Waiting for a superstar’s next signature sneaker can spark as much anticipation as waiting for the next installment in an epic movie series such as The Matrix or The Lord of the Rings. For all the weekend warriors that balled it up in the Nike Zoom LeBron II sneakers, the release of the third installment was certainly something they were waiting eagerly for. Improving upon the LeBron II which is still to this day, touted as arguably the best in the King’s signature line was not a task for the faintly creative. Ken Link had a rather monumental assignment ahead of him.
The Zoom LeBron III’s was given an expected Phylon midsole with large Zoom airbags enclosed by a Pebax (high performance resin) casing. The foam surrounding the Zoom bags was made thinner as well as the polyurethane in the inner sockliner, which both improved the shoe’s on-court feel. Structurally, Link utilized a foot bucket system for the III, which is visually prevalent in looking at the upper. The foot bucket shell, reinforced by Pebax as well, was built to provide reliable stability for the rearfoot and minimize potential damage from ankle injuries. You can see that the shell itself actually extends rather high on the heel portion, giving the sneaker an overall high collar cut.
Such a high collar however, was specifically engineered by Link to have absolutely no negative impact as far as flexibility goes. The thin support straps on the upper were intentionally left loosely connected only at each strap’s base and each eyestay as opposed to being completely attached to the upper. So anyone that expected a stiff and restricted feeling from the shoe was more than likely, pleasantly surprised. Link’s aim was to “help you get a better lockdown, but without binding the foot as much”. This particular adjustment was executed for the sake of breathability because as Link said the foot “needs to breathe and live”.
The outsole on these kicks was an item high on the priority list as one of the primary gripes many users had with the Zoom LeBron II was traction. Thus, Link cut a sizeable indent straight down the middle of the outsole’s forefoot and added perpendicular indents along the medial and lateral sides as well. The function of these grooves is to give the wearer added flexibility and response while making hard cuts or quick lateral movements.
All in all, Ken Link and his team at Nike created a shoe in the Zoom LeBron III that has come to earn a reputation for being extremely durable in all facets. The cushioning and upper itself both hold up very well over time non-dependent upon how many games are played. These kicks were actually meant to hold up very well during a rigorous game schedule such as the 82-game regular season in the NBA. As Link put it simply, “it’s a shoe that a kid can pick up and play his team ball in, and that’s a big deal because I don’t think a lot of shoes can really withstand the rigors of that”.
[Original Release: 2005; Weight: 20.3 oz; Players: LeBron James]
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