LeBron James’ departure from Cleveland to Miami resulted in not only two NBA championships, but the most iconic shoe of his career. When James announced his decision in a one-hour ESPN special to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Heat in 2010, it produced a ripple effect on player movement that still continues to this day. Speculation over his destination and criticism of his eventual choice dominated that off-season —and when it came time for James to actually play basketball once again, in a new uniform, Nike created the perfect shoe to match the gravity of the occasion.
The “South Beach” color scheme for the LeBron 8, a mix of teal and pink that invoked Miami Vice, was an instant hit. Sneakerheads immediately fawned over the vivid shoe, leading to an instant sellout and resale prices that, at their peak, reached well over $1,000. The Heat have since made the color palette oversaturated by introducing it on a new jersey each year, but the legend of the “South Beach” LeBron still lives on.
Now, just over 10 years after the sneaker’s release, Nike is set to reissue it for the very first time.
Return of the King — Nike released its first LeBron 8 “Retro,” or reissue, for the last fall and has slowly trotted out more variants since. Leaks have now confirmed that the most covetable version of all the sneakers, the one we’ve all been waiting for, will indeed make its return.
The images that have surfaced show the LeBron 8 “South Beach” coming back in all its glory, a picture-perfect recreation that set sneaker blogs ablaze nearly 11 years ago. The impressively teal pebbled leather, embossed lion’s head with pink eyes on the tongue — all the details we remember are back to give many sneakerheads a chance at the shoe that got away.
The LeBron 8’s silhouette was a slight evolution from the 7, using Flywire technology for a secure but lightweight upper atop a 350-degree Air Max midsole used on James’ sneaker for just the second time. Marketing the sneaker provided a new challenge for Nike, as the hometown hero became the villain, and the “South Beach” variant loudly said, I’m here, so you better get used to it.
When will it drop? — Nike has yet to confirm a release date, but the venerated sneaker could drop as soon as this month. What we can tell you is that LeBron 8 Retros have previously sold for $200 a pop.
It’ll be interesting to see how crazy the resale market gets for the “South Beach” reissue, as basketball shoes have fallen well out of favor compared to 11 years ago. Those who attempt to purchase it, including me, may not even be that concerned about wearing it and instead will be focused on tying up a loose end that’s lasted more than a decade.