Dressed in a black and white t-shirt prominently displaying his King James logo across the chest, LeBron James sat behind a table displaying his 13th signature shoe. He picked it up, loosened the laces and fiddled with the tongue before placing back it in the center of the table.
"You had to style it up, huh?" asked Kristen Ledlow, the NBA TV personality who hosted the ceremony.
"Had to style it," James said with a laugh. "I've done 13 of these things."
It's surreal to think that James, who came into the league at the age of 18, has now played for 13 seasons. It's doubly surreal when you realize that Michael Jordan was wearing his 18th signature shoe when he finally retired from basketball in 2003. Judging by the immaculate shape James is still in, it's not a stretch to assume he will play at least five more years, and probably more. To have a signature shoe line run further than that of His Airness himself, well that's some sort of accomplishment.
James was on site at the University of Akron to unveil the Nike LeBron 13, a shoe that continues the bigger and bulkier design that began with the LeBron 10. A Hyperposite upper graces the new kicks, and hexagonal Air Zoom units on the sole, which debuted with the LeBron 12, have returned as well. New details pop up on the outsole: the word "Akronite" and James' birth month and year (12/84) appear on each colorway of the shoe.
The LeBron 13 is a marriage of stability and lightness, a complement to James's game, which features both bullying larger defenders in the post and streaking end to end to finish a fast break.
"We always talk about comfort, we always talk about explosiveness, and we also talk about style," James said. "Carrying the weight that I carry, at the speed that I go, [the LeBron 13] gives me that suspension that I need when I play the game, but at the same time be able to be as fast and as quick as some of those smaller guys in the league as well."
The first version to release, the above "Written in the Stars," drops Oct. 10. It will be followed shortly thereafter by "Halloween" and "Space Race."
James ended the night in front of an enormous crowd at E. J. Thomas Hall, presenting his shoe for hundreds of kids from local Akron schools and from his LeBron James Family Foundation. His wife and two sons were in the front row, as was his mother, Gloria. He was calm—loose even—dancing on stage to Drake and Future's "Big Rings," then exiting as he belted out Fetty Wap's "My Way."
It's good to be The King, and even better when you can drop the 13th iteration of an immensely successful shoe in your own hometown.
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