The original version of King James’ Nike LeBron 19 made a huge uproar with its superior overall performance, bombarded cushion system, and excellent aesthetics. There’s no doubt that it is among the best basketball sneakers in recent memory. Its durable Battleknit uppers, a combination of Nike Zoom and Nike Zoom cushion set-up, and a very effective traction pattern really gave the upper hand to the pair that is indeed fit for a king.
However, it’s not that much of a high top compared to its predecessors. Honestly, it is more like a low top version compared to the actual Nike LeBron 18 Low. Still, Nike did not cut corners in the support system of the LeBron 18, making the pair more superior than the others. If you are intrigued about the four-time NBA MVP’s original version of his 18th signature shoe with Nike, you can find a full review of the LeBron 18 on the link below this article.
For now, let’s focus on the overall performance of the recently-released Nike LeBron 18 Low. Spoiler Alert! The pair obviously cannot replicate each and every aspect of the original Nike LeBron 18. However, you can still keep your hopes high with this low top sneaker’s potential. That being said, let’s dig deeper into the performance of the Nike LeBron 18 Low.
HOW DOES THE NIKE LEBRON 18 LOW PERFORM ON THE COURT?
The Nike LeBron 18 Low features mesh-like uppers. (Photo courtesy of Sneaker Bar Detroit)
Nike decided to forego the thick and firm Battleknit 2.0 of the Nike LeBron 18 and settled with a thin and flossy mesh-like upper material infused in the LeBron 18 Low. Evidently, the analogy is that the cheaper the price, the lesser the quality of the material. Well, the price difference between the Nike LeBron 18 and Nike LeBron 18 Low is US$40, so it clearly justifies Nike’s decision.
The material might be different, and it obviously equates to the difference in performance, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t work so don’t just throw random prejudices. Despite the visible downgrade, the Nike LeBron 18 Low’s mesh-like material offers a wide range of ventilation. Due to its thin nature, the uppers can provide enough airflow, thus, the pair consistently avoids the heat from affecting the user’s feet.
In addition, the soft mesh textile uppers conform to the feet very well wherein the pair needs less or no break-in at all to reach the uppers’ potential. Also, despite of its thinness, the upper material is durable enough to maintain its conformity and lockdown even when already a bit worn out.
Another notable feature of the upper is the fuse material in the toe cap that adds durability and protection from drags while the fuse on the medial parts provides better lateral containment. Along with this, the toe box provides good flex and curve, giving the user a smooth and comfortable experience when running.
Nike LeBron 18 Low’s traction pattern is almost similar with the Nike LeBron 18. (Photo courtesy of Sneaker Bar Detroit)
Although it received a little tweak with the design on the outsole, the traction pattern of the Nike LeBron 18 Low is almost similar with the original version appearance-wise. The pair has an additional abstract design, along with the square patterns on the forefoot and the nubs on the heel portion.
The outsole is very competitive and it grips well whether being used indoors or outdoors. The pair’s lateral stop is good and does not have any delays or slides while being supported and contained by the fuse-like material. Surprisingly, the traction of the Nike LeBron 18 Low is a notch higher than the Nike LeBron 18 only because in the original version, you can actually experience some slides during stops. It’s noteworthy that the LeBron 18 Low’s traction performance is very much consistent.
The only downside of the outsole is that the rubber compound is too soft. The outsole gets easily worn out overtime when used outdoors, especially if the player loves to drag or slide. Well, it is normal for outsoles to get worn out when used outdoors but the main concern will always be the durability. For a US$160 pair, it’s not very smart and practical to burn out the rubber compound in just a few games.
While there are no major concerns with the outsoles except for its durability, it’s still very advisable to give more time using this pair indoors rather than playing on blacktops. To preserve the lifespan of the pair, we strongly suggest a wider sneaker rotation, especially when you have more access playing outdoors.
But if you’re just after a competitive and consistent traction without actually minding if the outsoles will get scoffs and drags in a short period of time, and if the price of the pair will never be an issue, then the ball is on your court.
Nike LeBron 18 Low is infused with Nike React technology. (Photo courtesy of Sneaker Bar Detroit)
CUSHION AND SUPPORT
When it comes to LeBron shoes, particularly its main signature line, Nike never cuts corners when it comes to the cushioning technology. In addition, it’s no secret that LeBron is a huge fan of the Zoom Air technology, so it is and will always be the main inclusion when it comes to the Lakers superstar’s signature pairs.
The Nike LeBron 18 Low is not an exemption to that rule.
The LeBron 18 Low is infused, as expected, with the Nike Zoom Air Max technology on the heel portion, along with a full-length Nike React cushion. Without any exaggeration, both the Nike Zoom Air Max tech and the Nike React cushion are among the best cushion technologies ever created by Nike due to their superb impact protection and jelly-like bounciness.
Not to rain on anybody else’s parade, but not all combinations of the best technologies can totally equate to a perfect performance. See the Under Armour Curry 7 as an example, with the lowly integration of the brand’s best performing cushion techs, the Micro G and the HOVR.
Under Armour’s Micro G and HOVR, just like the Zoom Air and React, are known as soft and responsive cushion technologies. But when they were infused in the kyrie 8 they turned out to be a bit of a flop due to the stiffness and unresponsiveness. While it is Stephen Curry’s preference to use stiff cushion, it was still both lackluster and disappointing performance-wise, knowing the good reputation that the Micro G and the HOVR have.
