A New Legacy ‘- The Undefeated


LeBron James ‘summer will be a little different this year after leaving the playoffs in the first round, marking the untimely end of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2020 title defense. In the 18th campaign of his NBA career, he made a comeback. missed more games with a high ankle sprain – 26 – than he has ever done in a single season.

But the NBA superstar actually has a new team. “I’m going to let my ankle rest for about a month, then I’m going to gear up with Lola, Taz, Granny, Bugs and the rest of the team. I will be playing for the Tune Squad this summer instead of the Olympics ”, joked James after the Lakers abandoned their first-round playoff series to the Phoenix Suns, with a 113-100 loss in Game 6 on June 3. He won’t leave the Lakers, but he will join a roster of cartoon characters in the lead role of Space Jam: A New Legacy, the reboot of Warner Bros. from the classic directed by Michael Jordan Space jam, which hit theaters almost 25 years ago.


At July 16, with the release of Space Jam: A New Legacy, James will become the newest member of the Tune Squad. The film will also make its debut, when James’ latest signature sneaker hits the big screen. On Tuesday, Nike announced the LeBron 19, which will arrive at James’ feet for the first time in Space jam. After nearly two decades of releasing all of its previous models on real hardwood, Nike has teamed up with Warner Bros. to reverse the script of a deployment of iconic sneakers.

“This is the first time we’ve actually cast a shoe in a movie,” said Jason Petrie, senior shoe designer for Nike Basketball who has overseen the designs of James’ last 13 signature models. “Every opportunity we have to work with LeBron and make him a shoe is an incredible opportunity. Now we can combine with the amazing team at Warner Bros.… and that cinematic magic and imagination. When you are able to combine these two worlds, building a product within them was just an amazing opportunity and we took full advantage of it. We were really excited to step out of the normal world of product creation and now exist in this alternate reality where LeBron exists with the Tune Squad.


This is certainly the first time that Nike has launched a basketball shoe in a movie. However, it’s hard to forget the futuristic, automatic lacing Nike Mag that legendary designer Tinker Hatfield built for Marty McFly’s feet in the 1989s. Back to the future II. (Originally produced as a one-off for the second installment in the series, the Nike Mag wasn’t officially released until 2011, when 1,500 pairs were auctioned off on eBay, with the proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research.)

In two previous cases of iconic films by headlining Nike Basketball athletes, every player made their debut with the shoe on the basketball court before the film’s release. In the NBA playoffs on May 14, 1995, Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals between the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic, Michael Jordan made his debut with the Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam” almost 18 months before. Space jam premiered in November 1996. Most recently, Kyrie Irving first released the Nike Kyrie 4 “Uncle Drew” in December 2017 at TD Garden in Boston, six months before uncle drew released in theaters in June 2018 with Irving in the lead role.

In September 2018, after being linked with the film for more than four years, James officially signed on to star in a follow-up to the original. Space Jam, produced by his entertainment company, SpringHill. The opportunity marked James’ first leading role, following a film appearance as a supporting character with Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in the 2015 comedy. Rail accident. By February 2019, the release date – July 16, 2021 – of the new Space jam was announced, as James’s team of Nike designers, led by Petrie, embarked on the process of making the LeBron 19, lasting 18-24 months.

A view of the Nike sneakers worn by LeBron James during the 69th NBA All-Star Game at United Center on February 16, 2020 in Chicago.

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

“We have a very collaborative process with everything we do with LeBron,” said Petrie. “He was really stressed out, and we know how important that moment has been a big part of trying to get some more feedback and connect with him.… We’ve made sure to show him things since the very first sketch through to the most updated sample.

As Petrie worked to bring the LeBron 19 to life, apparel designers at Nike (the official uniform supplier to the NBA and WNBA) conceptualized how the characters Space Jam: a new legacy would be equipped, especially during the film’s planned climax: a basketball court clash between heroes and villains.

“Bringing Nike into the fold was a no-brainer,” said Maverick Carter, James’ business partner and co-founder of SpringHill, who was a producer on Space Jam: a new legacy. “A film is a story. It’s a journey… and Nike is part of the narration. The biggest moment in the movie for our characters is the end game. It culminates in this epic showdown with real consequences for everyone who plays. The game matters. And having the basketball players – the Tune Squad and the Goon Squad – in Nike, that helps the story. It validates the game… because that’s what NBA players wear.

“The public will see that this is not just an ordinary basketball game. It’s a very innovative game, in the future. And when you talk about the LeBron 19, it’s a very forward-looking sneaker… Nike really stepped in and been a partner in helping us move the story forward, not just a product supplier.

While tackling the unconventional task of creating designs inspired by imaginary characters such as Bugs, Lola and Tweety, Nike had to produce a functional signature sneaker for one of the sportiest players in the world to wear on. and, finally, off the screen.

“A glimpse that LeBron gave us a few years ago, when this was all going on and we knew he was going to be working on a movie, is how much he loves Nike Air,” Petrie said. “We wanted to build a new platform, a new base for this shoe that could give it the best expression of that advantage.”

The sneakers worn by LeBron James during the 69th NBA All-Star Game on February 16, 2020 at the United Center in Chicago.

Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE via Getty Images

The LeBron 19 will introduce a “dual-chamber Air Max unit in the heel and a new Zoom Air unit in the forefoot,” according to Nike. Petrie recalls attending stage screenings, directed by Space Jam: a new legacy director Malcolm D. Lee, whom he and his team drew inspiration from during the design process.

“Looking at the shape and form of it, you can see that it has a sort of space age, an otherworldly feel, all influenced by the notion of what was going to happen in Space jam“said Petrie.” Taking that breath… [and] working with Warner Bros. on colors that would appear on screen while developing two different colourways for different parts of the film… we started to see the shoe come to life.

In early 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic postponed the NBA season and forced the league into a bubble, James began teasing the next one. Space jam and the signature sneaker he would wear in the film with editions of one of the precursor models of the LeBron 19. He appeared against the Denver Nuggets on February 15, 2020, in a pair of “Looney Tunes” LeBron 17 Lows, on which he wrote with a Sharpie pen, “What’s up Doc?” A few days later, during the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago, James donned the LeBron 17’s “Monstars” and “Mr. Swackhammer Colorways”, as a tribute to the villains that Michael Jordan and the Tune Squad defeated in the game. beginnings Space jam movie.

After winning the 2020 NBA Championship in the LeBron 18 and wearing it for most of the 2020-21 season, James is expected for his next signing silhouette. And with the Lakers already out of this year’s playoffs, the new shoe will debut on a different stage. In Space Jam: a new legacy, at James’s feet, surrounded by Looney Tunes – it was Nike’s plan for the LeBron 19 from the start.

“What we really wanted to do is go into the movie and shoot what LeBron uses in the real world,” Petrie said. “It was kind of the hope and the feeling that we were looking for. … It’s the 19th… something you’ll see on the court in the movie and in real life, hopefully.

Aaron Dodson is a sports and culture writer at The Undefeated. He mainly writes about sneakers / clothing and hosts the platform’s “Sneaker Box” video series. During Michael Jordan’s two seasons playing for the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s, the Air Jordan 9 “Flint” sparked his passion for kicking.


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