June 13, 2019 by tinmy2014
It’s been a little while since I’ve hooped in a performance Jordan model (the Jordan XX9 and the CP3 8 were the last ones) and the Ultra.Fly had a number of things going for it. It’s the stripped-down cousin of the Super.Fly, a model that’s now four versions deep and is consistently one of the better performers on the market. It’s at an attractive price point ($125) and features an interesting TPU/mesh build for the upper.
Word today is that the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler will be debuting the shoe on-court, making it a faux-signature for an up-and-coming two-way star.
Besides that, I was able to scoop them at my local House of Hoops before most people had gotten a good look at them. On the shelf, it looked like it could be a gem in the Jordan line, perhaps an overlooked model than was great on court.
That perception, unfortunately, was pretty far off.
We’ll start with the good here: the fit was actually really nice. The base of the Ultra.Fly is thick mesh, and that’s covered from heel to toe in a Kurim webbing. Some have compared it to UA’s Anatomix line, but the upper is much thicker and the Kurim is much more pronounced – the Anatomix shoes were closer to SprintWeb or layers of Fuse than this is.
We first saw Kurim on the initial LeBron 16 Elite images, so it’s great to get a first impression of the new tech here. It’s a second skin-like structure designed to provide containment and support – basically a flexible cage. Planting and cutting or changing directions at high speed didn’t cause any slippage on the interior. It’s really a natural feel, flexible and the containment is excellent.
The lacing system is simple, laced straight up with no frills, notches, Flywire or straps. I usually prefer this, and simple is better when it comes to lacing. It would have been nice to get some flat or paracord laces instead of the round ones used here (they feel cheap and kind of outdated) but that’s an extremely minor gripe. The tongue is also excellent – thick and padded, and part of a snug inner sleeve. JB did not skimp here and it’s definitely appreciated.
There is no external heel counter and the interior one is pretty flimsy. It’s easily squeezed and manipulated. While I didn’t notice instability on-court, I’ve woken up the day after playing with a bit of a tweaked ankle each time – and I’m attributing that to the lack of a solid heel counter. I have generally very strong ankles, but occasionally I’ll get a shoe without a solid heel and I’ll get sore. It’s not terrible by any means, and I only mention it because it may not provide the ankle support you’re looking for if that’s an important part of your shoe choice.
Overall, I liked the lockdown and natural feel on-foot that this upper combo provided. The Kurim is unconventional for sure, but it functions really well and was definitely the best aspect of the shoe.
While I wasn’t able to find a definitive answer, I believe it to be a Phylon midsole with an articulated Zoom bag in the forefoot; transition is really smooth. The outsole/midsole bears some resemblance to the Kyrie 2, and while it’s not quite effortless like that shoe, it’s still very good. There’s no break in time either – these are good to go from a transition standpoint right out of the box.
However, the overall cushioning and comfort of the shoe kind of hampers the transition. With a lack of midsole support and impact protection (which I’ll get into in the next section) I felt that simple straight-line running was pretty painful.
I’ll just say it: this is probably the worst cushioned shoe I’ve played in for a long time. As mentioned before, it’s a Phylon midsole – same compound used in the Kyrie 2 – but even as low profile as the Kyrie was, the Ultra.Fly has even less impact protection. I typically don’t mind a thinner, lower midsole (I was a fan of the Kyrie 2 and Crazyquick 1) but these just did not work for me.
There were a couple factors that I believe played into this. For one, it’s basically just a flat midsole with a slight heel-toe drop. No extra support, no shank, no special design that utilized its low profile build. The Kyrie 2 was designed for natural movement and was sculpted to promote that, and the Crazyquick was designed to be insanely flexible with flex grooves and traction pods perfectly placed. The Ultra.Fly is basically just a flat surface hitting the ground each time you take a step.
