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Apr 11, 2018
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Nike Air VaporMax 97 Reinterprets “Metallic Gold” OG

Although Air Max Day is in the rearview and summer is fast approaching, much of the styles produced for the foundational sneaker holiday are still widely prominent in the months that follow. Nike’s Air VaporMax 97 hybrid is amassing a stellar amount of releases, many of which are of the OG variety.

There was the “Neon” aka “Japan” release followed swiftly thereafter by the beloved “Silver Bullet” OG. So, of course, where there is silver one will find gold. In this case it’s the forthcoming Nike Air VaporMax 97 “Metallic Gold”.

Like the “Silver Bullet” release earlier this month this one is a reinterpretation of an original Air Max 97 colorway. The upper appears in traditional fashion as one would expect. That thoughtful restoration is carefully juxtaposed atop VaporMax tooling, modernizing the 21-year old silhouette for contemporary specification.

Look for the “Metallic Gold” Air VaporMax 97 later this season.

Nike Air VaporMax 97 “Metallic Gold”

Colorway: Metallic Gold/Varsity Red-Black-White
Style #: AJ7291-700
Price: 0

Nike Air VaporMax 97 "Metallic Gold"
Nike Air VaporMax 97 “Metallic Gold”
Nike Air VaporMax 97 "Metallic Gold"
Nike Air VaporMax 97 “Metallic Gold”
Nike Air VaporMax 97 "Metallic Gold"
Nike Air VaporMax 97 “Metallic Gold”
Nike Air VaporMax 97 "Metallic Gold"
Nike Air VaporMax 97 “Metallic Gold”
Nike Air VaporMax 97 "Metallic Gold"
Nike Air VaporMax 97 “Metallic Gold”
Nike Air VaporMax 97 "Metallic Gold"
Nike Air VaporMax 97 “Metallic Gold”

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Apr 11, 2018
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Nike KD IV “Battle Tested” Odes Durant’s Road to His First NBA Finals

Kevin Durant famously won his first NBA championship last year, in 2017. After long wait, he had finally reached the top of the mountain. While, if only for the moment, knocking LeBron James off of it. Yet 2017 wasn’t Durant’s first time in the Finals — nor his only Finals run-in with James. He first ventured there with the Oklahoma City Thunder back in 2012.

The road was long and grueling. Durant would have to go through Dirk Nowitzki and the defending-champion Mavericks, Kobe Bryant’s Lakers and Tim Duncan’s mighty Spurs — the only three teams that had represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals for the past 13 years. But KD, though not without strife, surpassed them all, dueling in the NBA Finals with James and the Miami Heat. The Heat would ultimately win the series but not without a fight from Durant. He led all players with 30.6 points per game while shooting 54.8-percent shooting from the field. His dominance was not without notice and everyone knew he’d be back.

Throughout Durant’s 2012 NBA Playoff run he laced up what many deem the best sneaker in his signature collection — the Nike Zoom KD IV. More specifically, Durant played in the Nike KD IV “Battle Tested” during a powerful Game 6 performance in the Western Conference Finals. That shoe will release as the first ever retro of the KD IV on June 7, honoring the six-year anniversary of that performance.

Nike Zoom KD IV “Battle Tested”

Colorway: White/Photo Blue-Wolf Grey-Black
Style #: AQ5103-100
Release Date: June 7, 2018

Nike KD IV "Battle Tested"
Nike KD IV “Battle Tested”

 

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Apr 11, 2018
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What if Chris Webber Never Left Nike?

We’ve seen a lot of shaky voting in recent years, but don’t let Hall of Fame ballots fool you, Chris Webber was a bad man on the basketball court.

Becoming a national name in high school at Detroit Country Day, the private school power forward would live up to the hype close to home in Ann Arbor as the premier player on Michigan’s renowned Fab 5. Following back-to-back Final 4 appearances, he’d declare after his sophomore campaign, rising to Rookie of the Year honors and eventually defining the 4 spot for the better part of the late ’90s and early ’00s.

While Chris would prove a journeyman in the NBA, swapping squads a total of five times over the course of fifteen years, his sneaker path would be much the same.

