This is my review of Nike Lebron 18. In my opinion, the Lebron 18 is a well-rounded, if heavy, shoe that works best for big men or players who need power and stability over strong lateral movement. Read my detailed review below to learn more!
- Where to Buy: Amazon, Nike
- Best for: Larger players who value ample cushion. Those with big feet who care about a comfortable fit.
- Pros: Amazing cushion. Solid impact protection and stability. Solid performance. Durable. Striking, stylish appearance.
- Cons: Poor court feel. Heavy. Takes time to break in. Lateral support could be better.
- Alternatives: Zoom Freak 2, PG 5, Air Versatile Li
Why Trust Me
I am a seasoned basketball player who has been in and around the game for more than two decades. That time, from shooting around in my backyard as a kid to playing in competitive leagues, got me to try a wide range of different shoes and shoe styles.
My own personal experience, backed up by additional reviews and extensive research, gave me the ability to properly analyze each and every part of the Lebron 18.
Detailed Review of Nike Lebron 18
The Lebron 18 is a big shoe. While that might put some people off, especially guards who depend on agility or quick cuts, that extra size and weight delivers a good mix of strength, stability, and durability. It’s incredibly protective and has a nice look as well.
While the 18 has a longer beak in time than most shoes, once you get past the initial discomfort it’s snug and feels great under your feet. Not the most well-rounded shoe, but a great choice for players who like what it has to offer.
If comfort is what you look for in a shoe, the Lebron 18 has it in droves. This is by far the most appealing part of the larger design, and it truly shines here. Though the court feel is a bit lacking, the full-length Zoom Air and Max Air come together to create a truly cushioned step.
You’re never going to get uncomfortable in these, no matter how long you play. That in itself is worth a lot for players who are used to getting sore feet during long practices or games.
There’s a solid amount of breathability with this shoe as well. That’s a nice bonus on top of the extensive padding, especially since so many larger models tend to be on the stuffy side. You’ll be able to run without ever getting too sweaty.
The cushion built into the Lebron 18 does a lot in terms of comfort, but it also helps further the performance. You get a lot of spring from the base. Jumpers or big men who put a lot of their game into rebounding will especially like how quickly you can get into the air with them on.
That being said, there is a bit of a wall here when it comes to lateral mobility. These simply aren’t quick-cut shoes, which does make them less appealing for lighter players. If that’s not an issue, however, you’ll be happy with how much they push you forward as you run.
The Lebron 18 is a large, solid shoe. That is why it’s so surprising that it doesn’t have the best durability. As a Nike model, it’s generally well made. The stitching is great, and you’re not going to wear it out with heavy regular gym use. However, outside is a different story.
The shoe simply doesn’t have the tough construction needed to be used consistently outdoors. You might get a few months or more out of it, especially if you play in mild conditions, but it will show signs of wear much more quickly than I’m sure many players would prefer.
Weight and Feel
Depending on who you are, weight is likely the area where the Lebron 18 struggles the most. Simply put, it’s a heavy shoe. So heavy that it’s almost impossible to ignore when you’re moving around. That won’t matter for some, but quicker players aren’t going to like it.
The feel is generally good, mainly thanks to the interior padding, and you get a lot thanks to the impact protection. It’s surprisingly flexible and allows your foot to move around quite comfortably without ever sitting too tight or large.
The Lebron 18 has solid traction overall. It’s not perfect, but the grip is tough enough to work on both indoor and outdoor courts. It’s consistent and really allows you to dig into the court when you need to plant your position or make a move. It has a nice tackiness too it other shoes lack.
That being said, it does falter when you play on less-than-ideal surfaces. You won’t have too many problems on the blacktop, but in a street or driveway you might see some issues. Also, be prepared to wipe every once in a while if you’re on a particularly dusty indoor court.
Lockdown and Support
Support is another mixed bag. The shoe has a good amount of support around the heel area, but the lateral stability is not quite up to the same level. You might have some issues when moving to the side, especially when it comes to general containment.
The lockdown is a different story. These shoes have an incredibly snug fit that feels good and keeps your whole foot in place. The midsole has excellent lockdown, and the forefoot won’t let you move either. That, combined with the outrigger, prevents all uncomfortable rubbing.
What I Like
My favorite aspect of the 18 is the cushion. Where many shoes provide extra padding, this one goes far above and beyond. Every step feels great, regardless of what surface you’re playing on. I am also a big fan of how well the three layer cushioning backs up the Air Max unit.
The stability is impressive too. Though the larger size may put some people off, there’s no denying that the base creates a great place from which you can generate power. If you need a shoe you can truly dig into, the 18 will give you exactly what you’re looking for.
What I Dislike
Speaking as a guard, I am not a fan of the Lebron 18’s size. It’s a large shoe. That’s not a big issue in itself, but it’s also heavy. I like slimmer designs that stay out of the way, where this model is impossible to forget once it’s on. That’s a bummer for people who like to run.
I wish the lateral containment was better as well. It feels as if the shoes are pure big men options because they don’t do much when it comes to going side to side. If you need to sit down low they work great. If you need to dodge and weave, it’s a different story.
If you want a shoe that’s like the Lebron 18 but brings something a little different to the table, the footwear in this section is a good place to start. You may also turn to our super detailed best basketball shoes roundup to find more.
1. Zoom Freak 2
The Zoom Freak 2 is an incredibly well rounded shoe that comes in a lighter weight than the 18. It’s still a larger model, but it manages to give you excellent cushion and power transfer through the Zoom Air technology without ever being too bulky or overbearing.
The rubber outsole is tough and the molded overlay is solid. It doesn’t have the best ventilation around, and the impact protection won’t hold up outside, but it’s a striking model perfect for serious indoor players.
2. PG 5
If you’re a Nike fan looking for something reliable with a little less weight, the PG 5 is great in that regard. It’s not as heavy as the Lebron 18, but still comes with a ton of power. The multi-directional tread is especially nice, as it lets you dig into just about any surface.
This shoe is not the most durable, but the Air Zoom Strobel is incredibly comfortable. You also get a lot of spring from the sole, allowing you to jump with ease. Overall, it’s a stylish, well-cushioned shoe that helps further your game.
If support is your main concern, check out the Air Versatile Li. This shoe goes above and beyond when it comes to keeping your foot in the right place. That’s mainly due to the air-sole heel pocket, fly wire cables, and air-tight internal lacing system.
On top of that, it’s outfitted with a herringbone pattern that does a great job of gripping both the court and the blacktop. You get plenty of impact resistance and shock absorption as well.
How Do These Shoes Fit?
The Lebron 18 has a true to size fit. That means you should stick to your regular size to get the best possible results.
How Good Are These Outside?
Despite their large size, the Lebron 18 doesn’t have the best durability for outdoor use. It’s more of a gym shoe, especially if you play somewhere with rough weather.
If you’re in the market for something strong, powerful, or comfortable, you’ll get a lot from the Lebron 18. The shoe has its downsides, and it’s not really the best option for guards, but larger wings and big men looking for stable footwear will greatly enjoy its different gestures.
There’s a ton of comfort built into the shoe and the protection does a good job of keeping your feet in place. Such traits make it perfect for any players who want a little more cushion as they move around.