Nike revealed LeBron James’s latest signature sneaker, the LeBron 12, yesterday at an event at its world headquarters in Oregon. For people who remember all the hype when the 18-year-old LeBron first entered the league with his $90 million Nike contract, it’s a little crazy to think that King James has already reached the 12th iteration of his signature shoe. What’s even crazier is that this might be the best one yet.
From a performance standpoint, the biggest innovation is the outsole, which is made up of five visible Nike Zoom Air bags shaped like hexagons, which Nike calls “nature’s perfect shape.” (We didn’t know that nature played favorites with shapes, but whatever.) The hexagons allow for greater articulation when making cuts on the court and while exploding up toward the basket. They are pressure mapped to provide cushioning where players need it most.
The upper on the LeBron 12 uses Dynamic Flywire and Hyperposite wings to keep James’s foot locked down. It is designed to provide stability where you need it and range of motion where you don’t.
Considering the issues that Nike had last season where James often didn’t wear the LeBron 11 in favor of the LeBron 10, you can bet that Nike has done everything in its power to live up to the marketing speak and make this a shoe that LeBron truly wants to wear in games. Keeping LeBron happy has to be priority No. 1 for the Swoosh, especially now that companies like Under Armour have been willing to put up big bucks to try and poach Nike athletes.
On the design side, these are sneakers that you would be psyched to wear on court and off. One of the best parts of the LeBron sneaker legacy is that there are now elements from previous shoes that can be drawn on. There are parts of the LeBron 12 that call to mind the LeBron 2 and the 4, but the shoe still manages to be wholly new.
The LeBron 12 will launch in seven colorways, each with its own story:
NSRL (launching October 11 globally)
This is a nod to Nike’s famed Sports Research Lab, where new products are rigorously tested and analyzed.
Heart of a Lion (launching October 30)
Dropping the day the Cavaliers open their NBA season, this colorway pays respect to the king of the jungle, which has been James’s spirit animal so to speak.
Dunk Force (launching November 11)
James’s tomahawk dunk is referenced in this version that is reminiscent of a tomahawk helicopter.
Instinct (launching November 22)
Another animal, albeit one much smaller than the lion, is the inspiration behind the Instinct. It is modeled after the colors of a hummingbird.
Six Meridians (Launching November 29)
James enjoys a massage (can you blame him?) to help with his recovery. This color references the six parts of the body, or meridians, where energy is released according to Chinese reflexology.
Trillion Dollar Man (launching December 1)
Forget the Six Million Dollar Man Steve Austin, LeBron has his sights on a trillion with this colorway.
Data (launching December 20)
LeBron’s stats are ridiculous, so it only makes sense to pay homage to the numbers he puts on the board with this version.