In honor of LeBron James chasing down his fourth NBA championship (his first with the LA Lakers), Nike is treating his footwear fans by snooping into the extensive vault of Player Exclusives and letting just one release one for retail. Sixteen storied PEs of the last eighteen years have been pitted against one another in a tournament-style, single elimination bracket (a la NCAA March Madness), with the victor receiving a full run of production and eventual release likely through the SNKRS App. It appears that there is one specific colorway of almost every model of the entire legacy with the exception of the current LeBron 18, the most recent LeBron 17, the LeBron 14 (arguably the least liked of the series), and the LeBron 5. The match-ups are fairly solid, but recency bias can play a huge role in some upsets.
Back in 2014, Sneaker News celebrated the history of LeBron with our own “March Madness” bracket, although our selections were limited strictly to released product. We’re glad that Nike sees the importance of these Nike LeBron PEs because they were, at on point, the most sought after shoes on the planet.
We’ve run down the full match-ups here, so take a look, check out our quick analyses and projections, and head to Nike SNKRS to place your vote. Round 1 voting ends on Friday, January 8th.
Updated January 20th, 2021: After weeks of voting, the Nike LeBron 10 “Ring Ceremony” PE has won and will release on Nike SNKRS on a future date.
This one’s a bit of a toss-up. Hardcore LeBron fans will want the LeBron 2 “Animal” PE, but the significance around the LeBron’s scoring milestone can’t be overlooked. Slight edge to the LeBron 16 for recency bias, Lakers colors, and milestone factor.
This match-up flat out hurts. Why? Because either of these could be the winner and we’d all be happy. It’s like the NBA Finals happening in the first round. The LeBron 6 “Cartoon” PE (which was inspired by Family Guy’s Stewie) will be one to be remembered forever, but the “Gold King”, which itself was inspired by the Watch The Throne album and Givenchy themes, should take the cake.
Anytime the South Beach colors appear on a Nike LeBron, we take notice. The LeBron 3 “Glow” will put up a good fight, but slight edge to the former for the colorway (and considering most LeBron 3s sat on shelves anyway).
The Air Zoom Generation “Rookie Of The Year” is grail-status. It’s also an all-white shoe. That said, the LeBron 3 “LA Remix” will probably get the win simply due to the pop of Laker colors.
Please vote for the LeBron 7 “HWC”. That is all.
The LeBron 4 “Dunkman” is also near grail-status for LeBron fans, despite the “Dunkman” losing its might in recent years due to Nike sort of…ignoring its existence. Despite its history, it can’t beat the LeBron 10 “Ring Ceremony”, a shoe that combined the peak of Nike LeBron consumer interest and the King’s second title.
The LeBron 8 V2 and the Air Zoom Generation are both relatively lost to today’s consumers in terms of being on the radar, so sadly the winner of this match-up will likely lose down the road anyway. That said, we’ll give the edge to the Air Zoom Generation, although the V2 could very well pull out the W.
The “Shooting Stars” PE was great, but objectively not the best LeBron 7 PE. It still won’t stand a chance at the LeBron 9 “What The”, which could very well win the whole dang thing.