Signing with Nike after sporting the Swoosh over the course of his college career, Webber would receive a strong first signature in the form of the Nike Air Max CW Sensation. The problem? They retailed for more than Mike’s model at the time and C Webb didn’t like that. Leaving the boys at Beaverton, he’d jump around over the course of his career, seeing signature shoes from both FILA and DaDa, also wearing Converse, Reebok, AND1 and even an Air Jordan during his NBA days.

But what if he didn’t?

Based on star power and marketability, it’s hard to imagine that a full career with Nike wouldn’t place CWebb among the Kicks On Court greats with a full house of signature shoes and Force favorites to his name.

We take a look back at what was and imagine what if…

1993-94 // Nike Air Maestro, Nike Air Unlimited & Nike Air Strong

Chris Webber’s rookie season under Don Nelson saw the same swag as his two year stay with Steve Fisher — lots and lots of Nike. Officially on Swoosh payroll, the Rookie of the Year rocked releases from the Flight and Force camp alike with his brethren in blue electing many of the same sneakers in Ann Arbor.

1994-95 // Nike Air Max2 Uptempo

Dipsetting after a short stay in Oakland, Chris swapped coasts and laced the Nike Air Max2 Uptempo in his debut season with the Bullets.

1995-96 // Nike Air Max CW

A signature star is born? It looked just like that as CWebb scored his own shoe — the Nike Air Max CW — in only his third pro season. The shoe was decked out with wavy lines, Air Max cushioning and even his own logo. Unfortunately, the Michigan alum wasn’t feeling the price point. But what if he was…

1996-97 // Nike Air Max CW2 aka the Nike Air Pippen 1


photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

So let’s pretend Chris Webber never gets mad at Nike for making his model cost more than Mike. Coming off his first signature shoe he’s getting another one that effectively never happened.

Or did it?

We’re calling an audible and saying the Nike Air Pippen 1 becomes the Nike Air Max CW2. Chris’ cool factor and explosive game makes him the face of full-length Air while Scottie’s Silent Assassin persona and eyeballs associated with Mike make him the perfect company man to push inline yet high priced Uptempos. The CW logo replaces that of Pip’s on the heel while the original release colorways wear well with his Bullets uniform.

1997-98 // Nike Total Air Foamposite CW aka Nike Total Air Foamposite Max

After putting up 20 and 10 in his second signature sneaker, Nike’s pretty pleased C Webb is finally an All-Star though bummed his team got swept in the playoffs. Still, numbers don’t lie and he’s getting his third — and final — signature shoe.

This go round, the Nike Total Air Foamposite Max becomes the Nike Total Air Foamposite CW.

Loaded with top notch tech and full-length Air, they’re a futuristic fit with Washington’s new look Wizards uniforms and CWebb’s next level take on the 4 spot. Nike loves it, but fans are lukewarm to it as they’d rather rock Penny and Mike signatures because guards are more relatable.

The CW line is put on hold because of lackluster sales but Chris remains the face of full-length Air just the same.

He would’ve worn PE pairs in the postseason but the Wizards end up finishing ninth in the East. This foreshadows moves on the roster and footwear front.

1998-99 // Nike Air Team Max Zoom

Shipped out to Sacramento in the midst of a lockout, Nike is VERY happy they don’t have a CW4 releasing in blue and bronze. What they don’t know though is that their boy is about to team up with a rookie rebel named Jason Williams and a foray of foreign born players that are about to reinvent team basketball and reintroduce Chris as the best 4 man in the game.

Because of this, Chris is guinea pig for a foray of Force favorites with slightly swifter capabilities. The Nike Air Team Max Zoom laces CWebb for the first few games of the year, later landing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo and Nike Air Agress Force as the team’s profile rises.

1999-00 // Nike Air Flightposite

Securing a spot on the All-NBA Third Team and an All-Star nod just the same, CWebb is sitting pretty in the nine-nine all the way to the two thou and Nike is ready to reinvest. A resurrected signature line? No. A reinvented persona? Sort of.

