The Nike Basketball Christmas Pack 2010-2015. An Overview.

What?! They have Christmas sneakers now? Yep. Kids these days. Seems like they could use some holiday opinion-ing.

Nike’s basketball branch has been releasing a “Christmas Pack” every year since 2010. Each of their “signature” athletes gets a Christmas colorway. From 2010, that’s been Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant. Though he had a “Christmas” colorway last year (actually more of a “PE,” or “player edition,” which saw formal release later in the year), Kyrie Irving wasn’t part of the 2014 marketing blitz. This year, he is.

Onto the reviews:

2010

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KD 3, Kobe 6, LeBron 8V2

Not much Christmas-y about the bright yellow (and now dated-looking) KD 3s, but the Kobe 6s are considered classics, and have been nicknamed the Kobe 6 “Grinchmas.” Red and white clearly get the point across on the LeBrons which really kicked off the mid-[sneaker]-career golden age for Lebron James (8 V2, 9, 10, 11), though the black mid-sole looks out of place and not very festive. Evaluating on just on a hit-or-miss ratio,  a weaker than it sounds: 2 out of 3.

Overall: ***

2011

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KD 4, LeBron 9, Kobe “System Supreme” 7

I’m never digging a strap on sneakers, but the usually under-used copper color on the KD 4 looks quite warm and, thus, Christmas-y. I wouldn’t say that copper is the warmest metal (hello, that’s nickel… duh). Again, LeBron James isn’t messing around: lots of red and green on the 9s, with a “frosty” (read: transparent blue-ish rubber) sole. Kobe Bryant is doing… that over there from that weird time period when Nike was using very thin flywire in the paneling itself instead of on or around the paneling (the LeBron 8 V2 is the same way. Look at the LeBron 11, below, for comparison). A stronger 2 out of 3 than 2010.

Overall: ***½

2012

LeBron 10, Kobe 8, KD 5
LeBron 10, Kobe 8, KD 5.

Look, the Kobes and KDs just… are. They’re neat, but not festive. BUT, those LeBron 10s with the metallic red with green laces and transparent green rubber; the full length max zoom air; the backwards swoosh (back when that was actually notable); the ruby-colored plastic support above the speckled mid-sole… Christmas! Let’s take a closer look:

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A REMARKABLY strong 1 out of 3.

Overall: **** on the strength of the LeBron 10 alone.

2013

Clockwise from left: KD 6, LeBron 11, Kobe 8
Clockwise from left: KD 6, LeBron 11, Kobe 8

The best of Nike’s Christmas packs so far; Kobe’s doing whatever he’s doing over there, so let’s ignore him while we focus on the others. Each deserves a deeper dive.

KD 6 – metallic red and mint green with gold accents. That’s “Christmas” with a capital “let’s all gather by the fire and sing Christmas carols.” Some finer points: the “KD” badge in the heel decorated with Christmas lights (!), the “snow” flecks on the green mid-sole, and the flannel pattern on the heel. Oh, wait, they also included an “ugly sweater” pattern in retroreflective (“3M”) ink on the medial side, so it only shows up if the light is just right.  Perfect. (though maybe so Christmas-y it may look out of place on December 27)

kd6-2 KD6-1

LeBron 11 – lots of green and snowy scenes to be found.

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Overall: ****½ Kobe’s too good to be celebrating Christmas, I guess.

2014

2014
KD 7, Kobe 9 Elite, LeBron 12

Whoa! Three Christmas-themed sneakers in the “Christmas Pack” for once. Kevin Durant went with an “eggnog” theme with his. The strap is unfortunate, but it’s neat execution if you like your sneakers to be two-tone. The white of the front is actually an off-white, eggnog color. Kobe Bryant has a quite festive Christmas stocking theme that is executed nearly ideally (the black carbon fiber sticks out visually, but Nike wants the carbon fiber to look like carbon fiber). Finally LeBron James has a white birch tree printed pattern (think of birch bark). The ad copy is a bit… convenient “white birch like he saw when he was a kid in Akron!” or something like that, but it works. A big 3 for 3.

KD 7 detail:

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Kobe 9 Elite detail:

K9

LeBron 12 detail:

LB2014

Overall: ****½ None are as nice as the Christmas-themed options in the 2013 pack, so a tie is in order.

2015

LeBron 13, Kyrie 2, KD 8, Kobe 10 Elite
LeBron 13, Kyrie 2, KD 8, Kobe 10 Elite

Nike’s theme this year is “Fire and Ice.” Notice two white and blue colorways (ICE!!!) and two black and red colorways (FIRE!!!). Of note is that the medial sides of the KDs and Kobes don’t match the lateral sides:

KD (this is the same pair of sneakers!). The medial is completely different. The speckled pattern on the mid-sole is supposed to be hot coals… hmm. Close enough.

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Kobe: red on the medial side, black on the lateral side. Funky.

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Somehow, white and blue are 2015’s “Christmas Colors.”

Some details of the LeBron 13 — brr! But some neat snow and ice details in the fabric:

lbj2015-2 lbj2015-1

And to give him some attention, here’s a close-up of the Kyrie 2 — eh, a lot of textures going on there. Good execution on both the “cold” and “snow monster with a taste for mammal blood” themes [check out that strap]:

kyrie

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Despite the KD 8 and Kobe 10 being very cool (pun!) models, these colorways are not Christmas. I don’t love the whole blue and white thing, but it’s growing on me. A very weak 2 out of 4 hit to miss ratio.

Overall: **½ This isn’t a good year for the Christmas Pack. Sorry, Nike.

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