LeBron's opening-night shoes inspired by 2003 Nike ad
Ethan Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty

LeBron James will be sporting a pair of shoes inspired by a 2003 ad campaign he shot with Nike when he makes his Los Angeles Lakers regular-season debut Thursday night.

The burgundy tones, gold detailing, and animal print on the Nike LeBron 16 "King" are a nod to the poster of a then-18-year-old James sitting atop a throne with three lions at his feet.

(Photo courtesy: Nike)

Jason Petrie, designer of the LeBron 16, told ESPN's Nick DePaula that he and his team started working on new colorways for James before they knew where he would sign in free agency.

"We're working on this 18 months to two years in advance, and we didn't know where he was going," Petrie said. "We planned it that even though he could very easily stay in Cleveland, we should look at these colors to where it doesn't matter. He could wear it on any given night and he could get away with it."

James wore 51 different versions of the LeBron 15 last season, and with the NBA introducing a new relaxed sneaker policy, Petrie said that number could be even higher this year.

"He could do 164. You never know," Petrie said. "It's one of those delicate balances, and if we could just shoot 'em out like that, we would ... The color rules are whatever. He's LeBron James, he's gonna do what he wants to do."

LeBron's opening-night shoes inspired by 2003 Nike ad
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