This shoe is so much fun. There’s no denying that. But a $180 price tag? Is it worth the full price or should you hunt down a sale? Is it a well-rounded performer along with being a comfortable sneaker? Let’s answer all those questions in my detailed 5-month Nike Air Zoom BB NXT review, made solely in the park.
I’m a 6’1 two-guard at around 175 lbs. I play explosively, I love driving to the hoop and playing above the rim when I can. If you’d like to know how the shoe performs when pretty much pushed to the limit – this should be a great one for you.
Model: Nike Air Zoom BB NXT
Weight: 15.31 oz / 434 g. (size 10 US)
Retail Price: $180
Cushion: double-layered React midsole, React insole & 2 forefoot Zoom Air units
Best Offer On: Finish Line
I. FIT & COMFORT
Let’s kick things off with how the shoe fits. A pretty traditional construction & build, so most people will be fine with their usual size. There’s just a little bit of room at the toebox, while they should be perfect width-wise for those with regular/narrow feet.
However, if you’d like to have that glove-like fit with no extra room and you’d like to feel like a formula, going down half a size is also an option as quite a lot of people did that with success.
For wide footers like myself, true to size will be the best bet. They’ve got a pretty wide base and the material does stretch out fairly quickly but the main issue for wide footers here is the lace cables up at the forefoot.
Even people with more regular-shaped feet reported those cables digging into their pinky toes pretty aggressively, let alone a wide footer.
Still, I do not recommend going up a full size as that would cause containment/general security issues as the upper is definitely on the minimal side, so there’s nothing really there to hold your foot in besides a proper fit.
So, not the best option for a wide footer in general but it’s doable. Go true to size, arm yourself with some patience, and be ready to get your toes banged up a bit.
The Air Zoom BB NXT is a comfortable shoe. In fact, they’re REALLY damn comfortable. Unfortunately, my wide & thick foot wasn’t able to experience that in its full glory but even with the toe chafing issue, they’re still pretty good as I eventually got used to it.
Other times, I didn’t feel it at all, thinking I’ve finally broken ’em in. But the next day comes and here I am again cursing at the shoe for wreaking havoc on my pinkies. I’m not sure when was the last time I was cursing at my shoes aloud like that.
So while it’s very annoying, it’s not always there AND it’s mostly acceptable, so there’s that. I’m still pretty mad even thinking about it right now though lol.
But looking past this issue, the shoe is a joy to play in. They’re not the lightest and can feel a little bottom-heavy, especially at first, but the overall experience is definitely positive.
The upper is smooth and thin while nicely hugging your foot, also very smooth lining all throughout, as well as a nice large Achilles pillow that provides a secure feel to your heel & Achilles. The tongue is also heavily padded.
The heel is slightly tipped, while the outsole at the front is also rounded which promotes some really smooth step transitions.
Similar to the Curry 8 Flow, the Air Zoom BB NXT brings some runner shoe qualities and applies them to a basketball court. If done correctly – you’re getting a seriously comfortable shoe and this one’s definitely in that club.
Lastly, some say these can feel a little bulky at times. Firstly, yeah, they did initially feel a little “huge” on my feet but ever heard about a break-in process? We need to give each shoe enough action to really get a feel for it, get used to the build, and break the needed materials in.
Once that’s done and you still feel like you’re running on a pair of bricks – then it’s time to question the shoe. For the Air Zoom BB NXT, even though the upper is minimal, several other components such as the midsole, the lace cables, and the shank plate all needed some time to feel right.
Be patient and remember not everyone’s foot shape is the same – you’ll be happy you did!
And secondly, that cushion setup and overall flow of the shoe simply outweigh any small traces of “bulkiness” for me. I’d take a quality cushion setup and smooth heel-to-toe transitions over an ounce of weight reduction any day of the week.
So bottom line – watch out for the lace cables digging into your toes, especially if you’re a wide footer. If you can get used to that or you’re not experiencing that issue at all – you should be in for one hell of a ride. These are definitely making my current list of the most comfortable hoop shoes.
We’ve got a very interesting traction pattern that seems to be consisting of linear patterns at the front and back, while it’s all radial at the balls of your feet. Traction was deadly on the Air Zoom BB NXT.
