I’ve always wondered what it must feel like to have Nike create, develop, and release a signature basketball shoe in your name. Materialistically, I’d imagine that there are very few things that could surpass the exhilaration that must come with lacing up your very own pair of high performance sneakers for the first time. It also doesn’t hurt to sign a huge seven-year $92 million deal with Nike right out of high school either – as LeBron did. On the heels of that very historical contract, the Nike Air Zoom Generation was constructed as the King’s first pair of royal kicks.
The Zoom Generations were not only the first high performance shoes tailored for LeBron, but they were also the first to incorporate Sphere technology into the design of a sneaker. The concept of Sphere is founded upon the idea of having a fabric material that actually prohibits whatever article of clothing (shirt, pants, jacket, etc.) from sticking to the wearer’s body due to moisture such as sweat. How this is achieved is through what Nike refers to as “dimples” (circular or square) patterned throughout the fabric.
Nike applied Sphere technology through a thin padded layer between the inner and the outer of the shoe. Rather than creating the circular dimple pattern directly onto the material of the inner, it is the thin layer that received the cut outs. This application of Sphere technology essentially creates a layer of air between the wearer’s foot and the outer most layer of the boot, a system that all contributes to high quality breathability.
The upper of the Zoom Generation was inspired by the H2 Hummer, which we all know to be a vehicle that will always be linked with LeBron, albeit controversially. The eyestays have a semi-concealed lacing system with only four visible eyelets, two being on the collar. We can also see the LB23 logo subtly stitched into the tongue. The midsole has a forefoot Zoom air bag and an Air Sole bag in the heel. The herringbone traction pattern on the outsole is slightly unconventional in that it was given flat ridges as opposed to the usual angled ones. Also on the outsole is a full carbon fiber spring plate, which is very typical in Zoom line sneakers.
With the main negative of the Nike Air Zoom Generation being a flattened footbed that can cause heel-to-toe slippage of the foot, the shoe is still an overall high quality product that offers durable comfort, stability, and cushioning. There is no doubt that Nike had very little idea as to exactly what kind of freakish athlete LeBron James was because quite honestly, none of us knew when he was a rookie. After all, he wasn’t over 250 pounds back then and no one could have foreseen his rapid progression into one of the world’s best players ever. Regardless, the evolution of King James’ signature sneaker line all began with the Zoom Generation – not a bad way to kick off a Hall of Fame career at all.
We all know LeBron has a huge sense of humor and is flawless in front of the camera. Check out the commercial for the Nike Air Zoom Generation featuring Bernie Mac (RIP)!
[Original Release: 2003; Weight: 16.5 oz; Players: LeBron James]