The Best LeBron Shoes & Why You MUST Try Some: A 2021 Guide

Absolute SPRINGS under you? Unrivaled comfort? A luxury experience for your feet? Flashy tank-like designs? If all of that sounds like music to your ears, then you must try some of the best LeBron shoes available to experience the definition of a true flagship on the court. But there’s more to know.

SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Best LeBron Shoes: Intro

HERE’S WHAT’S IN STORE

I crafted this guide for the LeBron fans out there or people who’d like to try out his shoes but not sure what to expect. I take pride in giving you practical, no B.S. insight into what I learned about the King’s sneaker arsenal.

Or, if you don’t care about any additional stuff, there’s a handpicked, regularly updated shoe list waiting for you as well.

Here’s what you’ll learn about LeBron’s shoes today:

  • things that make most LeBron kicks so awesome
  • a background of all you need to know about each signature line, model, pricing, and purpose
  • what kind of players are best suited for each shoe
  • a full shoe rotation of the best LeBron sneakers you can get today
  • bonus tips when hunting for a pair of LeBron’s

WHY YOU SHOULD TRY A LEBRON SHOE

You don’t have to be a LeBron fan to experience how much FUN his shoes can be


The Best LeBron Shoes: Why You Should Try

It’s simple. There aren’t a lot of shoes that feel similar to a LeBron sneaker, mainly the flagship model from his main line. They’re just so much FUN if you’re looking for that extra UUMPH along with what you’d normally get from a hoop shoe.

But it’s not all about the fun. A good portion of LeBron’s kicks makes up of fantastic all-around performers on the court that could suit many different players and especially a bigger, explosive dude who’s a running freight train to the basket. Much like the Lakers’ James himself.

The guy simply can’t afford to be let down by his shoes and if he’s not rolling an ankle every game in his sneakers, there’s no reason we will. Well, it’s more complicated than that but his shoes are usually extremely well-built from a security standpoint is what I’m trying to say.

All of this makes up a quality experience that not a lot of other signature lines can boast about. This experience usually consists of:

  • tons of cushion underfoot: like it or hate it, playing in such setups from time to time is a lot of fun
  • fantastic materials: Nikey always brings out the best they have when building a LeBron shoe
  • flashy silhouettes & colorways: if you care about looks, some of the most unique & sleek stuff is waiting over at the LeBron arsenal
  • all-around performance: the other components are more often than not on par too
  • a generally well-built construction: looks, feels and plays premium
THE LEBRON 18 IS THE DEFINITION OF FANCY

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 18 is Fancy

But let’s take an example that ties what we’ve talked about together and makes up a package that can be so appealing to pretty much anyone.

The LeBron 18. Is it a perfect shoe? No, I don’t think so. But it delivers in offering you the performance that you need along with the extra stuff that you just won’t get in other shoes/lines.

The 18th release in the King’s main line packs some serious heat in the cushion department: a full-length Zoom Strobel, a Max Air heel unit, and a Cushlon midsole to top it all off. You just won’t see tech specs like those on many other shoes.

This is seriously the definition of maximum cushion and while it’s not everyone’s preference, it’s something most will find very enjoyable.

The upper is Nike’s Knitposite 2.0 which is both super comfy as well as durable for a knit since it’s backed by Fuse. This knit wrapped around my foot like a sock, creating a cozy environment for my feet. No wonder it’s the comfiest basketball sneaker of 2020 in my opinion.

And the rest is no short of nice as well: great support without overly restricting you, a bunch of beautiful colorways such as the White/Black/Gold, Lakers, or the Blue Multi, and a generally well-built shoe that will last you a long time.

All in all, you DON’T HAVE TO run off and buy a LeBron sneaker just because. If you’re in the hunt for a new basketball sneaker though and can afford to spend a bit more for a flagship product – the LeBron line will offer you everything Nikey currently has and the same simply cannot be said about other signature lines.

