You didn’t want a performance review on the Li-Ning Way of Wade, did you?
Traction – I know the DW pattern doesn’t look too impressive but believe me, you can’t judge traction by the way it looks anymore. The rubber itself is very sticky; this is great on clean courts and not so great on dusty ones. If you happen to play on well-maintained courts then prepare for some awesome coverage but if you play on a floor that gets cleaned once a week – sometimes I even question if that is being done – then you will have to wipe the soles continuously in order to receive moderate traction.
One of the outsole’s highlights is that there is pretty much traction no matter what you are doing and it’s all the same pattern so consistency is something you can expect with the Way of Wade. Combined solid traction offering plenty of court coverage along with multiple flex grooves and you have yourself one beastly performer right where it counts… at the shoes foundation.
Cushion – I love foam cushion and while Li-Ning’s BounSe & CushioN aren’t quite as awesome as Lunarlon & Micro G… it’s still pretty damn awesome. This is a much slimmer version of their foam cushion than what I had previously experienced in the Turningpoint and Villain and after playing in them for a while… I actually prefer it this way. It did lose a little of the bounce but the court feel was increased tremendously and when you have foam cushion that is as good as this… you don’t really need it to be too thick.
Just like other foam cushions, this setup absorbs and disperses impact better than anything else on the market. Yes, it lacks the responsiveness that low profile air setups bring to the table but this is solid cushion nonetheless & has long term benefits that air cushion can’t quite compete with. One thing that I feel is important is that while this type of foam doesn’t start off as ‘cushy’ as the foams I previously mentioned… it will last longer over time as it can take a beating without losing its attributes.
Material – Best materials we’ve had on a performance sneaker since the LeBron 8 V1. I know I said since the Air Jordan XX3 last time but someone corrected me and they were right… had totally forgotten about the LeBron 8 V1.
Real, buttery, wonderful smelling premium leather is used along the upper and it’s wonderful. It requires minimal break-in time since it’s so plush and it hugs the foot perfectly with the slender last that was used for the upper.
Bottom line… this shoe pretty much brought the old school way of thinking back into the way performance sneakers are made and I love it. No, it won’t last as long as a TPU based synthetic but that is why there are options available for consumers… if you want a performance model made with premium materials then you got it… if you want something to last you a bit longer then you can have that too. Not one style is necessarily “better” than the other… it’s all based on the consumer’s preference.
Fit – They fit true to size and as I stated previously… they do fit a little snug. I do feel that people should get their true size when it comes to this shoe though… leather is skin and will stretch over time, going up ½ size may please you now but in the long run… you may have wished you went with your true size.
Forefoot and heel lockdown are pretty much spot on. The forefoot fit will loosen up after you have broken them in but just readjust the laces and you will be good to go. One thing I love is the flex point placed at the ankle collar; it keeps the heel drawn into the shoe while allowing range of motion.
Ventilation – The ventilation is minimal so for those of you who absolutely feel they must have ventilation… look for something else. For the rest of you that won’t start crying about your feet “burning” or your body’s natural air conditioning system functioning properly… you will be just fine with the way things are.
Support – A small Carbon Fiber plate is in place for torsional support and it does its job perfectly fine. The eyelet panel’s TPU frame adds some additional support for the lacing structure and allows the snug fitting upper to provide the wearer with much more support than you would receive from a traditional setup. If you enjoy the fit and feel of raw materials but prefer the support of newer synthetic based shoes then these will provide you with a perfect blend of the two.
Overall – If I could continue to play in these then I would but unfortunately… there are more shoes to review. Whenever a company strives to provide us with quality, performance sometimes takes a hit… luckily this isn’t the case here as Li-Ning has been able to give us quality with performance.
Traction, cushion, material & fit are all well above average and the only so called “weak point” in the shoe is their ventilation… and that’s a personal issue that some consumers seem to have.
If you’re from my era, you’ll love how these play. If you’re from the current generation… you’ll get an eye opening experience as to what it was like growing up in the 90’s… for everyone else too jaded by brand names and logos… you can miss out on something great and leave it for rest of us who appreciate quality basketball products.