This leads me to my next point, concerning the articulated Zoom bag. Because there’s no additional support, I don’t feel like my foot hits the Zoom bag properly. While I can feel something in there at the forefoot, it’s mushy and I really can only feel it flex. I don’t notice any additional responsiveness or cushion from the bag, so the Zoom doesn’t really do its job. The bag protrudes slightly from the outsole and is bottom-loaded (embedded in the outsole and not on top) so the responsiveness is already muted there. A dual-density setup like Podulon probably would have worked better.
I mentioned it on an IG post, but if Zoom is too flexible and your foot doesn’t exert force on the bag, then you’re not going to get the responsiveness you expect. Zoom is basically fibers stretched tight and stitched to two plates in a pressurized bag. On an exposed Zoom bag, you can see the fibers stretched and attached to the top and bottom of the bag. When the bag receives force from your foot and it compresses, it naturally wants to push back out and respond to that force. This is where you get the super responsive Zoom feel from. By putting flex points in that bag, I feel like it just flexes when you walk instead of absorbing that force and bouncing back.
The court feel and stability are fine – the shoe rides real low to the floor – and I never felt unstable per se. But after the first couple wearings I my back and arches of my feet were very sore from the lack of support and cushioning. This lasted a couple of days and unless you’re a young buck that never gets hurt, I would be vary wary of these. I also felt that the ball of my foot was basically touching the gym floor due to those flex points in the bag.
The stock insole is embarassing, and I swapped it out with the thickest one I had from a pair of old James (this is my go-to insole when the one I’m testing is no good) and I did notice a significant improvement at least in comfort.
Still, you shouldn’t pay $125 and immediately have to swap insoles just to get passable comfort. This is one of the few things that will get me legit upset with a shoe.
The traction pattern is a full length wavebone setup, and it’s pretty good. It felt pretty sticky and slightly pliable to me. I could stop on a dime on a variety of surfaces including a tile-ish court, although a dirty floor will require the usual wiping. It’s a one-piece rubber outsole so the feel is pretty consistent and confidence-inspiring underfoot.
I think the Kurim upper will hold up pretty well and the TPU-like material already gives you some abrasion protection to begin with. The midsole is only going to break down more over time though, so I can’t imagine impact cushioning will get any better.
A use of different materials likely would have driven the price up, but it also would have probably prevented the shoe from ever being made – it pretty much needs to be set up like a Super.Fly 4.5 in order to be a good performer. A Flight Plate was badly needed, and I would have loved to see the tri-Zoom bag like the 4 instead of this articulated one.
Bottom line, I simply did not enjoy playing in these at all. I don’t feel it’s a reflection on all Jordan performance shoes, but the materials here certainly need an improvement. Giving it the tech it needs and selling it in the $140 range would have been more plausible to me from a performance perspective, but I get why they stripped it down.
Despite the great lockdown and fit (plus they look pretty sweet), these will be exiting the rotation ASAP. If you’re looking for extreme court feel or don’t need a ton of impact protection, the lockdown on the Ultra.Fly is great so they may be an option for you. April 2 is the official release date.
But in my opinion, there are plenty of better options out there for less money. Sorry…
June 11, 2019 by tinmy2014
The spawn of the Air Raid, Zoom Vick and Lebron XII might be ugly but beauty, or ugliness in this case, is only skin deep.
Here is the ugly contest performance head to head
Hyperdunk 2015 vs Soldier IX Head to Head
If you’ve read my Top 5, you’d know that the Soldier 13 has been one of goto shoes for almost three years . I stocked up on them because they were that good (and still are). Excellent fit, cushioning, traction, support and containment, the Soldier VI excels at everything.
I didn’t like the Soldier VII bc it didn’t feel like it had the same Zoom as the VI plus they were super stiff and I didn’t like the VIII bc it felt like cushioning was made of only foam (I did love the fit though).
Which brings us to the Soldier IX
The Lebron Soldier line has typically been great in this department which is one of the reasons I love the VI. Although the pattern is very different from the VI the IX holds its own. The IX did a great job on all surfaces and was very consistent regardless of the amounts of dust even though I didn’t feel that bulldog bite I love from the very best traction setups.
