Nike Lebron X - China Jade

The Nike Lebron X

Introduction

The 2011-2012 season proved to be the most rewarding year for Lebron James, capturing a league MVP, Finals MVP, and the elusive first NBA Championship.  James put the icing on the cake during the Gold Medal game debuting the Lebron X on the court in front of a worldwide audience as team USA took home the Gold in the Summer Olympic Games.  Always the most anticipated basketball sneaker each season, this latest Lebron marks the tenth anniversary, and with it comes a diamond theme.  Each and every year, the designers of the Lebron have done their best to include as many Nike patented technologies into their most premium basketball shoe.  The X no exception, the Nike+ technology has been integrated into the Lebron X (although this Performance Review will not evaluate the Nike+ version), giving consumers plenty of options.  And with all Lebron signature shoes, the themes and limited color schemes are sure to appease fans throughout the year.  Made for the newly crowned NBA Champion, we take the most premium basketball shoe of the year on the court for a hard run – the Nike Lebron X.

A diamond theme for the 10th anniversary, the Lebron X looks to set a new standard for the line in terms of technological patents and signature touches.  The features include the following:

  • Hyperfuse upper with Flywire support for light weight performance and stability
  • Cushioning provided by a full length Zoom Air unit and Phylon midsole
  • Rubber outsole with multi-directional traction pattern
  • Mid foot stability plate on the lateral side
  • Asymmetrical collar for added flexibility

Aesthetics and Styling

Making a shoe for one of the biggest and strongest players in the NBA that uses speed, power, and explosiveness in his game is the task that the Nike designers are faced with when crafting a new version of the Lebron series each year.  For the most recent Lebron releases performance has been characterized by great comfort, with a light weight upper in an attempt to bring a balance between a sturdy shoe while remaining weight friendly.  Using almost every Nike technological feature again this season, the X adds the option of Nike+ for those interested in tracking certain performance features such as vertical leap.  The most sought after basketball shoe on the market is always combined with a theme, in this case diamonds, which tell a story through each color scheme released.  And to appease the fans even more, the Lebron X is available for customization on the NikeiD site.  The choice for this Performance Review is the China Jade green.

A diamond theme is represented with the design and color schemes. For this color scheme, Jade is the theme.

A rounded toe box gives the Lebron X a look of a combat boot, spiced up with sharp cuts throughout and a pointy collar.  The design is no doubt bulky, especially at the sole where Phylon midsole and clear cushioning bubble raise the shoe high above the surface.  Littered with signature touches, a translucent rubber outsole is where we begin our look.  A multi-directional traction pattern is observed, molded into the rubber, as the diagonal cuts form both diamond shapes and the numeral X.  Both the forefoot and heel areas are slightly raised compared to the midfoot, where the Lebron crown logo is found revealing the Zoom unit above it.  The forefoot area has the “X” logo on the toe cap, three sharp flex grooves (one running vertically from the toe cap to the center, and the other two horizontally from the sides), a slight outrigger, and a large “X” to separate the traction pattern.  Marking the heel is another large “X,” this time in red, with the “NIKE ZOOM” text on the lateral side and “FORGED MMIII” on the back end to signify the start year of Lebron.  On top of the outsole sits a clear 360 degree bubble, normally associated with the Nike Max Air technology, but here housing and exposing a full length Zoom unit.  A thick speckled Phylon midsole tops off the foundation molded with triangular shards throughout.

The upper is constructed seamlessly of fuse material.  Up front, the toe box has textured feel extending to the forefoot on each side, with a large Nike swoosh logo on the medial.  At the throat line, the fuse layers are at a maximum, creating a diamond shape with a diamond hole cut in the center.  On the medial side, layers of fuse are broken up by small triangular cut outs.  The nylon openings make sure there is plenty of ventilation for the shoe and show the “FLYWIRE” cables underneath when inspected up close.  The lateral side sees a similar set up but with three larger cut outs.  For stability, the base of the lateral has a protruding stability plate, cut like a diamond.  A painted black with red outline Nike swoosh logo finishes off the vamp.

Narrow, long, and steep, the back end shows of the asymmetric collar.  The heel counter is covered with reinforced layers of fuse, which are raised above the textured base layer.  On the medial side, a triangle piece is marked with a diamond graphic.  Moving up the collar, the lateral side cuts sharply upward, while the medial side rises closer to 90 degrees.  Padding is compact throughout the ankles and Achilles, while the smooth lining has special graphics including the Lebron crown logo and a figure of a man.

For lacing, thick round braided laces are multi-colored in red and black.  The laces are tipped with aglets reading “LEBRON” and “JAMES.”  There are nine eyelets cut into the fuse upper, with the laces going through Flywire cables for the first 7.  The Flywire strands are hidden underneath the fuse upper, as the hoops that come though the upper match the laces.  Underneath the laces, a bootie system is formed from the heels to forefoot by the thin mesh tongue.  The tongue has the collar lining, complete with the special graphics.  On top of the tongue, the diamond theme continues with the shape and small diamond shaped padded pieces.  A hang tab is stitched on top with a diamond graphic and a jade green Lebron logo.  The final aspect of the Lebron X is the foam insole.  This insole, which is thinner than the insole included with past two Lebron releases, is marked with perforation holes that form the Lebron crown logo.

