December 29th, 2011 by Aaron Kr.
#5 – NIKE LEBRON 9
Coming off two consecutive blockbuster hits in the widely-popular Air Max LeBron VII and the ambitious three-shoe LeBron 8 series, Nike designer Jason Petrie had a rock-solid backbone to build on for the LeBron 9. So what was Petrie’s first order of business? Start from scratch. Swapping out the visually appealing full-length Air Max for a new cushion system was actually first done with the LeBron 8 P.S. and carried over to the LeBron 9, but the overall message was that the Nike LeBron 9 was a whole new direction for the Nike LeBron series. The new Zoom Air/Max Air combo unit gave the LeBron 9 a completely new profile, allowing for sleeker lines and a better form-fitting silhouette, and the cushioning unit itself was quite the engineering endeavor, as it featured a lightweight, unexposed midsole that housed the fore-foot Zoom Air, as well as a conventional midsole and carbon fiber shank plate. The LeBron 9 was also the first basketball sneaker to combine forces of Hyperfuse and Flywire, and features nylon-weave panels that allow for maximum flexion while giving the sneaker a unique figure and aesthetic appearance.
When images of the shoe first started to surface, a debate quickly rose over whether or not the LeBron 9 would proudly carry over the strong street-sensibility embodied by its predecessors and older generation-defining models from the Air Jordan and Nike Penny lines. Although there was no ‘South Beach’ release to kick things off, the exciting China/Blue Flame colorway was still a powerful first strike, converting many detractors of the LeBron 9 into avid
supporters in the process. Much like the Air Max LeBron VII and LeBron 8, the LeBron 9 was first met with criticism by the sneaker-head community, but after a slew of great releases gave consumers the opportunity to put the shoe to use, the LeBron 9 was eventually praised for its comfort, style, and ‘collectible’ appeal. Petrie and and the Nike Basketball color team for the LeBron 9 project have done an astounding job at implementing some of LeBron James’ personality, history and attitude as seen by the ‘Cannon’ and ‘Christmas’, infusing local flavor with the ‘Miami Nights’ and ‘Freegums’, and placing the LeBron 9 in the NCAA Basketball spotlight with the College Pack.
While the LeBron 9 has established itself as one of the hottest commodities of the year, that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few bumps in the road. Untimely circumstances potentially plagued the LeBron 9 from the start, just how last year’s LeBron 8 seemed to be ‘doomed’ by LeBron’s unpopular move from Cleveland to Miami. The LeBron 9 had no live platform to prove itself; due to the NBA lockout, the LeBron James show was placed on hold, but that didn’t stop the LeBron 9 from getting out to the public by (comparatively) ‘grass-roots’ methods. LeBron James himself would wear his new shoes during a number of buzzworthy All-Star charity exhibition games, and the aforementioned College Pack, which featured Kentucky, Miami, and Ohio State, would also provide some added exposure. The Nike LeBron series is no rookie to controversy, but Jason Petrie and the folks at Nike Basketball were unflinchingly confident in their product, making the NBA lockout just another notch in the belt in what looks to be the marquee signature basketball line of this generation.