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An Ode To The Zoom LeBron 3 OG

Nike Zoom LeBron 3 Retro via Nice Kicks

Original Generation (OG) colorways of our favorite shoes are always welcomed with open arms when retro’ed. The Jordan line is the most well-known and easiest example of this nostalgia affect at play. We’ve seen a billion Air Jordan 1s over the years; but nothing gets our palms itching like a fresh retro of the Air Jordan 1 ‘Banned’ or ‘Bred’ (whatever). Jordan Brand could retro that bad boy every friggin’ two years and we’d still pounce on it like a lion. Non-OG colorways can be hit or miss – meh or yay because they’re not contextualized the same in the minds of sneakerheads.


OG colorways mean so much to collectors because our brains have literally tethered memories to THAT specific shoe. The ‘Banned’ Jordan 1, for anyone from age 8-30 in ’85, carries very specific emotional ties. Fans can vividly see MJ’s gold chain and short shorts. They can remember the ‘banned’ commercials…. they remember the feelings of joy and wonder every time a pair of ‘Breds’ crosses their line of sight. Michael’s shoes are the easiest examples of the emotional attachments sneakerheads like myself make with their kicks, but MJ surely isn’t the only example. 🙂

The LeBron line is my Jordan line; meaning, I grew up with LeBron from day 1 like many 35+ year olds did with MJ in the ’80s. King James was drafted by the Cavs when I was a dorky 8th grader; I still remember his all-white Steve Harvey suit from the ’03 Draft vividly.

Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James on Draft Night 2003.


My pops copped a LeBron rookie basketball card which was odd in my eyes. Old man knew his hoops but he wasn’t reading Slam Magazine like me – LeBron musta been realllly good for my dad to recognize game.

Image of LeBron James rookie card

… Then the first game happened against Sacramento…

LeBron’s first dunk, and same dunk 10 years later.

I was dumbfounded, “yoooooooooooooooo LeBron James the bomb!!!!” It’s been all love ever since (Kobe’s my favorite player of all-time, but LeBron is second, so people don’t get my Kobe love twisted lol). King James’s first two signature shoes spoke to me but the LeBron 3 hit me on a spiritual level. I was in 10th grade at that time and rocking SBs and Trainers mostly but the 3s just turned my life upside down. but, sadly, I never had a pair in ’05, I saw them everywhere but had no money and my parents weren’t buying them for me – infatuated, salty and in-awe.

  • The star guards on both of my schools men’s and women’s basketball teams rocked the white/navy 3s (to go with my school’s white/navy/red colors)… infatuated
  • The fool in my science class, Eric, had a pair and would flaunt them… salty
  • LeBron wrecked the NBA in the 3… awe inspiring, literally. LeBron’s highlights had me in-awe nightly.


Every aesthetic choice made by the shoe’s designer, Ken Link, was killer. Ken’s team sought to “deconstructed the past to build towards the future.” Design wise, it had to fit LeBron’s unique skill set (big, strong, fast, agile). Dynamic Straps provided pre-Flywire lockdown similar to the setup on Barkley’s old shoes. The two tone upper separated by the mudguard was reminiscent of the Air Jordan 11 (along with the carbon fiber arch) too.

Nike Zoom LeBron 3 Retro
Nike Zoom LeBron 3 Retro via Nice Kicks

Modern touches like the stupid comfortable Sphere Cushioning on the collar (it’s so damn soft and plush) and forefoot & heel Zoom Air units sat alongside more traditional elements like suede & leather to create a shoe that transcends generations.

LeBron owned the competition from an individual perspective with gaudy end-of-season totals of 31 PTS, 6 AST and 7 REB.

His play on-the-court paired fantastically with the Zoom LeBron 3’s marketing efforts. Anyone watching TV from 2005-07 remembers “The LeBrons.” In what I’ll call an early acting debut, LeBron portrayed 4 versions of himself, the: Businessman, Kid, Wiseman and Athlete. Each persona spoke to the many roles LeBron had to balance early in his career. Could he be all four at the same time? Was he none? The commercials were very open ended, fun, and playful as a whole. The skit ran throughout the marketing campaigns for a few signature shoes and eventually turned into a web series on YouTube.

Each commercial had me trying to find close-ups of the 3s – I wanted to look at them every chance I could. Many popular CWs dropped during the shoe’s lifecycle and luckily Nike started retroing old and unreleased 3s in 2018. This week we’re treated to my favorite GR colorways – the black/white/reds! I’ve wanted a pair of these for almost 15 years so my excitement is crazy high. Both pairs of LeBron 3s I bought in 2013 have crumbled midsoles now, and I’ve been unable to get my hands on the highly coveted retros so far.

Nike Zoom LeBron 3 Retro

Look for the Nike Zoom LeBron 3 Retro to drop on 4.11 for $175 via outlets like the SNKRS app. Good luck, and someone send me a pair!!


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