“Protect Me From Myself”: Nike designer discusses the pressure of making shoes for LeBron James

LeBron James entered the league wearing the “Chosen One” cape. He brought giants like Adidas and Nike to war for making the first deal with him. As a result, his first contract alone landed him a massive $ 90 million contract when he was still a teenager.

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From that day of May 2003 until today, the star has won four NBA titles, several MVPs, and is also on the verge of breaking the all-time record. Now, designing shoes for such a personality can never be fun. So the design mastermind behind Bron’s shoes recently scoured their experience with the same.

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How does it feel to design sneakers for LeBron James?

In a recent interview, Jason Petrie, a senior shoe designer for Nike, revealed his feelings that went into the creation of Bron’s shoes. He first recalled when Nike was trying to get a contract with LeBron and hinted that Bron kept a similar commitment to the design process as Kobe Bryant did.

He expressed, “Oh my God. They always say, protect me from myself, which he told us early on. Just a fat guy, so fast, these forces not only impact your body but also your shoes. So building a field trip is a big part and… we really want to make sure we help him live longer on the field and feel younger there.

Granted, the Lakers star is a 6’8 ”, 250lb giant and his athleticism is still at the elite level. So, designing shoes that match these aspects can be an overwhelming challenge. But a 12-year association with LeBron James’ shoe line made Jason realize the responsibility very well.

As he added, “You talk about pressure, at the end of the day he shouldn’t be thinking about his shoes. He should be allowed to let his natural abilities take over and do one of those things that he does so well, which is play basketball.

Even last year, Bron had his right ankle bothering him throughout the season and that became the main factor the Lakers didn’t reach in the second round. So ordinary eyes might miss it, but those underfoot soles, the mesh supporting the front and the wall around the ankle matter.

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L-Train vs. Michael Jordan in basketball shoe business

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In May 2019, a report showed a 10% jump in sales of the Air Jordan brand. This helped MJ earn an insane annual income of $ 130 million out of the $ 3.14 billion in income. More surprisingly, that number turned out to be four times what LeBron James achieved.

December 27, 2020 – LeBron James twists in pain after twisting his ankle during action against Wolves at Staples Center. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

As No.2, just behind His Highness, the Akron Hammer had to settle for his $ 32 million. In fact, in terms of total revenue as well, MJ’s $ 145 million (sneaker revenue + other transactions) beat King James. $ 89 million (NBA salary, sneakers and other income). No wonder LeBron is so committed to the design of his signature line (or say, soldier line).

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Going forward, LBJ will have a chance to beat Jordan, but that will take the juice away from him, Jason Petrie and his team. Do you think this will happen in the next decade? Help us know what you think in the comments section below.

Watch this story: Business investments that made LeBron James the richest active NBA player


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