Bad knees don’t stand a chance

Let me get this out of the way and say that there is a big difference between comfort and performance.  A Toyota Camry is comfy as hell with its boat like ride but it doesn’t perform anything like a Porsche and the same goes here. These are extremely comfortable but performance wise, they are good in some areas and bad in others. I really wanted to like these and make them my goto but some serious flaws really doomed these for me.

Pros: Full length 360 Zoom feels awesome, traction, fit

Cons: difficult to cut and change direction, rides high, very unstable in the heel due to Zoom, containment

Best for: Non Cutters, players who don’t rely on quick change of direction 

Sizing: true to size. Elite runs 1/4  size smaller. 


Pretty light for a Lebron shoe at 17 oz but heavier than average shoes today by about 2-3 oz. The Elite weighs an ounce more and I’m guessing it is due to the carbon fiber. 


When I first wore these on court, I thought the traction was average but over time and after a lot of comparing, I decided the traction was excellent. Very soft pliable rubber on a diamond pattern works very well on all surfaces. Some wiping is required but not much. 

 Out of the Lebron 6-12, I think the X easily has the best traction. It isn’t Kobe IX/ Curry Two/AJ XX8 level but it is still excellent.

Cushioning on the X is the best and worst part of the shoe.  Plush, springy 360 Zoom from heel to toe provides a cushy ride that softens every landing.  My knees feel great every time I play in these.

But with such a great feeling ride, court feel, stabilty and reaction time had to take a back seat. I rely a lot on cuts and foot speed and these just slow me down. I can feel the cushioning compress at the forefoot on cuts because there is no outer structure and the outer heel is too soft. Nike implemented this same set up in the KD 6 Elite and KD himself said he didn’t like it (and didn’t wear them at all). That’s why the KD 8 has those plastic clips on the lateral side of the shoe; to firm up the cushioning on cuts and change of direction without firming up the entire cushioning set up. The Lebron X could have gone with a standard encased full length Zoom or a caged Zoom like the Lebron II but Nike chose showcasing technology over function. 

With the Elite X, Nike firmed up the cushioning slightly so the squishy lag isn’t as bad but I still don’t trust the set up due my history with the X.


I went true to size and these fit perfectly. I tried a half size down but the toe box was way too short. The Elite X actually tightened the toe box even more so my 11 fits like a 10.75. 

I had no movement side to side or front to back. 

This Fuse material is one of my favorites because it doesn’t have that crunchy feeling some of the cheaper Fuse set ups have. It is very pliable, flexible and durable and hides scuffs really well. The Elite dropped some layers of Fuse to add flexibility but it’s not much of a difference. 

Flywire is in place as well 

And a nice contoured heel

When laced up the X feels like an extension of your foot with no heel slip or movement side to side. 

Well done Nike!
Support and stability

Support is very good with the X but stability is iffy so play at your own risk. 

The assymetrical collar and internal heel counter on the regular X help with support. You can see the Elite went with Carbon fiber for support and it is definitely stiffer in the heel.

I wanted to love these so much that I second degree sprained my ankle three times in these. Not a tweak, not a first degree sprain, but a second degree sprain which basically means six to eight weeks off the court. I’m 100% sure these ankle sprains have led to my torn retiniculum but hindsight is 20/20. 

The 360 Zoom has no structure on the lateral or medial sides especially at the heel where there is the most height and air.  I can easily compress the heel while stationary and I landed on the corner edge each time I sprained my ankle. Any shoe is great when you make a perfect landing, it’s those imperfect landings you need to watch for. As I said earlier, if the Zoom was encased in Phylon or had been Caged like the Lebron II or Kobe X or had Max Air in the heel or had clips like the KD 8 these would have worked great.. So many options to choose from.. Sigh

Adding to the problem is the slightly beveled outsole which leads to tippiness. Big fail with my heel test if you didn’t figure that out. 

At the least the forefoot is stable thanks to this outrigger 

Another issue I have with the X is lateral containment. I just can’t cut in these because the foot isn’t contained very well.

Nike tried to use Flywire as the main structure to contain the foot but is gives on cuts. It isn’t terrible since the upper is thick but I can still feel it slide off the footbed. 

The big problem is foot sits above the midsole so the foot is only held in by the upper. It actually sits flush where the arrow is. 


The Lebron X has its strong points but is one of the most overrated shoes I’ve ever tried. Cushioning  is fantastic but at the expense of stability. Why didn’t Nike implement more pressure in the regular X and save it for the Elite version only ? Even the KD 7 with 180 Zoom feels more firm than the X. I enjoyed the fit and traction a lot but the stability and lack of structure on the lateral side and poor containment made these tough to play in. 

You know when you find a shoe that seems to made for you ? The X is the exact opposite of that for me. I think if you have strong ankles or place cushioning above everything else, you’ll love the X. 

54 Comment on “The Archive: Nike Lebron X Performance Review

  1. Pingback: First Look: Nike KD 9 and Upcoming Reviews |

  2. Pingback: Nike KD 9 IX Performance Review |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: