Beach”, the sneaker took design cues from Miami’s characteristics. The blue upper comes complete with a black Swoosh and pink lining. LeBron’s lion head motif can be spotted on the tongue, whilst the full Air Max style sole unit adds another element to this sneaker. Selling out almost instantly on release day, the South Beach 8s have remained one of LeBron’s most valuable sneakers. It’s easy to see why.
Chinatown Market Bootleg Swoosh 1970s (2018)
Whilst LeBron may be able to get his hands on almost any sneaker on the planet, there are some things that Nike simply can’t do. In 2018, Chinatown Market began creating knock-off versions of the Converse Chuck Taylor 1970s. Unlike traditional Converse, this bootleg featured a large Nike Swoosh down the medial side. This detail gave Chinatown Market’s collab a lot of attention, so much so that LeBron had asked for a pair of his own.
Made specifically for LeBron, the sneakers feature a Swoosh and smiley face. On the tongue, the words “1-of-1 bootleg for LeBron” can be seen. Of course, this put Chinatown Market on the map for many people in the streetwear world. As time has gone on, there have not been many Chinatown Market Bootleg Swoosh 1970s appear on the market. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see whether these get a wider release.
Nike Air Yeezy II “Red October” (2014)
LeBron James and Kanye West have always had a good relationship. As two of the most famous people on the planet, the circles that they mix in are usually similar. Although Kanye may have made a dramatic exit from Team Swoosh, it didn’t stop Nike from dropping the Air Yeezy 2 “Red October” in spectacular fashion. To this day, the “Red October” shock drop is one of the most memorable moments in sneaker history.
Although you may question why LeBron is wearing Yeezys, the story is actually pretty simple. During practice with the Miami Heat for the NBA Finals, LeBron pulled out the Red Octobers to start hooping in. It’s safe to say that the sneaker community went wild. Playing basketball in one of the rarest Yeezys ever? Get out of here. When you’re LeBron James though, you probably don’t worry about breaking a €10,000 shoe. You can always get Nike to send you another!
Off-White™ x Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” (2018)
LeBron James is without a doubt one of the most important people in Nike’s lineup. As one of the very few athletes to receive a signature shoe deal, LeBron has always been a key part of Nike’s basketball growth. Over the past few years, LeBron has been able to get some of the rarest sneakers on the planet. Of course, being friends with Virgil Abloh also happens to help those chances too.
In 2018, LeBron was spotted rocking the Off-White™ x Air Jordan 1 “Chicago.” The elusive colourway of Abloh’s first-ever Off-White™ Jordan is one of the most sought after shoes on earth. However, unlike some others, LeBron has had his customised by Abloh himself. “VIRGIL ©2017” and “AIR JAMES” can be seen on the side of the shoe. As you would expect, LeBron only pulls these out when there are some big occasions. You can understand why.
Concepts x Nike SB Dunk Low “Green Lobster” (2018)
Although LeBron may have a penchant for Jordans and Air Max, he is not averse to the Nike Dunk. Having grown up experiencing the OG SB Dunk craze, LeBron knows only too well just how important the sneaker is in the community. Never one to miss out on a drop, LeBron has been getting his hands on rare Nike SBs since the beginning of his career. However, it wasn’t until 2018 that we saw just how good LeBron’s Dunk plug is.
Ahead of the Lakers game against New Orleans Pelicans, LeBron pulled out the Concepts x Nike SB Dunk Low “Green Lobster.” The green nubuck upper, complete with a dark green leather Swoosh, is part of the lobster Dunk series. Although they may not be as limited as the OG yellow pair, they certainly fetch a pretty penny. Paired with a simple pair of dark blue jeans, an army jacket and a diamond chain, this is one of LeBron’s best sneaker moments.
Nike LeBron IX “Watch the Throne” (2011)
LeBron James has a special relationship with both Kanye West and Jay-Z. So much so that in 2011, LeBron worked with Nike to gift the two rappers with a special sneaker. Taking inspiration from the Watch the Throne album, LeBron created a very limited Nike LeBron XI when the two arrived in Miami to perform. Months of work went into the sneaker, which was given to Yeezus and Hove just before they hit the stage back in 2011.
Using Ricardo Tisci’s album cover for Watch the Throne, Nike played off the theme of gold on the sneaker. The tongue of the shoe combines the three state of flowers of LeBron, Kanye and Jay. A gold lace lock was custom made by Gabriel Urist from New York and the sneakers were given to Kanye and Jay in a special bag. When Kanye and Jay-Z put these on for the show, they stole the show. This is one of LeBron’s greatest sneaker moments, purely for the historic importance in the Watch the Throne tour.
Air Jordan III “Tinker Oregon PE” (2019)
The University of Oregon has an important part in the history of Nike. As the former college of Nike founder Phil Knight, the UoO has always been treated to exclusive sneakers. Athletes that makeup part of the Oregon Ducks have received PEs for nearly 20 years, with some of these sneakers selling for thousands of euros. However, when you’re a part of the Nike family, you don’t have to worry about getting them on the resell market.
Spotted in 2019 wearing the Oregon exclusive Air Jordan 3 “Tinker Hatfield PE,” LeBron James made headlines. The sneaker features a green suede upper and a reflective tongue complete with a yellow Jumpman. Familiar details such as the elephant print can be seen on the heel and mudguard, whilst a large black “O” features on the heel tab. Whilst there are no official figures on these Jordan 3s, the will be extremely limited. Shout out LeBron James for this sneaker moment!
Off-White™ x Nike Air Force 1 “AF100” (2017)
Back in 2017, Virgil Abloh and Nike had just begun working together. Ahead of the launch of “The Ten”” Nike recruited Abloh to create a very special Air Force 1. As part of the “AF100” pack, Abloh’s first Nike Air Force 1 was launched exclusively at Complex Con to celebrate. Quickly becoming one of the hottest shoes on the planet, Abloh’s reinterpretation caught the eye of the entire sneaker world. Fortunately enough, LeBron managed to secure his pair just in time.
Featuring a white leather upper, the Off-White™ x Nike Air Force 1 uses a silver Swoosh and an off white sole. The deconstructed aesthetic also uses exposed foam on the collar, tongue and ankle. A large white zip tag is attached to the laces, whilst the familiar writing on the medial side, shoelaces and midsole can also be seen. Now selling for well over €5,000, this is one of the most desirable AF1s on the planet. Well done, LeBron.
That concludes our round up of LeBron James’s top 10 sneaker moments! As you can see, LeBron has access to pretty much any sneaker on the planet. His collection is extensive, covering everything from SB Dunks to Air Max and Jordans to Air Force 1s. The man has a lifetime deal with Nike so you can be sure that there are going to be a few more big LeBron James sneaker moments. If you’re looking to cop any of the sneakers on this list, then head to KLEKT!