Stops, cuts, changes of direction, coming off screens, crossovers, you name it. No matter where I stepped, how I stepped – these handled the load. No slips, slides or anything like that which was caused by the shoe.
I did slip a few times but that’s simply due to my terrible court which has spots where the synthetic rubber surface was literally torn off. I was also playing on the blacktop and the traction felt even deadlier there. The more abrasive the surface – the better chance you’ll have at getting strong, consistent bite out of your sneakers.
Now, mind you – I’m not the shiftiest player ever. I’m not Kyrie and that’s not my play style, so the amount of times I was planting my feet at crazy angles isn’t that high.
If you’re a very low-to-ground player that’s shifty and operating at various exxagerated angles – you might or might not miss the multi-directional pattern coverage that comes all the way up to the sides. Something we’re used to seeing on a Kyrie shoe.
I personally didn’t really miss it and most of you won’t either. But good to know in case you’re a freak like Kyrie.
The rubber used on these is surprisingly durable. The grooves aren’t that deep but they feel strong and about 5 months in, these still grip the floor consistently. There is visible wear & tear on high-usage spots on the outsole but so far, it’s just cosmetic damage.
I do have some concern for the rubber fraying pretty hard on where the balls of my feet are. This will of course depend on what tendencies you have while planting your feet while making moves but I don’t see the shoe lasting another 2-3 years at this rate.
But then again, I was playing outdoors exclusively, and most of the sessions were 2+ hour wars, so we gotta give props. Not the most durable rubber I’ve seen but definitely stronger than your average sneaker Nikey has put out lately.
If that doesn’t sound amazing, I don’t know what does. And good news! For damn once, this setup actually feels and plays pretty much as good as it was marketed.
The meat and potatoes of the setup is the dual-layered React midsole. You might think React isn’t a particularly bouncy or soft foam as we usually see it on runners. Not this time – this implementation of React is awesome in every way.
It’s responsive, it’s bouncy, it’s comfortable, and promotes some ridiculously smooth step motions. Not the bounciest setup to date but enough to, one, keep it fun, and two, provide enough impact protection so most players would be able to rock these.
But then comes the React insole which adds to the step comfort and general softness underfoot, which is awesome. It might just be an insole but a quality one can make a huge difference.
And then we’ve got the Zoom Air pods at the forefoot. Those are pretty firm and not as bouncy as the React midsole but they do a great job at keeping the front portion very responsive. They felt pretty dead at first but after breaking ’em in – they feel balanced and help pull off those quick accelerations any time I needed to.
One thing though, the elevation with these is real. You WILL be riding high off the ground, so forget about any real court feel or staying ultra low to the ground.
However, when you’ve got such a well-thought-out and balanced setup, I didn’t really miss the low profile ride. React is a brilliant foam compound that keeps things under control without taking away comfort, while the moderator plate in the forefoot makes sure the Zoom units are stable.
However, there has been some buzz around the lateral Zoom unit which overcompresses and can lead to stability issues. Knowing this, I was pretty cautious going in as I’ve tried keeping my plants on the balls of my feet but then after some time, I quickly realized the Zoom pod doesn’t really cause an issue for me at all.
You might get a little sloppy if you really push the shoe laterally, sure, but this will depend on what kind of player are you. I’m fairly light, so perhaps that had to do with it. Test it out, get a feel for it, and see if it’s an issue for you. If it is – keeping your foot plants in the middle should keep it under control, and you’ll eventually get used to it.
A versatile setup that should do the trick for pretty much everybody. It’s not overdone, it’s not dead either. It’s a ton of fun but the performance is still there. The only nitpick is the lateral Zoom unit but I’m sure that’s not going to be an issue for everybody.
Apart from the lateral Zoom pod situation, overall support was great. Not overly restrictive, felt just right.
The base of the shoe is fairly wide, there’s a moderator plate that acts as a shank plate for torsional rigidity, and there are small outriggers laterally for stability.
There are also internal heel counters for heel & ankle lockdown, the upper contained the foot well and the traditional lacing system paired with the cables attached makes the shoe very secure.
However, this is still one of those runner-like shoes that rely on the fit for your security. All those features are nice and should be there but it’s the fit and the way the upper molds to your foot shape that makes it a very effective package without taking away comfort or slowing you down.
