As LeBron James‘s game has evolved and changed over his 17 NBA seasons, so has his signature Nike footwear — and the latest result of that evolution is the new LeBron 18. Although the LeBron 18 has yet to be fully revealed, LeBron has been spotted rocking it during practice, and will likely bring it to the court in official fashion when his Los Angeles Lakers resume their season on July 30 with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ahead of this premiere, Nike Basketball has shared designer Jason Petrie‘ early sketches of the silhouette, a 5/8 cut shoe with a heel and tongue that crescendo well above the collar. As Petrie has headed up LeBron’s footwear design since the LeBron 7, he knows just what the King needs from his sneakers. “At this point, LeBron has spent half his life with Nike,” said Petrie. “We wanted to make him a shoe that played with this idea of two halves.”
These “two halves” are based around a combination of speed (forefoot) and strength (heel), much like LeBron’s game. There’s a bold new cushioning setup as well: where the LeBron 17 was split between Air Max in the heel and Zoom Air pucks in the forefoot, the LeBron 18 uses an Air Max unit in the heel that’s amplified by a full-length integrated Zoom Air setup. This Zoom replaces the heel’s foam, and sits directly atop the Air Max unit to provide soft-yet-snappy heel cushioning plus a responsive forefoot build.
Uppers are built of a new knit as well, one that combines the textured Battleknit of the LeBron 15, the sturdy yarn from the LeBron 16 and the TPU yarns from the LeBron 17’s “exoskeleton.” This lightweight and durable combo brings together James’s favorite characteristics from his past three kicks. Even the tongue is altered, removing standard foam in favor of non-pressurized Air bags for top-foot comfort. Four different traction patterns on the outsole complete the look.