However, it’s not all about the flagship shoes. There are WAY more models in King James’s sneaker lineup and I’ll be breaking ’em down to get you familiar with his products in a practical, non-B.S. way.

A RETROSPECTIVE FOR AN EVERYDAY BALLER

All you need to know about LeBron’s signature lines & models, pricing, and differences


The Best LeBron Shoes: Retrospective

Let’s break down each LeBron shoe line. This will show you how big of a variety is available to us but it’s not just about variety. Each line is actually catered towards different audiences for slightly different purposes.

LeBron has the luxury of a lifetime Nike deal and since he’s still the biggest name in the NBA, the guy has four huge shoe lines at the moment.

I. THE LEBRON LINE

The king of them all. If you’re solely here for what I’ve described above – you need to get yourself a LeBron shoe from the main flagship line. Top-of-the-line tech specs, premium materials, and build quality that Nikey constantly tries to push to higher standards each year.

The Nike LeBron line is the one to follow if you’re someone who wants to keep up with the latest & greatest over at Nikey.

Price range: $170-$200. The priciest line out of them all but you usually get what you pay for

Who is it for: people with a higher budget, wanting to have the latest & greatest. All-around players. Especially excels for heavier, explosive guys who need all the impact protection they can get

Shoes available: 18 shoes (yearly release): Nike Air Zoom Generation – Nike LeBron 18. Low-top variants for most and several special editions such as the Elite shoes

Pros: ✔  top-notch tech specs, materials & build quality    usually the go-to shoe for comfort

  the coolest colorways are often here

Cons: ✖  $200 for a shoe is a lot  ✖  not the best all-around choice sometimes

✖  can feel a little heavy/bulky for some  ✖  usually a weak option for regular outdoor play

My favorite shoe: Nike LeBron 16

II. THE LEBRON SOLDIER LINE

The Best LeBron Shoes: Soldier Line

The mid-tier line that was originally meant to be for outdoor-specific audiences but later evolved into a great well-rounded shoe that’s always identified due to the use of straps instead or along with the regular laces we’re accustomed to.

The Soldier line can be described in one word. Lockdown. That’s right, along with being a consistent, well-rounded package every year, it’s also the go-to choice if you’re looking for the best possible security. Most of the Soldier shoes are also decent outdoor choices.

The Soldier shoes are built like tanks and even though today’s designers across brands are pushing the “lightweight” and “minimal” envelopes, the newest kicks in the Soldier lineup are exactly that but still offer strong support and unprecedented lockdown in innovative ways.

Price range: $120-$140. The mid-tier option budget-wise, one that still offers competitive tech specs and solid build quality

Who is it for: most players/positions, all-around players. Heavier/athletic hoopers who need maximum security and structure. Good for some outdoor play

Shoes available: 14 shoes (yearly release): Nike LeBron Soldier I – Nike LeBron Soldier 14. Also a few special editions such as the LeBron Soldier 13 SFG

Pros: ✔  usually fantastic support, stability and lockdown    usually a solid all-around package

✔  can last a while outdoors  ✔  the latest shoe is customizable via Nike By You

Cons: ✖  the strap-dominant designs won’t be everyone’s preference  ✖  some shoes can take a while to adjust to & break in

✖  some builds aren’t flexible in terms of sizing: what you buy is what you’re stuck with

My favorite shoe: Nike LeBron Soldier IX

III. THE LEBRON AMBASSADOR LINE

Some of you might not even be familiar with this one. This is because the Ambassador line is exclusively made and sold in Asia, and catered specifically towards outdoor play. The outsoles on such shoes are using durable XDR rubber and most builds offer enough structure on the upper to last a while, even on the unforgiving blacktop.

Since it’s a shoe for the Asian market and Asians generally have wider feet, most Ambassador shoes in the lineup are built on a wider last. Most shoes in this lineup are very solid all-around performers. Not the fanciest tech specs but still on par with the Soldier line.

If you’re in the U.S. or any other region where the shoe isn’t being sold, you can still get your hands on it by snatching it on the reseller market. The likes of eBay, StockX, GOAT, etc.

