November 7, 2013 BY Brendan Dunne
With today’s entry into our 11 Days of Nike LeBron series we enter into the territory that’s probably still fresh in your memory. November 7th shines the spotlight on the Nike Air Max LeBron VII – the first LeBron signature to utilize visible Air Max. The sneaker marked another huge success for the Nike LeBron line, one brought on in no small part thanks to the work of Jason Petrie, a Nike designer who would go on to take over James’ line in the years to follow. One of the biggest tech differences this time was the removal of the Zoom treatment in favor of Nike’s patented Air Max cushioning, introducing to the world the first basketball-specific full-length Air unit. It was equally important from a tech and aesthetic standpoint; all of a sudden the sneaker was riding on a gigantic, aesthetically pleasing, full length Max Air bubble. The upper was unlike previous iterations as well thanks to the linear Flywire treatment that criss-crossed its main section – another first for the LeBron line.
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This sort of rebirth for the Nike LeBron line was also aided by a premium touch on the materials side, one flexed again and again as the in-house Nike Basketball designers cranked out plenty of memorable colorways. One of the more celebrated All-Star editions came in the form of that reflective blue, hardwood textured version. The tradition of China pairs continued on the white and gold “China Moon” release early on in the sneaker’s lifecycle. While the Nike Air Max LeBron VII would go on to be the last part of the Cavaliers era for LeBron, it certainly marked the beginning of a new one in which the Nike LeBron series became increasingly more ubiquitous off the court. The VII would also usher in the PE collector craze; alongside the popular released version, the LeBron VII was recognized for all those unreleased joints like the Hardwood Classics, Heroes Pack, Clark Kent’s 112 edition, and much more.
The LeBron VII, believe it or not, created some minor controversy within Nike walls. During an interview, famed designer Tinker Hatfield implied that the LeBron VII was something of a “copy” of the Air Jordan XI, calling Petrie’s iteration a “Jordan 11 with a Swoosh”. The similarities were certainly there, with the glossy patent leather and boot-like appearance lending to that statement, but there’s no doubt that Petrie carved out his own legacy since taking over the LBJ reigns since this model. Get a look at some marquee colorways for the Nike Air Max LeBron VII below and tell us in the comments if you’ve got any particular memories attached to this landmark design, and stay tuned for the next installment of 11 Days of Nike LeBron as we approach 11/11.