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First Look: Nike LeBron 9 “China Edition”

By / 09.20.11

Nike Basketball and LeBron James decided to make the LeBron 9 a basketball sneaker which looks like a basketball sneaker. Not that the idea is odd since LeBron does play the sport for a living. Typically, we’ve come to expect his signature shoe’s design to be one that lends itself to wear off the court as well as on and that may not be the case with the LeBron 9, at least not upon first look.

The thing with Nike’s top tier court shoes is they’re always stacked with technology and thus insanely comfortable. The LBJ 9’s continue that trend by incorporating a Max Air 180 unit in the heel and Zoom unit in the forefoot. The shoe is the first to combine Flywire technology and Hyperfuse construction to create a nearly seamless, lightweight upper that’s still supportive. In other words, wearing these all day – on or off the court – and they’ll still feel as great as they did that morning when you laced them up. Not many qualms with the guts of these things.

The case can be made that the LBJ’s 7’s and 8’s “looked” like true bball kicks too but both models were cut slightly lower in the ankle and worked from a fashion angle. The LBJ 9 eschews the previous look and goes high, making it off-putting for fashionistas. Let forums and message boards tell it, naysayers have left tomatoes outside for months to rot just so they can hurl the stinking vegetables at the 9’s. A shoe this high doesn’t work well with skinnys right?

In the different generations of footwear consumers, each group approaches their kicks from a different perspective I guess. As an old fogey, I’m of the sect who remembers the high-top tanks of the early ’90s, shoes made strictly from a performance standpoint first and fashion second. The place in time where you couldn’t wait for the season to be over so you could wear your team shoes to school without getting in trouble with the coach. The era where models constructed for power forwards and centers sold well.

Seeing a cat repping from Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood wasn’t against the grain; it was part of the norm. We laced up Force models that damn near went to the shin and, as a result, highs don’t typically scare me away. For the past several years, I tend to handle basketball kicks on a case-by-case basis or a colorway-basis to be more exact. I make my selections based off colors, starting with the blackout version of the original Hyperdunk to various colorways of Hyperfuse models and my last pair of bball kicks, the stunning mango Blake Griffin Hyperdunk 2011. It oftentimes takes a colorway to make a basketball sneaker pop and Nike’s got release plans for that.

“Available beginning October 1, the LeBron 9 can be purchased at select retailers in Greater
China. The shoe debuts October 15 in the United States in a limited edition “Cannon” colorway, with
select college colorways launched beginning October 14, and the primary black/red/white colorway
launching October 25.

“For the first time ever, LeBron’s signature shoe will be available on NIKEiD.com. Beginning October
11, the LeBron 9 can be previewed on NIKEiD.com with full design options available. The shoe is
available for purchase on NIKEiD.com beginning October 25 in China, Europe, Japan and the United
States. The LeBron 9 will also be available in three limited time packs on NIKEiD.

As one last special integration, Nike has partnered with the videogame NBA 2K12, from 2K Sports, to
integrate the LEBRON 9. Beginning October 4 during NBA 2K12’s launch, the LEBRON 9 will release
in special colorways in the game in unison with key retailers.”

The wide array of colorways are where the LBJ line always kicks ass (even though the Zoom Kobe VI gave it a good run for my money last year). Putting the sneaker on NikeiD early opens up the door for consumers to draw up their own wacky colorways to fit their tastes. Paying a few extra dollars on top of regular retail neither bothers me much when the exchange is an ill pair of one-of-one’s. Plus, I do great color placements to make the most beautifulest designs in this world, stank you very much. Now, I’ll finally have a Knicks/HWC colorway without paying with an arm and a leg in exchange.

Not like the iD option is totally necessary since designers break out the whole bag of Skittles and throw out colors of all sorts on their own. Although LeBron’s entourage, Clark Kent & other more famous/connected heads usually get the crème de la crème, the colorways for the 8’s that hit shelves were nothing to scoff at. I should know because I overindulged in them quite heavily. One of the retail frontrunners this time around will be the China edition. Typically, China-themed kicks contain the color red. Again, look for the LBJ 9 to break tradition while incorporating two motifs: dragons and fire.

“2012 is the “Year of the Dragon” in the Chinese zodiac. Represented on the tongue of the LeBron 9 is an image of a colorful dragon. And as everyone knows from personal experience, dragons breathe fire, which infuses the blue color inspiration to this “China” edition shoe. The color blue is known as the hottest part of a flame and gets some extra burn on the heel pull with the Chinese character for “fire” seen graphically on fire.” [CK]

Anyways, Sneaker Freaker has a cool excerpt from their chat with James and the 9’s designer Jason Petrie. The full interview will be published in issue 22 but the brief piece talks about LeBron’s input, Petrie’s attempts to create a shoe that fit to support a 200+ pound, 6’8″ dominate force on the court, additional specs and more sneaker-nerd info. Worth a read. SF also has the first crystal clear shots of the China’s, featured below.


TAGSJason PetrieLeBron JamesNike BasketballNike LeBron 9NikeiDSMOKE BREAKSNEAKERS

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