Price range: $80-$180. Can vary a lot depending on the model, colorway and where you’re getting them from. It’s still considered as the more budget friendly option as opposed to the flagship LeBron series so a deal under the $160-$150 range is a good deal here

Who is it for: most players/positions, all-around players. If you’re an outdoor hooper – this one’s for you. Also a great choice for a wide footer

Shoes available: 13 shoes (yearly release): Nike LeBron Ambassador 1 – Nike LeBron Ambassador 13

Pros: ✔  a consistent yearly release with solid all-around performance    a tank for outdoor play

  works just as well indoors    most builds can still be a great fit for a regular/narrow footer

Cons: ✖  sometimes can be tough to get at reasonable prices outside Asia

My favorite shoe: Nike LeBron Ambassador 9

IV. THE LEBRON WITNESS LINE

The Best LeBron Shoes: Witness Line

The low-budget option for those who still want a LeBron-ish shoe but can’t afford to spend a LeBron-ish amount. The Witness line is the youngest in James’s arsenal and offers more minimal tech specs along with more basic materials but I still find the overall build quality to be okay.

This signature line usually thrives off of minimalism, staying quick and light on your feet. Some of the kicks in the lineup are good all-around performers but it’s usually the best fit for someone who needs to stay quick, light, and low to the ground.

Think of it as a budget-friendly guard’s shoe.

The Witness series is also an acceptable option for the blacktop but the Ambassador series is still the king in the outdoor territory.

Price range: $80-$110. The lowest-priced options are in this lineup

Who is it for: guards, wings, or all-around players looking to stay light & quick. LeBron fans/people who want a build that still feels like a LeBron shoe but can’t spend as much

Shoes available: 5 shoes (yearly release): Nike LeBron Witness – Nike LeBron Witness 5

Pros: ✔  doesn’t break the bank but still packs good performance & build quality

  super widely available, often goes on sales/discounts

Cons: ✖  sometimes can be lacking in the cushion/upper departments due to cutting costs  ✖  not the most versatile choice if you’re looking to get a bit of everything

My favorite shoe: Nike LeBron Witness 5

THE SHOE LIST: HOW I PICKED EACH ONE

The rules I stuck to when putting the list together. Just as important as the list!


The Best LeBron Shoes: How I Picked

I believe that it’s critical for you to know how I picked each shoe and why.

I always stick to a few rules when putting these kinds of shoe lists together and that’s mainly to make it as efficient, practical, and varied for the general baller as possible.

Let’s break these rules down for the LeBron shoe list.

I. TRIED-AND-TRUE KICKS ONLY

Just like all of my shoe lists, I’m ONLY including shoes in the following scenarios:

(1) I’ve personally played in for 2+ months (but usually even longer until I can put together a comprehensive review where durability is taken into account).

(2) There are a handful of shoes that I haven’t had the chance to try out OR that I’ve only played in once or twice but felt like it’s right to include because of the unavoidably positive reception from the people.

So if, say, the LeBron XIII is highly regarded by fellow shoe testers/reviewers and well-received by the average buyer in a one-sided fashion. I do believe it’s only right for me to inform the average consumer and let them know about a possibly appealing/suitable option, for one reason or another.

So yes, the LeBron XIII will find its way below. Surprise.

II. ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE, COMFORT & VALUE

The main points of emphasis to track down a good shoe that should work for a lot of people are simple. Well-rounded on-court performance, the way it fits, and how much value for the money you’re getting.

LeBron sneaker or not, it has to perform well and appeal to many different players, positions, and styles. I’ve broken down all the picked models into categories but know that most shoes here are still pretty damn solid for just about anyone. This is just what you’ll get with most LeBron kicks.

It also has to be comfortable and provide a fit that not only will suit your foot (or properly adapt to it) but also lock you in and contain you. Yes, the fit of the shoe goes hand-and-hand with overall support/security. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

And of course, value. We can’t lie to ourselves and admit that the big dogs such as Nikey and Jordan aren’t always the best in balancing price vs. quality. We see so many cheap options that last much longer than a $180 “premium” release that’s mostly appealing to people by fancy marketing.

