KICKZ Performance Review: Nike LeBron XVIII

Photo by Albi Quito (2020)

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you had a wonderful time. After a brief Christmas break, I am finally back on the KICKZ Blog to talk about sneakers 🙌. This time around, I would like to share my thoughts on LeBron JAMES’ new shoes with you. Let’s have a look!


As usual, Nike LeBrons are a bit bulkier than many other current signature models. This is also reflected in the shoe’s weight. With 499 g, these are the heaviest ones that I have played in, in a very long time. Designwise though, I don’t mind the bulkier look too much as I am quite a fan of high cuts and beefier ankle paddings as you know from my previous performance reviews. And that’s what you normally get from a LeBron. What’s a bit unusual this time, is that Nike actually opted to cut out the ankle area and basically exposed it 🤷‍♂️. That gives the LeBron XVIII a little bit of an odd silhouette in my opinion. Especially when you compare it to the rest of this signature line. However, what makes these stand out visually, are the many colorways 🎨 in which these have and will be released. From Lakers inspired themes to LeBron’s personal choices, there should be a color option for everyone. The one you see in this review is called “Los Angeles By Night”.


The Knitposite 2.0 on the LeBron XVIII is elite. Though, it does not feel like the lightest material, it is definitely premium, durable, performance driven and on top of that, very comfortable. Allow a little bit of break-in time and this will feel even better. What’s also cool is the use of Air Max pockets on the upper. Those are featured in the tongue and replace traditional foam there. As a side note, for those who have played in the LeBron XVII, the Knitposite 2.0 is a bit thinner than last year’s knit material 👍.


The new LeBrons gripped the floor well but were really nothing too special in terms of traction. For me, the shoe was pretty consistent over time but did not necessarily have the hardest bite. And while I did not experience any unpleasant surprises, just be prepared to wipe every now and then, as the outsole seems to collect dust easily, which obviously has an impact on the shoe’s grip.


Let’s get to the XVIII’s best feature 🔥. The cushioning consists of a visible Air Max unit in the heel and full-length Zoom Air in the midsole. And yes, this combination feels as incredible as it sounds. It is soft, bouncy and offers very good impact protection. I think, especially big guys will appreciate this setup. The minor downside for me was the little loss of court feel. Sure, there can always be a little bit of a tradeoff, when you max out on cushioning and so this personal preference should really not take too much away from an otherwise awesome cushion setup.


I went true to size and initially, the XVIIIs were a little snug. But given some break-in time, this will adjust. What I definitely liked was the padding and molding in the heel area. That felt nice and comfortable and also took care of heel containment. Lockdown in general was also solid and so was lateral containment thanks to that robust Knitposite. My only concern is the tongue. As mentioned above, it’s made out of multiple Air Max pockets. While this is definitely a cool innovation, the spaces between them make the tongue really thin in certain areas. So depending on how tight you like to lace up your shoes, this could become somewhat uncomfortable as the laces may apply pressure directly onto your foot.


This was the shoe’s toughest part. As I have learned from previous reviews, there actually is something like “too much cushioning”. So while containment was solid in general, lateral stability was a concern. As you are basically walking on an air bubble, it felt a bit wobbly at times. Especially on hard cuts or stops, the Air Max unit would sometimes compress to a point, where it felt like it would tilt over and lead to an ankle roll. Just an uncomfortable thought to have, while trying to go full throttle. I think a wider base or even an outrigger would have helped in this case.

Bottom Line

Let’s face it, this is potentially THE shoe that (arguably) the world’s best basketball player will wear to get one of the most storied franchises in basketball history, their record setting 18th NBA Championship 🏆. So this one could be destined to hold a special place in sneaker history. But that’s up for June 2021 to decide. Looking at this right now, you are looking at a top tier shoe for a top tier athlete, that also comes with top tier pricing. At EUR 190,- there is hardly anything above it. But the LeBron XVIII does not only come with a pretty (potential) storyline, it also offers some nice features. Starting with that top notch cushioning, which certainly is one of the best on the market right now. Followed by the materials, which feel very premium. My personal drawbacks come from lateral stability, court feel and weight. This brings me to the conclusion that this is a very comfortable and enjoyable shoe to play in, which however not necessarily caters to all kinds of player types. I would recommend these to bigger guys, as I think they will be able to appreciate the shoe’s features a bit more and could be a better fit in terms of needs and playing style.


Got questions about these? Find me on Instagram or Twitter at @ONEtothe2 or leave a comment below.


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