Each year, Lebron James has dominated the court since his NBA debut back in 2003. Now that he has won back-to-back championships, he is certified as ever to push the limits of basketball innovation. Nike introduces new technology to the brand with a hyperposite shell, full-length Zoom technology combined with Lunarlon, and the latest Nike Flywire system. Even with all the latest bells and whistles, Lebron James hardly rocking the Lebron 11 on court during the season. Instead he wore his secondary line, the Zoom Soldier 7. Why? Well I had a couple of legitimate reasons, but that hasn’t hurt his sales at all. In fact it is still a top seller at retail. But is it worth purchasing at retail? $200 is steep. By far the most expensive yet from a standard basketball shoe. Read on and find out if these are for you.
Traction has and always will be top priority of mine when it comes to choosing sneakers. That being said, the Lebron 11 doesn’t have the greatest grip, but is average. I hate to start off review with all sour, but I got to be honest. From my experience, I had no confidence in my steps when I had these on. The traction is made of the usual rubber compound found in most sneakers, but the it didn’t grip the floor enough. The outsole pattern did squeak sometimes, but it wasn’t often. I know, I know, squeak may not guarantee great traction, but that’s something I like in my shoes.
For the most part it wasn’t fun sliding around especially laterally. Now this may be just me as many others experienced the opposite claiming that the shoe is just fine. It may be because of how lightweight I am that I couldn’t apply enough force to have grip. Perhaps the court I played on wasn’t very good, but I played on three courts and still… nothing. I’m not saying the traction is terrible because it isn’t. Yet at the same time, if a shoe isn’t holding me down on cuts, sudden stops, lateral movements, back pedaling etc, then it’s just not good enough.
Cushion for the Lebron is a drop-in Lunarlon insert that houses a full-length Zoom bag. The Zoom bag feels a bit on the mushy side, but provides adequate responsive cushioning. Mushy isn’t good as it slows down the process of moving around because your foot sinks instead of getting ready for the next step. It isn’t much of an issue, but it is noticeable. It’s real strength is impact protection and the ability to disperse the stress upon impact throughout the footbed.
A risk with removable inserts is the possibility of it moving in place as you play, but I didn’t experience that at all. It fit snug and flush. I liked this set-up so much that I put the insert in the Kobe 9 and it worked flawlessly. I wish Nike would use this in the future, but for some reason, I highly doubt that. Overall, the cushion was comfortable and responsive. Only complaint of mine is that the insert is a little too thick that if you are looking for something that provides low-to-ground cushioning. For those who are looking to impact protection, you are good to go.
Note that cushion is graded on responsiveness, impact protection, and court-feel.
Fit is true to size for me. I got a somewhat narrow foot so for those who have a normal may want to try these on or go up half a size. The shoe runs a little on the narrow size especially in the toe box. I had minor pain on my left toe, but no pain in my right toe. It wasn’t much of an issue to where I would switch out of them, but it would’ve been nice to have no pain at all.
For lockdown, you got Nike Flywire, hyperposite, and a heavily padded tongue that work perfectly together. The Nike Flywire hugs the midfoot like a fingertrap. To be honest, I’m not a firm believer in Flywire, but the way the set-up is on the Lebron 11, it works and you can feel it work. Whether it “moves” with your motions or not, that remains to be seen/tested, but I can’t complain. Next up is the hyperposite, or in this case, targeted foamposite. Three panels cover the upper on all sides creating a tank like structure. The toe-box is very narrow and is a problem for many people. For me, it wasn’t an issue until after several wearings. The midfoot panels is where the Lebron 11 benefits from the use of foamposite as it creates a wall for your lateral movements, keeping the foot from sliding side to side. As for the heel, it’s sturdy, firm, solid, but has a sloppy fit. I had some slippage during play, but it wasn’t significant. There is an internal heel cup and also has a little foamposite block on the heel which doesn’t do much but add some protection to the rear.