I really like the pattern especially the vertical lines bc they really help stop you on hard cuts and defensive slides . The little nodules are similar to the Kobe X concept but aren’t nearly as small and flexible. But they really do a good job shooing dirt out of way like a toothbrush.
It just doesn’t get clogged up with dust so you’ll never slip but other shoes like the Rose 5, Clutchfit, Aj xx8 all bite harder but I have to wipe more often with those shoes. A better way to put it is the Soldier IX traction doesn’t grab quite as hard as the best setups but it doesn’t get affected by dust as much as the other setups either. In other words they are just plain consistent.
Finally a Zoom set up that can compete with the VI. The VI had very large Zoom units which is a rarity these days and the IX is no slouch. These feel firmer than the VI but they actually feel like Zoom Air but still not as responsive and bouncy as the VI. Takes only a little time to bring the Zoom to life.
I went true to size with my normal sz 11 and these fit perfect width and length wise. It’s funny, as I was lacing these up, I was looking for more lace holes and there are only 4 total since the soldier’s lacing” system is composed of straps;one strap goes around the ankle to lock in the heel and ankle
while the other strap connects to some flywire that goes under and over the forefoot while the strap goes over the midfoot.
The result of the straps is perfect lockdown particularly at the midfoot. I didn’t feel the strap across the forefoot do anything unless I really tugged at it hard and folded the upper
I tugged and pulled the straps as hard as I could and I didn’t feel any difference with the Flywire. All of the tension increase I felt was on the midfoot and where the strap meets the Flywire IMO it is too loose and high above the foot to do anything bc it doesn’t sit flat on top and across the foot so unless you have a very voluminous foot you won’t feel it. It does add some nice color though . A standard strap set up would have sufficed but regardless you’re locked in.
Heel lockdown is excellent thanks to a padded notched ankle and strap of course
Reminds me of Alice in Wonderland
Below: The ankle collar wraps around the ankle unlike the XII which stops much shorter than the Soldier or the Elite XII
Versus the VI the fit is a little better but nothing significant
Support and Stability
Support is excellent in the Soldier IX without being overbearing.
The wing is part of the entire “frame”‘for the shoe which I really like. Since the wing is made of foam , it flexes and creases with the foot unlike Hyperposite or TPU.
It provides a nice stable base to build the entire shoe around because everything is connected to the one piece base.
Above: heel counter that is connected to the wing that is connected to the midsole that is connected to the hip bone ..
I also liked the fact that the upper is one piece
Above: the only stitching on the upper.
Soldiers have always provided a nice balance of freedom and support and these do it just right. I feel like these provide a little more support than the VI especially at the midfoot.
Almost every marquee shoe I’ve tried performs well in the typical categories like traction, cushioning and support but very few do a good job at containing the foot since the lightweight minimal upper movement. The Soldier line has always done a good job with containment and these are no different.
Fuse and the wing provide strength and rigidity to the upper to keep the foot contained, not the Flywire, on hard cuts. . I said earlier, there is too much slack in the Flywire so the upper absorbs the the impact and provides containment before Flywire can do anything. Regardless, I loved the containment in these. Reminds me of how the VI performs in this category.
While the Lebron signature line focuses on the latest and greatest technology, the Soldier line just plain performs proving newer and fancier isn’t always better. This shoe does everything better than the XII without all the gimmicks at a much lower price. This colorway retailed at $140 and hit $109 on Nike.com only a few weeks after being released , probably because they are so ugly and busy. Soliders never sell out so if you want to be frugal just be patient and prices will hit the typical $99 to $69 range and will eventually hit outlets for even lower. I’ve always felt the Soldier line was perfect for tweeners like me: Bigger/heavier players that can still move quickly and need flexibility and support and stopping power and these are fantastic. I love shoes that do everything well and the IX really has no weakness, kind of like Lebron.
Overall these could eventually replace my Soldier VI once I run out. They do almost everything as well as the VI (support especially under the midfoot was better than the VI). For now I’ll stick to my VI. Glad I stocked up but good to know there is a worthy alternative .