Comfort and Fit

Loosening the heavy duty braided laces through the stiff eyelets is the first task before jumping into the Lebron X.  Fit is a close true to size, with the fuse upper having a light weight feel.  At times, a fuse based upper can have some space or awkward bends around the foot, but in this context, even though it is still stiff, it is more conforming around the foot.  With this, the lace pressure is is even throughout, holding close but not gripping uncomfortably.  The toe box area is small, with respect to the throat line, allowing some wiggle room for the big toe.  Those who like a precise toe box will be pleased.  Around the ankles, the asymmetric collar provides a high protective and supportive wrap.  The top of the tongue forms a slight barrier but is not as padded as the sides of the collar.  All in all, the ankles have a very secure and comfortable feel.  Heel lock down is excellent.  The pressure of the collar helps to keep the top stable, while the heel seems to stay right on the stiff counter.  Next, the cushioning set up is very thick and heavy.  The Phylon/Zoom set up has a plush feeling from heel to toe, as the player can feel the foot push through.  At the back, the heel feels very high and thick, but the shoe does not slope downward as one might expect.  Arch support is good, but not pronounced, as the foot does not sit completely flat.  Overall, the diamond themed Lebron brings a very comfortable, close, and supportive fit with excellent heel lock down and a bulky base.

Nike Lebron X - China Jade

The Phylon and full length Zoom cushioning set up is very comfortable

Performance

The thick and comfortable Phylon/Zoom base sits high while standing on the court in a static position.  Most notable is the heel, which is higher than the forefoot area.  Getting up to speed is very comfortable as the cushioning of the Zoom can be felt with each step.  From the heel up the medial side, the weight balance of the shoe can be felt.  The asymmetric collar forms a wall on the medial side, and out of the box, it feels as though the player is dragging the back end compared to the light weight upper.  Thankfully, the upper has plenty of comfortable flex, and unlike most fuse based uppers, the flex points on the X are more natural.  That is, it does not have those areas where the upper bunches up.  Although there may not be a break in period necessary, after numerous sessions on the court, the Lebron does get more comfortable in terms of overall feel (especially with the weight disparity between the upper and base).  Performance on the court is fit for the swingman and guard who value a comfortable ride in a sturdy package.  For the perimeter player, getting up and down, and around the court is comfortable.  The shoe feels plush, for long strides and sprints, fully utilizing the Zoom cushioning.  For guards, playing off the forefoot is best moving forward – especially driving to the hole.  Moving laterally, there are few hinderances, minus the fact that the shoe may be a bit bulky, but for the most part, the player can press hard through the foundation with good responsiveness.  The highlight in performance for this Lebron is in using the full length Zoom for jumping.  What the shoe loses in being nimble on the court, it makes up for in comfort, which is no better observed for jump shots.  Any kind of shooter or jumper will find that pushing of the Phylon/Zoom set up is what the shoe does best.  The Zoom has a combination of comfort and springiness to it, as it propels the player up.  Landings are taken exactly how one would expect – comfortable.  Always versatile on the court, the Lebron X is one of the most comfortable performers on the market today.

Built for a monster of a player, stability for the Lebron X is very good.  Evaluation of stability starts with the fit.  The inner bootie does an excellent job of cradling the foot comfortably in place.  When the laces lock down the upper around the foot, and pushes the heel onto the counter, a secure and protected feeling is felt.  This fit translates in motion as there is little sliding of the foot during play.  Besides the inner bootie and narrow heel counter (which locks in the heels), one aspect that may be overlooked when stability is assessed is the heavy duty laces.  Thick round braided laces are the perfect compliment to the Flywire lace hoops.  Once the rope-like laces are tied, the fit is solidified and the foot secure in place.  For the big man, the asymmetric collar provides comfortable high ankle support.  An asymmetric collar is designed to allow for less restriction around the ankles for those subtle movements, and that is exactly what is felt on the court.  Post players can back in comfortably off the Zoom base.  The back end, with excellent heel lock down and the medial side acting as a supportive side wall, does a great job in providing protection and support for any spins or dips to the hole.

Traction performance is smooth and comfortable.  The outsole is designed with the forefoot and heel areas slightly raised which helps to allow the diamond traction pattern to do the work.  Also, the traditional design does not have the traction pattern running up the side walls, so most of the court grip will be based on the balance of the player.  That said, traction is best observed playing heavy footed.  By design, the shoe is not very nimble, so those small quick steps and taps would be best played stepping very hard.  When the player does press down through the cushioning set up, the outsole has smooth grip.  This is great for those who play off the ball on offense and defense, and those who occasionally play in the post.  In the end, traction is just comfortable.  For ventilation, the Lebron X is excellent.  The fuse upper allows the foot to breathe as it is thin, while the nylon openings around the foot do a great job in allowing air flow in and out.

Conclusion

For 5 years, the Lebron series has been the gold standard in terms of being a “premium” basketball shoe.  The 9 took the line to new heights, integrating as many Nike patents as possible.  This year, the tenth anniversary comes at a perfect time as Lebron had his best year.  On the court performance has always been very good for the Lebron series, which seems to focus every year on special edition color schemes to promote the shoe.  If anything the shoe is a valid option for those players wanting a comfortable experience on the court, as the Lebron X is simply a pleasure to play in.  As a first time champion, this season for Lebron will show how far his legacy will rise.  The best basketball player in the world has accomplished everything possible, and now he is challenging the all time greats.  The 9 will be remembered as the first shoe Lebron won a championship in.  Next summer we will all find out where the X will stand in the history of Lebron James.  Lebron a championship with.  Next summer we will all find out where the X will stand in the history of Lebron James.  The premium diamond in the Nike Basketball catalog, the Lebron X is available now at the Official Nike Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Nike Lebron 9
Nike Lebron 8 V/2