LeBron James unveils latest signature shoe from Nike: The LEBRON 12

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Nike Basketball hosted media from around the globe at its World Headquarters earlier this week to launch the latest signature shoe for LeBron James, the LEBRON 12.

In what was a complete redesign from the previous iteration, the shoe feature an all-new upper and an innovative cushioning system designed to make the footwear for the game’s best player a little bit lighter, and a lot more responsive than ever before.

There are five separate hexagonally-shaped Nike Zoom Air bags in the sole of the shoe instead of just one, which is the breakthrough element of the sneaker that will most affect its on-court performance. Taryn Hensley, Director of Cushioning Innovation, explained what makes it so special.

“Zoom Air is one of Nike’s key cushioning systems,” she said. “Instead of using the traditional foam, it uses a unique combination of pressurized air and fibers. There are thousands of fibers in each airbag. The fibers are under high tension and this gives them their unique performance characteristics. The fibers give excellent cushioning upon impact, which is followed by a quick snap-back when the foot comes off the ground.”

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Information from the Nike Sports Research Lab (NSRL) provided the inspiration for creating the multi-faceted cushioning design, which is based on a mapping of the foot, and is individually tuned for peak performance.

“When you look at a pressure map of a foot, you see the different parts of the foot experience different pressure during impact,” Hensley said. “We wanted a design tuned to reality, so each air bag is designed and engineered differently to tune the overall performance of explosive precision. We used different sizes, heights and placement to create the ideal tuning.”

The difference is one you can feel immediately when first trying on the shoe, and is even more prominent in the Zoom Hypercross Trainer that we wear-tested along with the LEBRON 12. In both of them, you feel the responsiveness right away, and notice instantly how the air bags pass you off from one to the next based on where the pressure is being applied.

Trevor Edwards, President of Nike Brand, explained that the collaboration with an athlete of LeBron’s caliber is what pushes the company to continue to innovate, and take its products to new heights.

“Let me be very clear,” he said. “LeBron pushes us as hard as he pushes himself. And that’s a good thing. Because like all the greats, he’s always adding new facets to his game. And we have to make sure, as a company and as a brand, that we keep pace with him. So I’m proud to say, that’s exactly what we’ve done with the LeBron 12. It’s a shoe defined by extreme precision, as well as explosive performance. And it has everything that LeBron needs in a basketball shoe — and nothing more. In a word, it’s the best.”

What matters most, of course, is the opinion of James himself. And he seemed extremely pleased with the final result.

“We continue to push the envelope, continue to add new innovative technology to the shoe,” LeBron said. “There are so many things that this shoe has that are personal to me, and then also being able to match up with the NSRL. Bringing it to the lab, then bringing [things] to the shoe that make it more durable, more comfortable for me. Last longer. Maybe [allow me to] be more explosive, maybe jump higher if that’s possible — if that’s possible!”

‘We don’t know,” he said with a smile.”We will see. We will see.”

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There were seven initial colorways of the LEBRON 12 revealed at the event, each one inspired by a different part of LeBron’s game. You can get a good look at them all in the video clip above, and listed below are the stories behind each, along with confirmed release dates.

NSRL (Turquoise) – James wasn’t made in a lab, but he is made better by Nike’s research, testing and analysis. The LEBRON 12 lead colorway reflects the process of turning data into design to create superior performance footwear. Launch: Oct. 1 in China; Oct. 11 globally.

Heart of a Lion (Red and white) – James has demonstrated the courageous heart of a lion while being tested both physically and mentally over his 11-year professional career. Launch: Oct. 30.

Dunk Force (Grey and green) – Inspired by the power of James’s statement tomahawk dunk and equated to the speed and force of a helicopter rotor blade. Launch: Nov. 11.

Instinct (Purple and orange) – James’s keen 20/20 eyesight combined with his uncommon speed and agility translates to pinpoint, instinctual decisions, much like the way a hummingbird sees and navigates. Launch: Nov. 22.

Six Meridians (Orange and volt yellow) – A key component of James’s training recovery and preparation is massage therapy. The ancient Chinese practice of reflexology releases energy to different points of the body, or meridians, when massaging pressure points in the feet and hands. Launch: Nov. 29.

Trillion Dollar Man (Silver, dark teal, dark orange) – Are we looking at the athlete of the future today in LeBron James? Inspired by James’s legendary work ethic and physical gifts combined with Nike’s finest performance technology. Launch: Dec. 1.

Data (Black with orange swoosh)  – James is arguably the most dominant player in the game today, with the statistics to support that claim. Launch: Dec. 20.

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Check out the gallery below for additional photos from the LEBRON 12 launch. The shoe will be available in both adult and young athlete sizes globally on Nike.com and at select retail locations, at a suggested retail price of $200.

Heat, Tyler Herro agree to four-year, $120 million extension (with $10 million in incentives)

Miami Heat Media Day
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Tyler Herro was frustrated — he saw players he felt he was better than getting paid.

Now he has a contract he will have to live up to.

The Heat have signed Herro to a four-year, $120 million extension of his rookie contract, with up to $10 million in incentives) a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and now confirmed by the team.

Herro went to Twitter to confirm the deal himself.

“Tyler is an impact multi-faceted player and we are excited to have him signed for the next five years,” Heat President Pat Riley said in the statement announcing the signing. “His improvement every year since we drafted him has led to this day. We believe he will continue to get better.”

This is a straight four years, no options for either side.

Signing an extension takes Herro off the table for any trades to upgrade the Heat roster this season. Herro had been at the heart of the rumors about the Heat and Kevin Durant, as well as other teams.

Herro’s new contract extension is a big bet on the wing taking another step forward this season and beyond. The deal is a little larger than expected (the conventional wisdom had Herro coming in close to the $107 million RJ Barrett got with the Knicks). Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel and I have discussed Herro’s price before and didn’t quite picture it this high, but with the rising cap over the next few years this deal may not look out of line.