I guess the only thing that could be improved would be lateral stability. These ride high off the ground, pair that with the overcompressing Zoom unit and relatively tiny outriggers, and the shiftiest of players might find it an issue. I personally didn’t but I’d be willing to think some of you will.
V. MATERIALS & BUILD
The upper is all lightweight textile along with a few synthetic pieces to reinforce key areas such as the toe and the back. A very minimal upper but it works. It’s comfortable, it doesn’t take long to break in, and it’s fairly breathable.
The stitching work and lining definitely look high-quality and the lacing system’s sturdy too. Can’t say the same about all the stuff coming from Nike.
Is it all $180 worthy though? Well, that depends on what you value. If it’s performance – it’s all there, I have no complaints. But if it’s premium materials that will last ages that you’re looking for – then I guess waiting for a sale will be the best bet. These are currently on some heavy discounts during the time of writing the review.
After about 5 months, my pair surely looks banged up but all of it is just looks. No serious fraying going on, so the pair is still perfectly playable. If the outsoles would wear out at the same rate as the upper – I’d say these would be a very strong contender for a trusty outdoor pair.
Not that it is right now – just not for multiple seasons solely on the blacktop. Indoors – that’s a different question and one that I can’t answer right now.
Overall – a modern basketball shoe utilizing modern materials that have become the norm. Whether they’re worth the full $180 will be up to you.
The Nike Air Zoom BB NXT is a shoe that brings comfort, performance, and the FUN factor all into one. They’re pricy, that’s for sure but I still think it’s a good buy if you can’t get ’em anywhere under retail and you’ll be playing both indoors and outdoors.
But if you could snatch these for under retail – I think it’s a great buy. They’re super comfortable (as long as you deal with the toe chafing issue), traction is deadly on all the outdoor surfaces I played on, that cushion setup is nothing short of awesome too.
They’re supportive but watch out for the lateral Zoom Air unit overcompressing as it can cause instability for some. The upper is your 2020-2021’s standard textile stuff but it works. You would need to look for something else if you need raw, sturdy materials.
Another staple in Nikey’s non-signature lineup. Bravo!
Why Finish Line? Click to find out!
WHY FINISH LINE?
Finish Line is my usual #3 option to get my basketball shoes from if Amazon currently doesn’t have it and the brand’s retail store (Nike.com, adidas.com, etc.) might be out of stock or doesn’t have my size.
I find them, along with a handful of other sports stores, to bring in new major and also lesser-known releases just as quickly as the main brand retailers, most of the time.
Very similar advantages to manufacturer’s stores here: very quick shipping times (and it’s free), convenient return & refund policies and you’ll never find any shoe priced over retail.
For some reason, Finish Line seems to be good at keeping a healthy stock of products, as there’s always a wide variety of sizing for most mainstream models. Something you can’t say about Nikey, Adidas, AJ, or Under Armour stores.
Of course, there will be exceptions and rare shoes that are hard to find globally won’t magically be available in large quantities here either.
Buying from the store will only be applicable for U.S. residents, so not an option for international users (unless you’re using a third-party service to ship internationally from US stores as I do).
Overall, I consider Finish Line to be the top pick out of the US’s popular sports retailers. Or perhaps I’m a little biased but regardless, I think I’ll be sticking to it for quite some time.
- All shoes priced at retail
- Good stock most of the time
- Fast & free shipping for the U.S
- Convenient refund & return policies
- You can find quite detailed and relevant reviews left by buyers
Still not sure? I’ve made a comprehensive guide and compiled some general tips on where to buy basketball shoes online. Check it HERE!
That concludes the Nike Air Zoom BB NXT review! These have made it to the most comfortable shoe list and also the $200 budget list for sure! It’s not a cheap purchase, sure, but the least this shoe can do for you is show how much fun a basketball shoe can be on the court!
What do you think about it? Do you feel different about it? Perhaps you’ve got a question I haven’t answered in the review?
Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quick as I can!
Nike Air Zoom BB NXT$180
- True to size is optimal for most
- Regular/narrow footers can go down 1/2 a size for a very snug fit
- The forefoot lace cables can cause discomfort for your toes
- The lateral Zoom unit can cause instability for some
- All positions
- Explosive/athletic players
- Linear-dominant players