Sneaker News Top 30 Sneakers of 2011

December 29th, 2011 by

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LeBron James’ move from Cleveland to Miami stands as one of the most publicized and (arguably) controversial stories in professional sports free agency history. The issue of The Decision’s effect on the LeBron James ‘brand’ was often discussed; would the popularity of his signature shoes experience a decline? When Sneaker News sat down to discuss the Nike LeBron 8 with designer Jason Petrie, it was one of the first issues that was aired out. Jason quickly admitted that there was a bit of worry and he pondered the possibility of a decrease in popularity, but knowing what LeBron James was capable of on the court and the quality of the Nike LeBron 8 design was enough to ease any uncertainty. The release of the ‘South Beach’, the first released colorway of the LeBron 8, put out any remaining fires, signifying the official beginning of the Miami era for LeBron James and a strong run for the Nike LeBron 8 series.

As the progression of the Nike LeBron 8 went from V/1 to V/2 to the P.S., the fourth and final variation of the Nike LeBron 8 was introduced – the Nike LeBron 8 V/2 Low. It released in June of 2011 in a number of high-energy colorways like the ‘Sprite’ and ‘Solar Red’, but those brightly-colored editions would soon appear rather tame next to the ‘Miami Nights’, which first popped up in early July. The LeBron 8 Low was already a popular pick for summer sneaker rotations, but the brilliant and kaleidoscopic colorway of the Miami

Nights instantly made it the must-have sneaker of the season. However, the release of the Miami Nights was rather hectic; it was first exiled to Asia (we’ll touch on that later) and released at Nike Basketball retailers on the other side of the globe, with circulation rumored to be just 500 pairs. The Miami Nights would eventually hit the U.S., exclusive to only one Miami retailer, and are currently floating around the open market with prices marked around $700-800.

What makes the Nike LeBron 8 Low ‘Miami Nights’ so tantalizing is that the shoe has a back-story as rousing as its design. While the name ‘Miami Nights’ stuck to the shoe like glue (that name was already internally attached to the Nike LeBron 9 version, but somehow leaked out), Nike originally intended it to be dubbed the ‘Flamingo’, a fitting icon of the exotic and festive imagery of Miami. Another one of Nike’s unrealized intentions was that the Miami Nights/Flamingo was a potential celebratory ‘Championship’ shoe for LeBron; the confetti-like graphic seen on the upper is what we might’ve seen on the streets of Miami – that’s if and only if the Miami Heat won the NBA Championship in June. Unfortunately for LeBron and Heat fans, that’s not how the story unfolded, and it may have re-directed the release of the shoe in some capacity. But like the ‘South Beach’, which arrived during its own sensitive timing, the Miami Nights/Flamingo was still a major success and a good story regardless of what may have occurred in last summer’s NBA Finals.

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