During a visit to Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon in June, LeBron James teased a look at the newest shoe in his line: the LEBRON XVII. Look beyond the cursory glances from social media, and you’ll find updates under the hood that resolve LeBron’s quest for speed and support in his footwear.
“We had ‘the blueprint’ in mind for the 17, and we started from the ground up on everything, whether that was the construction of the knit or the way we could protect him underfoot with Air bags," says Nike's Jason Petrie, designer of the LEBRON XVII. "The silhouette was a way to reset the mark for LeBron, and futuristically explore how we could help his game with the best that Nike offers.”
Here are five things to know about the new shoe:
1. It Has the Highest-Volume Heel Max Air Unit in a LeBron Shoe
It’s the most Max Air that LeBron’s worn in a shoe, set beneath the heel to provide shock absorption for his explosive play. A soft foam pod directly under the Max Air units adds cushioning.
"If you look at the evolution of LeBron's line, you'll see how he loves Max Air, and we felt like the volume of Air in the 17 was the next solution in providing the stabilization and support he needs," says Petrie.
2. The Shoe Has Two Independent Air Zoom Pods Under the Forefoot
Air Zoom is combined with Max Air for the ultimate hybrid cushioning. Air Zoom units in the forefoot respond to LeBron’s downhill speed from point to point.
"The lateral and medial pods under the forefoot give him that response and comfort in conjunction with the Max Air bag," says Petrie. "The way LeBron sees it, he wants to feel confident from the ground up. He doesn't need help jumping. He wants to feel secure on the way down."
3. The Shoe Introduces Knitposite
Evolving the upper construction from Battleknit 2.0 on the LEBRON XVI, the LEBRON XVII combines lightweight Flyknit construction with heat-molded yarns that add structure and color. The result is durable, supportive and resists stretching.
"We wanted to blend the knit on the 15 and the strength of the Battleknit on the 16. The result is amazing. Once the heat is applied to the knitting process, you get this jewel-like armored exoskeleton that's stuffed with these yarns," says Petrie. "It's both structural and soft in the areas it needs to be."
4. Signature LeBron Details Have Shifted to the Tongue
The Lion crest was on the heel of the LEBRON XVI, while the silhouette of LeBron dunking was on the outsole. The LEBRON XVII shifts those details onto the tongue, combining phrases and symbols like “I’m King,” “LJ” and “23.”
"LeBron wanted a more overt tongue for the shoe, which opens up the opportunity for personal storytelling," says Petrie. "There are other micro details, too. Making the topline jagged was our way of stepping into the crown of the king. Also, there's a woven label on the medial side that has the inspiration for the colorway. It's almost like a key to the shoe."
5. The LEBRON XVII Releases Beginning September 27