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Nike LeBron 16 Low Performance Review

Short and sweet. If you liked the Nike LeBron 16 you’re going to LOVE the *ahem* Nike LeBron 16 “Low”…

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Same as the “mid” – and we say mid tongue-in-cheek because really, it’s the same shoe. Deep grooves that are spaced wide enough that very little dust gets grabbed and built with a rubber compound that would feel right at home in the 90’s, the traction is some of the best tried this season. Front to back, side to side (never let ________ ride) and on any floor, the LeBron 16 Low held tight on the curves and solid on defense. Just a little wiping in extremely bad floors and it was back to squeaky-squeak and glue grip.

Again, same as the mid, and it is some of the bounciest, responsive cushioning ever. Stiffer than the Max Zoom in the Nike LeBron 15, the 16 feels springier into the next step or jump and definitely more stable while still giving all the impact protection any player of any size could want. Extremely light (or young) players may not be able to compress the midsole to get the full effects, but grown people will who need some extra cushion will love the feel. The ones needing more stability than the 15 offered will be in luck too – the stiffer Zoom bags keep the edges from collapsing under pressure and your foot to stay a little more level.

The midsole isn’t stiff at all, either, like some over-cushioned shoes tend to feel. The Zoom and Max is separated for flex and the transition is serious – the feel of a fast, “guard” shoe with the impact protection of a “big-man” shoe – sounds kind of like a certain “King” huh?

Awww, no Battleknit 2.0? No problem. The mesh/textile upper of the Nike LeBron 16 Low may not be as “premium” as the mid, but it plays every bit as well. There isn’t an official name for it on the Nike website, so we will call it textile. It doesn’t stretch around your foot as much as it molds, giving the upper a broken-in feel almost from the start. While playing, the thinner, lighter feel of the upper contributes to a fast feel most Max shoes don’t have. It’s not running shoe mesh or Kobe AD NXT 360 lightweight but it won’t feel heavy or bulky once broken in.

Around the heel counter we have an unfinished tan leather with the embossed lion’s head logo (I love the way it looks – some don’t *cough* Nightwing *cough*) and the same quality leather patch on the tongue. These touches don’t add anything in the way of performance but in terms of looks they contrast perfectly and give some detail (the camouflage colorway has a thick, canvas material on the heel counter). There is also a small sliver of nubuck on the medial toe for toe drags and side-side-side steps.

The biggest, and really only, improvement from the mid to the low is the fit – I just wrote all these other words to make you interested. I played with the lacing on the mids, moving to all different holes and combinations, and still had some issues with slight heel slip and containment. The LBJ16 Low takes a whole new direction, with the laces running not over the tongue but into the tongue and right back to the sides – no crossing over. This pulls the upper straight down into the foot and the foot straight down into the midsole, locking your foot like a strait-jacket. The last lace hole is a normal criss-crossing over the foot and pulling your foot into the heel counter. With the added torque, the heel slip is gone and lockdown is dang near perfect. The midsole is still a little heavy so it does have a slight “pull down” feeling, but not like the mid.

As far as sizing, I stayed true to size and went with my normal 10.5. The length allows for about a half inch of dead space, which I enjoy. This gives me enough room that if I do happen to have a little front-to-back slip my toes won’t turn black.

Starting at the midsole – there is no real midfoot shank, but with that huge Zoom system you don’t need one. The largest component of the support system is the fit and lacing. The worry with a large midsole is stability and the foot staying upright. However, with the solid lacing your foot is locked in and never slides over the footbed, even on hard cuts. Also helping in upright stability is the outrigger construction. All of the midsole bubbles have outriggers molded into the outsole, helping with any tipping while playing. Where the LeBron 15 had the same cushioning system, it was also one of the most unstable setups I can remember playing in. The 16 fixes the issues and feels the same great Zoom bounce while doing it.

Just like Nike used to do with the Elite series for the playoffs, they have taken the signature shoe of the “best player in the game” and improved it for the late season (can’t say playoffs this year). If you enjoyed the Nike LeBron 16 (and face it, most of the people who played in it really did like it), you will love the low. Improved fit, still great cushioning and traction, and, materials that are still nice and functional (but not knit – boo hoo). If you are an all-around player who needs some extra bounce for those joints, look no further – this is arguably the best cushioning/impact protection combo on the market. Really, the only reason not to try the shoe is the price (still an expensive $160) or if you just hate LeBron (yes, there are some of them out there). Don’t be scared of the tall midsole – the Nike LeBron 16 Low is fast, flexible, and feels great on court. Just don’t call it a mid.

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  1. Good review!! Im always glad to read ur stuff cause u are an older and bigger player… just like me!! I just don‘t like the colorway. I hope to get my hands on the grey atmos ones… but will buy for sure!!

  2. Nice review Bryan! I am one of those who doesn’t like the way these lock down. I’d rather have that feeling of being sucked back into the heel. These feel like they press down onto the top of the foot and I can feel that pressure and find it to be bothersome. I had the same experience with the Curry 6.

  3. Mulling these a bit specifically because of the issue you found resolved: the fit. The 16 mid wasn’t quite there for me. I could make it work, but it would require a bit of a pinch.

    I like the 15 casually, and the softer cushion caters better there. Both shoes don’t quite cater to my performance preferences.

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