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Nike Air Max LeBron VII


“The new LeBron VII takes my signature line to a new level of innovation. As the demands of my game evolve and increase, Nike consistently designs and develops shoes helping drive my on-court success.” – LeBron James

The best way to describe the Air Max LeBron VII’s is the revolutionary evolution. How is that you may ask? Continue to read and you’ll see why. The shoe is quite a paradox indeed… protective yet lightweight, firm yet cushioned, with a design similar to others in the Nike lineup while being a fresh new concept at the same time. A lot has changed since the last year. New concept, new technology, and on top of that new designer. Jason Petrie stepped in place of Ken Link, who designed most of previous Nike LeBron sneakers (II – VI). JP also known online as Alphaproject, was a part of the Nike Basketball design team in such projects as: Air Max STAT 1, Zoom Sharkley, Zoom Flight Club, Zoom Alpholution, Huarache 08, Skyposite, among others. Pretty much most of the shoes from the recently established Nike Refresh series. Was he able to bring refreshment to the LeBron line as well? Pretty big shoes to fill in, don’t you think? Read on to find out the answer.

Figure 1. Huge 360 Max Air unit takes the center stage as it overshadows all other components.
The big question remains: “Was it the right move to ditch everyone’s favorite Zoom Air?!”


Last year, when the real Zoom LeBron VI was unveiled people were shocked about how minimalistic the design was. No bold LBJ logos, only a big swoosh on the side and small L23 logo sitting on the collar and the Lionhead logo on the top of the tongue, which also felt hidden when laced up. The Air Max LeBron VII screams signature right from the start. Of course the big Swoosh is still there, but there are various elements all over the shoe, which represent the luxurious style that comes with the VII. The Nike Air Max LeBron VII is constructed with a full-grain leather upper and patent leather throughout, giving it a plush feel and deluxe aesthetic. The goal was to bring the highest quality detailing to LeBron’s newest shoe.

“When designing the Nike Air Max LeBron VII, we envisioned a shoe that was both strong and comfortable. We delivered a shoe that is a perfect combination of superior performance and luxurious style, embodying LeBron himself.” – Jason Petrie

LeBron James’ seventh signature shoe pays homage to the sport of basketball and reflects the personality of LeBron. On the outsole, five flex grooves represent the five players on the court while 23 stripes in the midsection represent LeBron’s number. The outsole also features a 3D decoder key which, when the shoe is rotated, displays LeBron’s credos – Passion, Fearless, Tradition, Community, Family, Loyalty – and other call-outs from his life. Unfortunately the hologram mentioned above didn’t make it to the production version and has been replaced with a plain L23 logo. You can see it though on each of 1023 limited edition sneakers created for the “More Than a Game” World Tour. Additionally, the seven Nike Flywire strands on the tongue of the shoe represents the Nike Air Max LeBron VII as the seventh shoe in the signature series. This same call-out is repeated with the V-shaped metal eyelets on the top of the shoe and Roman numeral II embossed directly underneath it.

Figure 2a. Design Sketch.
Figure 2b. Engineered for the multi-directional movements of the modern basketball player.
Figure 2c. L23 logo located on the medial side of the shoe.


Let’s talk about the technical aspects of the shoe. Ok simple enough, we have Air Max 360 cushioning, Flywire, and to be honest not much else from a purely technical point of view. So what is the big deal, we’ve seen these in Nike shoes before. Well thing is these technologies are new to the LeBron series and they are implemented in a most harmonious manner. To be fair the lesser technologies so to speak are an innovative herringbone patterned sole and the ubiquitous dynamic fit inner bootie, which is always welcomed. The star of the show is obviously the Air Max 360 cushioning system. This basketball specific version has 80% more air volume while still being a relatively low profile unit coming in at a relatively slim 20mm in the heel and 10mm in the forefoot area. By having more air volume in a thinner package creates a very firm cushioning platform, which eliminates the pillow-like feeling often found in most Air Max implementations.