On the contrary, the Nike LeBron 18 turned out to be very responsive and a bit too bouncy that the pair’s cushion was forced to have some minor flaws which yet could result into something fatal on the user’s end. This might sound exaggerated for some but don’t forget that in sneakers, too much of something could downgrade the overall performance of the pair.
Still, the LeBron 18 Low’s cushion performance is not as bad as it seems. To be honest, it performs very well. The integration of the Zoom Air Max unit and React tech is undoubtedly very comfortable. It feels like you are jumping on a mattress with how soft and responsive the cushion tech is.
However, there are some negative takeaways that are worth jotting down before you consider buying a pair.
There was a tiny flaw with how these cushion techs were infused. If you are paying close attention, we mentioned that the pair is infused with a full-length Nike React cushion. Yes, full-length. Unlike in the Under Armour Curry 7 wherein the Micro G and HOVR were infused in two opposite sides without overlapping. In the LeBron 18 Low, the Nike React was fully-infused on the forefoot area then became very thin to fit at the top of the Zoom Air Max unit on the heel portion.
This set-up allows the user to experience maximum compression and comfort. However, this same exact set-up is the reason why the Nike LeBron 18 might be unstable. The heel-to-toe transition is too high and due to the insole and the Nike React at the top of it, you can’t feel the Zoom Air Max unit. And considering that court feel is an important preference for some, this might be a red flag for them.
This is unlike the low-to-the-ground Kyries or even the responsive Nike PGs where you can feel the Zoom Air unit and the Zoom Air Strobel, respectively.
Since the court feel is messed-up because the heel-to-ground difference is too great, the cushion techs infused in the pair are basically unstable for some, especially when landing off-a-jump, which might even cause ankle tweaks resulting into an injury. While foot injuries are somewhat common regardless of the pair you use, this is one of those circumstances wherein you can actually avoid getting one.
Due to too much compression of the Zoom Air Max unit, it created a crucial drawback to the users. The cushion technology of the air jordan 1 is like a double-edged sword. While it has a pretty solid impact protection and compression, it might also inflict you an injury due to its instability, comically, with the same exact explanation.
But then again, those are just some possibilities that might occur, particularly if the user is new to high heel-to-ground and bombarded cushion pairs. Also, we cannot take away the good sides just because of some incompatibilities between the user and the sneaker.
On the other hand, the heel-to-toe transition is smooth comparable to a rocking chair motion. The forefoot flex is so good that the user can barely feel the force when running. And again, the Nike React in the forefoot area does a good job responding and lessening the tension on the feet.
The impact protection being a given, due to the bombarded cushion technology, the pair also boasts its excellent lateral containment and overall protection due to the fuse-like material and plastic piece that serve as lateral caging along with an infused TPU heel counter.
Some added features are the thick padding on the Achilles, for added stability along with the oversized tongue which makes the pair easier to wear. The inner side of the pair, specifically the foot bed is flat yet soft and responsive, making the foot stable, firm, and protected.
The pair also has a second set of eyelets just in case users prefer a tighter lacing system. For starters, the lacing system does not only prevent the shoe from wearing off the foot when moving, but it also drastically improves the pair’s lockdown to the foot to make the shoe more stable and keep the feet protected by the uppers.
The Nike LeBron 18 Low runs true to size. (Photo courtesy of Sneaker Bar Detroit)
SIZE AND FITTING
The Nike LeBron 18 runs true to size, although the toe box is a bit snug and the shoe is a bit narrow width-wise. It is still smart to assume that if you are a wide-footer, go up half a size or if in doubt, try a pair first before buying.
But then again, as a reminder, make sure that the pair’s design and technology suit your preference and physical build to prevent what could have been avoidable injuries. So don’t just barge in buying pairs just because they look good, or just because the pair is a signature shoe of your favorite player. Again, we do not want to burst your bubble and prevent you from copping a pair that is definitely worth every penny but it is very necessary to consider all these warnings, as well as the pair’s compatibility.
As we’ve said, the Nike LeBron 18 Low is not a mediocre pair and it is definitely worth a cop considering its price. It performs very well from different point-of-views: from the traction, to the ventilation and impact protection, and to basically everything. However, just like any other excellent-performing pairs, there are drawbacks that users need to re-consider.
The Nike LeBron 18 Low has a very minor setback, but its effects could be fatal to some. A double-edged sword, you might say. A friendly reminder is to always buy a pair that is appropriate to your physical build. Compatibility is essential.
With a weight of 13 oz, it’s also noteworthy that the Nike LeBron 18 Low is heavy as expected, but lighter compared to other LeBron pairs. Evidently, the added plastic materials heavily contributed on the weight of the shoes. Nonetheless, the Nike LeBron series is designed for big and bulky players like the King himself, so the pair’s weight and the bombardment of cushion tech don’t cause any surprises.
THE NIKE LEBRON 18 LOW NETS AN OVERALL RATING OF 4.7 OUT OF 5.
Definitely the pair is a monster performer on the court. However, if it will be used by a player whose physical attributes are not designed for a heavy sneaker, or their feet could not bear the instability of the overpowered cushion tech, injuries might occur.