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Down 3-1 during the 2016 Finals, LeBron James and company completed an unlikely comeback against the heavily-favored Golden State Warriors to win the 2016 NBA Championship.
Aside from the Cavaliers’ epic comeback, LeBron James’s sneaker of choice also became newsworthy. Instead of wearing his usual LeBron 13 Elites throughout the contest, The King switched things up and debuted his unreleased Soldier model during the fourth game of the highly-contested matchup.
To keep James locked and loaded during the final stretch of the series, Nike designers decided to do away with distracting laces and instead incorporated a distinct three-strap system that delivers complete heel-to-forefoot lockdown. In an interview, Nike Basketball Senior Product Director Kevin Dodson explained the origin of Nike’s first laceless basketball shoe.
“A couple of years ago, we had been working with LeBron and talking about where we wanted to take the Soldier from here, He had been giving us some great insights, and then we were out speaking with some college players. One of the kids said, ‘My perfect shoe would be a Nike Elite sock with an outsole and some straps. Nothing else.’ That’s where the … concept of the laceless shoe came from for the Soldier 10.”
Switching up basketball shoes in the middle of a heated series was a bold move for both James and Nike. The move would ultimately pay off since the Nike Zoom LeBron Soldier 10 would instantly become one of the most iconic Nike basketball shoes with strap.
Nike Basketball Shoes With Velcro Strap
Straps play a key role in basketball footwear design. It is both functional and stylish. In this section, we’ll take a quick look at some of the most popular Nike basketball shoes with strap.
James’s secondary LeBron Soldier line was created to help him perform at his peak during the postseason. “Soldier was the idea around the second season, and giving LeBron a product to wear during that time of the year that was a lighter and super-responsive version of his game shoe that he was wearing at the time,” Kevin Dodson explains. “You’re in a race to win 16 games when you’re in the playoffs, so giving him something that was a faster version of his game shoe was always the insight there. It became about a sprint to 16 wins instead of a marathon.”
Nike LeBron Soldier 10. According to James, these Nike basketball shoes with strap are "The Soldiers that, along with my teammates, went into battle with me for it all." The LeBron Soldier 10 is Nike Basketball’s first laceless basketball shoe. It boasts a compression inner sleeve and a three-strap lockdown system for snug-fitting support.
Nike LeBron Soldier 11. Following in the footsteps of the tenth Soldier, the Soldier XI also features a laceless design. A fourth strap provides increased support and heel-to-forefoot lockdown.
Nike LeBron Sodlier 12. The Soldier XII also features a laceless design. It boasts a bootie construction with crisscrossing straps for a snug one-to-one fit.
A few years before his first signature Nike basketball shoes came out, Paul George showed a sketch of his dream shoe to Nike designer Tony Hardman. The design of his ideal shoe included a forefoot strap for a locked-in fit.
Nike PG1. These low-top Nike basketball shoes boast a one-bootie construction with a forefoot strap for a snug fit. According to George, "I love the tightness and the feeling of being locked down. It's a snug fit as soon as you put the shoe on, and the forefoot strap is another element of locking you in."
Nike PG 2.5. George ditched the forefoot strap in the PG 2 and PG 3; however the model in between the second and third iterations feature a similar strap seen on the first Nike PG. "We wanted to refresh the silhouette and keep evolving it," Tony Hardman explains. "Paul wanted to put the strap from the PG1 on it, and this allowed us to approach the element in a different way. Instead of incorporating Flywire as we did on the original, we conceived a new strap for the PG 2.5 built from a new webbing."
Known for his hot handles, Kyrie Irving has basketball shoes that can keep him stable and locked in as he dismantles the defense. When designing Irving’s second signature shoe, Nike designer Leo Chang heard rumblings that Irving wanted a strap. “I wanted to ground it in function, and one of the things that the strap does, is it was inspired by the ligaments in the foot,” Chang explains. “If you google any ligaments around the foot, there’s a whole network of ligaments around the ankle area, and they all work together and connect to the parts of the foot and toes. All of those are a network that keep your foot stable.”
Nike Kyrie Low. These low-top basketball shoes from Nike feature a midfoot strap for enhanced lockdown and increased lateral support.