We all knew LeBron James didn’t win the hearts of many with “The Decision” television special; nor did portraying a bad-guy like persona help the year failing to win a championship that first year as a member of the 2010 Miami Heat either. Nike didn’t fall out of line when they created 3 different versions of the Nike LeBron 8, but they needed to start fresh after the loss in the Finals and re-image LeBron’s figure. So why not start with the shoes. Swoosh & co. didn’t want to go the route of creating 3 shoes again and with the NBA lock-out, but they still needed a shoe to be able to sustain the workload of 48 minutes plus even though there would be only a 66-game shortened season. That’s where Jason Petrie comes in. The core designer from the previous models of the LeBron VII and VIII was set forth to prove the critics wrong by creating a shoe that helped bring LeBron towards his first NBA Championship.
Offering a newly upgraded technology, the LeBron 9 used a new midfoot infused harnessing Flywire technology to keep the support of the foot at bay. Creating a woven like textile, almost like carbon fiber design (or what they call “Stability wing”), but a slightly flex molding to provide proper upper foot support. Shying away from the full 360 Air Max, the LeBron 9 uses a 180 Air Max unit to provide proper impact cushioning along with being lighter weight. The shoe also implements a forefoot impact Zoom Air unit for a more responsive cushioning for a lower to the ground feel. The outsole of the shoe used a non-traditional pattern and a solid base material for better traction and durability. The midfoot and forefoot overlay has visible Flywire showing how advanced the shoe was put together and held together with multi-layering of the Hyperfuse material, thus providing a more lightweight shoe. There was not much changed from the weartest product to final release other than making the harness slightly more structurally supportive to mold around the foot when lacing up for better lockdown.
The biggest transition from the LeBron 9 was that it utilized all the brand new technical aspects Nike was trying to build on. From upgraded Hyperfuse to the better cabling lockdown system with the use of Flywire. My test pair had a more dense stability wing, almost like a harder structured carbon fiber-esque basis. My biggest thing with the shoe was that I couldn’t finish the last 3-4 weeks of product testing this particular shoe because I actually had sustained a major injury.
Although LeBron James wore the LeBron 9 during majority of the season, he did eventually switch to the LeBron 9 Elite edition once the playoffs started. But you have to admit the success of the season (although due to shortened lock-out had occurred), it gave everyone a different light and image with LeBron winning his first of two championships.
Sneaker Connoisseur & Tech Enthusiast who has Brand product tested footwear for Nike/Jordan Brand/Brandblack. Currently resides in New York & loves basketball (sad Knicks fan), Michael Jordan fan, & currently working on testing products that will (hopefully) be in your future performance rotations.