Jordan vs. LeBron vs. Kobe: A Look At The Signature Sneaker Lines To This Point


With Jordans continuing to reign supreme among all signature basketball lines, we look at how the LeBron and Kobe lines match up to Js at this point in time. As you’re probably aware, Kobe didn’t start out his career as a Nike athlete so with this feature we just look at the matchups up until Bryant’s latest ninth signature. Even with that being said, there has been plenty of firepower from both the LeBron and Kobe lines producing all-time favs for many heads, as well as instant classics. But the real question is, can they really hold a candle to classic Jordans I through IX?! Please feel free to let us know the matchup winners in your eye for each entry in the comments section below.

Air Jordan I Black/Red vs. Nike Air Zoom Generation “First Game” vs. Nike Zoom Kobe I 'Concord'

Winner: Air Jordan I Black/Red
Release Years: Jordan (1985), LeBron (2003), Kobe (2005)

When the careers of LeBron and Kobe are both finished, the historical significance of each athlete’s first Nike signature may look different than it does today. But, we feel confident in saying that neither of them will have the impact of the Air Jordan I. From the infamous “Banned” Black/Red OGs, and the coveted and beautiful Black/Royals, all the way to the new retro hotness, the Air Jordan I is arguably the greatest first signature sneaker of all time.

Air Jordan II White/Red vs. Nike Zoom LeBron II "All Star" vs. Nike Zoom Kobe II “Carpe Diem”

Winner: Air Jordan II White/Red
Release Years: Jordan (1986), LeBron (2004), Kobe (2006)

This one was a little trickier to pick than you might think at first glance. On the one hand, the Air Jordan II is one of the lesser-loved silos in the Air Jordan canon (just look at those recent retros still sitting on shelves). But, on the other hand, they just don’t make ’em like they used to. While the “All-Star” LeBron and “Carpe Diem” Kobe IIs are certainly fantastic shoes in their own right, they just can’t hold a candle to the beauty and construction of the OG Air Jordan II. The original IIs were made in Italy and came draped in smooth, high-quality Italian leather. A perfect mix of performance and style; the OG Air Jordan II is just beautiful.

Air Jordan III Black/Cement vs. Nike Zoom LeBron III White/Gold vs. Nike Zoom Kobe III "Lower Merion Aces"

Winner: Air Jordan III Black/Cement
Release Years: Jordan (1988), LeBron (2005), Kobe (2007)

Okay, let’s get this out of the way now: the White/Gold LeBron III and “Lower Merion Aces” Kobe IIIs are both fire. Fantastic shoes. But we all have to be real, and as we’ve previously stated on this site, the Black/Cement Air Jordan III is simply one of the best sneaker designs of ALL TIME. Okay, played out Kanye meme aside, you just really can’t compete with a classic as iconic as the Air Jordan III. If it isn’t already, this thing should be in a museum.

Air Jordan IV White/Cement vs. Nike Zoom LeBron IV "Birthday" vs. Nike Zoom Kobe IV White/Black-Gold

Winner: Air Jordan IV White/Cement
Release Years: Jordan (1989), LeBron (2006), Kobe (2008)

Honestly, this one was closer than we’d care to admit. Obviously, the legendary White/Cement Air Jordan IV is worthy of every bit of hyperbole thrown it’s way. But we LOVE the LeBron IV…one of our absolute favorites from the LBJ line. That said, even with the ridiculous amount of love we have for the LeBron IV, particularly the Knicks-themed “Birthday” colorway, it just can’t overcome the amazing White/Cement Air Jordan IV.

Air Jordan V Black/Metallic vs. Nike Zoom LeBron V "Dunkman" vs. Nike Zoom Kobe V "Chaos"

Winner: Air Jordan V Black/Metallic
Release Years: Jordan (1990), LeBron (2007), Kobe (2009)

Another strong showing from both the Kobe and LeBron lines. But another silhouette entry that pales in comparison to the equivalent Air Jordan silo. We actually think the “Chaos” Kobe Vs are one of the best colorways to emerge from the Kobe line, and we find it strange we don’t see more of it. That said, the Air Jordan V, particularly the mean and clean Black/Metallic colorway just beats out every other silo by a country mile.

