It's a big time for LeBron James right now. Picking up his third MVP award and leading the Heat against the Celtics on their way to a second straight shot at the NBA Finals, the King may well get that elusive ring. With the Nike LeBron 10 on the horizon, we checked in with the biggest LeBron sneaker psycho we know - Melbourne's Garvin Louie. Amassing a monstrous selection of sneaks from the Zoom Generations through to the South Beach Elite 9s, Garv speaks to us about the past, present and future of LeBrons!
How many pairs are in that enormous LeBron collection?
I think there’s a touch under 80 pairs of LeBrons there – from the first Air Zoom Generations right up to the LeBron 9 Elites (with a pair of slides as a garnish).
Have you seen the teaser pics for the LeBron 10s? What did you think?
The teaser pic that I saw of the LeBron X (that deconstructed upper and the sole?) is certainly interesting – but as has been the case with all leaks with upcoming LeBron shoes, there can be a huge shift in public opinion by the time actual pictures, or the actual shoe releases. I’m going to have to reserve my judgment until we get some better pictures – but I’m yet to meet a LeBron shoe that I’ve flat out disliked.
I like the idea that they are introducing Nike+ to the Hyperdunks that LeBron is supposedly going to wear in London, and on the Xs. As a fan of the LeBron series, I’m loving the fact that the innovation folk over at Nike are applying new materials, new technologies etc to the LeBron line – even if it means having to pay a premium.
Where would you like the LeBron line to go with the 10th sneaker?
I loved the notion that with the LeBron 9 Elite series, Nike have made it known that it is the most technologically advanced basketball shoe they have ever made. It’d be great to see Nike apply that sort of thinking to the LeBron X and going forward. There is no doubt that LeBron now spearheads the Nike Basketball brand, so it makes sense that his line of shoes should be a flagship model in terms of what Nike and the Jason Petrie team are capable of doing. As long as they continue to push the boundaries, and combine the best elements of design, materials and production from the other marquee Nike Basketball shoes (the Hyperfuse and Hyperdunk lines) – while still doing enough to differentiate the LeBron line – then I’m happy! I don’t ask for much!
What got you hooked on LeBrons? Are you fan of LeBron or the sneakers?
I’ve been a LeBron fan since SLAM magazine got me intrigued about a kid wearing adidas “The Kobes” and dominating the high school basketball circuit. I think the sneakers themselves made me a fan of the sneakers! The AZGs, IIs and IIIs had me hooked from a performance perspective. From there I decided it was time to start collecting and not just wearing them to ball in. There was no looking back after that.
As a LeBron fan, I like the standard general release stuff as much as I do the more limited colourways that I feel are becoming increasingly overhyped. It’s cool seeing those colourways being worn in actual NBA games by the man himself – rather than only on the feet of celebrities watching the games.
Which LeBron series do you feel has had the best colourways?
It’s hard not to say the 9s – given the sheer volume of colourways that Nike have released. I think the jury’s still out as to whether that’s a good or bad thing. Nike really cranked up the creativity in terms of the number of colourways (and different variations of the one shoe – the Elites, 8 v2s and v3s, VII FW vs NFW, and subsets like the Christmas and Dunkman themed shoes) from the VI onwards – but all things considered I think the 9s have made it work best. To me, it’s just the right mix of colour blocking options, materials, and overall effect. The VIs come in at a close second.
A lot of people criticise the LeBrons for being too bulky for anyone who isn't 6'8" and 250lb. Do you agree?
Honestly, I’ve never understood that – I’m 6’ (not even) and 170lb and play the G/F position. Other than the IVs – which were a ridiculously bulky shoe – I’ve enjoyed playing in every LeBron shoe to date. I’ve mixed it up with Hyperdunks, Hyperfuses, Wades and KDs in the rotation but I’ve always been happy to use LeBrons as the main game shoe. Each to their own I guess – personally, I love the fact that most of the LeBrons have been great to play in straight out of the box and are just a great all round shoe.
Which was the hardest shoe to get your hands on?
Definitely the LeBron 9 Elite “Miami Vice” lineup at Kickz 101 in Melbourne. I got there a little after 4am and was shocked to discover that I was about the 30th person in line. That’s not something I’ve ever done for a shoe – let alone a pair of LeBrons. Moreover, that whole concept of a campout of that size for sneakers in Australia is still pretty foreign. By comparison, the LeBron 8 South Beaches were not nearly as difficult – but it was probably what started all of the hype and drew a lot of people to a line of basketball shoes that didn’t carry a Jumpman logo. I must admit that as a fan of the LeBron line from day one, it annoyed me a little. It bugged me that I was sitting out in the cold at 4am and becoming hypothermic, for a shoe that only 5 or 6 years ago, not many other people would have necessarily cared about. The flipside of that is that someday, the collection of OG LeBrons will hopefully be something very special, given it’s getting increasingly hard to buy the earlier models.
The LeBron VI Big Apple lineup at Niketown NYC was probably the second hardest – it was Black Friday sales, we had about 2 hours left before we had to go to the airport, and I asked my wife to delay her sales shopping to line up with me because I really wanted two pairs!
Which is your favourite LeBron sneaker?
In terms of sentimental value – my first pair of AZGs and LeBron IIIs stand out. My wife bought me the black/red IIIs, and I have a photo of my grandmother wearing them for fun, a few days before she passed away. The 9s are probably my favourite line to date – merely because of its versatility in terms of colourways, performance, and wearability.
My favourite shoe right now is a tie between the Miami Vice Elites and the Miami Nights LeBron 8 Lows – but that can change very quickly. I guess that’s how I ended up with way too many!