For the second year in a row, Nike has unveiled superhero-themed "Elite" sneaker designs for its signature athletes in advance of the playoffs.
This time around, Heat forward LeBron James, Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant all get "Hero Collection" colorways that aim to "represent the superhuman skills each brings to the court," according to the apparel manufacturer. Last year's "Elite Series 2.0" designs possessed a comic book feel.
This year's Hero Collection sneakers are set for release on May 9. Let’s take a closer look.
LeBron 11 Elite Hero
With the Heat chasing their third straight title, James will wear this red, black, green and yellow version of his "LeBron 11" signature sneakers.
The LEBRON 11 Elite Hero edition is tailored to James’s game and is sleek and strong, all in a laser crimson color. The shoe represents an evolution of the LEBRON 11, now with a lower cut and new articulated external cage to keep him contained for the playoff run. The Hyperposite protection and dynamic Flywire fiber in the upper combine with Lunarlon cushioning and a Nike Zoom unit in the midsole to maximize performance.
KD VI Elite Hero
Durant, the NBA's leading scorer by a wide margin, will pursue the first title of his career in this blue, green and pink version of his "KD VI" signature sneakers.
Maximizing strength and breathability, the KD VI Elite Hero moves precisely and naturally with the foot. Designer Leo Chang’s vision to mimic the precision craftsmanship and fine details of a wristwatch are visually revealed in the KD VI Elite Hero. For the first time in a KD signature shoe, this new version boasts a full-length, visible Nike Zoom unit that runs through the entire midsole. This turbo green colored shoe features Flywire technology, reinforced with Kevlar® aramid fibers, providing Durant with lockdown support for his versatile style of play.
Kobe 9 Elite Hero
The Lakers will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005 and, for the second straight season, injuries will force Bryant to watch the postseason action from the sidelines. Nevertheless, Nike still released this grey, green and yellow version of his "Kobe 9" signature sneakers.
The KOBE 9 Elite launched last December represents Bryant’s most provocative shoe to date - the first Nike Basketball shoe featuring Flyknit. The KOBE 9 Elite Hero sports a wolf grey upper and pop art inspired camouflage on the heel area. Designed by Eric Avar, it maximizes innovation with Lunarlon, dynamic Flywire and carbon fiber throughout, while its ultra-lightweight design enables natural motion.
Below, find a gallery with additional images of Nike's Elite Hero Collection.