Miami stepped up and paid the reigning Sixth Man of the Year high-level starter money — now he has to earn that job and that paycheck.

Mostly, he has to improve on defense so Eric Spoelstra can trust him at the end of games and deep into the playoffs (while Herro has had big playoff games, his role shrunk deeper in last postseason because of his defense).

Herro puts up numbers — 20.7 points a game on 39.9% from 3 last season — and is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, but does this new deal move him up in the Heat offensive pecking order with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler? Probably not in crunch time (and if Kyle Lowry bounces back this season, there could be games where Herro is option No.4).

This locks up part of Miami’s roster going into the season, but they are still on the look for depth at the four. Don’t consider this roster settled.

 

Watch Celtics shooters look sharp in easy preseason win over Hornets

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics
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It’s just one meanless preseason game, but for a franchise that could use some good news the Boston Celtics will take it.

The Celtics’ shooting looked in mid-season form in their preseason opener against the Hornets on Sunday — 57.1% overall and 22-of-47 from 3 (46.8%). Boston just couldn’t seem to miss, especially early.

Jayson Tatum had 16 points in 22 minutes, while Jaylen Brown was the leading scorer with 24 points in 24 minutes.

The one unexpected bright spot was a strong game from Mfiondu Kabengele, who is currently on a two-way contract with the team. He ended up with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and showed some hustle.

Kelly Oubre led the Hornets with 17 points, while LaMelo Ball had 14 points, seven rebounds and four dimes.

It’s just one preseason game, don’t read much of anything into it. But the Celtics will take the good news where they can find it.

T.J. Warren still out for Nets; team to reassess status in November

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The Brooklyn Nets bet that the T.J. Warren from the bubble in Orlando — the one who averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers — would re-emerge and give them a quality forward they could mix into a deep rotation.

Instead, so far it has looked more like the Warren who has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

Warren is improving and the Nets are bringing him along slowly, keeping him off the court until November at least, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Small forward T.J. Warren, who has missed nearly two full seasons following multiple foot surgeries, is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash said. He added that Warren will be reassessed in about a month.

The Nets can afford to be patient. They have plenty of other questions to answer as a team before worrying about what Warren can or cannot contribute. But in the dream scenario where everything comes together for the Nets this season, Warren gets healthy and becomes a valuable contributor off the bench giving the Nets more versatility, scoring, and shooting along the front line.

For now, the Nets and Warren wait.

NBA returning to Seattle for exhibition game; when will it be more?

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SEATTLE — An NBA preseason game may not seem like a benchmark moment, even in a basketball-hungry city like Seattle, but Jamal Crawford believes there’s value even in an exhibition.

“It reignites a whole new generation of kids who need to see this,” said Crawford, a Seattle native who has been a basketball ambassador for the city through a 20-year NBA career and now with a pro-am that brings in NBA players every summer. “They need to be able to dream and know that it’s real.”

The NBA is making its latest brief return to the Emerald City. The Los Angeles Clippers will play the Portland Trail Blazers there on Monday night, the first time two NBA teams will meet in Seattle since 2018, when the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings played a preseason game. That was the last sporting event inside KeyArena before it was gutted and rebuilt into the gleaming Climate Pledge Arena.

There was a warm-up act of sorts Friday when the Clippers played Israeli team Maccabi Ra’anana in an exhibition, one where the most of the Clippers’ big names – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall and Reggie Jackson – weren’t participating.

A sell-out crowd turned out for that Warriors-Kings game four years ago, the first one in Seattle since the beloved SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008 after 41 years in the Pacific Northwest. Another big crowd is expected Monday.

“The Sonics haven’t been a team since I’ve been in the NBA. So just to go play in Seattle is cool,” Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “We played in Vancouver a few years back. I think like two or three years ago, we had a preseason game at the (Memorial) Coliseum. So every time we get to do something like that, I always enjoy it because I wondered what was it like when it was a real thing, when the games were played in these different arenas. So I am excited to play in Seattle.”

Someday, possibly soon, the expectations are that Seattle will reclaim its place as an NBA town.

“It’s always been a great city to me,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “It’s unfortunate that they lost their team and the team went to OKC. This city definitely deserves a team.”

Speculation is nonstop about when the NBA will choose to expand. Thanks to the resolution of its arena situation, Seattle seems likely to be at the forefront of those expansion talks, with Las Vegas likely right behind it.

But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been noncommittal about a possible expansion timeline, and it seems likely those talks won’t pick up steam until the league deals with the new collective bargaining agreement and television deals that are on the horizon.

The community’s commitment has never been in question. The appetite of Seattle fans hasn’t waned in the years since the Sonics left and as the region became a hotbed for NBA talent, whether it was Crawford continuing to carry the banner for the city, to Zach LaVine of Renton, Washington, to this year’s No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, another Seattle native.

As if any reinforcement was needed, the summer provided a perfect example as fans camped overnight outside Crawford’s summer league venue for the chance to get inside and watch LeBron James make his first basketball visit to the city in more than a decade.

“Anyone that knows Seattle knows what a great basketball city we are,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said this summer when the preseason game was announced.

The idea for having the Blazers and Clippers meet in Seattle was the result of a brainstorm between Lue and Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. The two close friends wanted their teams to meet in the preseason and Lue noted the owners for both teams are Seattle based: Steve Ballmer of the Clippers and Jody Allen for the Blazers.

“I haven’t been back since I played there in 2008, I think it was. So just to be able to go back there and you know, Mr. Ballmer and kind of see his offices and how he lives, and (Chauncey) to get a chance to see his owner, and then to be with my best friend, I thought it would be a great common ground,” Lue said.