Engineering basketball shoes to the exact specifications of LeBron James is a tall order. Bigger, faster and stronger than not just the average man but the average NBA player, creating a shoe that fits his physical needs is hard enough while factoring in the business end of making it work for the common athlete or casual crossover is even tougher.
Switching between the Nike LeBron Soldier 11 and his current signature the Nike LeBron 15 — which had a bad buckle moment earlier this season but thankfully he was just fine — the latter has been updated for the man with his name on the box.
Spotted by Nightwing, the outsole has been revamped with an outrigger to make the shoe more stable, extending the base of the model to make rolls less likely. Ball players who are obsessive about performance know the real benefits of subtle updates like this. How so? While Nike and Kobe Bryant may have played Russian Roulette by going below the ankle on the Kobe IV and its successor, the extended width of the outsole helped prevent common rolls making ankle insurance a marketing joke rather than a real life issue.
For hoopers, the potential issue with a shoe like the LeBron 15 in regards to stability is placing the foot higher off the ground with bulky cushioning makes the ankle more vulnerable to turns than it would be if it were closer to the ground. In the past, Nike has combatted this potential issue by either a) adding an outsole rigger like they did on LeBron’s PE or past Kobes, or b) backing the upper/ankle area with focused support like the Monkey Paw tech seen on Alpha Project favorites or the strapping denoted on a Zoom Soldier or even Air Unlimited.
While this added update should be good for keeping the King moving in the LeBron 15 on court and thus the LeBron 15 moving at retail, Nightwing makes a good point: what about the consumer that already dropped $185 on a pair? Typically speaking, Nike does a good job about offering vouchers for performance products with performance issues just the same way an auto company would offer a free fix for in regards to a recall for a defect. With that said, the one person I know that actually has the LeBron 15s and hoops in them noticed some foot shifting on hard cuts (more of an issue with lacing or BattleKnit than lack of outsole rigger) but otherwise loves them — shoutout Gabe.
Peep LeBron’s updated sneaker below and let us know if hooping or stunting drives your interest in his signature line.
Lateral stability was an issue with the #LeBron15 on-court as I had stated in my performance review of the shoe. I had mentioned that an outrigger should have been put in place. Looks like they’ve added 3 (one for each Zoom unit). I think this is great for LeBron, however, I hope paying customers will receive the same update on upcoming colorways. We have ankles too. . . . #WearTesters #NightwingKnows . . . ? via Getty Images