LeBron James will take the floor in the bubble for a scrimmage against the Mavs on Thursday night as the Lakers get their first live, non-practice action in four months. When he does so, he will debut the new Nike LeBron 18, as his latest signature sneaker is finally nearing its wide release.
Nike offered some details on the LeBron 18 on Thursday leading into James putting it on foot in a game for the first time — he has been wearing it some in practice — and it will look to bridge James’ power and speed in a way that they haven’t ever done before. The sneaker looks similar to his recent models, as they’ve clearly found a silhouette and fit that James really likes, but this edition will combine some of the technology from recent versions of his shoe into one — plus a first in terms of combining an Air Max heel cushion and full length Zoom Air throughout the shoe.
“At this point, LeBron has spent half his life with Nike,” says designer Jason Petrie. “We wanted to make him a shoe that played with this idea of two halves. How could we keep improvising on the Max Air value that LeBron loves, but use the forefoot half to sharpen the low-to-the-ground, micro-shifts that LeBron needs to cut and transition down the floor? We’ve gotten near-surgically detailed on these features so that the sum of the shoe’s parts come together for LeBron, and for every kind of player.”
Paul George’s PG3 was the first to introduce a full length Zoom Air pocket, and the LeBron 18 will add in what looks very similar to the Air Max 270 heel cushion — at least based on the initial sketch. The sneaker looks almost like two shoes pieced together, with a knit upper and lightweight front, but a very sturdy back half. The knit upper also combines the technology from the 15, 16, and 17 into one in an effort to offer the most stability while also providing a lightweight, comfortable fit.
There’s also an updated traction pattern on the outsole to continue that effort of creating more stability, and while there’s not an official release date, we do know the sneaker will hit the market at some point in September — which LeBron the Lakers hope will be in the midst of a championship run. More images and details are sure to come between now and then, including price point and a specific drop date.