LeBron James will forever be tied to Michael Jordan during GOAT basketball player conversations, which were reignited last night when King James secured his fourth NBA title. But for sneaker fans, there’s another discussion to be had.
James laced up his latest signature shoe when his Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat during Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the Nike LeBron 18, a model that was well received when it was revealed mid-September. Also in September, Jordan Brand revealed the newest MJ signature look, the Air Jordan 35, which sneaker fans have been clamoring for.
Both James and Jordan have the two most storied signature sneaker lines ever, regardless of sport, and consumers can’t get enough of them. But when both players are watching from the sidelines, who will have the greatest sneaker franchise of all time?
Below, four renowned sneaker collectors and insiders explain if James or MJ will ultimately have the GOAT sneaker line.
“[Jordan’s] run from 1-14 alone is, and will remain, untouchable. By the time LeBron came on the scene, performance basketball shoes were already losing cachet as streetwear. [And] performance sneakers made from knit or other synthetics will never have the same impact as those early Jordans. It’s a whole different world — in part because those LeBrons are competing directly with those Jordans on the marketplace.”
“Despite LeBron having plenty of classics like the Zoom Generation or LeBron 7s and 8s, Jordan definitely has the better sneaker line overall. We all know the stories behind the Air Jordan line, however design definitely played a role in those sneakers becoming iconic. I feel as though Jordan’s line placed the emphasis on design first then performance, while LeBron’s sneaker line has been the opposite. Focusing on performance first has lead to some bulkier silhouettes to support James’ 6-foot-9, 250-plus pound frame. Although those silhouettes work well for the court, they lack the versatility Air Jordans have to be worn off the court. A majority of Jordan’s line — specifically 1-14 — can be dressed up or down, making them able to be worn with just about anything. A majority of LeBron’s sneakers are hard to pull off fashion-wise and would best be suited for an athleisure look with shorts or sweats. [And] with LeBron having just finished his 17th season, I don’t think that gives his line enough time to gain ground on Jordan’s line for the title of GOAT. However, after winning this title I believe LeBron has solidified his place as the greatest of all time as far as basketball is concerned — and he’s far from finished.”
“Right now, from a performance standpoint, LeBron’s line is leaps and bounds beyond what Jordans were. Technology has changed so much it would be crazy to say that Jordans perform better than LeBrons. From a nostalgia standpoint, LeBron will never be able to catch Jordan. For the most part, Jordans made sneakers what they are today. Jordan has a better line in terms of sales right now — and always will. Thinking about retirement, LeBron will not be able to have the level of nostalgia that Jordans have. But, there is a strong possibility his line becomes more popular as he transitions out of the game. Technology like auto-lacing and FlyEase will eventually be a standard, and although people love their nostalgia, the conveniences and comfort of modern tech could actually make the LeBron line more appealing.”
“For sure, Michael Jordan has the GOAT sneaker line of all time — this is not even a discussion. Even if LeBron retires with more rings then Jordan, Jordan is always be the GOAT of basketball sneakers. Jordan shoes are more then a basketball shoes — they became a lifestyle. Let me quote Brett Hart to describe Jordan GOAT sneaker level: ‘The best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be.'”