May 30, 2019 by tinmy2014
Converse Basketball is back, again, with the Converse All Star Pro BB and here is our performance review.
The traction on the Converse All Star Pro BB is the one area that I wish was better. I can’t say the traction was downright bad because at times, it was nothing short of awesome. Then, randomly and without warning, I’d lose all of that wonderful grip and wipe out. I can’t tell you why it happened, all I know is that it did and it would do it when I’d apply pressure heavily on the entire surface of the sole. If I was just staying on my toes, which is how I end up moving around screens and such anyway, then everything was perfectly fine.
Just like most of the current Nike Basketball shoes I’ve been testing as of late, the outsole has a film on it that needs to be worn away. If you take these for a spin, chances are that you may feel like the outsole is a little slick to start. Stick with it and it’ll get better over time.
The rubber is soft and will fray, especially outdoors, but it’s also squared so they should last longer than something like the Nike Kobe 1 Protro.
Full-length React cushioning is used in the form of a drop-in midsole, much like the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 — a shoe I feel is most comparable to the Converse All Star Pro BB.
While I did enjoy the ride of the Kobe AD NXT 360 a little more, it wasn’t drastic enough to blatantly say I prefer one over the other, unless we’re talking about the lining used on the footbed. That’s where I really had a problem with these guys.
The lining used is a canvas-like material, a nod to the classic Converse Chuck Taylor. However, it’s something the pads of my toes hated. The bottoms of my feet were getting chewed up like crazy, to the point where they looked like they were being rubbed raw. I tried every style of sock I own and nothing really helped — it’s just a bit too coarse for my feet, I suppose.
The cushion itself was smooth and offered a slight bounce when brand new. The bounciness of the React went away rather quickly, but my legs felt just fine after three hour hoop sessions. Great court feel with moderate impact protection for a low-profile style of play. If you enjoy feeling fast on your feet, then these will make you feel as if you’re as nimble as a deer. Almost to the point of feeling as if you’re barefoot on the hardwood. It’s an interesting feeling, but if you’ve played in Kobe’s with drop-in midsoles, then you likely already know what to expect.
The materials are a mix of mesh and canvas — with a a bit of Fuse keeping things together. While the shoe doesn’t feel premium, they didn’t feel as if they were made of nothing — which is how I felt with the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360. When fully laced, the shoe’s build wraps up and around your foot like a sock. It’s similar to the Chuck Taylor and its canvas build but it barely provides enough support for gameplay.
The entire shoe is very minimal and reminds me a lot of a Nike Free. If that is what runners consider to be a minimalist running shoe, then this is a minimalist basketball shoe.
The Converse All Star Pro BB fits true to size. However, they’re very snug. Like, reallysnug, especially at the toe. Something most of you already know I love — and I sure as hell did love it. I had a great one-to-one fit and feel while wearing these guys on-court. It’s exactly how I wish the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 fit me.
While tight, everything moves really nicely with your feet, which are the pros to using textiles, canvas and super thin TPU overlays. The cons? (no pun intended) is that they’re not very durable. My pair looks like I’ve been using them for much longer than I actually have been. I will say that I did wear the hell out of them though. I really liked how everything fit and felt overall — minus the insole lining and inconsistent traction.
Support doesn’t look like much; they’re missing almost everything the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 had from the TPU shank to the external heel counter. However, they do feature a smaller internal heel counter along with a fit that really promotes a natural feel. Again, very minimalist overall. It’s as if you’re not even wearing shoes. Some may love it, while others may hate it. As long as you know what type of shoe you like to play in, then you may end up really enjoying something like this, especially if the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 was your thing.
Eric Avar did what Eric Avar does: he made a really good basketball shoe. It’s not perfect and I didn’t expect it to be. I would’ve liked to have had slightly better traction and an insole lining that didn’t want to chew my feet up when running around. Everything else in the shoe I really enjoyed, from the lightweight feel to the one-to-one fit.
