Monday, September 23, 2013

 The LeBron VII's were released in October 2009. I started with the VII's because this is when I actually took notice to the new style of kicks. Jason Petrie deserves alot of credit for turning LeBron's signature line into a success.

 The LeBron VIII's were a step up from the VII's, going back to premium leather, and the sneaker itself stood out, although LeBron had yet to win a championship. The VIII's were released in October, 2010. The 360 Air Bubble continued on these kicks from its predecessor.

 The LeBron 9's were designed like an old-school Jordan. The 9's really showed Petrie's ascension as a sneaker designer, going from Apprentice to Master. With the 360 Air Unit visible on half of the shoe, it was the intricate collaboration of fine mesh and premium materials that made this particular design one of the most sought after in LeBron's line of kicks...

 The LeBron X's kept certain elements from the 9's, as far as the fine mesh incorporated into these kicks. The 360 Air Unit is once again fully visible to the eye, and each sneaker had a theme to it. The X's were released in August 2012, during LeBron's Gold Medal run in the Olympics. The first X's featured a Gold encrusted Swoosh on the back side panel, and got many sneakerheads excited about the new shoe.

 The Kobe IV's were the kicks that really put Kobe on the sneaker map as his first official sneaker. The IV's were unveiled in January, 2009 and were an instant success when they hit retail shelves. This is because Kobe had already proven himself to be a great player, with a few rings to prove it.

 To introduce the world to the Kobe V's, Nike released the "Chaos" V's on Christmas 2009. This was the set up for the entire line, which owned a greater part of 2010, along with Air Jordan retro releases. The "Chaos", "Batman", "V Rings MVP", and "Big Stage" were among the most sought after from the V's, along with the "Sunday White" and "Away" colorways.

 The Kobe VI's were one of Kobe's best-sellers from his signature line. To prepare Mamba fans for the VI's, Nike released the "Grinch" colorway on Christmas of 2010, and they sold out instantly. 2011 proved to be another great run for the Black Mamba, whose VI's literally took on the "skin" of the snake, and memory foam for maximum cushioning. The "China", "Grinch", "All-Star", and "Joker" colorways were the most heralded from the VI's, along with a few limited-edition colorways.

 The Kobe VII's introduced the Kobe System, and came equipped with an inner bootie for ankle support. It definitely took a page from the Air Jordan 2012, which also shared the same feature. The VII's were not as popular as Kobe's previous signature kicks, but they did prove to be a success once they incorporated the "animal" theme. Popular models were the "Shark", and the "Cheetah". The VII's were first introduced during Kobe's Olympic run in London during the summer of 2012.

 Looking back on two of Nike's major basketball endorsements, and their respective sneaker lines, is there any way either of them can take the torch from Air Jordan? In my opinion, there is no way. I have a few reasons why I say this. Tinker Hatfield, who is the best sneaker designer to ever sketch a shoe, is the reason Air Jordan became so successful. His vision, and tireless work ethic to create a shoe that perfectly complimented Michael Jordan's game has yet to be matched. The designers (Jason Petrie for the LeBron Line; Eric Avar for the Kobe line) both deserve respect for what they've created for basketball's two biggest stars. 
What Avar did for Kobe is unparalleled. He created a lane for Kobe, which allowed his signature sneakers to become as popular as he is. I believe Avar and Kobe were on to something with the Kobe VI's, incorporating the "snakeskin" theme that really brought those kicks to life. In my opinion, the VII's fell short of staying with a theme that was built around Kobe's "Black Mamba" alter-ego. 
Petrie did his thing with LeBron's line, starting when the embattled player was in Cleveland. I truly believe LeBron's line did not sell as much in the beginning becuse of his failure to win a championship. Once he took it to Miami, his sneakers took on a different story. Petrie was able to re-create the story in Miami, bringing in themed colorways that went over well with his fan base. The "South Beach" still is a popular colorway in LeBron's line, and since winning the two championships, his line has defined his new status in basketball. However, to say LeBron could ever have sneakers that could take the torch from Air Jordan is jumping off the cliff. 
Both LeBron and Kobe will forever be known as elite players with great sneakers in their signature lines, but the consistency and vision for GREATNESS must be given to each sneaker. Tinker did that, even while Jordan retired. 
With that said, I don't believe there will EVER be a shoe that can match the stature of what Tinker and Jordan Brand did with the Air Jordan line. Although the retro's are keeping it alive, with new colorways, and signature packs with specific themes. Jordan Brand created enough space to keep creating and extending the brand in different markets around the globe. We still anticipate what they're going to do next.  Cali "O" #TeamKickGame #WatchTheThrone

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