Air Jordan VI Black/Infrared vs. Nike Zoom LeBron VI White/Black-Varsity Red vs. Nike Zoom Kobe VI "Grinch"

Winner: Air Jordan VI Black/Infrared
Release Years: Jordan (1991), LeBron (2008), Kobe (2010)

Okay, so you’re starting to see a theme now right? But truth be told, the sixth entry was the toughest draw of all. First off, we really do like the clean white/black/red LeBrons. But simply put, the LeBron VI is one of our least favorites from the LBJ line. The real challenge was when we started to see the Kobe line gaining ground on MJ’s turf. First off the Kobe VI had some amazing colorways, and narrowing that down to one was a task in and of itself. But ultimately, the exclusivity associated with the “FC Barcelona” Kobe VI made us choose the “Grinch” colorway. And, in our mind, the Kobe VI “Grinch” actually does give the Infrared Air Jordan VIs a run for their money, but when all was said and done, nostalgia took over. We simply cannot unseat one of our favorite Js of all time.

Air Jordan VII "Bordeaux" vs. Nike LeBron VII "Red Carpet" vs. Nike Zoom Kobe VII "Invisibility Cloak"

Winner: Nike Zoom LeBron VII “Red Carpet”
Release Years: Jordan (1992), LeBron (2009), Kobe (2011)

Now we’re talking! Where we saw some ground gained with the sixth entry in these respective signature lines, the seventh is really where they both hit their stride. All three of these colorways are original and fantastic. The “Invisibility Cloak” Kobes were an awesome colorway we’d never seen before, and the VII in general is where we saw Nike really get creative with the colorways. The Air Jordan VII “Bordeaux” is just brilliant as well. When you describe the colorway to people, you’d never assume all those colors go together, but the Bordeauxs are amazing (not to mention the other dope VIIs like the Hare, Raptors, or Olympics). But the winner here is obvious, the LeBron VII, our favorite LeBron. Just a gorgeous sneaker, and one of the (many) reasons we’d like to see Nike get moving on those LeBron retros. While there were numerous colorways in contention for the top slot here (All-Star, Dunkman, China, etc), ultimately we settled on the amazing “Red Carpet” VII. Bravo, Nike.

Air Jordan VIII "Aqua" vs. Nike LeBron VIII "South Beach" vs. Nike Kobe 8 "Mambacurial"

Winner: Nike LeBron VIII “South Beach”
Release Years: Jordan (1993), LeBron (2010), Kobe (2013)

The No. 8 signature matchup is another entry that could’ve gone either way, but the historical significance of one entry, tipped the scales in it’s favor. All three are awesome sneakers. The Kobe VIII had beautiful colorways, our favorite of which was the soccer-inspired “Mambacurial.” But, low top hoops sneakers aren’t for everyone…we get it. The Air Jordan VIII “Aqua”, and it’s crazy-90s stylings, will always have a special place in our hearts. But again, we wouldn’t blame you if the design wasn’t for you. But the LeBron 8 “South Beach” gets the nod here. Not only was the colorway original…it was (and still is) an absolute banger. And, despite how you may feel about it, with LBJ’s subsequent decision to take his talents to South Beach, it gives the sneaker organic, historical significance. Though we’re not huge fans of the ridiculous hype, and thus the ridiculous resale prices for them, there is no denying the beauty of the South Beach 8s.

Air Jordan IX "Charcoal" vs. Nike LeBron IX Elite "South Beach" vs. Nike Kobe 9 Elite Low "Beethoven"

Winner: Nike Kobe 9 Elite Low “Beethoven”
Release Years: Jordan (1994), LeBron (2011), Kobe (2014)

While we’d love to tip the cap yet again to the “South Beach” LeBron 9s, the competition from this year’s Kobe line is just too strong. First, picking one colorway of the LeBron 9 is no small feat, but again (like most of you), we’re partial to that South Beach color-scheme. And, though the Jordan IX has some excellent colorways (Charcoal, Dark Powder, Olive, etc), the latest entry in the Kobe series is serious. We were huge fans of the Kobe IX as a high-top hoops sneaker (honestly, we still think it looks kind of funky off-court). And, as more and more dope colorways came out, we just kept telling ourselves “wait for the lows. wait for the lows.” Boy, were we right. The Kobe IX Low, whether EM or Flyknit, has been Dylan, Dylan, Dylan…HOT FIRE. While we’d have loved to nominate the HTMs, their exclusivity puts them on a pedestal that most of us will never attain. So, we’ve selected the upcoming “Beethoven” Kobe IX Low, as the best of the 9th Nike sneaker silos. Hey Nike, how’s about putting those gum soles up on ID, huh?