So, a shoe’s quality has to match its price. Unless you’ve got the wallet of a lifetime and just don’t care. In that case – salute to you!

III. ONLY THE KICKS YOU CAN GET RIGHT NOW

LeBron’s signature shoe lines start all the way from 2003. I could sit here all day and include dozens upon dozens of different shoes but what’s the point when you can’t get half of them right now, or can’t find a deal that’s not a total rip-off from our “good” friends resellers?

It’s all about practicality here, so I’m only including the kicks that could still be snatched in your favorite sports retailer, the brands’ stores, or in the worst-case scenario, a reasonably priced deal anywhere else (Amazon, eBay, StockX, etc.).

This is why you’ll mostly see shoes from the modern era, or in the last few years. Mostly.

IV. REGULARLY UPDATED

Last but not least, I’m doing my best to keep up with the new releases as well as trying out older stuff I haven’t had the chance to grab. This means that I’m constantly updating my shoe lists to replace or add to each rotation if I find a better option.

Check back occasionally – you might see an entirely different list one day!

THE BEST LEBRON SHOES

Last updated on the 2nd of June, 2021

9 picks in total & broken down into 7 categories for different players/scenarios. Each shoe’s strong points, possible weak points, and additional things you should know before getting ’em. Shoes released since 2020 were all tested outdoors ONLY.


I. Best All-Around Package #1

NIKE LEBRON 18 LOW

 💰 $160  🏆 7.9

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 18 Low

THE CRAZY LEBRON 18 MADE MORE ACCESSIBLE

What do I mean by more accessible? A $40 price drop from the original shoe, as well as tweaks in the cushion department & the build which made the LeBron 18 Low among my favorite kicks to hoop in 2021. If you’re aiming for the latest release that does it all, this one should have you covered.

These are lighter and feel more minimal than the regular shoe, the same outsoles had me covered outdoors no matter the movement, and the rebuilt screen mesh upper resulted in more structure, thus these are actually better in terms of foot containment.

But the biggest draw is undoubtedly the cushion setup. A plush React midsole along with a large heel Max Air unit makes for an amazing ride. It’s a bit firmer and lower to the ground compared to the original shoe’s ridiculous setup but the Low is still so much fun.

These will have even the heaviest players covered but lighter guards who need to stay quick & precise shouldn’t find this ride slowing them down.

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 18 Low Top

DRAWBACKS

A reduced price has to show somewhere and for the LeBron 18 Low, it’s the upper. It’s not a bad upper, don’t get me wrong there. It’s just cheaper and more basic than the original release’s fantastic Knitposite 2.0.

This screen mesh doesn’t have the properties of moving that well with your foot and wrapping around it like a glove but if you don’t care much about having a luxury build on your foot – you’ll have no issues with this cheaper option. I know I didn’t.

ADDITIONAL NOTES
  • True to size is fine for most
  • Wide footers CAN go up 1/2 a size but I recommend sticking with TTS
  • 1-2 weeks was all it took for me to adjust to the upper
  • Not the best choice for long-term outdoor play

II. Best All-Around Package #2

NIKE LEBRON 13 ELITE

💰 $200

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 13 Elite

THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE, EVEN IN 2021

That’s right, 2015’s LeBron 13, particularly the Elite version is still a phenomenal shoe that’s highly regarded by many different players or average buyers. I haven’t personally played in this one (yet) but the feedback for these has been overwhelming with positivity, so let’s break it down!

While traction has never been a dominant factor in the LeBron line, this is one of those where it just works. Looks weird but works. Each Zoom pod on the outsole is articulated and has its own pattern to bite the floor no matter which pod comes in contact with it.

