LeBron James is one of the most famous basketball players in the world. For many people, his name is synonymous with the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has won many awards, as well as NBA MVP Awards, an NBA scoring title, and three NBA championships. Before he was even a professional, LeBron had a lot of hype attached to him, and he entered the NBA as a rookie with high expectations. Before he was even drafted to the NBA, he had a $90 million, seven-year deal that guaranteed that he could design–and that Nike would sell–signature shoes, one for each season of his long career.
Nike, perhaps the biggest sports equipment and clothing company in the world, has signed a lifetime deal with LeBron. Almost sixteen years later, the sports giant is still developing and selling the LeBron line of basketball sneakers. Sneakers are shoes that many people wear for physical activities and for playing sports. However, sneakers can also be worn as everyday, casual shoes, and in this case, many people sport LeBron sneakers not because they play basketball, but for the fashion and style aspect. As the years go by, many LeBron basketball shoes are becoming collectibles as well. This is a guide to the best LeBron shoes, as well as which key features you should look for and how to ensure the sneakers you buy are completely authentic.
Top Lebron James Basketball Shoes Comparison Chart
|1. NIKE LeBron XII Elite||XII||$$$$|
|2. NIKE LeBron XII||XII||$$$|
|3. NIKE LeBron Soldier XII||XII||$$$$$|
|4. NIKE LeBron Witness II||II||$$$|
|5. NIKE Air Max Lebron XI||Under XI||$$$|
|6. NIKE LeBron X||X||$$|
|7. NIKE LeBron Zoom Soldier XIII||XIII||$$$$|
|8. NIKE LeBron Soldier IX||IX||$$$|
|8. NIKE LeBron XIII||XIII||$$$|
|8. NIKE LeBron XV||XV||$$$|
Lebron James Basketball Shoes Buying Guide
Features to Consider
Since LeBron shoes are typically used to play basketball and you should expect to be very active as you’re wearing them, there are certain aspects to keep in mind as you shop LeBron shoes. The following features are ones that should be especially taken into account:
The cushion within a basketball sneaker is very important. You need your shoes to not only support and provide comfort for your feet as you play, but you also need a shoe that will withstand lots of activity and hold up to compression and continuous impacts onto hard surfaces. With LeBron shoes, you’ll find two main choices: air cushioning, and foam cushioning, which differ due to their responsiveness. Responsiveness is defined as the energy that your shoe puts into what you put out.
is generally more responsive than foam. These also last longer, so if you tend to have your shoes for a year or less, and you need new shoes each season or so, air cushioning is great for you. Many LeBron shoes contain Air Zoom technology to cushion your feet, so it will hold up for a longer period of time, and overall, the shoes will last longer.
is great if you change your shoes several times a year or get new ones every couple of months.
One of the most important aspects to understand about basketball shoes is that they tend to fit very tightly and are made to be more narrow. LeBron shoes will especially be narrow if they are made from synthetic materials. Luckily, there are some that were designed specifically for bigger feet, such as the XII Elite. There are other options as well; you can order up half a size, although that may require you to compromise on the level of support the shoe can provide to you. You can also pick a shoe that is made of natural material like suede and leather, materials that will stretch out as time goes on, leading to a better and more comfortable fit for wider feet.
Shoe Outsole Type
This is the part of the sneaker that provides traction, which is an essential aspect for basketball shoes. You’ll need to ensure you get a LeBron shoe that grips the surface you’ll be playing on–no matter whether the floor is pavement, asphalt, or indoor court. As you think about which shoe to pick, look along the bottom of each one and study the outsole’s pattern, its materials (rubber or not, as rubber provides excellent traction), its thickness, and its softness. Take into consideration what kind of surface you’ll have as you play, as the softness and thickness will be important factors for this.
