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.