Cushion has received an upgrade from the regular LeBron 13: 5 hex Zoom units in the forefoot instead of 3, and the same heel Zoom. A fantastic setup even by today’s standards giving you plenty of bounce & impact protection in the heel, while keeping the forefoot a bit faster, yet still comfy to enjoy each and every stride.

The upper is full-on Kurim rubber with a leather piece on the lateral side, so the plastic Posite pieces are gone. Less weight, more flexibility while maintaining strong support? That’s the way to do it. The midfoot shank also received an upgrade, going from regular TPU to carbon fiber.

And the awesome thing is – there’s no real reason for you to grab the regular version. Both versions have the same price so if you can find the Elite shoe – by all means, go for it! Just as a heads up though, the regular LeBron 13 is still a fantastic shoe, so don’t be afraid to grab it if the Elite option isn’t available to you.

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 13 Elite Side

DRAWBACKS

Some say the shoe lacks flexibility compared to today’s standards. Well, the LeBron series has never really been about that but I’d have to agree that you can find plenty of options that are lighter and feel more mobile.

For such a build that sports a one-bootie construction (no separate tongue), it might take some time getting used to. Some people report that the tongue gets bunched up or moves around at times since some feet can’t fill the shoe up properly. Make sure to get the size right for this one.

This is one of those shoes where you’ll have to put some hours in order to soften things up & get used to the beefy setup.

ADDITIONAL NOTES
  • A LeBron-ish fit, a.k.a. EVERYONE should go true to size
  • A decent option for occasional outdoor play
  • You’ll need to wipe the outsoles down frequently on dusty courts
  • Give these plenty of time to break in & adjust to your foot

III. Best All-Around Package #3

NIKE LEBRON AMBASSADOR 9

💰 $125

The Best LeBron Shoes: Ambassador 9

FLAGSHIP-LEVEL PERFORMANCE, THE ASIAN WAY

If you’d like to try out an Ambassador shoe, go with the 9. Simple as that. It’s the only one I’ve managed to properly test out in the series but I’m pretty sure I won’t need another one. A full review might be coming soon. This is a shoe that feels like a flagship model, just more affordable and that’s awesome.

XDR rubber along with a diamond & herringbone traction pattern combo = deadly traction. It’s also completely dust-proof it seems as I’ve wiped out of habit but soon realized I don’t even need to. And I’m talkin’ about an old concrete surface.

Forefoot and heel Zoom Air are the shoe’s cushioning and while it’s not as crazy as 2020’s LeBron 18, it’s a very well-balanced setup that should be suitable for just about anyone. Literally. It’s comfortable, it’s bouncy. it’s fast and it yields just enough impact protection without feeling cumbersome.

The upper isn’t your top-of-the-line stuff, sure, but I never had any complaints about it. The same goes for overall support & stability. Lightweight mesh backed with foam & TPU in high-wear areas isn’t anything special but has a great balance between structure and mobility. It’s an older shoe but the upper feels like today’s.

The Best LeBron Shoes: Ambassador 9 Side

DRAWBACKS

The only real gripe about these is that they’re tough to get outside of Asia. I actually found these a few years ago in an outlet when I was visiting another town. If you’d like to grab ’em online, places like eBay are your best bet.

ADDITIONAL NOTES
  • True to size is optimal for most
  • A fantastic outdoor choice
  • Feels very snug at first (for a wide footer)

IV. Best On A Budget

NIKE LEBRON WITNESS 5

 💰 $100  🏆 7.6

The Best LeBron Shoes: Witness 5

A BUDGET LEBRON SHOE THAT DOESN’T FEEL CHEAP

The LeBron Witness line kinda came out of nowhere but they’ve been steadily improving the shoe each year. And I gotta say, I actually really like the 5th model which retails at 100 bucks but you can get it for even cheaper than that.

The Witness 5 sports outsoles identical to the previous Witness 4, so if you’ve had that shoe, expect the same solid traction.

Two forefoot Zoom Air units & a foam midsole also make a return from the last shoe, and this ride feels great for a budget shoe. It’s got a very subtle bounce and stays moderately low to the ground, and this results in me forgetting I’ve got a shoe on. That’s a good thing.