Aside from all that, I never had laces untie itself over and over. The laces on the Lebron 11 are so annoying, that each dead ball, I had to retie repeatedly. I hate double knotting so I didn’t do that. I truly believe a person could survive if they used the Lebron 11 laces to hang themselves. I don’t know what it was, but a friend of mine @JonRegister told me to remove the laces altogether, stretch them, and put them back on the shoe to help. I never tried it, but it worked for him.
Personally I loved how the shoe looked, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get passed how sloppy it felt toe off and landing on the heel. I’m not sure what it was exactly, but it felt a little clunky. “Smooth” is not the word I would use to explain this sneaker at all. It pains me to say it because I really dig the sneaker overall, but I just can’t play in it being a guard. I move laterally a lot, cut to the basket, and move around without the ball. The Lebron 11 didn’t feel very agile as I felt slower and not mobile enough. If you’re a quick first step player, you may want to look past this Lebron model and may consider the Zoom Soldier 7 instead (like Lebron James has been wearing).
Heel-to-Toe transition is how smooth a shoe feels as you strike on your heels to pushing off from your toes.
Support is abundant in the Lebron 11. From the hyperposite shell to the Nike Flywire, it is everywhere. The Nike Lebron 11 is the most supportive basketball sneaker in the line. For those looking for impact protection to ease up your joints, look no further. Are you looking for a shoe to hold your foot down within the footbed when you play down in the post? Give these a shot. The hyperposite panels provide extreme support in all three areas of the foot, heel, midfoot, and forefoot. The midfoot TPU shank also provides stability and rigidity. The only gripe I have is some heel slippage, but that could just be my foot shape. Other than that, the Lebron 11 is a beast. Support is definitely its main strength.
Just like support, the Lebron 11 is meant to last. If you like to scrap on the hardwood, the hyperposite shell is a tank. I usually have my toes get stepped on so if you have that happen to you often, strap these on. You have high quality materials no matter what colorway you get. Fuse and hyperposite make most of the upper creating one of the most durable sneakers out there in the market. Can’t go wrong with that. If you need a sneaker to last you for a couple of seasons, check out the Lebron 11. You’ll thank me later.
By the way, if you didn’t know what hyperposite was, it’s pretty much next-generation foamposite. Foamposite is made of polyurethane that doesn’t stretch or lose it’s shape. In this case, the Lebron 11 uses hyperposite which is a lighter and more flexible compound of the original. This allows the shoe to have the ultimate support yet remain lightweight.
You got perforated vents on both lateral and medial sides of the shoe, however the airflow mainly comes from the tongue. Didn’t really have any crazy problems with ventilation given that most of the sneaker is posite material. Breathability is standard, nothing to write on about.
Ventilation is not part of the overall score as it does not hinder the performance of the sneaker. However if the foot is excessively drenched upon play, it will effect the score and be mentioned in the review.
Lebron James is not your typical basketball player. He is six foot eight, two hundred fifty pounds, and quite frankly, dominates the court like no other. Me? I’m a toothpick compared to his stature and I play more like a swingman than a monster. With that said, I base all my scores on facts and personal experience during basketball. I may not be the biggest Lebron James fan, but my bias has nothing to do with my scores.
I love the Lebron 11’s design, but if you were to ask me to play in the shoe again, I probably wouldn’t. Not that it’s a horrible sneaker, I just don’t play the way the sneaker is meant for. Seems like Nike Basketball focused more on the aesthetics and technology rather than function. It excels in support, cushion, and fit, but lack traction and transition. There are some who look for support and cushion and not so much of traction. Everybody is different. Unfortunately for me, it’s one of those “It’s me, not you.” type of situations, and that’s all I got to say about that.
- Change outsole pattern to a more effective layout to increase grip
- Increase flexibility and transition by removing drop-in insert and instead, create a regular Phylon midsole. Add more flex-grooves on outsole and upper.
If shelling out $200 is no big deal for you, go for it. Sometimes curiosity gets the best of us, in this case, it did for me. For a sneaker that is just average on my terms, I would wait for the Lebron 11 to hit clearance prices or outlets before buying. Good news is, the Lebron 11 should be at discounted prices at some places so good luck searching!