Some LeBron shoes, such as the XII, have rubber soles that are translucent, and which are designed to be used on any kind of surface. These will have great traction and will be durable, no matter where you play. In general, soles that are made of rubber material will have good traction on any surface, so if you’re unsure where you’ll be playing or know you’ll be playing on a variety, these are your best bet. If you know you’ll mainly be playing on concrete, shoes that have hardened rubber or vulcanized soles will provide the best traction.
How to Avoid Buying Fake Sneakers
LeBron sneakers are very popular and very well-known. Given this, there are a lot of fakes out there, and you need to be careful to ensure you don’t get duped into buying a pair that isn’t completely authentic. The shoes are also expensive, and the biggest reason why people end up buying fake LeBron shoes is because they’re more affordable. If you don’t make a purchase through Nike, make sure you have a conversation with the seller about the authenticity of the shoes.
Beyond being cheaper, sometimes fake LeBron shoes are not authentic in a very sneaky way, and this is another way people are accidentally duped. There may be tiny details that are wrong, such as a symbol under the zipper looking different, or a word spelled wrong, or the pull tab is slightly different. These mistakes are hard to catch, and in this situation, people may still sell fake shoes for a high price because they look exactly like the authentic ones, and it’s easy to fall for. If you’re interested in a shoe, take note of every single detail, no matter how small–such as whether the zipper is full length or not–and match those details to the shoe you’re thinking of purchasing. Your best bet is to check out Nike’s website to see photos and details of the originals.
There are several things to look out for as you shop for LeBron sneakers to protect yourself against fakes. You can tell it’s a fake shoe through many different ways, such as:
- Logo on the pull tab is wrong
- Zipper is not full length
- Tab under the zipper has a different design, or the words have a different spelling
- Coloring of the Nike swoosh or other designs/letters is off or wrong
- Fake colorings or made up styles that copy the look of the shoe, but change the aesthetic design that isn’t an official version (example: the LeBron XV comes in certain colors such as black on black, but a fake XV will be in dark blue and dark green)
- Shoes that are claimed to be special edition or weren’t released to retail; avoid any seller who claims they have a shoe that you won’t be able to find anywhere else
- Logo and coloring of the insoles are wrong
The easiest way to spot a fake deal is to examine not only the shoe, but also the packaging it comes in. LeBron’s signature shoes come in a drawer box, and you can check out Nike’s website to see what this drawer box should look like. For example, the XIIs come in a box that’s black, with a silver L-crown-J logo, and the words “The Twelve” written below. A fake shoe may have the logo, but is missing “The Twelve”, or is in brown instead of black. This is a great way to spot fakes, especially within the first few months after a new release.
The bottom line is, as you’re shopping for LeBron sneakers, you need to be careful; counterfeits are everywhere. Have a conversation with the person or business you’re buying from, and ensure you’re using your common sense. If you’re smart and careful, you’ll spot fake LeBron shoes. Even with these guidelines, however, there’s always a high risk of being cheated and that is the nature of the business for these sneakers.
Best Lebron Basketball Shoes Reviews
Now that you understand which features to consider and how to avoid scams, take a look at the top ten best LeBron shoes, listed below.
NIKE LeBron XII Elite
While these shoes may be expensive, they are iconic, and to many people, are symbolic of LeBron basketball shoes in general. They look very cool and have a unique style to them. They have a synthetic, plastic foot cage that wraps around the outsole, and mesh material that provides great breathability. The unique design to the rubber soles also provide great traction. Inside the shoe, you’ll find solid absorption for shock and cushioning, and the shoe is designed overall to resist compression and collapse, so it can withstand the repeated landings you make on hard surfaces such as a basketball court.
That said, these shoes were designed for larger players in mind. They were built to withstand a lot of use and pressure. If you are more of a smaller person, and aren’t intending to use these shoes a whole lot, you might look at other LeBron shoes or consider wearing them merely for fashion. They are also very noticeable and flashy, and are not for the casual user. They run small, so it’s recommended to order a size larger than you normally would.
