LeBron James has only played six games in the new NBA season, but there’s already been a major change in his game from the previous year. No, we’re not thinking about his highly publicized return to the Cleveland Cavaliers or his noticeable off-season weight loss. Like Spike Lee once said, “it’s the shoes.”
By now, we’re all familiar with the roller coaster ride that was LeBron James and his Nike LeBron 11, a shoe that James was never quite comfortable in. Though he started a handful of games wearing the 11, he was sure to switch to the LeBron X or Zoom Soldier XII at halftime. That hasn’t been the case with the 12. Take a look at four reasons why the Nike LeBron 12 is succeeding more than the LeBron 11 ever could.
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1. He’s Worn the Nike LeBron 12 in Every Game, All Game
LeBron James in a LeBron 12 “Cavs” PE / Image via AP
According to Sole Collector, which tracked every instance of James wearing the LeBron 11 last season, James wore the shoe for the entirety of the Heat’s opening game against the Chicago Bulls. The following night, he switched to the previous model, a move he made again in the team’s third game. Discarding the 11 for another shoe was a pattern that continued for much of the year.
This season, things have changed. Folks began to worry that the 2014-15 season would be a repeat of last year when James was spotted wearing the Zoom Soldier XIII for a pre-season game; however, calm was restored when James broke out a player exclusive (PE) version of the LeBron 12 in Cleveland’s opener against the New York Knicks, and stayed in it for the duration of the game. That trend has continued through all six of the Cavaliers’ games so far.
2. The Colorways Are Infinitely Better
The Nike LeBron 12 “Veteran’s Day” PE / Image via Sole Collector
If we’re being honest, the colorways of the LeBron 11 (even the PEs) were fairly underwhelming. The “King’s Pride,” “Terracotta Warrior” and “BHM” releases were nice, as was the “Ring Night” PE James wore on opening night of the 2013-14 season. But aside from those, the shoe’s color palette had a lot of sneakerheads sleeping in instead of popping out of bed at 8 a.m. to buy online.
The Nike LeBron 12 “Cavs” PE / Image via @Kustoo
With the LeBron 12, not only have the initial retail colorways been on point (the “HRT of a Lion,” especially), but James’s PEs have been next-level good. He came out of the gate with fire, sporting a blue and yellow “Cavs” PE version in the first half and a red and blue PE in the second half to match the Cavs’ alternate uniforms. After wearing the “HRT of a Lion” colorway in Chicago the next night, James unleashed a red and gold PE in Portland to kick off the Cavs’ three-game West Coast swing.
In Utah the following night, the King broke out yet another PE, this one featuring a black and gold color combo. And finally, in what might be the best look of this young season, James laced up a “Veterans Day” PE (seen above)—a gray, red and blue shoe with stars and stripes decals throughout. We can’t wait to see what he busts out next.
3. The Multicolor, Hexagonal Pattern on the Sole is Fresh and New
Nike LeBron 12 sole / Image via Nike
As we’ve discussed before, the hexagonal pods on the sole of the LeBron 12 serve a purpose in the performance space, but they are also aesthetically pleasing. The sole of the LeBron 11 featured James’s John Hancock, which was great if you’re into analyzing signatures, but the sole of the 12 is unlike anything we’ve seen before in a basketball shoe. It also makes for some pretty incredible mid-air photos.
4. The 12 Is Not as Bulky as the LeBron 11
Image via Sneaker News
There was a lot happening on the Nike LeBron 11. It was bulkier than past James models, and it looked sort of like what a knight might wear into battle in the Middle Ages. The 12 is bigger and bulkier than what James has worn for most of his career, but the upper is less busy. The armor-like material has been scaled back, and the Megafuse upper has a better design than the 11’s Hyperfuse construction.
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