by Chris O’Leary,

What’s up LeBron,

It’s us. Your sneakers. Just about the entire line is here: me, (the Zoom Generation), LBJ two, three and five. The four…well, we’ll get to that soon enough.

In the meantime, hey man, congrats on another dope season. We know it didn’t end the way you wanted it to, but that Game 7 duel with Paul Pierce was another chapter in your legacy. Maybe it’ll be documented on the LBJ ten. With the direction you’re headed, we think something like that would be kind of fitting. Really, you have no idea how many nights we sit in your closet and talk about these kinds of things. It’s a great way to burn up the hours. There’s a lot of them.

You know, sometimes I sit and look at my siblings and marvel at how far the line has come in just five seasons. In the same token, I can’t believe it’s been five seasons already. It feels like just yesterday you had me on your feet while you promised bigger and better things for the fans of Cleveland at the end of your rookie year. No doubt, you’ve lived up to the promise.

You can probably tell by the tone of this thing that we’re not just here to pat you on the back about your career and crack jokes about how flamboyant the Fruity Pebbles are. No, we’re here about something much more serious. LeBron, we’re feeling pretty neglected over here.

Maybe we should have spoken up sooner than this. Maybe we should have said something when you ditched the LBJ II for the 20-5-5 when you got to the playoffs for the first time. We would have, but we thought we were back on common ground when you wore the LBJ III through the post-season a year later. Somewhere along the way, it seems like we’ve lost touch with each other. Something’s broken down with us, and it’s only gotten worse over the last two years. We can’t figure it out. Every time an opportunity has presented itself, you’ve bailed on your signature sneaks when the spotlight is at its brightest.

Think about it: your playoff debut, you go with some white and gold 20-5-5’s. Your first trip to the Finals, you wear Zoom Soldiers. This year, the Game 7 showdown with Paul Pierce, same thing. Even the Vogue cover—a fashion magazine cover, man—and you wear your Zoom Soldier II? What’d we do wrong?

And of course, there’s the kicker, the worst date: May 31st, 2007. You go for 48 points, nine rebounds and seven dimes against Detroit in Game 5 of the East Final (see photo – Ed.). You scored 25 of the Cavs’ 29 last points in one of the greatest performances in NBA Playoffs history, ever. And what did you have on your feet? The Zoom Soldier I. What. The. F*ck.

That’s like pushing your kids hard through school all year, then taking your nieces and nephews to Disneyland when summer vacation rolls around. We haven’t seen the four since the day after that Game 5 performance. All that was left in his place in the closet was a statement. We’ve read it, King, and it’s harsh. But we’ve got to say, all things considered, the four is right.

“LeBron: I know I was heavy. I worried that you wouldn’t wear me when the season started, but I thought you grew accustomed to me; grew to love me a little, even. I don’t want to sound egotistical here, but from an aesthetic point, I’m the best of the bunch. Then the playoffs come around and you dump me for the Zoom Soldier? F*ck that, LeBron. Was it my weight? I’m not that heavy. I mean, sh*t, you carried that sorry-ass team all the way to the Finals, and you couldn’t make room on the bus for me? Nah, man, that’s wrong. That’s some f*cked up sh*t.”

End statement.

Our main concern here is legacy, LeBron. Everyone remembers Jordan at the peak moments of his career wearing a specific sneaker. In ’89, it was the Jordan four when he hit The Shot against Cleveland; in 1995-96, he wore the eleven the whole way through the season. The guy only wore the fourteen once, but it was in the biggest moment of his entire career. Do you see what we mean?

What’s going to happen in 10 or 15 years when you’re taking part in your last all-star game? Will all the young bucks wear Zoom Soldiers as a tribute to you? Will Robert Horry wear a pair of retro 20-5-5’s in the 2023 NBA Finals? Will anyone remember what the LBJ III looked like in five years’ time? Does anyone remember right now?

We need some answers, King. Mike treated his signature line better than you do. So did VC and Penny Hardaway, even though their lines are more memorable than they are today. As sneakers, we’re getting the groupie treatment here. You take us out and wine and dine us for 82 games and then when all your boys come around and you know everyone’s watching, we’re stuck at home, watching you do everything for your team on TV.

Look, man. The six is coming out in October and when he gets here he’ll ask the same questions that we all did when we got here. We’d just like to be up front with him. We don’t want to find him gone the morning after you lead the Cavs to the Promised Land in a pair of shoes that by all accounts, you should have your NBA subordinates playing in. You know, like Jordan did to Eddie Jones and Mike Finley with his team sneaks.