- Iconic shoe; space-age look
- Works great either as casual sneakers for fashion, or actively on the basketball court
- Solid absorption for shock and cushioning
- Designed to resist compression and collapse
- Breathable mesh and inner material
- Size tends to run small
- Bright red design and aesthetic look might not be a good match for people who are looking for more casual sneakers
- High price tag
- Shoes are designed for larger individuals who put stress on their shoes; not ideal for smaller individuals or those who don’t intend to stress their shoes
- Many people do not like the plastic foot cage
NIKE LeBron XII
As a standout in the LeBron line, these shoes are especially known for their superior support and stability. They have hyperposite wings, which help stabilize and contain your foot wholly within the shoe, and ensure a supreme fit. This is very useful as you play basketball, since you can ensure your shoe will never fall off. The outsole is made from translucent rubber, which means you can play on any surface and still get excellent traction. Mesh material also ensures that your feet will be able to breathe, and prevents swelling as you play. As standouts, these shoes are known for being comfortable, lightweight, stable, and durable.
Just like many other shoes for basketball, the XII do run small, so if you have wide feet, you should order a size up. The middle part of the shoe especially can be very narrow and tight, so there could be some discomfort as you get used to the shoe. The translucent rubber of the outsole may also wear out quickly and easily, especially if you wear the shoe on different surfaces.
- Hyperposite wings stabilize and contain your foot
- Translucent rubber outsole makes this shoe perfect for any surface
- Phylon midsole that’s full length
- Great durability
- Synthetic mesh provides breathability
- Tend to run small
- Middle section of the shoe where the laces are may especially be narrow, lending to some discomfort
- Although the outsole is great for all surfaces, it wears down quickly
- Shoe lacks some of the ventilation that other LeBron shoes have
- On the higher side of the price range for LeBrons
NIKE LeBron Soldier XII
The Soldier is one of LeBron’s best designs. It has an upper that’s precisely engineered to provide excellent and targeted support and breathability, so you can be active in these shoes for a long time. The mesh material also provides breathability, and the suede sole has great traction, whether you’re on the basketball court or off. Zoom Air technology means that the shoe is constantly responding to your movement and ensuring cushioning for your entire foot, with each step you take. Straps that cross across the ankle and midfoot are dynamic and lock your foot in, so there’s never any worry of these shoes coming off as you play hard.
Some downsides to this design in particular, however, are that the straps easily become undone, and the velcro aspect to the straps is lost easily, which leads to the straps hanging limply and the shoe being very loose. There are no laces included, so once the straps lose their strength, it may be difficult to ensure the shoe is on correctly and tightly. This design may also run narrow for some people and can be difficult if you have wider feet.
- Available in 30+ colors and styles
- Have an upper that’s engineered for support and breathability
- Crisscrossing straps lock in the ankle for support
- Has Zoom Air technology, which provides excellent cushioning
- Plush ride
- The straps become undone very easily
- Shoe runs narrow; not ideal for people who have wide feet
- Doesn’t include laces
- Shoe may run small
- Straps do not wrap tightly once they get dirty and contract debris or lint
NIKE LeBron Witness II
The Witness has great breathability and support. It has a mesh, bootie design that supports your entire foot, yet allows optimal airflow for the best breathability possible. The shoe also has a Breathe Tech system and cutouts that are strategically placed along the midfoot area. Zoom Air technology helps to relieve stress on your joints, whether your knees or ankles. Your heels will get support as well, with light foam wings and an Achilles pad that are built in.
A big downside to this LeBron shoe is that the grooves in the rubber outsole attract a lot of dust. This can lead to the outsole losing traction, and makes the shoe difficult to clean. These two conditions can worsen in the long run. The material along the outsole of the shoe may also wear out quickly, depending on your activities. The Witness also tends to run a size small, so ensure you order a size up when you make a purchase.