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  • Mae Mae

    Why is kobe even mentioned? All his kicks are wack as fuck

    • Bruh

      Your taste is wack as fuck.

      • alex nelson

        bruh…. come on now

        • J’s and LbJ’s Only!

          Kobe’s suck ass! Period!

          • bjdv

            kobes r b34st

          • Da Boss

            You dumb retarded probably a hype beast….nothing compares to Jordan but kobes is not suck ass!! Get your shoe game up lil boy….

      • real4

        your mother likes the taste of my balls in her mouth.

    • squatty

      that’s cuz you don’t play basketball. those shoes are the best i’ve ever played in.

    • L42

      kobe is ugly as fuck.fucking peanut head kobe bryant

  • Jermaine Jones

    Yeah that article pretty much sucked, it wasn’t even close. Why even waste time writing this article if the majority of the picks were Jordan’s. Especially since so many were such “tough” decisions. I wish I hadn’t wasted time reading that article.

  • Sneaker Theater

    You can’t compare anything to Jays, the bias is TOO great.

  • Unclecoon

    My personal order is kobe jordan lebron… Kobe being 1st because of the performance of the shoes Jordan’s second because of the aesthetics and then lebrons last because all his shoes are heavy tanks

  • Biga173rd

    Not everyone is going to agree on this article. This should have been Kobe vs LBJ. putting MJ shoes in this article is a disadvantage for Both KB and LBJ. And don’t get wrong they both had great shoes. But at the end of the day we all know there is no other shoes that can go toe to toe with MJ’s shoes from 1-14 There too iconic and legendary.

    • YouKnowWhat…..

      Those Aqua’s don’t hold a candle to the SB’s… no way shape or form. The 8’s(Jordan) seemed like a reach, like they didn’t know what direction to go whereas that is where Lebron’s signature hit full stride…

      • Biga173rd

        WTF are you talking about Bruh? Aqua 8’s was part of the whole Looney Tunes theme campaign during the early 90’s it was a smash hit if you were old enough to remember or own an OG pair. And MJ won his 3rd title that year that shoe was on everyone’s list. Yes and I will agree with you the SB 8’s is a dope shoe to alot of people but were Hyped up the ass for LBJ home coming to Mia and only a few pairs were available exclusive in Miami and a few thousand pairs were release world wide later on. If the Aqua 8’s back in 93 received the same Hype and JB only release a few thousand pairs it be a different story. You might not the think the 8’s can’t compete with the SB’s but other people might think other wise.

        • YouKnowWhat…..

          I’m talking about the design, not the hype, bruh….I could give two fux about how they market it. The Lebron 8’s are fly as fuck, the J’s look like they just through a bunch of ideas on top of the 7’s. I really never liked the look of that shoe. The straps, the tongue, the midsole….it just looks forced. The LB’s are flawless and that color way just took things to another level……

          • Biga173rd


          • xcxz

            Bitch the Lebron 8s actually didn’t sell out right away. It wasn’t until people started putting pink laces in them that the hype grew. Learn your facts.

          • Biga173rd

            First off all Ain’t your bitch reply to me like a everyone else with out disrespecting me and talk to me like grown up. 2nd I never said SB8 sold out right away. All I said was that shoe got Hyped up. smh

          • theMAN

            shut your cock sucking mouth bitch.fuck you and those fruity ass lebron sb 8

      • NY25

        stfu you bitch sb 8 are nothing but a stupid hypebeast color a pure fad.dont ever compare the aqua with sb.jordans shits on lebron any day of the week.

        • YouKnowWhat…..

          Ouch! didn’t mean to hurt your feelings….are you okay?

    • Jimmy Jazz

      ” I bet you any money if the Aqua 8’s were plastered all over the web during it’s release back in 93″ hello child of the 2000s, there was no internet in 93 you fucking reeeetard

      • Biga173rd

        Hello moron of today the internet was invented in 1960’s you moron the first ever web site was created in 1991 Wikipedia that shit. There internet at that remember aol does that ring a bell. smh.