The Converse All Star Pro BB is a far cry from anything Avar created with the late 90s/early 00s Nike Alpha Project Series, but they were much better than I had anticipated. Enough to say I actually liked them. Had the traction been better I’d probably keep these in my gym bag as a backup pair. For now, that’s still what my Air Jordan Alpha 1‘s are for.
May 16, 2019 by tinmy2014
It’s funny how the XIII Elite model costs the same as the non elite isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be nice if shoe companies would just give us the good goods the first time around ? That will never happen so oh well, onto the review Pros: much lighter without sacrificing support, traction, cushioning, support and stability, containment, Posite was removed including the stupid middle piece Cons: Hex Zoom takes time to get used to, would have preferred regular large forefoot Zoom, one piece upper leads to some bunchiness around tongue, upper is same thickness around entire shoe and needs some break in, sum of the parts not as great as indivual scores Sizing: true to size, half size down for narrow footers Best for: any position Here is my XIII comparison from last year King of the court Weight: 13 ounces for a Lebron shoes is nuts. The regular XIII was 16 oz. Traction Exactly the same as the non elite. Great on all surfaces including dusty floors although wiping is still needed. Don’t judge a shoe’s traction based on translucency. Translucent outsoles can work great depending on how the pattern is set up and Nike did a great job on these. Cushioning Five hex pods in the forefoot versus three with the non elite. I can’t really feel them because they are so far forward in the toe and they are the small Zoom pods but at least they are there. They might help with push off but it is really is minimal. You can actually feel the Zoom in the forefoot since Nike increased the volume in the medial forefoot pod and the heel Zoom feels great just like the XIII. Regarding how Hex Zoom feels, it takes a little time getting used to it. I still prefer a normal Zoom set up because the flexibility gained from the Hex set up isn’t all that much especially considering how much midsole there is. Would you rather sleep on one plush bed or a bunch of pillows spaced evenly apart ? All the empty space between the Zoom pods and the protrusion from each pod could have been simplified with a standard forefoot Zoom set up. Fit I went true to size from Lebron X to XIII and these fit me perfectly just like the regular XIII. If you have narrow feet, I suggest half size down because I see it being difficult to get laces tightened properly with skinny feet. The entire upper is now the same material and Nike dropped the Posite (thank goodness). I’ve never been a fan of Posite and the removal of it just makes the shoe feel more natural to me. No more stupid middle Posite piece either. Kurim rubber is used on the entire upper. What is Kurim? It is just the name of the company that makes the rubber. (Makes it sound fancier doesn’t it? It’s like when you order fish at a restaurant and instead of catfish it says Blue Channel Mississippi Catfish). The Kurim cage sits on top of the upper so when it gets pushed or flexes it contains the foot. Very similar to UA’s Clutchfit upper in my opinion. Above: Nike even put this weird material I’ve never seen before.. Must be from ancient times. Real leather is what I think they called in B.S. Times (Before Synthetic ) Below: nicely padded ankle collar I think a combo of pure mesh and Kurim have been ideal. The regular XIII had thinned out the mesh in high flex areas but the Elite is pretty much the same thickness throughout mid and forefoot. It doesn’t affect flexibility much but I know some people might not want to put in the time to break in a shoe. If you want a flexible, minimalist shoe, the LBJ line is not for you. Material changes aside, I had no issues with fit, heel slippage, or movement side to side. One other note. Being a one piece upper with no separate tongue, I still had weird folding along the tongue since my foot doesn’t fill the shoe to capacity. It isn’t a deal breaker at all but just an annoyance. I had similar issues with the regular XIII as well. Support and stability Always a strong point of the LBJ line, the Elite does a great job. Nike upgraded the plastic midfoot support to Real Carbon Fiber. