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When asked to create a new lifestyle shoe inspired by LeBron James, the Nike LeBron x John Elliott Icon, designer John Elliott started his research in a likely place — basketball. He first re-watched game seven of the 2016 Finals, focusing on James’ historic chasedown block. “If you look at the amount of ground LeBron covered, and the 2016 series in general, it’s almost unbelievable that a human can do what LeBron did to win a championship,” says Elliott.

LeBron’s inimitable will and superhuman talent led Elliott to the metaphor of a spillway, the structure that controls and forcefully disperses water from a dam. “This idea of water being released from a spillway — a force of nature — is actually really beautiful,” explains Elliott. “There are literally layers of transparency that take place down a contained, concrete area, which really speaks to my aesthetic, too.”

Known for his sharp, clean approach to layering, Elliott combined the tooling and full-length Nike Air of his favorite LeBron shoe, the LeBron 8, with layers of court-inspired embroidery and translucent upper material. While designing the concurrent apparel collection, LeBron also suggested designing a specific sock that would be engineered to fit the aesthetic of the shoe.

For Elliott, it was important to not only create a silhouette that looked fresh but to also flex his design skills beyond apparel. “Footwear is obviously three-dimensional, so it forces my brain to think differently beyond drape, textures, and even processes,” says Elliott. “It's not easy to design a shoe, but it’s exciting, because I’ve gotten to work with the greatest basketball player on the planet — the greatest athlete in my opinion, ever.”

Beyond finding inspiration on the court and in nature, Elliott considered one moment in particular: LeBron walking into a game. “I imagined him walking into an arena for a big game and wanted to design a shoe that would help him feel his best, in terms of both comfort and confidence,” says Elliott.

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