There has never been an athlete as watched, scrutinized, loved and hated with such relentlessness the way LeBron James has been. The first time you saw LeBron play was likely as high school freshman or sophomore. Unless you were just a mild basketball fan, of course. In that case, it took until February of 2002 for you to see “The Chosen One” on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Today that scrawny teenager, who grew up on camera, into one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen, turns 30.
While the King may have had his ups and downs under the microscope of media and fans, his sneakers have been on an upswing since he first laced up his Air Zoom Generations against the Sacramento Kings in October of 2003.
As LeBron tries to get Cleveland back to the Playoffs this year in his 12th signature sneaker, there has been tons of buzz amongst sneaker blogs as to whether the King’s shoes should retro or not. I went as far as creating Air Zoom Generation colorways when I was writing for Complex. Brandon even listed 10 reasons it needs to happen. LeBron himself even got into hyping up the idea last summer.
The argument can go both ways. For dedicated fans and collectors, keeping the purity of the early LeBron signature shoes out of the hands of the recent influx of sneakerheads is the common plea. For others, the plethora of colorways now synonymous with LeBron’s more recent Nike shoes, are primed and ready to hit retros. To me, it can’t happen yet. The LeBron lifestyle line either needs to come to an end or become much more popular. Aside from the crazy limited Kobe Prelude releases, Nike Basketball retros have struggled to sell at full retail over the past few years. The longer the wait, though, the more people will want it.
Whichever way you hope the coin lands this year, one thing is certain. It’s only a matter of time before LeBron’s shoes retro. And when it happens…#SickKickGame
Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector, and Sneaker News, helped companies like Eastbay, Finish Line, Foot Locker, StockX, and Stadium Goods better connect with their consumers, has an addiction to burritos and Sour Patch Kids, and owns way too many shoes for his own good.