I didn’t have any complaints in the security department either – it’s a fairly minimal build where thin mesh makes up most of it but being an explosive guard myself, I never felt compromised. There are beefier setups out there, of course.

But if you’re aiming for lightweight support that doesn’t get in your way – you’ll be good. I mean, even the Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkić been playing in these for a while now and he’s a BIG dude.

The Best LeBron Shoes: Witness 5 Forefoot

DRAWBACKS

I always found the LeBron 17/Witness 4/Witness 5 outsole to be a little unnatural for certain foot plants. This directly ties into the traction – planting my foot on a spot in between the Zoom pods causes some weird plants and a slight loss of bite at times.

This was especially apparent on the Witness 4 for me personally and the 5th shoe felt way better, albeit can still feel a bit off occasionally. Not a dealbreaker, just an annoyance.

ADDITIONAL NOTES
  • True to size should fit most guys, including wide footers
  • You can also go up 1/2 a size if opting for a roomier fit
  • Not an ideal outdoor choice but go with a solid rubber outsole to get the most of it

V. Best Low-Profile Choice

NIKE LEBRON WITNESS 3

 💰 $ 90 🏆 8

The Best LeBron Shoes: Witness 3

THE DEFINITION OF SPEEDY

An uncharacteristic one in LeBron’s realm of sneakers: the Witness 3 might be a little dated but it’s sure as hell a great choice for a low profile guard. If you’re all about speed, mobility, and staying light on your feet – there’s really no better shoe in the entire Witness series AND possibly in James’s entire catalog.

Classic herringbone is all over the outsoles of the Witness 3 and you already know what that means. Deadly bite, multi-directional coverage, and also durable rubber that should get you through multiple seasons.

Full-length encapsulated Air is the shoe’s midsole and it’s the definition of minimal. While it’s not my cup of tea, I do see this as a fantastic option for those Curry-like guards that need all the precision and quickness they can get on the court. Don’t expect any bounce or pillows under your foot with this one. It’s all about speed.

Similarly to cushion, the build itself sports an ultra-thin knit with barely anything to back it up. Once again, great for light, low-to-the-ground guard but can be alarming for a heavier/more explosive dude. I don’t think LeBron ever played in these. Let me know if he did though!

The Best LeBron Shoes: Witness 3 Side

DRAWBACKS

This is a no-go for wide-footers like myself. They leave a bit of room length-wise with my usual size, so going up 1/2 a size would’ve resulted in compromises. Width-wise, it was a constant nightmare for me.

I was actually happy about the fact that I gave these a couple of months, put out a review, and threw them out of my gym bag. That’s how uncomfortable the narrow construction + a very tightly knit upper was for my thick feet. Regular/narrow footers though – you guys will be fine in these.

ADDITIONAL NOTES
  • Go true to size for a snug fit
  • You can also up 1/2 a size but do that at your own risk
  • Will last a long time outdoors but I don’t recommend playing in these for long hours on concrete due to lackluster impact protection

VI. Best Cushioned Choice

NIKE LEBRON 18

 💰 $200  🏆 7.8

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 18

WANT EVERYTHING NIKEY’S GOT? HERE IT IS

Not much of a surprise here – the LeBron 18 is a pretty ridiculous shoe. Nikey’s got a big budget for LeBron’s flagship releases and it shows.

All the best tech & components they could jam into one shoe are here. It won’t perfectly work for everybody but if you’re in for one hell of a ride and a luxury experience for your feet – this is the one. But let’s talk about the cushion – that’s what you’re here for isn’t it 😉

A full-length Zoom Strobel going from heel to toe, a large Max Air heel unit, and a plush Cushlon midsole. Yep, it plays just like it sounds on paper. Unrivaled comfort underfoot, loads of impact absorption no matter the angle, and bounce for days.

So how much cushion you’re getting here exactly? Some people will find it too much, let me put it this way. For a freak athlete or a big dude though, this is top-of-the-line stuff.