- Mesh outsole for great breathability
- Zoom Air technology helps relieve stress on the joints
- Breath Tech System
- Support for your heel with foam wings and an Achilles pad
- Very lightweight
- Shoe tends to run small
- Grooves of the outsole attract a lot of dust
- Design may be too casual for people who would like their shoes to stand out
- Outer material of the shoe wears out very quickly
- Loop on the back of the shoe may be annoying
NIKE Air Max Lebron XI
The Air Max brings you a sneaker that’s lightweight and made for playing. The entire shoe is designed to weigh lightly and be very durable, with a full inner sleeve and thin rubber outsole. It also provides a lot of support to your foot, as it has a lateral outrigger that ensures stabilization, and the upper has hyperfuse construction so it stays in place. You can make lots of lateral movements and move quickly in these shoes, without worrying about rolling your ankle or suffering other such injuries. Unlike many other LeBron shoes, these sneakers also have a low, not a high, collar to provide enhanced flexibility and mobility. With the Air Max, you can play all day long.
Some downsides to these shoes is that they are not very durable, and do not hold up in the long run. Some people also dislike the low collar, because it is unlike many of the other LeBron shoes, and if you’re going for a classic or iconic look, you may want a different version. Like most basketball sneakers, these also are very narrow shoes.
- Lateral outrigger for stabilization
- Hyperfuse construction to the upper
- Full inner sleeve
- Low collar for better mobility and flexibility
- Very easy to play in
- Not very durable
- Runs very narrow
- Low collar unlike other LeBron shoes
- Some people don’t like the aesthetic look of the low collar and heightened rubber outsoles
- High arch support may be uncomfortable
NIKE LeBron X
The X is very durable and stable and was designed for durability and breathability. Built with synthetic materials and rubber for the sole, it provides excellent traction for any type of surface so you can play anywhere, and the tongue is mesh. There’s also a full inner sleeve, so your foot fits completely comfortably. The shoes also sport a hyperfuse upper, which is an all-around feature that supports the shoe’s durability, breathability, and stability, all essential elements to a basketball sneaker.
Unfortunately, the X is among the most expensive on this list, which could be a problem depending on your situation. The sneaker is also not lightweight, and was surprisingly heavy to many users. It also may not be quite as comfortable as many of the others that LeBron has designed.
- Can be used on any surface
- Mesh tongue provides great breathability
- Full inner sleeve
- Hyperfuse upper
- Many people enjoy the design and the aesthetic look
- Higher in price range
- Not a lightweight shoe
- Some users found the shoe to not be as comfortable as other LeBron sneakers
- Translucent rubber soles a little odd-looking
- High tops may cause friction along the skin at first
NIKE LeBron Zoom Soldier XIII
The Zoom Soldier XIII is a standout in the LeBron collection. With bright, attention-grabbing colors and a unique design that allows you to merely zip and tighten the velcro collar to ensure a snug fit, the Zoom Soldier also has Flywire cables and Phylon midsoles. Flywire technology wraps the entire shoe from heel to toes, and locks your foot in place so you never have to worry about the shoe coming off as you play. Phylon technology provides great stability and cushioning in the middle part of the shoe. You’ll also find a unique rubber outsole that has flex grooves and a power flex pattern, for great, multidirectional traction. It’s easy to see why this shoe is among the most popular LeBron sneakers.
Like many of the other shoes on this list, this one does run narrow, and like other sneakers that have velcro straps, if the velcro gets dirty, it may be harder to ensure a snug and tight fit. You’ll have to make sure you keep the velcro clean. They also do not have very good ankle support, so if that aspect is essential to you, you may need to take a look at the other sneakers.
