Commence Friday Funday! Start your weekend off right with Modern Notoriety’s list of 10 LeBron samples that you probably don’t have in your closet! Samples are a vital aspect of sneaker collecting. For those in the dark a ‘sample’ is an unreleased version of any given shoe created for either manufacturing, wear testing or promotional purposes. You’ll commonly see samples on the feet of on-court athletes dressed in team or theme specific colorways too.
Samples are the Shiny Pokémon of the kick game so spotting a pair in the wild is difficult. We picked out 10 LeBron samples that you need to be familiar with to call yourself a collector. Our list ranks the ‘Brons from ‘fuego’ to ‘spike-ultra fire’ so peep our picks below and tell us which pair you would’ve liked to see! Having more than one of the same model was prohibited – keep that in mind when you inevitably ask, “Why did these bozos pick __ over ___?” Enjoy!
10. LeBron 12 Grammys; 2015
LeBron laced up these Grammy themed 12s during the league’s annual “Grammy Night” aka “Lakers Get Out The Building Night” against, you guessed it, the Lakers. General Release LeBron 12s didn’t offer much in the colorway department, but every single one of his Player Exclusive samples were fire – can’t go wrong with black ‘n’ gold.
9. LeBron 10 Must Bee The Honey; 2012
It really must’ve been the honey cus these 10s are sweet! There’s a million black ‘n’ yellow (shout out to Wiz) kicks in the world, but these stand as one of the best. They’re bold, vibrant and aggressive… three traits we love in a shoe. In true sample fashion these are: A) extremely difficult to acquire B) come with a dope-ass dubrae!!
8. LeBron 8 Low Miami Nights; 2010
If you’re a Wale fan than you know the line, “Miami Nights, it was all a dream. If I can get my money right, I’m about to OD.” Guess what… Wale’s talkin’ about these shoes! LeBron’s 8th signature shoe had an abundance of samples to choose from, but we selected the Miami Nights because they’re distinctly 2010 ‘Bron…bro. The shoe game in 2010 was a vibe, everything surrounding LeBron and Miami was lit before ‘lit’ was a thing. The print was on point, the color blocking was on point… everything was just super wavy. Real ones remember the LeBron 8 Low’s strength.
7. Air Zoom Generation Gloria; 2003
Pink basketball shoes are normal in today’s game because of LeBron and his underground Gloria line from throughout the years. Gloria James raised LeBron as a single parent in Akron, OH so he commemorates her annually with a pair of Friends & Family (aka sample) kicks. They’ve historically been a softer shade of pink than the Breast Cancer Awareness pairs released to the public for a traditional motherly feel. We can see these shoes settin’ off spring looks if they ever released – they’re just dumb clean.
6. LeBron 15 Pre-Heat; 2017
Shoutout to Tim Day and the Nike crew for introducing the “LeBron Watch” series with the LeBron 15. The collection mixes iconic elements & moments in Nike history with the LBJ 15 to create new, fun, iterations. On game day LeBron wears ___ shoe and Nike subsequently releases them to the public via the SNKRS app. These Pre-Heat joints are based off of the transcendent LeBron 8s of the same name and borrow hella “Miami Vice” influences (as you can see). In a sick joke Nike kept these off the SNKRS app… harsh, super harsh cus these are Cubano-cold.
5. LeBron 9 Watch The Throne; 2011
“Watch the Throne” marks a very special place in time. As the great poet Drake one said, “What a time to be alive.” Black ‘n’ gold is nothing new but the details on the Watch The Thrones elevated the scheme to new heights. Jay-Z and Kanye were at the top of their games and so was LeBron… There’s levels to these bad boys. Everything about the Watch The Thrones slaps.
4. LeBron 2 Oregon Ducks; 2004
If you don’t like the Oregon LeBron 2s then you’re quack. The color blocking slays with its perfectly proportioned use of green, white and yellow. Maybe we’re a little bias cus the author of this article is based in Oregon, but you can’t deny that when you put that O on a pair of Nikes then the heat gets turned up. People sleep on 2s – ya’ll should wake up.
3. LeBron 6 Stewie Griffin; 2008
Creativity is a major key, kids. LeBron took to his love of cartoons with these “Family Guy” inspired 6s. They’re a low-key mind f^ck if you’re not expecting the cartoon detailing. It’s impossible to stop looking at them once you’ve started because they play with your perception. The 6 had some great GR colorways, but is largely forgotten in LeBron history. If Nike had released these suckers then the 6 would’ve been elevated to gawd level solely off of the Stewie Griffins. We’ve never seen a more perfect comic/ carton adaptation on a pair kicks… ever.
2. LeBron 7 Hardwood Classic Alternate; 2010
We chose the Alternate joints because of their materials. Look at that beautiful suede, LOOK! Every single detail on these blue beauties are flawless. The LeBron 7 easily has the most quality samples to choose from in the entire line – we had to make the “1 entry per model” role because the entire list could’ve been filled with 7s. Blue and orange is just super clean and every color is perfectly proportioned. Any of the 3 HWCs could’ve taken the second spot in our list, but the Alternate‘s color boldness is too sick!
1. LeBron 4 Alternative Graffiti; 2006
Tuff. These. Are. Tuff!
Griffiti print is synonymous with the LeBron line and the effect works great every time, but the originals do use it best. James had the option of wearing these in the ’07 All-Star game but he opted not to so we’ve rarely seen photos of these grials. If you wanted to see one of the rarest LeBron samples in existence then here ya’ go! Last time we checked these clocked in at about 10k on the secondary market, but they’re so rare that pairs don’t pop up. A white pair released to the public back in ’06 with only 250 units available, so either version of the Griffiti 4s are difficult to obtain. We’ll say it once last time – TUFF.