As Nike struggles to sell signature shoes for big men, they put a freeze on fours and fives, freshening up the former with the Flightposite. KG holds down the gold/green pair in the Midwest while CWebb rocks the “Eggplant” colorway long before emojis made that sentence giggle worthy. Tim Duncan sports tamed takes in San Antonio and all is right in the world.*

Almost.

Chris can’t stand full-length Zoom after years of playing in Air Max and pulls the plug on his end of the deal. He finishes the season and the playoffs in the Nike Air Max Powermatic which is less exciting but still kind of cool.

*Note: Rasheed Wallace is also asked to wear the Flightposite 1 as part of their power forward campaign. The request is met with a firm, “Nah, b.” The Force is strong with Sheed.

2000-01 // Nike Air Max CWebb Uncaged aka the Nike Air Max Duncan

Remember when we said the CW line was done after three? It is, but we kind of lied. After a breakthrough season but also some bad blood over being forced into (and out of) the Flightposite, Nike is excited about Chris Webber all over again but has to play extra nice thanks to big money offers from AND1, Reebok and an upstart called DaDa.

Because of this, the would-be Nike Air Max Duncan never happens and is instead the Air Max CWebb Uncaged. Ironically, Nike decides not to bank on Timmy (pun intended) as being the greatest power forward to ever play the game and bets on C Webb’s momentum and cool points. Tim still signs with adidas as the story originally unfolds.

The CWebb Uncaged is a hit! Ekins eat up the odd design and all the tech while Webber’s play puts the silver pair in the 2001 All-Star Game.

Because of this, the “Chrome” DaDa Cdubbz as we know it would be shelved for a year and a half, instead debuting in the 2002 NBA Finals on the feet of Nets center Todd MacCulloch while wearing their grey alternate jerseys. MacCulloch and his new shoes would lead the new look Nets to a 4-0 sweep of the Shaq and Kobe led Lakers, cementing MacCulloch as the face and feet of future DaDa models such as the Spinners and a 4th Quarter campaign commercial that would find him rapping with fellow endorser Karl Malone.

As for Chris, the success of the CWebb Uncaged leads to a contract extension with Nike but sadly the peak of his signature line.

2001-02 // Nike Air C-Phaze aka the Nike Air P-Phaze


photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

While the CWebb Uncaged is a fan favorite, its top notch tech and tooling makes it too expensive for just about everyone interested. The response is the Nike Air C-Phaze, known in reality as the Nike Air P-Phaze, which is an appropriately odd looking but more cheaply made follow up to its former, the CWebb Uncaged.


photo via Sole Collector

Fortunately for Chris and Nike, the C-Phaze is exactly that, just a phase. While Webber puts up double-double averages in his rebooted signature line, it’s clear for both parties that winning is most important and he plays best rotating Air Max models. The original plan was for Chris and J Will to lead Nike’s Battlegrounds series, but the season prior’s trade shuts down all of what could’ve been.

2002-03 & 2003-04 // Nike Air Max Chosen

Webber isn’t sold on Shox so he’s in a bit of an odd space with Nike. His power forward compadres have all dipped for other brands with the exception of Rasheed Wallace who’s fallen in love with fadeaway jumpers and Air Force 1s. What would Bill Russell do?

Calling in counseling from the Celtic great, Chris decides to take on a more team approached role as the vocal and exemplary leader of the Kings. His points and rebound numbers stay above 20 and 10 while his assist numbers rise. Just the same, his shoes show the same spirt of team as he laces the Nike Air Max Chosen all season. And the next.

We know, lame.

2004-05 // Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2k5

After two seasons of boring footwear and early exits from the playoffs, the Kings trade Chris. But not to the Sixers like in real life, but instead to the Lakers — for Shaq! The Big Diesel denounces any nicknames he made for the Kings previously and Shaqramento happens ahead of schedule.

