I’m not going to lie, I passed on the Zoom Generation because I thought they were ugly and I didn’t want to buy into the hype of Lebron. I felt he had to earn his way into sig shoe but I guess Nike knows how to pick em. 

The first time I saw the Lebron II I immediately thought it looked like garbage but then I tried them on…

I still play these after 12 years which is amazing. One front air bag has popped in my black red pair but other than that I have had no issues.


Lebrons’ traction have never impressed me but the II has one of the better set ups despite not looking like a performer. They actually work well on semi dusty floors after theY have broken in and work well on anything remotely close to clean.

The dark blue portions harden up over time and get extra slick.  I have combated that over time by wearing them outdoors to get the hard layer off or by using sandpaper.  The white portions are interlocked “L and J” and are made a of a nice soft rubber which gives the traction its bite.  Definitely not as good as the X, IV or V but better than the XI and IX. 


The key to the Lebron IIs cushioning is the sockliner. 

It is soft, springy and most of all thick. This gives the shoe awesome step in comfort from the get go. The II features Caged Max Zoom Air encased in Pebax which is the first time Nike used this set up. The KD V elite and Kobe X use a tweaked heel version of this. The Pebax is a flexible plastic that gives the Max Zoom Air support and structure; had they decided to just go with a max Zoom unit, the shoe wouldn’t be as stable (see Lebron X).

Although it looks like one full length unit, it is actually a segmented heel and forefoot unit that stretches all the way across the width of the shoe. Awesome!

I love this set up because it 1) provides great cushioning 2) super stable due to Pebax 3) it’s responsive 4) the sockliner! 

I never felt any lag with this shoe on cuts and it felt so good  when running down court especially in the heel. 

Compared to today’s set up, it doesn’t feel that out of this world great but then again, the sockliner has compressed a lot so I will see if how it compares with a newer sockliner. Even still, it responds and bounces with real Zoom Air.


Bought a size 11 back in 2003 when all I bought back then was 10.5 because they ran small.  I prefer a little more space in the toe box as these have about 3/4 of a finger width from my big toe to the end of the toe box. No movement in any direction at all. This was probably on of the first shoes I bought that locked my foot in perfectly and still does after all these years. Fantastic materials of ballistic mesh and leather make me miss how well shoes were made in the early 2000s. 


Fantastic stability and support simple as that. Flat outsole coupled with Pebax supported Zoom Air makes the shoe very stable and not prone to tipping or instability in the heel.  The fit of the shoe along with an excellent extended heel counter make it very difficult to turn your ankle.  Oh and the strap .. It helps slightly but as I said earlier, most of the support comes from the heel counter and fit. 


Hello foot, you aren’t going anywhere.

 Big, perfectly placed footstay reinforced with leather to lock the foot in place during the hardest cuts. Zero issues with containment. Did I me mention the extended heel counter ?


The Lebron II is a porker of a shoe weighing in at over 21 ounces but it doesn’t feel heavy at all due to the perfect fit all the way around. If Nike were to update this shoe with a newer version of caged Zoom, it would be a beast of a shoe. Even without upgrades in technology of the past 12 years, this shoe performs better than 90% of the shoes out there. I can still play with them and not worry about themfalling apart. Hard to believe these hit the outlets for $59 back then but I’m sure glad I picked up a few. Beautifully designed with the performance to match.

6 Comment on “Retro Review: Nike Zoom Lebron II 2 Performance Review

  1. Pingback: The Archive: Nike Lebron X Performance Review | schwollo.com

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