The History Of The Nike LeBron “South Beach” Colorway

  • Nike LeBron 8
    Nike LeBron 8 "South Beach"

    Still often considered the best of the South Beach lineup, the “Pre-Heat” 8s were eye-popping aqua splurges that looked more like candy than anything else. Released for $160 on November 19, 2010, you can now fetch that price four or five times over. Hyped? These were more than that, turning even the most staunch OG sneakerheads into feverish fiends.

    As a thank you to the fans who received their new hero with open arms, they were first released in Miami, starting a trend for other LeBron sneakers, including the Cannon 9s. From there, they went global.

    This is the sneaker that started it all. If imitation is the best form of flattery, than all you need to do is check all of the new South Beach colorways littering the landscape. From Foams to adidasDerrick Rose line—about as far from South Beach as you can get—this lush colorway keeps finding its way into release catalogues. Even LeBron’s own line attempted to strike gold twice, releasing the “Everglades” 11s in May as another ode to Florida.

    “Shoeheads will definitely love it,” LeBron told the media before unveiling the sneaker at an event for Miami-area children in 2010. Talk about an understatement.

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  • Nike LeBron 9 P.S. Elite
    Nike LeBron 9 P.S. Elite "South Beach"

    Originally dubbed the Miami Vice—with Don Johnson showing up in the iconic “Rise” ad, this made perfect sense—this wasn’t an official follow up to the South Beach 8. But it was another classic, ditching the aqua-based upper for a somewhat more traditional wolf gray base. The origins were noticeable.

    Released in early June of 2012 for $250, the mix of mint and pink colors coated the LeBron 9 P.S. Elite, which was an end-of-season upgrade on the original 9. During Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals against Oklahoma City, James wore a red and black-based edition of the P.S. Elite. That sneaker would later arrive in a championship pack, along with the infamous MVP 9, and even that couldn’t outshine the South Beaches.

    Petrie reminded everyone these were paying homage to Miami Vice (while some fans even compared them to the Hyperdunk McFly) but let’s face it, they will never ditch the fans’ unofficial SB moniker.

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  • Nike LeBron X iD
    Nike LeBron X iD "South Beach"

    Want to know how fickle sneakerheads are? When images of the X first surfaced, everyone hated it. (Eventually it became one of LeBron’s most popular sig shoes, and my personal favorite.) The follow up to the 9, which was an instant classic and a favorite among sneaker customizers, the X lacked the punch, sporting a relatively ordinary upper and unique placement for the Nike Swoosh near the back heel.

    Ironically, Nike didn’t help themselves by not releasing another South Beach follow-up. They did, however, make up for that by letting fans make a SB colorway by way of NIKEiD. Google search for the SB X colorway and you’ll find a bushel of interesting renditions on the classic.

    But the X did release in a Miami Dolphins-themed getup with a familiar atomic teal upper, white midsole, and orange laces and sole. And now, after a year off, the South Beach line is all set to return in a big way.

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  • Nike LeBron 11
    Nike LeBron 11 "South Beach"

    With the Heat surging toward another title and a three-peat, there’s no doubting LeBron’s legacy as a basketball player. Still six months away from turning 30, James has already compiled over 23,000 career points and has been voted into the last 10 All-Star Games. He’ll go down, no matter what happens over the second half of his career, as one of the best ever.

    But what about his sneaker line?

    With the LeBron X, James made history, becoming just the third player ever to see his signature sneaker line stay around for a decade. It’s an incredible feat. You need luck. (Ask Grant Hill and FILA about that.) You need health. (Ask Penny Hardaway and Nike about that.) And above all else, you need to stay relevant. (Ask Tracy McGrady and adidas about that.) During its adolescent years, LeBron’s line might’ve struggled to control its image and story from year to year, but after moving to Miami, everything fit into place. Forbes, via SportsOneSource, reports Nike generated $300 million in 2012 U.S. retail sales for James’ signature shoes.

    One day, when the King officially takes off his crown and hangs ‘em up, the South Beach sneakers will be coveted collector’s items. They marked the birth of two dynasties in Miami.

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  • Nike LeBron 8 "South Beach"
  • Nike LeBron 9 P.S. Elite
  • Nike LeBron X iD "South Beach"
  • Nike LeBron 11 "South Beach"

Think back. Can you remember the hate and the anger and the fury? The Decision will live on in infamy in basketball history, marking the end of one era and the start of another while launching a dynasty that’s rewriting the record books even as we speak.

It also, indirectly, spawned one of the most revered sneaker colorways of the last 15 years.

When LeBron James stood up his hometown Cavs live on national TV, leaving for the greener pastures of Miami, Nike knew they had to capitalize with the upcoming LeBron 8. Fueled by the controversy, they certainly did that.

The initial images of the LeBron 8 South Beach (nicknamed the “Pre-Heat” for obvious reasons) had fans slaving at the mouth, and the arrival the year before of lead designer Jason Petrie for the LeBron VII pushed the King’s line to places it had never been before. Since then, it’s been about building a story. It’s been about a legacy.

It’s impossible to have a favorite colorway from LeBron’s signature line. But while opinions will differ on the best, we do know which one is the most hyped. The “South Beach” colorway became synonymous with words like hypebeast and campout since it first appeared online in October of 2010, and this Saturday marks the continuation of that with the release of the Nike LeBron 11 South Beach.

Featuring Hyperposite technology for lock-down responsiveness, the $220 sneaker will again pay tribute to Miami’s acclaimed neighborhood. With an upper that includes Nike Hyperfuse construction and dynamic Flywire tech, the teal and pink-laced South Beach 11 will look very, very familiar. This isn’t the beginning, and it won’t be the end. But to see where the colorway is going, we need to look at where it started.

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