But let’s not forget that it’s a solid shoe in all aspects: I’m getting a consistent bite with these, support is solid and the Knitposite 2.0 upper is a treat too.

I keep saying this but the knit builds in the LeBron shoe lineup have been some of the best. The way it wraps around my foot is awesome but it’s also a durable knit as it’s heavily coated with glue. Don’t let the looks fool you.

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 18 Back

DRAWBACKS

With such a beefy setup, there are bound to be some concerns. While I absolutely adore the ride these provide, it’s a questionable choice for someone who’s shifty, quick, and performs a lot of lateral movements. Forget about court feel with these – you will ride HIGH off the ground.

That alone would’ve been fine but I found the upper to be questionable in keeping my foot in the footbed at times. I never slid out of it fully but those near-slips can feel a little intrusive, and possibly affect your decisions on the court.

I’d recommend this shoe if your playstyle is mostly linear-based, or you’re mostly an all-around guy who doesn’t excel in shifty moves such as crossovers, going under screens and actively moving off the ball to get open.

ADDITIONAL NOTES
  • True to size will be okay for most
  • You could go up 1/2 a size for a roomier fit
  • Put on higher cut socks with these – the silly thin tongue can cut into your shins
  • Not recommended for long-term outdoor play

VII. Best For Outdoors

NIKE LEBRON 16

 💰 $185  🏆 8.8

 

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 16

THE OUTDOOR TANK WE DESERVE

I have a soft spot for this one – the LeBron 16 is still my favorite LeBron sneaker on the court. It’s an all-around beast but I’ve put it in the outdoor category because I also believe it’s almost perfectly built for the park.

Starting with the outsoles, not only these have deadly traction, the rubber here is surprisingly durable. They rarely make LeBron kicks like this anymore. While the pattern on some of the Zoom pods has worn off for me, the tacky rubber is enough to still provide a bite that doesn’t degrade my performance on-court.

Of course, the cushion department is also a banger. Full-length Max Air along with multiple Zoom Air pods directly under your foot. That’s another beefy setup but this time, it feels much more versatile.

This is why I find it perfect for the unforgiving blacktop: there’s a ton of impact protection for a harder surface but the setup isn’t slow or mushy by any means. Each of the Zoom pods have their own little outriggers as well, so stability was always on point despite the elevated ride.

And lastly, the build. Battleknit 2.0 is utilized which is a tightly knit upper stitched with nylon for more structure. It’s a cozy fit but it’s also properly structured without leaving compromises. I love it each time I put these on.

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 16 Outsole

DRAWBACKS

I’ll admit – it was tough to find any gripes with this one. The real thing I can point out is the shoe feeling heavy at first. This won’t be a drawback if you’ve played in a LeBron sneaker before but if you haven’t – you might need some time to adjust to the elevated ride and weight (most of it coming from the midsole).

ADDITIONAL NOTES
  • True to size is the way to go for most
  • You could pull off a 1/2 size up for a roomier fit
  • I had some slight heel slippage at first

VIII. Best For Wide Feet

NIKE LEBRON 17

 💰 $200  🏆 7.3

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 17

BULKY? SAY THAT TO A WIDE FOOTER

While the newer LeBron 18 kind of became a direct replacement over the LeBron 17 for me, I can’t ignore the fact that the 17th shoe is fantastic for a prominent wide footer. Or maybe you’ve got a thick foot as well? No matter.

The main reason why it’s a good fit for a beefy foot is the build. A wide platform overall but also a wide toebox area that doesn’t narrow down at the front like it so often does in today’s sneakers. Plenty of room along the midfoot area and the forefoot portion is also fairly tall.

Even a thick foot won’t have issues putting these on or hooping because of this.

And don’t forget about the upper – the first iteration of Knitposite is utilized and it’s more of the same knit coated with Fuse for structure. This upper doesn’t stretch out too much but it can adjust a little bit. Chances are you won’t have to rely on that due to the roomy construction.

