Two generations of fans have their LeBron Soldier moment.
The first was back in 2007, when the Cavaliers faced an uphill battle in the Eastern Conference Finals. Wearing the Zoom Soldier, LeBron would score his team’s final 25 points for a double overtime Game 5 win. The second was in the 2016 Finals. Down 3-1, LeBron led an improbable comeback, rallying three straight games in the Soldier X to finally bring a title back to Cleveland, averaging a stat line of 30 points, 9 assists and 11 rebounds.
Few non-signature shoes have had as successful a postseason legacy as the Soldier. Each of those Soldier games from LeBron were so dominant, the images of the stripped-down, strapped shoes are inseparable from the performances themselves. According to LeBron’s footwear designer Jason Petrie, everything about the Soldier line began with a clear focus: lightweight lockdown.
“The Solider was always about serving LeBron and giving him another thing in his quiver he needed that wasn’t in his game shoe,” says Petrie. “All of it was built around giving LeBron lockdown, so we created a shoe completely based around it, giving him this totally protected, contained force for his feet. Playoff mode, team shoe, FlyEase, straps, laces — there’ve been different takes throughout the years, but it’s always been another tool LeBron could pull out at any time. With the Soldier, many of those performances helped define his legacy.”