Alongside the Nike Kobe 9 Elites, these are my favourite basketball shoes to play in right now. This shoe is built like a freaking tank and it’s decked out in Nike’s latest technology, so I was really anticipating this release. LeBron’s have always been innovating over the years in terms of design and technology but due to their shape and build I never really wore them even though their designs were awesome. Me being a guard I usually stuck with the Kobe line and the Derrick Rose line and never gave the LeBron’s a chance. The only pair of LeBron’s I had before these were the Zoom Soldier III’s, which were great performers. These XI’s though took me by surprise and I love playing in them especially when I know it’s going to be an intense hoop sesh!
Traction wasn’t this shoe’s greatest attribute but it definitely wasn’t terrible. The outsole is separated into two sections divided by the TPU shank in the middle with the shattered glass pattern. The traction pattern uses a honeycomb pattern using relatively soft rubber. It gripped the floor well on clean courts and was adequate on dusty courts. Occasionally I did have to wipe but I did not feel any slippage when doing hard cuts. Personally, when I look at buying basketball shoes, traction is the biggest factor that influences me in buying the shoe. From first impression, I was skeptical since the traction wasn’t traditional herringbone and probably wouldn’t be as good as the Kobe 8’s (which I had been playing in) but there was so much other ridiculous technology implemented in the shoe to compensate for it. Traction in this shoe wasn’t fantastic but it does get the job done.
Probably the best attribute of the shoe. Ever since the Nike Lunar Hyperdunk 2012 debuted revealing targeted Lunarlon in the heel and forefoot this got me excited to see Nike’s cushioning system evolving. Since then Nike is slowly teasing us as more shoes release to date. First targeted Lunarlon in the Nike Hyperdunk 2012, full length Lunarlon in the Kobe 8 and now full length Lunarlon and full length Zoom in the LeBron XI? Absolute madness. Cushion definitely did not disappoint.
Nike did a really good job with these providing excellent cushioning but still providing court feel for smaller quicker players. At first when you get these, the cushion is stiff but then as the Lunarlon moulds to your foot and the zoom unit breaks in, you feel the bounce and responsiveness from the air bag and the ride is phenomenal. Heel to toe transition was plush and landing upon impact was excellent.
I never had a more cushioned shoe that still allowed me to feel relatively low to the ground. Especially as of late since I have bad knees from playing outdoors last summer, these provided perfect comfort and impact protection. I know some people have said they don’t feel the zoom unit but these do require break in time and you should be fine. Overall, I think this is the best cushioning out right now and I had no problems whatsoever.
Materials were another category where the LeBron XI simply destroys other shoes in the basketball market. At first sight, these honestly look like tanks, transformers or whatever you want to call it. Personally I love the design. Armourposite consists of the entire upper, which is a combination of Foamposite technology and Hyperfuse technology structured together to create a protective shell for the foot. Not only do these look like tanks but they are durable as hell. Underneath the Armourposite material, there is dynamic Flywire that wraps around the foot when the shoe is laced tightly.
Around the ankle, the LeBron XI has a thick liner with a Nike Pro Combat tongue with lots of mesh for breathability. The laces used were rope laces, not the cheap ones found on some of Nike’s team models so they were extremely thick and durable and provided no pinching when laced tightly. Some people had problems with the lacing since they felt the laces untied too quickly but I had faced no problem. I simply tied the laces tightly to the top lace eyelet and it hugged my foot extremely snug.
The upper is extremely stiff when you first buy them since the Foamposite needs a solid break in time but after several wears the upper moulds to your foot and the cushioning set up breaks in and you’re in for a ride. Materials are extremely durable and are premium quality. Overall, very happy with the execution on this shoe.
The fit was one thing I was actually worried about. I have quite a narrow foot and have always loved playing in the Kobe’s. LeBron’s are catered for bigger players with wider feet so this would be a new experience for me. Surprisingly this shoe fits extremely snug. If you are deciding on purchasing this shoe I definitely would stick true to size or even go up half a size. The snug fit comes from the Armourposite material especially when laced up tight you can really feel the foam compress against the side of your foot.
My first wear of the LeBron XI’s, I did experience some pain against my pinky but after that playing in them was perfectly fine. The fit in my opinion was excellent. I love shoes that fit one to one with the foot and these were extremely comfortable and the materials were not irritating. The whole shoe does require a decent amount of break in time but after that you’re good.
Ventilation wasn’t abundant in the shoe but it wasn’t bad. My feet don’t sweat that much so this isn’t a major factor for me but I know for some people it is. Throughout the shoe the ventilation comes from the mesh tongue, the hyperfuse upper and a few large perforations on the lateral side showing the dynamic Flywire. To be honest, the lack of ventilation in this shoe in my opinion works better since the restricted heat and moisture is better to mould the Armourposite material and the full length Zoom/Lunarlon insole to your feet.
Support is everywhere in this shoe. Firstly the entire upper is made from a thick Hyperfuse and Armourposite so you know when playing these are going to hold up great. The heel is sculpted and reinforced with more Armourposite, which secures the foot well. The bottom of the shoe has a TPU shank separating the outsole and providing torsional support and lateral stability. The entire upper is extremely sturdy yet still allowing for flexibility. The Armourposite is strategically placed in areas where most protection is needed and it definitely does the job in supporting the foot and keeping it locked into the foot bed. Let’s just say the LeBron XI is the most supporting shoe I have played in yet, that’s how good it is.
This shoe is straight up beast! Excellent cushioning, premium quality materials and abundant support. This is a great shoe for a bigger players but smaller players will also enjoy this too. If you’re looking for amazing cushioning and comfort but still want that court feel and support, then this is the shoe for you. Although some people complain about the traction, I agree it isn’t the strongest attribute of the shoe but with the other technology this shoe packs, it definitely compensates. The fit for me was excellent since I really enjoy a snug fit. I know people have had pain with the fit, for example: Mr. LeBron James but doesn’t mean the shoe isn’t comfortable. If you have a chance to try them on, definitely do so and you won’t regret playing in them. Priced at $200, the LeBron XI is very steep but you do get an excellent overall basketball shoe.