The Nike Zoom LeBron IV was introduced to the public in mid-November after an amassed hype and anticipation that grew from rough sketches that were first leaked on sneaker web-forums. Zoom Air, carbon-fiber plates, free-grooved “no-midsole” construction, and of course, Foamposite made up the LBJIV, and to this day, stands as one of the most popular designs of the extensive LeBron legacy. The Nike Zoom LeBron IV ‘Birthday’ was officially released on December 30th, 2006 – LeBron James’ birthday – as an online-members-only release at Nike.com. The shoes came housed in a special zippered package with an oversized L23 logo stitched on the face of the box and the King’s birthday stamped on a metal plaque on the lower-right-hand corner. The colorway was derived from the Cleveland Cavalier’s uniform from 1987 to 1994, although many attribute blue-and-orange to the colors of the New York Knicks longstanding jerseys. Needless to say, the Birthday LeBron IV was immensely popular in New York City and among Knicks fans, and once the Knicks finally rid themselves of waste and opened up some cap space for the summer of 2010, the Birthday IV-New York Knicks ties became all the more appropriate.
Unfortunately, the Birthday LeBron IV acted as nothing more than a great colorway on an equally impressive pair of shoes. Some basketball fans might’ve taken the shoes as a tarot card in a different form, as an omen of some sort that signified LeBron’s arrival in the Big Apple. First came LeBron’s growing friendship with Brooklyn-native Jay-Z, and not long after was LeBron wearing a Yankees cap at a Cleveland Indians game. If that wasn’t enough, how about 18,000+ screaming Celtics fans mocking the Chosen One with a “NEW YORK KNICKS” chant during one of LeBron’s free-throw attempts – a meaningless extra point that game during the final minutes of an inevitable Playoff exit. Cleveland fans were preparing themselves for the departure of their leader, but could he really forsake his people in their greatest time of need? On that July 8th one-hour special nicknamed ‘The Decision’, possibly the most awkward and ill-advised 60 minutes of television history, LeBron James dethroned himself to take a shotgun seat in Dwyane Wade’s Bentley – you could call that “getting there without ever really driving” – a decision that not only changed the face of the NBA, but shifted the majority of the power to the south-eastern corner of the nation. Oh, what could have been. Not even a week ago New York Knicks fans were all but certain about LeBron James writing himself into basketball history. And in one way or another, he did just that.