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen real carbon fiber used on a shoe so it is nice upgrade. As far as performance, it doesn’t change much so that’s why the past few years we’ve seen plastic but I think Nike really wanted to make the elite feel, well..elite. No tippiness at all thanks to an outrigger and wide forefoot. The XIII is cut really high.. As high as the Clutchfit Drive actually.And like the Clutchfit Drive the ankle collar is flexible (not as flexible as the Clutchfit) but still similar in stiffness to the regular XIII. Containment Another strength of the Lebron line has been its containment and these do a great job. Imagine Lebron trying to stop on a dime in a Kobe Flyknit upper. I’d imagine a 260 lb monster would rip right through it. The upper and slightly raised midsole (and Flywire to a lesser extent) do a good job on hard cuts. You can clearly see the Flywire in the XIII elite upper. I don’t think these Flywire strands are Kevlar like the KD8 Elite so enjoy those lace holders known as Flywire. Conclusion Ice cream or ice cream with sprinkles for the same price. Pretty sure 99% of us would take the sprinkles. That’s what we have going on with the Elite series this year. No price changes but upgraded parts? Heck yea! I really don’t see any reason why anyone would choose the regular lebron 16 over the Elites. Lighter without giving up support, more Zoom and better materials for the same price. Plus they look cleaner and simpler overall. I think Nike is going away from price gouging and really trying to add value by upgrading materials yet keeping the prices the same. Kind of like getting real wood panels in a car versus plastic pieces. Even with the upgrades, I’ve already seen the Elite XIII for $160 already so be prepared for more price drops. Regarding the shoe itself, the XIII overall is a great shoe especially when looking at each performance aspect but I can’t put my finger on why I don’t love the shoe more. I think it does everything really well but nothing stands out to me to the point that I want to wear them all the time. Maybe it’s my long history with the Soldier VI but I’d still take it over the XIII. Maybe it has to do with what other shoes did really well this year? Rose 6, HR16 have exceptional cushioning, the Lillard 2 has fluid transition, fit and value, while the Curry Two has amazing traction, fit and stability. The XIII probably would have stood out more in any other year. Regardless of my opinion,I’m sure many players love the XIII and I’m sure they’ll enjoy the Elite version just as much if not more.
May 14, 2019 by tinmy2014
Decided to supplement my KD 12 and Crazylight 2016 reviews with a direct comparison with each performance aspect. It all comes down to how much weight you place on each category versus looking at how many categories each shoe won.
Here are the full reviews
KD: 13.5 oz
Almost all shoes work great on clean floors so the real differentiator comes down to dusty floor performance and the CLB16 outperforms the KD 9 on dusty floors. The KD flat honeycomb pattern just picks up dust while the CLB traction brushes it away.
Verdict: Crazylight Boost 2016
Both shoes provide exceptional cushioning so it comes down to what you look for in a cushioning set up.
The CLB set up is firmer than the KD 9. I think the KD 9 Zoom feels better though because it doesn’t get my neuromas buzzing in my feet and sits lower to the ground while retaining some serious bounce.
Verdict: KD 9
One of the easier categories for me is the fit. I had no heel slip in the KD9 and it fit like a glove with no break in time.
The CLB16 had me having to choose between comfort and performance with true to size or half size down. I also had minor heel slip in both sizes.
Verdict: KD 9
Support and stability
Neither is built for saving ankles but the firmer, denser Boost midsole plus the firmer heel counter, torsional shank plate and forefoot roll cage gives the CLB16 the edge.
The KD 9 support only from the fit and a flimsy heel counter.
Verdict: Crazylight Boost 2016
Verdict: Crazylight Boost 2106
Personally I can’t stand heel slip so I’d take the KD 9 over the air jordan 12 fiba but neither is making my rotation. If the CLB had zero heel slip and were made in a 10.75, I’d pick the CLB but unfortunately for me, it isn’t. The KD 9 traction is great just needs some wiping on dusty floors and lateral containment is very good for a knit upper. I hope this little comparison helps!