- Phylon midsoles for stability and cushioning
- Flywire cables to lock the shoe in place
- Power flex pattern and grooves in rubber outsole
- Natural motion
- Multidirectional traction
- Mix of velcro strap, zipper, and laces a little odd to some people
- Runs narrow
- The velcro strap loses its strength once it gets dirty
- Insoles may be a little harder and have less cushioning than typical LeBron shoes
- Not great ankle support
NIKE LeBron Soldier IX
The IX is a great sneaker from LeBron’s Soldier line. This shoe has many features that make it stand out, including lunarlon cushioning, a modified upper, and a very lightweight aspect due to its Lunarswift 3+ technology. This technology has been upgraded from Lunarswift 2+, and makes the shoe incredibly light. The shoe also has wedged carrier foam, which helps with overpronation and is especially excellent if you have flat feet, making the shoe not just a basketball sneaker, but also a shoe that helps with your health. It also provides breathability due to the mesh material. Overall, it’s one of the best of the Soldier line.
Some negative aspects to this shoe however is that some users discovered that the sole separated from the rest of the shoe within a couple of months. The shoe was also designed with a two-strap system, and some people don’t think the second strap along the middle of the foot is necessary or aesthetically pleasing. Two straps also mean that you’ll have to doubly ensure that they stay clean and free of debris, because they lose functioning if they get dirty. As with many of the other sneakers on this list, the Soldier IX also run small, so you should probably order a size up as you make your purchase.
- Lunarlon cushioning
- Very lightweight with Lunarswift 3+ technology
- Wedged carrier foam to help with overpronation
- Zoom Air units
- Mesh material for breathability
- Sole may separate from the rest of the shoe quickly
- Size runs small
- Sole material provides traction only for indoor court surfaces
- Some people dislike the two-strap system
- Straps will not wrap tightly if they get dirty
NIKE LeBron XIII
The XIII have a great look and all the classic features of LeBron sneakers, including a rubber outsole and mesh material for breathability. They also have Zoom Air units, and overall the shoe is durable and flexible so you can play for a long time in comfort. There are four Zoom Air units located at the underfoot of the shoe, two at the heel, and one at the head. The shoe also uniquely has Zoom L.E.A.P. technology, which helps to propel you forward and upward when you need to steal the ball or make a slam dunk. With breathability and durability, the XIII overall makes a great basketball shoe.
The downsides to the XIII are that it is designed to be narrow, and while that ensures a snug fit, it may cause pain for people who have wider feet. The shoe is especially narrow at the throat, the area around your ankle, which might cause some friction and blistering. While the design along the top is very cool, it may dig into the top of the foot and cause pain. Because the shoes are so narrow and tight, it may take a long time to break the shoes in and reach a level of comfort.
- Seven Zoom Air units
- Zoom L.E.A.P. technology
- Flywire cables
- Responsive and flexible for mobility
- Padded inner collar for comfort
- Tends to run narrow
- Especially narrow at the throat of the shoe
- Design along the top may dig into the foot
- Very tight; long break-in period to reach comfort
- Rubber sole for indoor use only
NIKE LeBron XV
The XV is among LeBron’s most recent releases, and the shoe combines many of the features LeBron sneakers are known for, including a high top design, Zoom Air cushioning, and flexibility. Uniquely, however, the shoe has BattleKnit material on the outside, which is a completely new introduction to the LeBron line. This material is a type of Flyknit, and was designed specifically for this shoe. It delivers lightweight flexibility, stretchy support, and helps to lock in your feet. There’s also a full inner sleeve, to also ensure a great fit. These shoes also combine Zoom Air cushioning with MaxAir technology, for the first time. With the XV, you’ll find a great basketball sneaker that combines classic features with new tech.
The sneaker also has many of the negative aspects that are typical with the LeBron line. It runs small, and the high top design with an elastic fit at the ankle may cause some friction or blistering at first, which leads to a long break-in period; it may take a while before you feel fully comfortable in these shoes. There are also no straps, and the lace system is odd to some people.