Playing with Kobe, also with Nike, CWebb essentially provides what Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol would years later only ahead of schedule. The Lakers don’t make the Finals their first year with CWebb, but they also don’t tank like they did during Kobe’s solo shooting extravaganza.


photo via Flight Club

On the court, Chris is responding well to his new surrounding and taking life less seriously while winning in Hollywood. His footwear reflects the situation as he decides playing in the Zoom Air aided Huarche 2k5 is still better than that of the Shox Bomber. Plus, it keeps him and Kobe cool.

The time in LA also allows Chris to make fast friends with will.i.am, which leads Chris to not only producing “Blunt Ashes” on Nas’ upcoming album, Hip Hop is Dead, but also executive producing the whole project. Kobe convinces Nas to wear his upcoming shoe on the album’s cover but is not happy with Chris spending energy outside of basketball…

2005-06 // Nike Zoom Kobe 1

To start the season, Chris and Kobe are getting along swimmingly and Nike decides to pull a page from the MJ playbook and have teammates of Kobe don his signatures just the same as seen with Mike in Chicago. Fortunately for all involved parties, Kobe really respects Chris’ game and boom they’re both in the Nike Zoom Kobe 1. A solid start for what would become one of the greatest lines in modern basketball.

On the court, Chris remains productive, putting up 20, 11 and 7. The triangle is a great fit (yup, Phil’s still there) only a Western Conference Finals fall to the Shaq led Kings causes Kupchack to blow everything up.

2006-07 // Nike Zoom LeBron IV

In the offseason, Chris is dealt to Cleveland for Larry Hughes, Anderson Varejao and a future first round pick who will end up being Kyrie Irving. During his lone season in LeBron Land, Nike and Chris decide it best for Chris to lace up the Nike Zoom LeBron IV as a truth to team and also a shot at Kobe. Webber and Bron are great together, showing amazing chemistry in pre-game dance routines and in game mastery of the outlet to clear the court for a LeBron dunk fast break.

The Cavs beat the Spurs in Game 6 of the Finals bringing home the first championship to Cleveland in decades, the first ring for Webber and also importantly, a series win over Duncan.

Webber decides to retire on top, rounding out one of the greatest Kicks On Court resumes ever assembled and paving the way for Todd MacCulloch to shine at DaDa. Pat Riley never lands Shaq, LeBron or any rings in Miami, causing him to return to New York as coach and general manage of the Knicks.

If only Chris never left Nike…

Big ups to Mis Zapas for the reference work on CWebb’s Sneaker History that can be seen here. Also props to Shea Serrano’s Basketball (and Other Things) book that inspired this What If idea and is available here.

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Apr 11, 2018
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Nike Air Foamposite One ‘Habanero Red’ Releasing Holiday 2018


Nike Air Foamposite One Habanero Red 314996-603 Release Date

The Nike Air Foamposite One ‘Habanero Red’ will release during Holiday 2018 at select Nike Sportswear retailers.

This Nike Air Foamposite One will feature a Habanero Red and Black color combination. While images have yet to leak, they are expected to feature a bright Red across the Foamposite shell while Black detailing lands on the eyestays, liner and tongue.

Nike Air Foamposite One Habanero Red Release Date

The Nike Air Foamposite One Habanero Red is scheduled to release at select Nike retailers including online at Nike.com during the Holiday 2018 season. Retail price will be 0. Once additional information is available we will make sure to update you.

Nike Air Foamposite One Habanero Red
Color: Habanero Red/Black
Release Date: Holiday 2018
Style Number: 314996-603
Price: 0

Note: Image used is a photoshop of the ‘Habanero Red’ Nike Air Foamposite One thanks to JayzRDead.

Nike Air Foamposite One Habanero Red 314996-603



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Apr 11, 2018
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Nike SB Dunk Mid ‘White Widow’ Releasing on 4/20


Nike SB Dunk Mid White Widow 4/20 Release Date

Nike Skateboarding has teamed up with graphic designer, Todd Bratrud, to present us with this year’s SB 4/20 release. Nike will release a Nike SB Dunk Mid White Widow color scheme that pays tribute to the popular hybrid cannabis strain.

