Kicks and Colors spotlights the variety of colorways—and the stories that go with—that brands’ unveil in key basketball sneakers.
Sneaker: LeBron 13 Elite
Signature athlete: LeBron James
Colorway: Elite (red, white, black)
Story: The Elite versions of Nike’s signature basketball shoes have started to look more different than the originals than ever before. First we saw the Kobe 11s go Flyknit for the Elite and then the real drama, when the KD8 Elite grew calf-high compression. Now it is the LeBron 13’s turn to change it up, this time with a new silhouette and fresh materials.
A new Kurim cage upper—an extremely pliable and durable material, Nike says—offers a completely different way to stabilize the foot than the original liberal use of Hyperposite foam from the original 13. Kurim also offers a completely new aesthetic. Using Kurim, Nike places thinner layers in areas that need more flexibility and thicker layers were players require more support.
But that isn’t the only change in the Elite version, as the Elite comes with a carbon fiber shank, a full-length bootie, leather toecap and two additional hexagonal Zoom Air sole units on each sneaker, giving the LeBron 13 Elite a total of six units per shoe.
Nike says the upgrades—which create almost an entirely new LeBron 13 design since the original debuted in October—create a stronger and lighter shoe just in time for the playoffs.
As for colors, Nike plans to release the all-red version on April 14 and follow that up with white on May 5 and black on May 26.
Tim Newcomb covers sports aesthetics—stadiums, sneakers, uniforms and more—for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.