- Translucent rubber outsole
- Zoom Air units in combo with Max Air
- New BattleKnit material
- Very lightweight
- Full inner sleeve
- Some people don’t enjoy the high top design
- Sole is both black and white, which may look odd
- Runs small
- No straps, and laces may be difficult to tighten
- Elastic fit at the ankle may cause some friction
Conclusion & Final Recommendations About Lebron Basketball Shoes
LeBron James is one of the most famous basketball players in the world and is one of the biggest names to ever play the sport. Even before he signed with the NBA, he had a deal with Nike to produce new shoes every season that were designed by him. Anyone who plays basketball loves getting LeBron sneakers, and you don’t have to play to wear them; they’re very fashionable, as well, and can be worn casually to work or school.
When you shop for LeBron sneakers, however, you need to look past the name and keep an eye out for certain features to make sure you’re getting a good product, just as you would with any other shoe. Make sure the sneakers you check out have great cushioning and breathability, especially if you do plan on playing basketball with them. Good sports shoes will help to alleviate all the sweat that occurs and will have aspects that will help to prevent injuries, such as a snug fit and laces or velcro straps so you don’t have to worry about the shoe coming off. You should also keep in mind what type of surface you’ll be playing on, and look at different materials for the outsole to match your intentions.
Perhaps the biggest thing to look out for as you shop LeBron sneakers is to be wary of fakes. The shoes are very popular and cool, and they are not cheap. If you find LeBron sneakers that are very cheap, chances are they are not real. There are not only many fakes, but also knock-off brands that copy the designs. If you’re interested in getting real, authentic LeBron sneakers, you may have to do some extra work. However, it is worth it, and there are ways you can tell if the shoe is authentic, as well as reputable sources to buy from, including Nike itself. In the end, you’ll end up with a great sneaker that makes an excellent gift, and will help you or someone else play their best basketball game yet.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lebron Basketball Shoes
How long have LeBron shoes been in existence?
LeBron shoes have been around since 2003, when the first line, the Air Zoom Generation, was introduced.
What’s the best way to tell a LeBron shoe is authentic?
The best way to ensure you purchase an authentic LeBron shoe is to make the buy through a Nike store. There are many copies and fakes out there, and you should be aware that the cheaper the shoe is, the more likely it’s not authentic, especially if the price seems too good to be true. Nike also has a list of guides about fakes that can help you determine whether the shoes you own, or are about to own, are real or fake.
Have any new features been added to the LeBron line?
The first LeBron shoes had mesh and air ducts for breathability and ventilation. They were also very lightweight, and had composite plates. Since then, Nike has contributed new and updated features to LeBron shoes, such as carbon fiber, Flywire, zoom air pods, lunarlon cushioning, and Zoom cushioning technology. The XV, one of the newest releases, also features BattleKnit material, a type of breathable and supportive material that was designed specifically for LeBron shoes.
What is Zoom Air?
Zoom Air is a type of cushioning technology that many LeBron sneakers have. The technology is widely praised because it provides excellent comfort and mobility. In fact, it’s one of the features that LeBron sneakers are most known for. You may also see Zoom Air pods, which are pods of Zoom Air cushioning that are typically located at the heel and midsole of the shoe.
Where can I find cheap LeBron sneakers?
Unfortunately, LeBron sneakers will be expensive. If you find a cheap pair, this likely means that the pair is not authentic. If you are interested in purchasing shoes that look like LeBrons or copy their designs for a cheaper price, you can find these widely available. Real, authentic LeBron basketball shoes, however, will not be cheap.
Why do I need to order a size bigger than normal?
You’ll most likely need to get a size bigger than you normally would when you purchase LeBron sneakers, because they are designed to be small and narrow. The reason for this is to ensure a tight fit. Although the sneakers can be worn casually, they are intended to be worn as someone is playing basketball, so the shoe has to fit well and not come off very easily. With a smaller shoe, you won’t worry about rolling your ankle or getting other injuries as you play. While this is a benefit, it can be a downside to people who have wide feet or bigger feet. In fact, this aspect is the aspect that many people complain about the most with LeBron sneakers, and is the biggest downside to them.