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LeBron James, arguably the most famous basketball star today, was photographed wearing special-edition Nike sneakers that can only be purchased by minting an Ethereum NFT created by Nike subsidiary, RTFKT. And the RTFKT founders apparently also presented the living legend with his very own Clone X NFT avatar, as well.
James was seen wearing the RTFKT x Nike Air Force 1 Genesis sneakers on Tuesday ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Game 1 victory against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA’s Western Conference Semifinals. The Lakers tweeted a photo of James wearing the black and red kicks, alongside a photo of teammate Anthony Davis.
The photo quickly went viral amongst RTFKT NFT holders, and then the company itself—which was acquired by Nike in December 2021—tweeted it out with a zoomed-in look at the shoes.
Shortly thereafter, RTFKT co-founder Steven “Zaptio” Vasilev shared a photo of himself and RTFKT COO Nikhil Gopalani presenting James with an honorary Clone X avatar. “We got [to] onboard the legend [LeBron James] to RTFKT with his 1/1 Clone X,” Vasilev wrote.
Decrypt reached out to RTFKT and Nike representatives for further details on the interactions with James, including whether it’s an extension of his existing long-term sponsorship deal with Nike and whether he actually took custody of any NFTs. Neither company immediately responded.
— Zaptio RTFKT (@Zaptio) May 3, 2023
The RTFKT x Nike Air Force 1 Genesis is a set of just 1,776 total pairs of sneakers in that style that can only be obtained by purchasing an NFT and then redeeming it for the physical product. Secondary market prices for the Genesis NFTs start at 0.4 ETH, or $740 on OpenSea. The physical sneakers can only be redeemed until May 8, per an official FAQ.
There are several other RTFKT x Nike Air Force 1 styles of NFT-based kicks also available in varying quantities and at different secondary market prices. The most limited style, called “Alien” and featuring something of a neon twist on the Lakers’ own yellow and purple look, has a total supply of just 60 pairs that start at 5 ETH ($9,245).
Clone X is an Ethereum NFT profile picture (PFP) project that launched in 2021 as a collaboration between RTFKT and Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami. It has gone on to become one of the most prominent and successful PFP projects in the space, generating nearly $835 million worth of trading volume to date per data from CryptoSlam.
Last September, RTFKT changed the metadata—or the data that defines the unique qualities of a particular NFT asset—for a single Clone X NFT to feature an “LBJ Beard” and a yellow and purple crown, both of which no other NFT in the collection has.
The Clone X avatar that James is holding in the image shared Tuesday has the same visual attributes as that NFT, albeit with an all-blue color scheme. It’s unclear whether it’s a separate NFT from the one that was modified last September. That one remains in the custody of the “RTFKT_CORE_VAULT” wallet, per data from OpenSea, and was last transferred in January.
Beyond the various NFT creations of its RTFKT subsidiary, Nike has also launched its own digital sneakers and apparel platform called .SWOOSH on Ethereum scaling network Polygon. Nike said last month that it already has over 330,000 users on .SWOOSH, and will begin its mint for “Our Force 1” NFT-based sneakers starting May 8.