Figure 3a. Basketball specific 360 Max Air unit. 80% more air than previous full-length units.
Only 20 mm in the heel and 10 mm in the forefoot.
Nike decided to incorporate the Flywire technology into the product as well, which significantly decreases the weight of the shoe. The ongoing myth about LeBron’s shoes being heavy has been knocked down when The Six broke the 17 oz. barrier one year ago. This trend has been emphasized when Nike created a 14 oz. Zoom Soldier III for the 2009 NBA Playoffs. The VII is slightly heavier than the VI, but the Flywire has definitely helped to avoid reaching the III, or the IV and is believed to be the lightest basketball shoe featuring full length Max Air unit beating the Nike Hypermax among others. On top of that Flywire provides basketball specific stability and also has a big influence on the lacing system. It was one of the main issues last year. Fully laced, the Flywire wraps the upper to your foot, creating a snug and secured fit. Its crisscross lineage forms a diamond pattern that LeBron has asked to be integrated into his signature footwear and apparel lines each year.

Figure 3b. Nike Flywire technology, first introduced in the highly successful Nike Hyperdunk, provides support without adding unnecessary weight by integrating tensile fibers with a minimal use of materials.

Break-in Period

From the performance aspect these shoes deliver in a grand manner. There remains one caveat, and this cannot be under emphasized in any way… these shoes MUST be broken in before being able to appreciate its performance benefits. Initially they will feel stiff and very firm as if the Air Max cushioning is merely an illusion. I would not suggest playing a full game of basketball in these before breaking them in. Instead go to the gym a few times by yourself and do a few drills and shoot around in them. After the break in period the true character of the shoe becomes more apparent. Despite of a floaty feeling, which is usually attributed to Air Max, you get a firm yet responsive cushioning feel.

Figure 4. Those, who are used to Zoom Air, especially mad comfortable full-lenght and double stack configurations, will be surprised when trying on the VII’s. The shoes feel stiff and firm, but in order to fully appreciate the new setup a break in period is required.


While not being as bouncy as the double-stacked Zoom Air cushioning of the Zoom LeBron VI’s it provides a nice impact absorbing instantly responsive ride. There is absolutely no cushioning lag. When you stop hard you stop instantly, you change directions instantly, you accelerate instantly. This is the technical brilliance of this special made Air bag. The dynamic fit bootie and the lacing system, which starts closer to the beginning part of your foot help contribute to a tight lock down fit. The sole provided for really good traction but mind you these were reviewed on a well taken care of basketball court. As a primarily Zoom Air supporter I am shocked to admit that I prefer the VII’s to the VI’s as a basketball shoe. Of course by the definition the Air Max is less responsive than Zoom Air, but offers much better impact protection. According to Jason Petrie that was the main reason for switching the setup. The new 360 Max Air allows an even dispersion of forces throughout the footstrike. Basically there is Air everywhere with Max, as opposed to Zoom, which uses more of a podular architecture. Apparently King James loves the new system. I am no near LeBron’s frame and while it’s understandable that’s the optimal solution for him, I like how it provides new options for playing basketball.

“This is a new era for LeBron as he embarks the second stage of his career. We wanted to totally change what we do with LeBron. The Nike Air Max LeBron VII is a complete revolution.” – Jason Petrie
Figure 5. Small logos placed all over the shoes will remind you that it’s a LeBron James signature sneaker. The “L” and “J” on the back reflect LBJ’s tattoos located on his triceps. Nice touch.


Conclusively I must say that the Air Max LeBron VII’s are definitely a step in the right direction for his signature shoe series. From the internet buzz that I have been seeing, these seem to be the crossover hit that Nike has been looking for. More than a few times I have seen people on websites such as NikeTalk and SoleCollector proclaim that they weren’t previously fans of the LeBron line, but these were some they were going to pick up. Once broken in they perform amazingly, and to top it off they look great. I was very skeptical at first, but the final score should be the indicator of evolution. When I heard about the Air Max cushioning system being incorporated into a Nike LeBron shoe I was simply afraid. The first time I had put them on they brought more questions than answers. However, it was a fear of change and just like in most cases once the fear has passed I become more open minded and even the rumor about the VIII being an Air Max shoe doesn’t scare me now. The Nike Air Max LeBron VII’s are truly a revolutionary pair of shoes in the evolution of the LeBron signature series.

Figure 6. Performance + Style: You can rock them with jeans and still look good while doing so.

by KAPSI1911 x Kaczala.

NikeLeBron.net Breakdown

Comfort & Fit: 10
Cushioning: 9
Traction: 9
Stability: 9
Ankle support: 9
Weight: 8
Durability: 9
Ventilation: 7.5

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