The LeBron 17 is also a solid all-around choice. Solid traction, lightweight support, and another crazy cushion setup consisting of two forefoot Zoom Air units, a heel Max Air unit, and a Phylon midsole to top it all off.

The Best LeBron Shoes: LeBron 17 Pair

DRAWBACKS

Remember what I said about this outsole on the Witness 5? I could feel this issue a bit more here in comparison to that shoe. Still wasn’t a complete dealbreaker but something that should not have been there.

Those articulated Zoom pods could be the ones to blame – certain plants where my foot strikes in between those pods felt off and ended up causing a slight slip or just weaker traction in general. Didn’t happen all the time but something that kept the LeBron 17’s traction from being perfect.

ADDITIONAL NOTES
  • True to size is optimal for most
  • Not an ideal choice for a fast, lightweight guard due to the cushion setup
  • Don’t take these outdoors often

IX. Maximum Security

NIKE LEBRON SOLDIER 9

💰 $140

The Best LeBron Shoes: Soldier 9

STILL THE KING OF LOCKDOWN

The LeBron Soldier 9 was a crazy shoe for its time. It still is. But this time, it’s not the cushion. Deadly lockdown is what it’s all about here. The newer Soldier 13 and 14 are great shoes but the sheer sense of security I’ve got with the 9 was never matched.

How is this possible? It’s all about the clever strap design here. The heel strap is attached to the internal heel counter, so when you pull on it, your whole ankle & heel area locks you in like there’s no tomorrow. Literally.

Then there’s the forefoot strap. Pulling that one results in forefoot lockdown but this one’s also connected to the Flywire system. This means that pulling it also pulls the Flywire cables down causing the whole upper to hug your foot.

And if that’s not enough, there’s also a TPU piece laterally for better containment and the mesh & nylon build has some structure to it without taking away comfort. This is an INSANE setup. If you’re looking for the best possible security, I don’t recommend looking anywhere but the Soldier 9.

Of course, just like most Soldier shoes, this one’s a solid all-around package. Great traction, a balanced forefoot & heel Zoom Air cushion setup, and an affordable price.

The Best LeBron Shoes: Soldier 9 Side

DRAWBACKS

As a wide footer, I didn’t like these one bit the first time I put them on. Seriously. I was feeling suffocated width-wise and the added pressure from the straps felt like this one won’t be my cup of tea. However, all it took was a few days to realize this is such a beast. Don’t let the initial experience fool you!

ADDITIONAL NOTES
  • True to size for a snug, one-to-one fit
  • You can go up 1/2 size with this one if you prefer a little room as the straps lock you down no matter what

MORE SHOE EXPERTISE AWAITS YOU

From detailed guides to many different shoe lists, you’re just getting started!


The Best LeBron Shoes: Shoe Knowledge

Today you’ve learned all about what the King has to offer in his lifetime Nikey deal. And yeah, it’s a lot. You’ve also learned the main differences and purposes for each of his signature lines and now you know how I pick shoes for lists like this one. This can help some of you out when choosing a pair on your own.

Or if you’re not feeling like getting something blindly, I’ve got an ever-growing shoe review database that I hope to continue developing for many years to come. Some of the most comprehensive and practical stuff is waiting for you to make a better purchase decision!

But your shoe expertise doesn’t end there.

Many different guides covering various important basketball shoe topics are waiting for you, as well as various shoe lists that cater to specific players/needs. I hope to continue to develop those for a long time as well.

Check them out in the Shoe Guides and the Best Basketball Shoes Ever sections or find some of the ones similar to this one below:

YOUR THOUGHTS?

That wraps it up! I truly hope you enjoyed this guide and got some ideas for your next LeBron shoe. Check out a review of some of the LeBron kicks I’ve tested out so far to get some deeper insight!

As always, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Perhaps you’ve got one of these and like to share your opinion? Do you have a question I haven’t answered in the guide?

Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can! I usually respond within the same day, and often the first couple of hours.

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