This Nike SB Dunk Mid color theme will be dressed in fuzzy Sail and Light Green suede uppers that are inspired by the bushy buds produced by this strain. This shoe will feature Red accents on the Nike Swoosh, outsole, and heel strap in reference to the Red hour glass that is unique to the widow spider. This design will also include an impressive White Widow design on the insoles to finish off the theme. This 4/20 release will also include matching apparel and skateboard to complete the set.

Nike SB Dunk Mid White Widow Release Date

The Nike SB Dunk Mid “White Widow” will see an early release on April 14th at La Familia Skate shop. This shoe will see a statewide release on April 20th. Below you can check out more images which will give you a closer look.

Nike SB Dunk Mid White Widow
Release Date: April 20, 2018

Nike SB Dunk Mid White Widow 4/20 Release Date

Nike SB Dunk Mid White Widow 4/20 Release Date

Nike SB Dunk Mid White Widow 4/20 Release Date

Nike SB Dunk Mid White Widow 4/20 Release Date

Source: toddbratrud



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Apr 11, 2018
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Nike Air Maestro II ’Trifecta’ Pays Tribute to Scottie Pippen’s ’93 Finals Triple Double


Nike Air Maestro II Trifecta Scottie Pippen Release Date

The Nike Air Maestro ’Trifecta’ pays tribute to Scottie Pippen and his Finals triple double in ’93. Coming dressed in a University Red, White and Black color combination, this Nike Air Maestro is part of the Nike Champions Think 16 Collection.

On June 11, 1993 sporting the Nike Air Maestro II Trifecta in Game 2 of the Finals against the Suns, Scottie Pippen stepped out of his legendary teammate’s long shadow to become only the 12th player to ever notch a triple-double in a Finals game. As an exclamation point on his 15-12-12, Pippen swatted — and recovered — Danny Ainge’s potential game-tying trey. All due reverence to MJ, because without Pip there is no Bulls three-peat.

Nike Air Maestro II Trifecta Release Date

The Nike Air Maestro II ‘Trifecta’ for Scottie Pippen is scheduled to release at select Nike retailers including online at Nike.com on May 10th. Retail price is set at 0. Below you can check out additional photos which will provide you with a closer look.

Nike Air Maestro II Trifecta
Color: University Red/White-Black
Release Date: May 10, 2018
Price: 0

Nike Air Maestro II Trifecta Scottie Pippen Release Date

Nike Air Maestro II Trifecta Scottie Pippen Release Date

Nike Air Maestro II Trifecta Scottie Pippen Release Date



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Apr 10, 2018
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Nike Kobe 1 Protro “Booker” PE // First Look

As “Mamba Day” approaches, Nike has been dropping a multitude of iterations of Kobe Bryant’s first shoe with the Swoosh brand.

Ever since the Nike Kobe 1 Protro came back to the hardwood, we’ve seen players with similar cold-blooded styles of play like Kobe continue the legendary line. DeMar DeRozan and now Devin Booker have their own version of the Nike Kobe 1 Protro.

With an all purple upper with an orange swoosh and accents, this Protro is the perfect pair for the Phoenix Sun’s Devin Booker. The 21 year-old has been lighting up the scoreboards ever since his introduction to the league. Now, Booker’s accolades are stacking high as he continues running with the Mamba’s torch.

No details on the price or drop date for these, but keep an eye out on “Mamba Day” for these Protros.

Are you feeling these? Are you excited for “Mamba Day?”


Nike Kobe 1 Protro “Booker” PE from @PHXJayGaspar

 


Nike Kobe 1 Protro “Booker” PE from @J23App

 

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Apr 10, 2018
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University of Washington Parts Ways with Nike, Agrees to 10-Year Partnership with adidas

Following two decades as a Nike-endorsed program, the University of Washington has signed a 10-year apparel and footwear partnership with adidas. The deal will begin in 2019.

The Huskies athletic program broke the news of the budding partnership earlier today via social media. Further, Adam Jude of the Seattle Times reports that the deal will pay Washington roughly million per year, with “.275 million annually in cash, .58 million annually in product and .1 million annually for marketing.” Jude also notes that the Huskies Nike deal was worth .5 million annually in cash and product.

