Who has the better shoe – LeBron James or Steph Curry?
When it comes to endorsement deals for NBA superstars, none seem to match the visibility and legacy associated with the shoe line. Athletes are often sought after from the time they become great college players, or in the case of LeBron, basically since sophomore year in high school. Kind of crazy that LeBron inked a $100 million dollar deal before playing a single game in the NBA, right? It’s even been reported recently that LeBron signed a lifetime deal with Nike to keep him with the brand, and the value could exceed a billion dollars. That’s insane.
For most who follow the NBA, LeBron James and Steph Curry represent the two best players in the game right now. Sure, we can throw Kevin Durant, Westbrook, and even Carmelo in the mix, but for all intents and purposes, LeBron and Curry are the faces of the modern NBA. They’ve met in the Finals two consecutive years, and both have won multiple MVP trophies. More or less, they’re on top of their game and on top of the sport.
So naturally, it’s only fair to compare their brand of sneakers, and break down our take on who currently has the better kicks.
Style & Variations
Both LeBron and Steph have released Hi and Low cut versions of their various signature shoes.
One of LeBron’s latest shoes is the Elite Zoom Soldier 10. This is a perfect example of everything that is right, and some things that are wrong, with LeBron’s signature shoe line. At first glance, this shoe looks pretty sweet. The more you look at them though, the more you become bothered with the three-strap system, especially the one at the top.
Of course, everyone is going to have their own take on LeBron’s shoes and what ultimately should be prioritized in evaluating them. If you’re looking for an unmatched basketball shoe, used exclusively for basketball, then LeBron has you covered. However, if you’re looking for something that looks good with jeans, or even shorts, these ones in particular might be a little extreme for everyday wear. Which sums up how we feel about most of the shoes coming out of the Nike LeBron camp; amazing, athletic, and slightly ridiculous. If you’re spending over $100 on a pair of shoes, you probably want to feel confident rocking them outside of the basketball gym. The colorways alone might cause the average person to look for something a little less “look at me”.. if you know what I mean. For many of the LeBron’s we see released, they don’t meet the casual-wear requirement. Of course, that’s just us.
Now to be fair, there are many styles within the LeBron line that you’d happily wear outside of the basketball gym; you’ll likely find that most of those live in the low-cut variety. Consider the XIII Low’s, for example:
If casual is your thing, low-cut LeBron’s offer the perfect blend of style, sport, and swag. Unless you play basketball frequently, you’ll likely get more use out of the lows than you would the higher cuts. Nothing groundbreaking here, as you could make that claim for just about every hi/low shoe comparison. Comparisons aside, LeBron low’s are some of the most comfortable, well-designed shoes you’ll find.
Like most superstars, Steph Curry’s shoes come in a similar variety of shapes and cuts. The latest hi-top version released by Under Armour is the Curry 2.5 seen here in the black and yellow combination:
First reaction: meh. Maybe it’s just a preconceived notion that basketball shoes look better with a Nike swoosh on them, but we weren’t excited with these and in fact, kind of hated them.
We’d rather take a pair of the UA Curry 2’s in all-white, which are kinda crazy in their own regard, but have that Kobe-style high ankle support design. Not a bad basketball shoe, by any stretch of the imagination:
As with LeBron, consumers expected and were given the low-cut Curry. Of course, the internet nearly exploded when Under Armour dropped the dad-approved Curry Low 2 in all-white, right in the middle of the NBA finals. Seriously though, how did this happen? Looks like something you’d proudly walk out of TJ Maxx with.
Just so you don’t lose all-faith in the Curry low-cuts, let’s see one that actually works. We give you the Charged Foam Curry 1 in Orange:
We can say from first-hand experience that LeBron James’ kicks are ridiculously comfortable. A few of the LeBron’s we’ve worn can feel a little heavy on your feet after extended wear, but for the most part Nike hits the mark with the most comfortable shoes known to man. Under Armour is still fairly new to the whole signature shoe thing, so it’s likely to see the Curry line improve with each subsequent release.
LeBron’s shoes come in slightly more expensive, usually in the $100-$300 range.
Obviously the rarity and availability of each individual shoe will vary significantly, but it’s safe to say James’ shoes are typically more expensive. However, just last week Nike announced they plan to lower the prices of select Nike signature shoes, starting with the LeBron’s. Prices for the signature line will be dropping from $200 to $175.
Curry shoes are absolutely more affordable, with the featured hi’s coming around $135 and the low’s selling at $115.
Of course, the comparison of two products will always come down to personal preference. For us, it’s LeBron that takes the throne. Of course, fans of LeBron and Cleveland will side with us, but Golden State and Curry truthers will swear by the Curry shoes.
Despite the nationwide roasting of the Curry 1 Low’s, the overall reception has been positive for Steph and Under Armour. Simply put, Nike has been doing the whole “signature shoe” thing longer than Under Armour, so the comparison is almost unfair on that basis alone. Give Curry 10 years in the league and 13 more shoe releases, and we’ll have to revisit this all over again.
**If interested, Ethan Sherwood Strauss put together an excellent long read on how Nike completely blew its chance at landing Curry (a reminder to us all to update our PowerPoint templates).