  • YouKnowWhat…..

    Great article, They were reaching with the 7’s, the Bordeaux’s are one of the dopiest color ways ever…as far as the 9’s those Kobe’s are hot but pics are not enough to put them over those South Beach’s…I think they are pushing the hype for August 16th….

  • James Evans

    Its not fair to compare Kobe and LBJ’s lines to MJ. The historical significance of jordans I-XII is just too much. That being said I think Lebrons later models will be better than the early ones, which is the opposite of MJ, the early ones being far and away better than the later.

  • Git Right

    is this a real question? jordans was da 1st real season in season out signature line.. it laid the blueprint 4 sneakers 2day… jordans hands down… lebron & kobe sneakers r nice tho but can’t take away from what inspired them

  • Gonzino

    All the LeBrons are fresh, the Kobes not so much, and Js are Js… But, real talk the LJs should have won the first two and are a close at 3… Those Gold and Black LJ 3s are super dumby ass fresh..! Also, the LJ 8 V2s are the best sneakers to drop since the XX1 Jordan’s… The shoe technology for all the LJ 8s and XX1 Js are light years ahead of whatever anyone else has on their feet!!! The Entourages’ and The Yankee LJ 8 V2s are my fav colors and The Grey Italian Suade XX1 are super slept on…

  • Jack Spain

    Kobe and LBJ lines thus far can’t touch MJs as far as the 1-14 (Kobe and LBJ have yet to reach that number). Forget hype for a sec and you can pick out certain shoes from MJs line that’s killing both. Is, IIIs, IVs, VIs, XI – XIII are some of the best period. Performance wise and look they were ahead of there time!!! The comparison is great but it’s like comparing apples to oranges at this point.

    • goat209

      I dont think they were talking about numbers. Style, performance, and casual wear.

  • kobe

    this article blows. all about jordans rather than comparing all 3 of em

  • DirtiestNiggaAlive

    Kobes are for people with high arches. i cant wear a pair of kobes for more then 15 min. without my feet feeling like I ran a 5k. Lebrons 1-10 out perform Jordans made after the Jordans 20s came out.

  • dress dope89

    y they do this should of kept it LeBron or kobes they shoes should never be mentioned with mikes no shade


    Unlike most here, I have had the privilege to play in 1-9 of all three series. I also worked in the sneaker world from 1995-2010. So I will be completely non-bios, and honest.

    1. Kobe
    2. Jordans
    3. Lebron

    Though its hard to truly judge Mj’s line to both Kobe and Lebron only because the tech specs got better each year. Especially in the Kobe line. Growing up, I always have said the Jordan XII was the best on the court model to date. In all honesty, Jordan’s became the focus of casual wear more then a performance shoe. Nike stated the tech involved in the development of each shoe, but that wasn’t their primary focus. Nike made the choice to focus on the aesthetics more then performance. When I see guys playing in Jordans 1-10, I think is a joke. 1-5 are impossible to play in, but all look great in jeans. 6-10 improved, but still lack the on the court performance values Kobe’s hold. 11-12 are probably the best on the court Jordans, and after that the line feel off. The XX9 peaks my curiosity to question the on the court performance, but then again history shows us it may not live up to the hype, hence 13-28. Again, they didn’t have the tech specs the kobe line focused, but that was done on purpose. Nike wanted the numbers and honestly cared less about what we thought about on the court performance because majority of people buying the shoes weren’t athletes, and its always been a off the court icon, and always will be.

    Kobe working with Avar set the bar for a strong performing shoe. They were the first to focus on proper development of the court performance, and consistently have do so through out the line. Every year since going back to 2k3 the shoe has performed very well on the court period. More then a few have been questionable from a casual wear perspective, but on the court performance, the kobe line has been the very best. He always prioritized the performance in the development of each shoe, so thats why they all performed well. Except for maybe the 7. (Worst performing one out of the bunch.) The 2k3 and 2k4 need to be included in the kobe line too. It was created for him, while he went through his probationary period with Nike as all athletes do.