This move by adidas is powerful on many fronts. For starters, given Nike’s stranglehold on the Pacific Northwest due to its headquarters location and lifetime affiliation with the University of Oregon, this provides adidas with greater footing in the region. What’s more, both the Huskies football and basketball programs have produced bona-fide stars over the past decade with that number likely to grow. Where basketball is concerned, names like Isaiah Thomas, Markelle Fultz, Dejounte Murray, Marquese Chriss and, of course, Kelsey Plum immediately come to mind.

Yet the larger takeaway from Washington’s new adidas partnership is just how lucrative it is. Deals of this nature continue to grow bigger year after year. This one, which totals approximately 9 million over the life of the deal, triples what the Huskies pulled in annually from their Nike deal. The new partnership is also one of the ten most valuable of its kind in college athletics. On paper, annually, it’s worth more than adidas’ recent 8 million partnership with Nebraska.

The Washington Huskies are now one of two adidas-endorsed programs in the Pac-12 alongside the Arizona State Sun Devils.

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Apr 10, 2018
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OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “White” Lands This Weekend

Virgil Abloh’s highly anticipated OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “White” was official vindicated with a release date earlier this week. Now, ahead of its drop on April 14, official images have arrived along with news of a few retailers that will stock the shoe on said release date.

The pristine white Flyknit base ensures that the shoe is one for summer. A tonal Sail-colored eyestay offsets the look alongside orange and black contrasts. As with all of Abloh’s collaborative sneakers these won’t be easy to secure. They’ll undeniably sell out upon release, but shops like Undefeated, Blends, Social Status and Foot District are still hosting raffles (some in-store others online) for the shoe.

Take an official look at the OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “White” below and best of luck if you hope to cop.

OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax

Colorway: White/Black-Total Orange
Style #: AA3831-100
Release Date: April 14, 2018
Price: 0

OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax "White"
OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “White”
OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax "White"
OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “White”
OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax "White"
OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “White”
OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax "White"
OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “White”
OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax "White"
OFF WHITE x Nike Air VaporMax “White”

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Apr 10, 2018
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The Virgil Abloh x Nike Air VaporMax “White” Drops This Weekend

Hot on the heels of the second black colorway the Virgil Abloh x Nike Air VaporMax, the Swoosh is set to launch an all-white pair, featuring a brilliant Flyknit upper accented by contrasting black text and off-white suede eyestays. Pops of orange on the Nike Sportswear tongue and woven side tab, as well as the signature red plastic zip tie, deliver the only hits of color. A translucent VaporMax unit rounds out the details. Retailing for 0, the kicks drop this Saturday, April 14th, through select Nike retailers. Scroll through the gallery below for detailed looks.

Release Date: 4/14/18 (Saturday)

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Apr 10, 2018
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LeBron James Returns to MSG in Nike LeBron 15 “I’m King” PE

Last night, LeBron James made his final appearance at Madison Square Garden of the season. Leading up to the game, there was lots of chatter about the King’s return. Much of which came from Knicks forward Enes Kanter, who felt a way about James calling himself “The King of New York” after the Cavs comeback win at MSG in months prior.

Soon thereafter, a billboard popped up in New York regarding James fulfilling his claim as King of NYC during free agency this off-season by joining the team. James responded via his Nike LeBron 15 “I’m King” PE last night. James’ claim is that he himself is a King and a descendant of such, laying to bed any thoughts of him playing in a Knicks uniform next season.

Grab a closer look at this player exclusive LeBron 15 below and share your thoughts.

Nike LeBron 15 "I'm Back" PE
Nike LeBron 15 “I’m King” PE

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Apr 10, 2018
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12 Nike Basketball Shoes We’d Like to See as Protros

Yesterday, Nike Basketball made waves by announcing their “Champions Think” Collection, paying homage to players under the Nike, Inc. umbrella that made memorable moments during the Playoffs. While there are plenty of highlights, its hard for hoopers to not be excited about the Nike Kobe 1 Protro in the collection and its revamped hardwood capabilities.

