The Nike LeBron 9
I was really unsure what to expect with the Lebron nine. Especially because of the hate love relationship I had with its predecessor the Lebron eight. While being aesthetically pleasing certainly has nothing to with performance, initially I wasn’t fond of the LeBron 9 from a visual standpoint and that didn’t exactly hasten my want to test this shoe. However I can say my perceptions were changed on multiple levels.
Here you can see the inner of the LeBron 9. The blue portion is the Nike Pro Combat material.
Starting with the inner, it’s what I called multi-fasceted. The heel is lined with a very smooth material with the exception of the area that would line up with the lateral and medial maleollus ( the bony round protrusions that stick out on both sides of the ankle). In these areas are lined with Nike pro combat material to apparently assist with fit( and apparently heat dissipation), but more on that later. While this area wasn’t smooth it didn’t cause me any problems while playing but at times I found it to be a bit uncomfortable while wearing casually, even when I wore the shoes unlaced. It never reached the point of chafing or blistering, but the rubbing, even through my socks, was very noticeable and did not feel good at all. The tongue is a mesh and is integrated into the inner to form a bootie. Aside from the issue with the pro combat at the ankle, from casual wear only, the inner was otherwise very comfortable.
Moving down to the outsole, it is multi-textured. The black portion, comprises most of the forefoot in a tiny portion of the heel, is comprised of a pattern of interlocking sixes forming a chain-link. The white portion of the sole which comprises most of the heel, outrigger and the tip of the shoe, has a textured design. My initial thought at seeing the lack of herringbone in the outsole was that the traction would be mediocre at best. However, I can say I was extremely impressed with the level of traction provided by the Lebron9. In my time testing the shoe I didn’t experience any slipping whatsoever. It seems the two compounds of rubber, a harder one for the black portion of the outsole and a softer one for the white part, work well in conjunction to help provide this high level of traction.
Here you can see the interlocking 6 that form the traction pattern on the Lebron 9. Note also the flex channels in the forefoot that helped foster a more natural feeling underfoot
While still on the on the subject of the outsole, the small flex grooves in the forefront combined with the curving of that out so on the video side and then the more angled shape on the lateral outriggers combined to give me a very natural feel underfoot.
Moving up to the cushioning ,which is provided via an AirMax 180 unit in the heel, forefoot Zoom Air unit and a Cushlon midsole. The net result from is very good impact protection. I enjoyed this cushioning so much more than I did in the Lebron eight. The ortholite insole cut down on some of the responsiveness from the Zoom Air unit but that loss in feel in no way takes away from the cushioning provided. Despite that, the LeBron 9 provides excellent cushioning from heel to toe, although the lack of predominate cushioning feel may throw some people off.
Here you can see the fuse and flywire upper of the LeBron 9. Also, you can see the cushlon midsole, heel AirMax180 bag in the heel.
Moving further north to the upper, it’s comprised of Hyperfuse and Flywire. It was noticeably lighter than its predecessor, particularly the V1. I was very impressed with the fit of the shoe from the midfoot to the heel. The combo upper does a phenomenal job of locking those areas down. When it comes to the fit at the upper, the only problem I had was at the forefoot and really at toes. The way the shoe flexes, or doesn’t flex, caused the shoe to press down on my toes and I experienced discomfort bordering on pain in my big toe on multiple wearings and this somewhat detracted from my enjoyment of wearing the shoe.
Speaking on fit specifically at the heel, there is padding around the heel and it’s sculpted to help cradle fit there and that, combined with the pro combat material that lines did an outstanding job of keeping my heel locked down .
Overall, I was pretty pleased and impressed by the performance of the LeBron 9.
In closing I think the LeBron 9 moved Mr. James’ line forward from a performance standpoint. It excels in the areas of fit, traction and support while keeping the weight relatively down (the 9 weighs in at 16.6 oz). A great shoe for bigger guards, forwards and maybe even smaller centers. If your game is based on quickness or you want super responsive and low profile cushioning through the entire shoe, you way want to look at other options, such as the AdiZero Rose 2.5, for instance.
Colorway Tested: Varsity Royal/White-Black
Weight: 16.6 oz (in a sz. 11)
Comfort : B-
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