The Nike Lebron 8

Introduction

For the past 8 years Lebron James has been one of the top players in the NBA. Garnering two consecutive regular season MVP awards, an Olympic gold medal in 2008, the league scoring title in the 2007-2008 season, and the rookie of the year award, James signed with the Miami Heat this past summer in pursuit of his main objective – and NBA Championship.  For his 8th season, Nike has released the Lebron 8, the latest in the signature line for Lebron James.

The Nike Lebron 8 is a very complex shoe, incorporating many elements from the Nike patent department.  The features include:

  • Flywire panels on the upper
  • 360 Air Max Bag Unit
  • Phylon Midsole
  • Mesh inner-sleeve
  • Leather and Suede Upper

Aesthetics and Styling

The Nike Lebron 8, like all the shoes in the Lebron series, has an aggressive style.  Viewing the side profile, all the Nike patents and styling designs are evident.  From the Air Max Unit, to the plastic covered flywire panels, to the speckled midsole, saying there is a lot going on with this shoe would be an understatement.  The signature marks are present on the throat line (bearing the crown and “Lebron” on one shoe, and “James” on the other), the lion face displayed on the tongue, and the signature of Lebron on the heel.

The Lebron Lion face on the tongue of the Lebron 8

At first glance, the Lebron 8 has a bulky look.  The outsole is broken into two pieces.  First, the clear red sole wraps from the tip of the toes, outlining the sides and heel, all the way around the sole.  The middle of the sole is solid black rubber.  The classic Lebron lion face and inset “8” pattern on the heel are part of the black sole that not only provides style, but are used to absorb shock on landings. Three horizontal grooves on the midfoot/toe area finish off the sole which has the customary herringbone pattern. A thick speckled phylon midsole sits above the 360 Air Max Unit, which is the basis for impact from landings.

The toe box area, done in suede (for this model), has a cut in Nike swoosh.  The suede continues on to the forefoot and extends all the way to the medial side, running to the first plastic covered flywire panel.  Small circular ventilation holes in the shape of an “8” are present on the medial side.  The suede panel, in between the two flywire panels, on the base side also has 8 ventilation holes.  The stability in the Lebron 8 lies within these flywire panels.  The first pyramid shaped flywire panel,  on the base side of the shoe (at the third eyelet), is separated from the suede base with leather strips.  This panel is nicely placed for forefoot stability.  The final two flywire panels, similar to the first panel, form the basis of the heel counter.  The two panels connect low on the heel side.  Also,  an extra stiff plate is present on the medial for added stability.  The main Nike swoosh is placed on the base side of the flywire, ending at the heel hook.

Moving on to the eyelets and laces, the Lebron 8 is outfitted with flat high quality laces, that are finished with the “LEBRON” & “EIGHT” on the aglets.  There are nine circular eyelets on an all leather eyestay. To keep with the theme of the shoe, the eyestay is in the form of the number “8.”  The third and seventh eyelets are designed in a red plastic triangle pattern, with the seventh eyelet containing two lace holders which form the number “8.”

Finally, the tongue of the shoe is comprised of a light weight red mesh material.  The mesh material continues on into the toe area and acts as a inner sleeve for the shoe.  The wide top of the tongue has the Lebron lion in black leather, and on the back, a patch signifying an endorsement by Lebron is present.  On the insole heel, a leather “Witness” patch is present.  Rounding out the shoe, is the specially cushioned collar. The collar starts low on the heel counter and rises at a steep angle, which gives the unique profile to the shoe.

Comfort and Fit

When you lace up the Lebron 8, the main focus of the shoe comes out – cushioning.  The Lebron 8 has a very plush cushioning bed that feels akin to a memory foam mattress.  It seems as though the designers made a conscious effort to put cushioning at the forefront.  The cushioning is most evident in the forefoot and toe area, as well as in the heels. The sizing for the Lebron is tight, and it may be advised for some to go 1/2 size up.  The fit is nice and snug, holding the foot in place.  Arch support is prominent, with the medial heel plate giving a feeling of added support.  The collar has nice cushioning, combining nicely with the wide tongue.  Although very wide and high, the tongue does not feel intrusive, wrapping around the front of the foot to the ankles.  Overall, the shoe gives a feeling of solid protection and stability, with maximum comfort.

Performance

Standing in place, the Lebron 8 has a thick and cumbersome feel.  The combination of the Air Max unit, phylon midsole, and plush cushioning give this shoe a high profile.  It feels as though the shoes are plush bricks.  However, once you get moving, the weight of the shoe is surprising.  For all the bells and whistles the shoe has, running up and down the court does not have a bog down feeling.  Although this is not one of the lightest shoes, the weight is balanced.  Running feels natural and soft, with the midfoot flywire panel providing sufficient flex for transitions.  The heel counter provides excellent heel lock down, with the transition heel plate providing the support.  Landings from jumps are cushioned, but stiff, which may be one of the few drawbacks.

The flywire panels provide stability and support

One of the strong points of the shoe is the stability.  This is due in large part to the snug fit.  The flywire support around the shoe helps to provide not only the stability and lock down, but flexibilty where it is needed.  Since the upper is not made entirely of flywire, the placement of the panels is important.  That said, for making quick lateral movements, the midfoot panel provides the necessary flex and stability.  Moving on, the long flywire panel on the medial side holds the foot in place.  This shoe is well equipped to take abrupt, quick movements.  With your back to the basket, the heel support is good.  The “8” pattern shock absorber on the outsole heel provides relief for any awkward movements and landings.

In the area of traction, the Lebron 8 is exceptional.  Whether on an outdoor or an indoor court the traction holds up.  One would not expect great traction with the high profile of the shoe, but the traction is sufficient to minimize slippage when stopping and starting, taking jab steps, as well as other quick movements.  The mesh inner sleeve and tongue, combined with side ventilation holes provide good ventilation, despite the leather and suede upper.  In the long run, durability can be questioned for many reasons.  One reason is that the shoe has many parts, all of which can fail at different moments.  In the short run, the durability of the Lebron 8 is not a question.

Conclusion

The Nike Lebron 8 is a perfect successor to the Nike Air Max Lebron VII.  As an evolution of the previous model, it succeeds in many areas.  The plush cushioning and excellent fit make this one of the most comfortable basketball shoes on the market.  The use of flywire panels not only gives the shoe a unique look, but provides many performance advantages.  In many ways, the shoe mirrors the game of Lebron James himself.  It is very versatile and can be an option for players of all types.  For those looking for a well rounded, high quality, comfortable basketball shoe, the Nike Lebron 8 is an excellent choice.