Over the last few months, the Protro concept has been introduced under the Black Mamba monicker leaving us to wonder if modern tooling will take to other Nike Basketball favorites from the past. Imagining what could be ourselves, here are 12 models we’d like remade and revamped under the Protro pedigree.

Nike Zoom Flight Jet

Nike Zoom Jet Flight

Shoe: Nike Zoom Jet Flight
Year: 2001
Upgrades: Nike Sphere sockliner/upper, Heel Vis Zoom, Forefoot Zoom Air

The original Nike Zoom Jet Flight from 2001 was the ultimate guard shoe. Lightweight in composition, low profile in regards to lockdown and court feel, the model was so minimal there was next to no room for flaws. While the Steve Nash standout would play just fine as a true to form re-release, it’d be even better as a retooled Protro. Playing up its strengths — lightweight and snug fit — we’re swapping out standard mesh for that of Nike Sphere on the sockliner and kicking heel Air Max to the curb for Vis Zoom in the heel.

Nike Zoom Flight 2k3


photo via Sole Collector

Shoe: Nike Zoom Flight 2k3
Year: 2003
Upgrades: Full-length Zoom Air cushioning, Flywire sidewall, Flyknit tongue and toe down

The list of models both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James played in is short, however, the Nike Zoom Flight 2k3 leads that lineage.

The guard/wing shoe of choice when both signed with the Swoosh, the ZF2k3 was one of the lighter and leaner models made for the hardwood during an era that also saw Shox. Making the most of modern materials, we’d like to see these upgraded with a Flywire sidewall similar to the OG Hyperdunk while the tongue and toe down would see Flyknit composition similar to that of the Kobe 9 Elite.

Nike Zoom Ultraflight


photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Shoe: Nike Zoom Ultraflight
Year: 2004
Upgrades: Stripped down upper for full Flyknit construction

The Zoom Ultraflight was a beast on court back in 2004. While designed for fast players — see GP above — the game is even speedier before.

Best bet? Strip these down.

While the clear cage and leather upper made for great contrast and sound visuals, they could be done with out in the modern game. Taking a page out of the KDX design language, use full Flyknit on the upper while attaching a sleeker Monkey Paw for nostalgia and support.

Nike Shox VC II

Shoe: Nike Shox VC II
Year: 2002
Upgrades: Podular REACT cushioning, full Flyknit upper

What would Vince Carter wear if he was still playing in 2018? Well, he still is playing in 2018. While his high wire act may be more grounded in the present day, he can still get up.

Though VC has been known to bring back Shox and play in lower tier Air Max models in modern times, we’d like to see his signature line brought back with better tech. Making the most of Nike’s new toys we’d revamp the Shox columns with that of REACT foam and replace the leather with the Flyknit found on the new Hyperdunks.

Nike KD IV

Nike Zoom KD IV

Shoe: Nike KD IV
Year: 2011
Upgrades: Full-length Zoom Air, Flyknit upper

The Nike KD IV is that shoe in the KD line. Making the Durant series pop both on court and off, the smooth strapping, easy price point and loud colorways of the KD IV put the series on the map.

To improve on the shoe’s performance flaws, the first thing we’d do is incorporate full-length Zoom Air for a bouncier ride through and through. Hyperfuse proved light and airy on the OG’s upper, but it was also pinchy. Add to the esteem with Flyknit fashioned like the KDX and these are next level.

Nike Zoom LeBron 4

Shoe: Nike Zoom LeBron 4
Year: 2006
Upgrades: Hyperposite upper, Dynamic Flywire lacing

For OG Ekins, much of the charm of the LeBron IV was its Foamposite composition. For ball players, the heaviness of said shoe made for a tank of a shoe that really only worked on a tank of a person.

As a Protro, Nike could lighten the load with a Hyperposite upper as seen on the LeBron 11. We’ll keep the full-length Zoom Air as its bounce was next level, but we will address the straps over the laces by ditching them in favor of Dynamic Flywire and an exposed tongue.

