Grading Christmas Day Kicks of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012


The NBA has treated Christmas Day like it's some kind of holiday over the past decade, building it up to their biggest regular-season day of the year. From a full slate of exciting games to special uniforms and shoes, there's a lot going on.

One of the more recent—and interesting—non-basketball developments has been shoe companies treating this day like the middle school science fair, whipping out their latest creations for their superstar shoe lines.

It's a showdown between LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant to have the coolest, wackiest or just plain most memorable shoes of the year.

Of course, the most memorable of all were Kobe's Zoom Kobe VI back in 2010, aptly dubbed his "Grinch Shoes."

Last year you'll recall LeBron trotting out in the Christmas version of the Nike LeBron 9, Durant's line coming out with what looked like a chocolate-coated kick, and the Zoom Kobe VII Christmas Edition that was another take on the Grinch shoes.

This year, Nike is doing no different.

To keep the holiday tradition rolling along, let's take a look at each player's Christmas Day kicks, give them a nice once-over, and give out some grades.

Since he's the newest kid on the block, Kevin Durant gets the first look.


Kevin Durant's "KD V"

Official Grade: A

 These get a big boost up front because of the fact that they're video game inspired. That's going right to the core of Christmas right away.

What kid doesn't want to get a video game on Christmas these days?

Nike gives us a nice rundown:

As a kid, Kevin Durant recalls getting a video game system one Christmas. Inspired by video game graphics, Nike designers created the upper design, sockliner graphic and tongue tab logo for Durant’s special Christmas Day shoe.

These shoes look like a Space Invader acid trip, and I mean that in the coolest way possible.

Not only do they feature an aside to "Tetris" on the tongue, but the sole has what I can only assume to be 8-bit Kevin Durant playing "Doodle Jump."

As weird as they look, I can't say I've got much negative to throw their way.


LeBron James' "LeBron X"

Official Grade: B+

LeBron James' Christmas specials always seem to play it extremely safe compared to the rest of the guys who put up some truly wacky shoes on Christmas.

That being said, they're continually very good looking shoes.

It's like watching A Christmas Story every year. You know what's coming, but there always seems to be something different that you can pick up on. 

Nike's breakdown is kind of intriguing, but mostly strange:

Furthering the diamond inspiration of the LEBRON X, the design team unearths the rarest of diamond colors, red, to serve as the creative muse for this colorway. Highlighted by a sun-washed green, the shoe also features a metallic-like reflection on the vibrant red upper.

I was unaware that the ever elusive "red" was the "rarest of diamond colors," but I'm no diamond expert.

All strange descriptions aside, LeBron's Christmas specials continue to be really solid shoes. They have the perfect shades of red and green mixed together, and LeBron's shoes in general are just beautifully angular, so they're really hard to mess up.


Kobe Bryant's "Kobe 8 System"

Official Review: B-

These are, of course, a variation on the "Kobe System" shoes unveiled earlier this season that are snake-heavy in the design.

The Christmas shoes, for some reason, are no different:

In keeping with the snake-inspired design of Kobe Bryant’s latest signature shoe, the KOBE 8 SYSTEM draws inspiration from the rhinoceros viper. The perfect snake skin for a holiday colorway, its bright red and yellow scales mimic a Christmas tree garland – but don’t get too close.

Oh, of course. They're drawing inspirations from the rhinoceros viper, for Christmas. That makes total sense.

I dig that Kobe's Christmas shoes continue to take chances, but these have nothing to do with Christmas.

They say the snake's red and yellow scales mimic a Christmas tree garland, but that's not exactly what jumps out to me.

That being said, I don't really dislike the shoes. They look pretty cool, but they're not really special compared to his past Christmas shoes.

So, all else considered, Nike has pretty much nailed Christmas yet again. Put the design team on the "nice" list and get them on the job for next season's Christmas shoes.

It's going to be hard for them to continue to put up shoes that look this cool.