May 7, 2019 by tinmy2014
Short and sweet. If you liked the Nike LeBron 16 you’re going to LOVE the *ahem* Nike LeBron 16 “Low”…
Same as the “mid” – and we say mid tongue-in-cheek because really, it’s the same shoe. Deep grooves that are spaced wide enough that very little dust gets grabbed and built with a rubber compound that would feel right at home in the 90’s, the traction is some of the best tried this season. Front to back, side to side (never let ________ ride) and on any floor, the LeBron 16 Low held tight on the curves and solid on defense. Just a little wiping in extremely bad floors and it was back to squeaky-squeak and glue grip.
Again, same as the mid, and it is some of the bounciest, responsive cushioning ever. Stiffer than the Max Zoom in the Nike LeBron 15
The midsole isn’t stiff at all, either, like some over-cushioned shoes tend to feel. The Zoom and Max is separated for flex and the transition is serious – the feel of a fast, “guard” shoe with the impact protection of a “big-man” shoe – sounds kind of like a certain “King” huh?
Awww, no Battleknit 2.0? No problem. The mesh/textile upper of the Nike LeBron 16 Low may not be as “premium” as the mid, but it plays every bit as well. There isn’t an official name for it on the Nike website, so we will call it textile. It doesn’t stretch around your foot as much as it molds, giving the upper a broken-in feel almost from the start. While playing, the thinner, lighter feel of the upper contributes to a fast feel most Max shoes don’t have. It’s not running shoe mesh or Kobe AD NXT 360 lightweight but it won’t feel heavy or bulky once broken in.
Around the heel counter we have an unfinished tan leather with the embossed lion’s head logo (I love the way it looks – some don’t *cough* Nightwing *cough*) and the same quality leather patch on the tongue. These touches don’t add anything in the way of performance but in terms of looks they contrast perfectly and give some detail (the camouflage colorway has a thick, canvas material on the heel counter). There is also a small sliver of nubuck on the medial toe for toe drags and side-side-side steps.
The biggest, and really only, improvement from the mid to the low is the fit – I just wrote all these other words to make you interested. I played with the lacing on the mids, moving to all different holes and combinations, and still had some issues with slight heel slip and containment. The LBJ16 Low takes a whole new direction, with the laces running not over the tongue but into the tongue and right back to the sides – no crossing over. This pulls the upper straight down into the foot and the foot straight down into the midsole, locking your foot like a strait-jacket. The last lace hole is a normal criss-crossing over the foot and pulling your foot into the heel counter. With the added torque, the heel slip is gone and lockdown is dang near perfect. The midsole is still a little heavy so it does have a slight “pull down” feeling, but not like the mid.
As far as sizing, I stayed true to size and went with my normal 10.5. The length allows for about a half inch of dead space, which I enjoy. This gives me enough room that if I do happen to have a little front-to-back slip my toes won’t turn black.
Starting at the midsole – there is no real midfoot shank, but with that huge Zoom system you don’t need one. The largest component of the support system is the fit and lacing. The worry with a large midsole is stability and the foot staying upright. However, with the solid lacing your foot is locked in and never slides over the footbed, even on hard cuts. Also helping in upright stability is the outrigger construction. All of the midsole bubbles have outriggers molded into the outsole, helping with any tipping while playing. Where the LeBron 15 had the same cushioning system, it was also one of the most unstable setups I can remember playing in. The 16 fixes the issues and feels the same great Zoom bounce while doing it.
Just like Nike used to do with the Elite series for the playoffs, they have taken the signature shoe of the “best player in the game” and improved it for the late season (can’t say playoffs this year). If you enjoyed the Nike LeBron 16 (and face it, most of the people who played in it really did like it), you will love the low. Improved fit, still great cushioning and traction, and, materials that are still nice and functional (but not knit – boo hoo). If you are an all-around player who needs some extra bounce for those joints, look no further – this is arguably the best cushioning/impact protection combo on the market. Really, the only reason not to try the shoe is the price (still an expensive $160) or if you just hate LeBron (yes, there are some of them out there). Don’t be scared of the tall midsole – the Nike LeBron 16 Low is fast, flexible, and feels great on court. Just don’t call it a mid.