LeBron James seems to be having a classic love and hate relationship with the Nike LeBron XI. Early on he couldn’t adapt to the new fit and now along with the debut of the Elite series we finally get some concrete info on what was wrong. Charles Williams has given a series of interviews during the LeBron 11 Elite launch and this article posted at probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com offers the best insight into the issue. Williams, who is Senior Product Director for Nike Basketball, explained exactly what the issues were that James was experiencing. Continued reading for more details…
|From Nike LeBron X…|
“Early on, it was less about the components of the shoe, and more about fit,” Williams said. “We went to a double-lasting proposition on the 11 that was a little bit different, so it was just more about forefoot fit, and making sure that when he cut, he wasn’t bumping up against anything, that he had enough volume. When you’ve got an athlete that’s putting an orthotic in the shoe, it changes everything. It changes the actual internal shape, it changes the actual internal volume and things of that nature. Players like KD and Kobe, they come right out of the box. But LeBron puts an orthotic in there, so that started to change things a little bit, especially because we had a drop-in. We’ve never had a drop-in before. So when you have a drop-in, something that kind of comes in and out – not unlike his orthotic – I think for him, mentally it was just a little difficult to get around.” Along with the fit of the orthotic, James wasn’t feeling the level of lockdown in the 11s that he requires, and when he made cuts, he felt his foot sliding around in the shoe – another area which was unacceptable for the style that he plays.
All of that has been addressed with the LeBron 11 Elite, and the early results have been positive, if LeBron’s on-court decision to wear the model multiple times earlier than usual are to be believed. A slightly lower cut to the Elite model along with added support on the outside that the design team refers to as a “roll bar” all helped to keep him from moving around inside the shoe, while providing the ultimate support for when he cuts. That extra support on the outside was by far the Elite version’s biggest overall enhancement. “We knew that once we put that roll bar on it he was going to be able to have that confidence that when he cuts, he was on the foot bag. And that way, we would be able to give him more of a free range of motion.”
What do you think? Do you believe that Nike was able to fix the Elites in a way that suits King James? In Game Four of the first round series he chose to wear the Soldier 7 once again. Maybe going with a drop-in midsole for the 11’s was a mistake after all? (btw… LeBron IV also had a drop-in). Share your thoughts in the comments below.