The Nike LeBron Ambassador series is a consistently solid basketball shoe that releases yearly in Asia. Generally made for outdoors play, but with a build that can work extremely well indoors, the shoe is in its 13th year. Does the Nike LeBron Ambassador 13 reign supreme or will this iteration be an afterthought?
Have you ever heard fingernails scratching on a chalkboard? Or watched the cars drift in a Fast and the Furious movie? That’s the best way to describe the traction of the Nike LeBron Ambassador 13. Wholly balls this thing bites. Stop on a dime good. Going 0-60 and stopping in less than a second good. No matter the lateral cuts you make, quick switches on defense, hard plants, or triple-threat jab steps, the shoe just clamps onto the floor as if its life depended on it. The traction might have overtaken the Lebron Ambassador 9 as my favorite traction of this line.
Get your tissue boxes ready, because this news is like taking an L on SNKRS. Nike took out the forefoot Zoom Air. Let me reiterate. My knees take an L every time I have to wear these on court. While there is a large heel Zoom Air bag, the lack of forefoot cushioning really killed me. Not literally, but my knees need some serious WD40 after this. I’m not saying the shoe didn’t work, It just doesn’t fit the mold of what’s necessary for a shoe built for outdoor courts.
Someone at Nike Basketball team decided it wasn’t necessary to have forefoot Zoom Air. Instead they relied on the low to the ground ride to make the shoe lighter and faster. While I don’t disagree with their idea…actually, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY disagree with the idea. The forefoot Zoom has been a staple of the shoes in the Ambassador line since the beginning (which featured forefoot Zoom Air and heel Air Max). Why would Nike take out something that’s been working so well? Something that’s been even better than the Soldier Line on occasion and even giving the signature line a run for its money in some instances?
It seems to be a cost-cutting move that doesn’t include the shoe’s primary use case in the equation. I’ve tested Asia exclusive models for years now. The feedback I get is that about 90%+ of the Asian market plays outdoors and needs good impact protection. And, now, that same 90%+ of the market is pissed, including your boy. Nike owes me a pair of good knees. Please, for all the LeBron Ambassador line fans, bring back both the large volume forefoot/heel Zoom setup and the soft Phylon midsole from the Ambassador 8 and 9. Then, we’ll forgive you.
Since this is an alternate to the signature model, the materials have never really stood out. The simple mesh upper, strategically placed fuse, XDR solid rubber outsole, phylon midsole, and a large volume heel Zoom Air unit make up the shoe. The material combo works. It just needs the forefoot Zoom bag back. Are you tired of me talking about it yet? That’s how much it affected me.
For the first time, the shoe itself fit a little snug, even after I relaced the shoe. However, after a game or two, the shoe fits like a glove. I mean that in the most modest way possible. While overseas basketball shoes are generally built on a wider last, this shoe seems to have been adjusted a bit. My slightly wide foot struggled for the first 10 minutes. But after some heat built up in the shoe, it molded around my foot quite nicely and got better with time.
Oh boy, here he goes again. Yup, I said what I said and I stand by it. I want my ****** forefoot Zoom Air back! Okay, besides that, the support is adequate. It doesn’t overdeliver, but the Ambassador line was always built on a no frills platform. The Nike LeBron Ambassador 13 sticks to the same script.
The LeBron Ambassador line has always been quite solid and continues to be (with the exception of the forefoot Zoom Air removal). The Nike LeBron Ambassador 13 is light, strategic, and just darn good (with the one issue). The wider base of the shoe allowed me to plant my feet without hesitation and jolted my confidence in the solid XDR rubber outsole and the pattern. The upper molded to my foot and I almost felt like I didn’t have the shoe tied on.
But again, it only takes one thing to break my confidence and that is the lack of proper cushioning. LeBron James himself is 6’8” 240+ pounds of championship muscle. His signature line has a full length Zoom Air strobel along with a heel Air Max unit. Previous Ambassador models had enough cushion to work for those who play on the blacktop. For the money I and others paid for them, we deserve forefoot Zoom Air.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the shoe minus the forefoot cushioning. Will the Nike basketball team be able to rebound from this hiccup? Time will tell, but I speak for myself, the Asia basketball community, and the LeBron Ambassador fans: please don’t take away what has worked so well. We want to continue to love the Ambassador line as much as have to this point.
Nike was not given any editorial control of the review. This review is based on our weartesters’ experiences using the shoes for basketball, casual wear, and more.