    Lebron is a freight train, so the shoe was made for a flat footed post player who moves with the agility of a guard… “Kinda”. The zoom generation will always be the best on the court performance shoe out of the Lebron line. But thats only 1 out of 12. The realistic part about Lebron is the average player can’t play effectively in them. Of course there are a few exceptions (Manu and a few others) but lets be honest, you saw more ball players playing in Kobes, and Jordans then you will ever see pro athletes playing in Lebrons. Because of the young hype beast, Nike followed the pattern of Jordan and focused on the look. In the end, Lebrons look great on the feet standing in the club. (Sometimes)!!

    In the end this is a convo that can go on for days, but we have to take our preferences out of this subject and look at the facts.

    To date, you have seen more Pro / College athletes wearing the Kobe line (2k – KB9) on the court more then Jordans and Lebrons… Why? They perform better. Thats all Kobe cared about. Jordans are second, but thank team jordan for that. And If you think about the who wore Lebrons? His teammates in Clev / Miami and his high school sponsored teams. And lets be honest, they all wore more soldiers then the Lebron shoe. Even Lebron played more in the LBJ Soldiers.

    Considering the look, Jordan wins that battle easily. He has effected the culture of hip-hop and more because his shoe is still a beautiful piece of art to look at. Some of the Lebrons are nice to look at… And honestly, the Kobe line hasn’t been as sexy. When you see someone rocking Kobes of the court, it always looks weird.

    Its just my 2 cents based on experience. But as I stated, it can go on for days, because I know I didn’t mention everything in this statement.

    If you were born after 87 (and thats being nice), your really should shut up. Your views are based on copies of a copy, and so on. 73′-85′ should really only have say in this because everyone else’s views are based on being brainwashed by media, BET, MTV and VH1.


    • averagejoe

      i agree with you in every aspect. kobe’s have always been my go-to on court performer (other than the 7’s)

      • stany

        stfu you bitch.

    • CALI559es

      i agree with you 100%… I’m A late 80’s baby (1987).. Thatz why i dont debate with people who was born b4 me about who’s better kobe or jordan.. For simple fact i didnt see jordan. In his prime i witness The first comback 95-98.. i didnt bother to watch when he was with wizards… i think kobe is better all around thats becuase i didnt see him pre 95 besides old highlights..


    This has got to be one of the dumbest questions about sneakers, EVER! Hands down the AIR JORDAN line is without equal. It has always been the best signature line and probably always will be. The question should be whose had the better line between Kobe and LeBron. The AIR JORDAN is the standard everything else is reaching for.

  • Pharoah Kicks

    They put the LeBrons over the Bordeaux 7’s?

  • Daniel Dustin Manaligod

    1. Jordan*
    2. Kobe*
    3. LeBron
    *some of the shoes are built for my performance preferences as an avid basketball player

  • Daniel Dustin Manaligod

    “Now we’re talking!”? This guys is so biased!

  • bluethasavior

    I didn’t like the kobe till they did yhe kobe 9 highs that shoe looks like a high fashion shoe its sick as fuk amazing! Lebron didn’t get a dope luk until the 7 everything else was weird and even then their were only 2 colors I liked of the 7 and 8 and they just happened to be the most successful (mvp 7’s south beach 8’s) they didn’t rly start expecting concepts and colorways until the 9 and idk about the 12 the bottom luks like sum football cleat shit so ill stop @ 11 probably. But Jordan just has more variety they continue to knock the ball out of the park with concepts, colorways, collaborations and materials the 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10,11,12,13 are all dope to me when presented right…

  • morgan

    this is so biased… btw.. kobe 4’s changed the game and this article doesn’t even mention that. lows were taboo until the kobe 4’s came along

  • lillardtooill

    this guy put lebron 7 red carpet over jordan 7’s bordeaux. LOL

    and aqua 8 >>>>> sb

  • chanda norton

    having never worn Kobe’s, I can believe actually believe his shoes are best for “playing basketball.” Although, couldnt’ they have made them look better… they are ugly as hell. Never theless the Jordan is simply because of notoriety. I wont mention the other guy.

  • Joshua Justice

    uh, Kobe was with Adidas first

  • James dean

    Who ever wrote this is obviously a Jordan Dickrider. If you have ever played in any of the jordan line than you know how uncomfortable they are, and how poor the quality is. This article is garbage.

  • christian miranda

    the kobe grinches still stands as the shoe that started the neon colorways on basketball shoes imo!

  • Vicceasar

    Kobe elite series! Wow! The best ever!


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