Nike Zoom Kobe 4

photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images via Zimbio
photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images via Zimbio

Shoe: Nike Zoom Kobe 4
Year: 2009
Upgrades: Full-length Zoom Air

Flaws were few on the Nike Zoom Kobe 4. Popularizing low tops post-Steve Nash, his signature series turned a corner with the 4.

Truthfully, the only issue with the OG Kobe 4 was the then new Lunarlon cushioning bottoming out after numerous wears. While Lunar is light, nothing is seeing Zoom Air.

Nike Hyperdunk


photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images via Zimbio

photo by MN Chan/Getty Images via Zimbio

Shoe: Nike Hyperdunk
Year: 2008
Upgrades: Modular drop-in cushioning, full Flyknit upper

Strong statement but the Nike Hyperdunk may be the most pivotal performance basketball shoe of the last decade and a half. A genius rollout backed by next generation technology and Olympic endorsement re-engergized an otherwise dormant category and brought in new buyers.

So, how do you make an all-time classic better? For one, you address the shoe’s biggest issue: the Lunarlon cushioning bottoming out. Taking a page from the Kobe playbook, offer drop-in insoles to keep the bounce fresh and allow wearers to choose between Lunar and Zoom support. While the first-ever Flywire was the calling card for the OG, create a softer and sturdier wear by replacing it with Flyknit much like the Elite level Kobes that would follow.

Nike Zoom Soldier III


photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images via Zimbio

Shoe: Nike Zoom Soldier III
Year: 2009
Upgrades: Mesh upper, FlyEase closure

The Nike Zoom Soldier III was known as a performance beast at the time of its launch on both the hardwood and the blacktop. Truth be told, there’s not much worth changing.

But, if we were to riff of what’s made future Soldier models great we would ditch leather for lighter weight mesh as seen on the X and XI. Just the same, we would introduce FlyEase strapping/closure to make sure all athletes are able to get buckets in the King’s kicks.

Nike Air Max LeBron 7


Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Shoe: Nike Air Max LeBron 7
Year: 2009
Upgrades: Zoom Max cushioning, Dynamic Flywire x Hyperfuse upper

As a retro, it’s safe to assume the LeBron 7 will have similar appeal to that of the Jordan 11 thanks to its patent leather mudguard and plethora of hard colorways. While it would wear well on court in regards to OG playing properties, it could still be better.

Riffing off the remedies the LeBron 7 saw in PS form, we’ll replace Max Air cushioning with that of Zoom — only this time in the form of Zoom Max to offer the bounce seen on the LeBron X. Keeping with LeBron X and PS ethos, we’ll swap out the first generation Flywire upper with that of more flexible Dynamic Flywire and Hyperfuse construction.

Nike Air Hyperflight

Shoe: Nike Air Hyperflight
Year: 2001
Upgrades: Lunarlon cushioning, Flyweave upper

Most would agree that the OG Hyperflights were awesome to look at but sucked to play in. Patent leather construction made them easy on the eyes but fragile on the hardwood. So, how could they be better?

While patent placement was more of the era’s aesthetic than of the performance orientation, the original idea of the Hyperflight was to offer the basketball equivalent to the Mayfly — a shoe made for marathoners to wear for a race and literally fall apart after.

With that in mind, a Protro would play well with a Lunarlon sole — known to be great out of the box but eventually bottom out — and a snug Flyweave upper as seen on the Air Jordan XX9 — not as flashy as patent but still light and more snug for a one-and-done style shoe.

Nike Air Penny 1

Penny Hardaway
photo via Nike Basketball

Shoe: Nike Air Penny 1
Year: 1995
Upgrades: Vis Zoom heel, forefoot Zoom Air, Flightposite wing, neoprene upper

The best way to upgrade the original Nike Air Penny would be to take from the playing preferences of his signature shoes that followed. Going lighter and leaner, Zoom Air would replace that of Air Max by appearing in visible form in the heel followed by encapsulated form in the forefoot. Continuing to lighten the load, the famous rubber wing on the upper would be made modern with Flightposite molding. Pulling it all together literally and figuratively, neoprene would replace that of leather on the upper for a snug slip-on fit.

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