Hands down, my favorite pair of shoes to wear right now for both style and
grace comfort are my Nike LeBron XVs. I love them so much that I have two pairs: the wine-and-navy-blue “New Heights” colorway and the black “Metallic Gold” colorway. They go with everything, and the fit is comfortable enough (and they’re light enough) that I don’t actually feel like I’m wearing basketball shoes.
And I’m not much of a basketball-shoe fan in general. I own two pairs of Jordans—they’re both Jordan 1s—and the rest of my shoes are running shoes, casual shoes or boots. Even buying these LeBrons took a while, since, again, I’m not big on basketball shoes and I’ve always found his to look rather bulky on display in stores.
But one day I was in Foot Locker’s House of Hoops section, and I saw the New Heights XVs sitting on display. I thought they looked interesting, but they also looked pretty unflattering. That day I kept it moving, but the shoes stayed in the back of my mind.
That’s how I end up buying most of the shoes I like: They stay on my mind. I rarely buy shoes the first time I see them. But if I can’t shake the idea that I want them, I’ll typically go back. I returned to Foot Locker to check them out on every trip to the mall but was still unconvinced that they were shoes I needed to own.
I follow LeBron on Instagram, and there are tons of pictures of his shoes on his feed. The vast majority of them didn’t get me. But there was one picture I saw where he was standing against a car dressed in street clothes, wearing something similar enough to what I’d wear, and he had on his shoes; they looked awesome.
At that point, I decided that I was going to go try them on. Even though I found them unremarkable on display, seeing them on his feet (even through the ’gram) rocketed my passing interest to coveting.
So I went to the store, tried them on and realized, “Oh, sweet Jesus—these joints are beauuuutiful on my feet.” Perhaps it’s hyperbolic, but I loved how they looked. I plopped down my money with a smile on my face, feeling ecstatic to separate myself from my hard-earned $196.10 (including tax).
After wearing them out, a funny thing started to happen: Several dudes told me that seeing them on somebody convinced them that the shoes were actually pretty fly. It seems that I wasn’t the only one struggling with whether the XVs were dope or not. Some folks were going to buy them because they’re LeBrons. Others are sneakerheads, and while I’m a fringe sneakerhead, I have no idea if the XVs were a hype-beast shoe of choice. But many of us were looking at them in stores and just unconvinced of their potential. But seeing them on my feet changed the game for some people.
It’s happened at least five times. The latest was at a baby shower I attended this past weekend. I threw on the black XVs, and while I was walking around snapping pictures of the event, a friend of mine stopped me and said, “You’ve convinced me.” I asked him what he was talking about, and he pointed at my feet and said he’d been on the fence, but seeing them on my feet persuaded him that he should cop them.
It happened at a nightclub once as well. I was walking around minding my business when two dudes walked up to me and said something very similar—that on display, the XVs just don’t look that dope, so they hadn’t even thought to try them on until they peeped them on my feet. Happened at brunch once and randomly at a restaurant bar while I was eating lunch—on the street once, too. It seems that LeBron’s XVs are the ultimate in deceptively fly.
If you’re into shoes at all, you’re going to pay attention to them. You may hate them, but you will notice them, and I even imagine it’s hard to hate them because they’re so distinctive. The shoes are made of “BattleKnit,” a Flyknit-weave take on the Flyknit material that so many running shoes are currently made of, with the very popular “sock” styling that’s all over the sneaker market.
They have a look to them, but in stores they look oddly shaped at best. And even on LeBron’s feet in the games—there are tons of pictures featuring his shoes—they didn’t sway me one way or another. And while GQ called the shoes as cool as LeBron is, I was still skeptical.
Nope—it took seeing them on LeBron’s feet in a picture of him doing regular shit (and other people complimenting them in everyday wear) for me to realize how awesome they are from a fashion standpoint, and now they’re my go-to shoe for everything from church to picking up hog maws.
I’m glad I didn’t “pass” on these shoes. Get it? Pass. Because LeBron likes to ... pass the ball?
I’ll see myself out.