Nike knows how to launch a new shoe.

First, you fly a select group of the sneaker media (yeah, I'm a part of it and the concept still scares me) into Las Vegas, where LeBron James and the rest of the men's senior National Team are rolling their way to a spot in Beijing. You reserve a whole mess of space at the Wynn, including a balcony overlooking the European pool (toptional), a couple of poker tables (strictly for fun, Mr. Stern) and hire a couple of legit Vegas showgirls to show off…um, the shoe. Throw in a bunch of killer food and an open bar, and you've got yourself a party.

Oh yeah, then there's the shoe. And LeBron. The LeBron V was introduced to the world (at least the world that doesn't regularly surf Niketalk) in a darkened side room by LeBron himself and designer Ken Link, presented on a podium with a giant gold Swoosh suspended overhead.

The shoe. It's a lot less weighty than the IV—down a full eight ounces for the pair—with an injection-molded heel-to-toe Phyposite cage replacing the heavier Foamposite that made up a majority of the IV. And, as usual, there are a lot of personal touches referencing different aspects of LeBron's life. A map with Akron (Bron's birthplace) highlighted is on the backside of the tongue (because ever since he was a kid, Bron wanted to put Akron on the map), as well as centered in one of the outsole pivots. Words such as "FAMILY,” "PASSION” and "WINNING” are embroidered on different colorways of the shoe. The chrome lace ends are based on the key to his Rolls-Royce Phantom. And, like the Zoom LeBron II, the LeBron V features a removable strap that in this case provides even more lockdown in the forefoot. Bron needs it, as he's apparently clocking in at 6-9, 260 these days. ("I'm still growin', man. I drink all water, too. I'm not doing anything illegal, that's not why my body's getting bigger. I drink a lot of water, a lot of Powerade.")



"The Zoom LeBron V is built for the fastest and strongest player in the game,” Link says, "so they should help everybody else.” The problem with the IV is that it was almost too much LeBron's shoe. If you're a 5-5, 110-pound guard, there's no way you'd want to lug that kind of weight around on the court. The construction of the V addresses that, providing ample support while noticeably cutting back on the weight—but not the comfort. Once again they come with full-length Zoom Air and a carbon shank. "I just want my shoes to be the most comfortable shoes on the court,” LeBron says. Although later he amends that a little: "I'm all about looks first, then comfort number two.”

As with previous models, there will be no shortage of colorways—some of which you can see here. There will also be a SVSM colorway for Bron's birthday, as well as the usual assortment of one-offs and special joints. And they're gonna keep supplying Ohio State with gear, despite the rash of high-profile departures. "We're not gonna pull a Greg Oden with Ohio State,” Bron says with a smile. "We're not gonna do a one-and-done.”

"There were two things I always wanted as a kid,” LeBron says. "To be on a video game where I could play myself as LeBron James, and to have my own shoe.” Missions accomplished. And while obviously Bron's awfully busy these days between the national team, hosting award shows, filming commercials and—oh yeah—playing in the NBA, he still finds time when Nike and Link come calling about the next design. "When it's time for shoe time, I get pretty excited about it.”

Thing is, it's always shoe time. With the V still a few months away from retail, the design of the VI is already pretty far along, and Link is preparing to start work on the VII. No words on those designs yet, as it's way too early, but Link offers some generalities: "We strive to combine elegance and performance in a shoe fit for a King.”