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Nike LeBron 21: The Best Basketball Shoe of 2023/24?

Nike LeBron 21

Nike LeBron 21 English Review

Nike LeBron 21 Spanish Review

The Nike LeBron 21 is damn near identical to last year’s model, which is actually a good thing. The main changes are aesthetic, so you’ll just have to decide which look you prefer.

Total Score

The Nike LeBron 20 was one of the best basketball shoes of 2023-24 and one of the best LeBron James shoes ever. Turns out that the Nike LeBron 21 is also one of the best shoes of 2024, one of the best basketball shoes in terms of traction, the best shoes for small forwards, and one of the most comfortable as well. The fact of the matter is that both shoes are basically the same, which, in this particular case, is a good thing. The lack of innovation can be forgiven when we are talking about such a high-octane performance model.

There are, however, some changes that won’t affect performance per se, but they might affect the all-around experience on court which we’ll go over in this article.

Once on-court performance is out of the way, the big question is if you appreciate these aesthetically. Look good play good and all that. And here we do see some major changes when comparing them to last year’s model, so let’s dive in and see exactly what is different in the LeBron 21.

Nike LeBron 21 Review

Nike LeBron 21 Tech Specs:

Nike LeBron 21 Traction

Nike LeBron 21 Traction

Traction on the Nike LeBron 21 should be superb as long as you keep them on a (preferably clean) indoor surface. The shoe features a translucent rubber outsole with a unique traction pattern that is somewhat similar to what we saw on the LeBron 20. It definitely feels very similar after our initial testing.

The rubber compound is on the softer side, which is great for indoor use, but not so much so for outdoor use. On top of that, the traction pattern isn’t very deep so you won’t have much traction pattern to wear down if you do choose to take these outside.

Lastly, there isn’t much space between the lines of the traction pattern which will mean that the LeBron 21 will have a tendency to pick up dust on dirtier courts. This wasn’t a huge issue with the 20, so we doubt it will be in the 21, but just keep it in mind.

Nike LeBron 21 Cushion

Nike LeBron 21 Cushion

In terms of cushioning, we have the exact same setup as in the Nike LeBron 20, which was one of the most comfortable basketball shoes of 2022-23. What we have is a Cushlon midsole which houses a Zoom Turbo unit in the forefoot and a large volume (13 mm thick) bottom-loaded Zoom Air unit in the heel. This is an almost perfect mix of cushioning elements.

The Nike LeBron 21 will offer a very well-balanced experience on court. This setup is light and responsive while still offering a ton of impact protection and step-in comfort. It’s also one of the most versatile configurations you can find, meaning, it will work well for the majority of players and playing styles out there. In terms of cushioning, this will be one of the safest bets this year.

Nike LeBron 21 Materials

Nike LeBron 21 Materials

Here we have the biggest difference in regards to the Nike LeBron 20. The shoe is built with 3 distinct layers. The first is a fully textile layer which is covered in a second layer of flywire, which is then covered with a relatively high-quality leather shroud. You can see all 3 layers poking through the swoosh logo on the medial side of the shoe.

Finally a high-performance signature shoe with premium materials! Now, it isn’t the most performance-driven design we have ever seen but, as they say, “never look a gift horse in the mouth”. This leather covering will add a ton of support and containment but will require a bit more break-in.

We also have Nike Sphere in the heel which will mold to your foot and improve support the more you play in it. The tongue is very reminiscent of Nike’s Torch technology, which we’ve seen a lot on past Kobe models, and in this case, it’s also quilted on the side that’s in contact with your foot.

Lastly, we have to mention the laces on the LeBron 21. They are thick, and fit the luxurious look and feel of the shoe, but these type of laces does have a tendency to come undone as you play. More on this once we have completed our in-depth testing of the shoe.

Nike LeBron 21 Support

This is the aspect of the shoe that has suffered the most if we compare it to last year’s model. Perhaps in an effort to cut costs, Nike decided to switch out the carbon fiber shank plate for a TPU shank plate. The leather they have used on the upper isn’t cheap and Nike’s design team most likely had to sacrifice the carbon fiber to build the upper the way they wanted.

By no means does this mean that support and containment will be bad on the LeBron 21, it’s just interesting to see. The shoe is equipped with a very wide base, a stable cushioning system, a substantial heel counter wrapped in Nike Sphere, that ultra-supportive upper, and then we have that TPU shank. This will be more than enough for the immense majority of players out there.

Oddly enough, one of the few players that this setup may not be enough for is LeBron James himself. But maybe Nike will keep the carbon fiber shank in his personal pairs. Once the season starts we should be able to see what he’s playing in.

Nike LeBron 21 Fit

The Nike LeBron 21 fits true to size and offers a very similar fit to the Nike LeBron 20, so if you played in that shoe you know what to expect. If you didn’t, go with whatever size you typically use for Nike basketball, and you’ll be getting a great 1 to 1 fit, which is exactly what you want in terms of performance.

Nike LeBron 21 Overall

The Nike LeBron 21 promises to be a beast on court. It can be described as a remix of the Nike LeBron 20, and, again, that shoe was amazing. Barring any unfortunate surprises, this will be one of the top models this year, one of the most versatile, and one of the most comfortable on court, as well as an attainable Kobe substitute.

Last year we saw LeBron reaching frequently for the all-leather versions of the LeBron 20, as well as the Nike LeBron 2. Maybe he was looking for extra containment. That would explain the upper updates and the all-round design. If the assignment LeBron issued to Nike was to create a LeBron 20 with insane lockdown, then he must be thrilled with the Nike LeBron 21.

If Nike had been able to innovate a bit more, to push the envelope in terms of design, then we might have had an all-time great on our hands, but that’s a lot to ask for. And in all fairness, there’s little to complain about in the Nike LeBron 21.

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