Nike LeBron 18 Performance Review

First Opinion:

One of the most beefed-up signature lines has now introduced its 18th model. Yes, the Nike LeBron 18. The Nike LeBron line has got to be the signature line that has the most amount of different tech featured on its shoes and this is no different. At first glance, you see the 360 Air Max and the heel and you will be thinking that there are two Hexagonal Zoom Units or one standard Zoom Unit at the forefoot, right? Wrong. Instead, it features a FULL-LENGTH ZOOM UNIT on top of the 360 Air Max.

And just as you thought the line couldn’t get upgraded anymore, Nike also brought back the Nike FlyWire as well. Traction also seems to have improved from the predecessor. Oh, did I mention that the KnitPosite is now KnitPosite 2.0? The expectations are sky-high for this shoe as it just seems like an overkill at this point but we’ll only know once we get into it!

Significant Tech Present in the Shoe:

  • KnitPosite 2.0 Upper
  • Nike FlyWire
  • External Heel Counter
  • 360 Heel Air Max
  • Full-Length Zoom Unit

Materials & Aesthetics (9/10):

If you have played in the Nike LeBron 17, you get a rough gauge of how the LeBron 18’s upper feel like. The Nike LeBron 18 features a KnitPosite 2.0 upper which is an improved version of the KnitPosite that was used on the LeBron 17. The KnitPosite 2.0 is a knitted upper that is fused with synthetics and aim to help the upper mold to your feet and make you feel comfortable in the shoe. It is not that stretchy compared to regular knitted materials but it’s also not as stiff as compared to the first version of KnitPosite.

However, this may cause the LeBron 18 to have some durability issues as there is no fuse to protect high-wear areas. There were many complaints about the tongue of the shoe, which features 3 useless Zoom Units that I think was supposed to do something? But I’m not sure what that is. It’s just painful to look at

Some colours of the Nike LeBron 18 may fit the streets but I would recommend that it stays mainly on the basketball court. In the NBA, many players have worn this shoe including notable players like LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) himself, Eric Bledsoe (New Orleans Pelicans) and Jusuf Nurkic (Portland Trailblazers).

Fit (9/10):

Fit on the Nike LeBron 18 is true-to-size. The shoe’s upper really conformed well with the foot and it was snug and there were no dead spaces for slippages to occur. That said, wide footers may want to go up half a size or at least try them out in stores before purchasing them.

The LeBron 18 featured something that is rarely seen on Nike basketball models for a long time: the Nike FlyWire. These wires/cables run from the laces, goes underneath the shoe and back to the laces on the other side and when the laces are tightened, locks your feet well in place.

On top of that, The LeBron 18 also features a really solid External Heel Counter with some padding and that helped to secure the heel in place as well.

Support (8.5/10):

If you haven’t heard it enough, I’m going to let you know again, the support of a shoe mainly comes from how good the fit is and its true to a certain extent for the Nike LeBron 18. Sure, the lockdown is great and all, the base of the shoe does wrap up onto the sides a little and the External Heel Counter provided great heel support and containment.

However, although you are not slipping within the shoe, the material is a little on the softer side so you might feel your feet really pushing the upper on hard cuts. Not to mention, there is no outrigger on the LeBron 18 and neither is the base wide enough to provide additional stability.

I would say if you are on the slower side, or a spot-up shooter in general, you should be fine. But if you are a cutter or a driver, you might want to watch out if you’re playing in these.

Cushioning (10/10):

This is where it gets real good. 360 Air Max at the heel, Full-Length Zoom Unit with a Cushlon carrier. To be honest if terms of impact protection, you are not going to find anything as good as this… at least for now. I do see some potential good stuff coming out from Nike soon.

One thing I always look out for when a shoe uses so many different tech is whether the cushioning feel disconnected. For the Nike LeBron 18? No problem at all! The heel-to-toe transition was seamless and you would not feel and hinderance while moving at all.

On top of all that, the bounce back you feel from the LeBron 18 is top notch. That is expected when you have Full-Length Zoom but with the way it’s implemented here… it just feels better somehow. One small point to note, the cushioning is really beefy so you already know that the court feel is going to be very minimal. Not only that, you will also feel very high off the ground as well. For this, it really depends on your own preference. If you are already afraid of the stability and support, then maybe you’ll need to reconsider whether or not you want this shoe.

Traction (8.5/10):

The traction on the Nike LeBron 18… I don’t really know how to describe it. At the forefoot, there is a checkered pattern or net pattern, up to you what you want to call it, and at the heel there are many nubs that are segmented into what I would refer to as boxes or diamonds?

Anyways, I’m kind of torn on the traction of the LeBron 18. On indoor courts, some slight dust would already cause some slippages and to be honest, the overall grip of the traction was not consistent at all. It’s like sometimes I land on a spot and it gripped great and the next time I landed on the same spot, it felt iffy.

You can get the best performance from the traction if you are playing in the LeBron 18 outdoors but as you know, Nike or most major brands usually make their good performers solely for indoors only and that is the same case for these. This traction pattern is not going to last you if you’re playing indoors for sure.

Final Conclusion: (9/10) 

Overall, the Nike LeBron 18 had major strong points and I would consider it a pretty good shoe if not for the support and the traction. It is a real bummer but to be frank, I do like these over the LeBron 17s. I just feel that at this point, I don’t know what to really expect from LeBron’s signature line anymore. If it’s tech, they are just going to throw the latest tech they have on it. Design wise however, I feel that LeBrons have kind of stagnated over the past few years. That said, really hope to have my mind blown by the next one!

Credit: bballequips