Some things in sports have become inevitable. Warriors in the Finals. LeBron in the Finals. Cleveland Browns will suck. Yankees will find a way to the Playoffs. A Canadian team will not win the Stanley Cup. Damian Lillard and adidas will release a killer performance model. Oh, yeah, about that last one…
Tiger style, word to RZA. The pattern looks like it would never work. It does. On first wear it doesn’t exactly set new grip records but after a couple of games the pattern comes alive.
While the treads themselves look thick and flat, they are sliced lengthwise, leading to a wiper-like effect from each side. This makes the pattern effective in every direction. It is also easily wiped off in-game because the spacing already makes it difficult for dust to hitch a ride and the open spaces make a quick hand swipe effective for getting back to new.
The only area that hangs on is in the cuts; dust does get inside the slices and hang on but the openings are tight and the cuts deep, so if dust does get in it has to be extremely bad to come in contact with the floor.
Muck like the adidas Rose 8, the Dame 4 doesn’t really bite the floor. Instead, it’s more of a smooth stopping power that releases into the next step, making transition smooth and free. Some patterns grab and hold on and don’t want to let go (Jordan XX8), and maximum stopping power is never a bad thing. The Dame 4 doesn’t feel aggressive in stops, but it never slipped out or slid while playing, which makes me a happy player.
Full-length Bounce is back, a staple since the Lillard 2, and again, it feels great underfoot. It isn’t as thick as the 2 or 3, but the Dame 4 is based more on court feel and quickness — it rides right on the court while still providing a dense, cushioned forefoot for impact protection. It feels like adidas took the Dame 3 midsole and compressed it — same amount of foam with denser packer to make the ride stiffer but still, uhm, Bounce-y. Normally, I like a more cushioned feel but the Dame 4 felt so fast and fun that losing a little cushioning was outweighed.
The heel is completely different from the 2 and 3 as well, with the sole and midsole having a carved out, concave shape underfoot. It isn’t drastic, but the effect was very different than what we are used to with the Dame line.
Instead of just landing, foot sinking into the Bounce, and the Bounce responding back, the concave design allows the outsole to flatten slightly, becoming wider for stability, and instead of just the foam pushing back, the midsole itself responds. It is kind of the concept of caging the Boost in the Harden, but uses Bounce instead. It works. With the stiffer ride, your next step is quicker but still has almost no impact on your joints.
adidas loves to play around with materials. The Lillard 2 had a jacquard upper, then Primeknit on some colorways. The Dame 3 was fused mesh. The Dame 4 is…mesh. Textile to be exact.
Bad? Nah, never. This is one of the most game-ready shoes, straight out of the box, ever. The upper is thick but not stiff, just a combination of flex and padding that immediately forms to your foot and feels like an extension of your foot. I won’t say running shoe fit, but the Dame 4 is about as close to a running shoe for the court as you can get.
The ankle is surrounded by a spandex collar that stretches to allow for easier entry. Once in, it completely forms around the ankle to help with heel slip. The stretch material runs down to the midsole and around the heel, and also runs down the front of the shoe under the laces. This allows the Dame 4 to stretch where it needs to for transition and movement but remain stiff around the footbed to help with containment. There is a nice little hit of leather along the tongue area, providing that lux leather feel and look to an otherwise budget model.
Mesh and knits make shoes fit better out of the box. Simple, for the most part. The Dame 4 fits dead-on from the box, once you get your foot inside. The collar does make it a little difficult at first, but if you turn your foot slightly sideways and use the pull loops, you will slide right in with ease.
Once in, you will get a complete wrap around the mid and forefoot, with the mesh backed inside by foam that fills most of the empty space. The Dame series has fit slightly long since day one, but not enough for this reviewer to go down any sizes. If you absolutely like your toes with no wiggle room, drop .5 down. If you don’t mind a little space, stay true.
The lacing system is almost not even needed. The loops are spaced perfectly and if you pull really tight they will snug up. The main goal of the laces is lateral support and helping keep the foot over the footbed, which is one of the functions of internal lace straps.
One of the issues is the rubber on the lace loops; they should hold the laces tight after they are pulled up, but they allow the laces to run right out and loosen up before you can tie them. Small pain, but if you like your shoes tight, it’s still a pain. Just work with the lacing and find your system and you’ll figure them out.
For what is basically a low, meant for speed and guards, the Dame 4 is very stable. But this is support, right? Well, a stable shoe doesn’t need as many support structures, and the Dame 4, with the low ride in the midsole, solid cushioning, and killer fit doesn’t need much else to feel supportive.
The outsole is wide, wider than the upper, and offers a solid base when landing and when planting to get up for jumpers or drives. The foot sits inside the black part of the midsole, working to keep the foot over the footbed on hard cuts and lateral movements on defense.
The heel counter is internal and not tall at all, but fits perfectly around the heel and ties into the midsole with no pain or tightness. Overall, it isn’t restrictive, but definitely stable and supportive.
For the last three seasons, Damian Lillard and adidas have produced the best bang for your buck signature model on the market. With good cushioning, good fit, and good materials, the Dame 4 is good at everything. No one category stands out as great, but as an overall package, this is one of the most complete and fun shoes to play in that you will ever find.
If you are a quick guard or forward with a complete game — pull-ups, drives, defense — you should love the Dame 4. Big guys, don’t be scared because there is enough cushioning and support for you too, unless you are just the biggest of big guys.
If you don’t like the colorway here, just wait — there will be a ton more coming soon, just like the last two models. When you are looking for a serious performer that won’t break your wallet, YKWTII.