*I posted this back in March of 2016 so since the retro is coming “very soon”, might as well share again.*

Poor Swaggy P … But look at that Zoom
I didn’t buy the Zoom Generation when it came out nor did I buy it when it hit outlets for $59.99. I passed on it mainly because I thought what a dumb idea it was to give an unproven kid a ninety million contract and a shoe that was inspired by a Hummer.   Guess I was wrong. 
   I did pick some up as the years have gone by and as Lebron proved himself. Since a retro is undoubtly imminent, I thought I’d share my thoughts on a Lebron classic.
Simple clean lines compared to today eh? Those were the good ol days…
Pros: Zoom feels like Zoom, fit, stability, real leather!!

Cons: Traction is average, transition is a little clunky 

Best for: any position 

Sizing:true to size

Weight

  

 16 oz. fairly chunky but not too bad. The Lebron XIII comes in at 16 oz but of course has a much higher cut. 

Traction
I always start with traction because for me, it makes or breaks a shoe. What’s the point of perfect lockdown and cushioning if I’m sliding everywhere? The sole is the only part of a shoe that touches a variable, I.e. The floor, so it better work well on everything.

  
The traction on the AZG doesn’t work very well on anything but clean and lightly dusty floors. Wiping is needed to prevent slipping on semi dusty and very dusty floors since the rubber doesn’t flex a whole lot due to the thickness of the rubber.

  
The pattern itself is very similar to Brandblack’s traction blades but the rubber isn’t nearly as soft so it doesn’t really wipe away dirt very well. 

Cushioning

One of the bright spots of the AZG is the Zoom. Back in 2003, we didn’t have to wonder how Zoom would feel because Nike was consistent in delivering the goods.  Look at the Swaggy P pic and you can see a full width big fat Zoom bag in the forefoot. When these get retroed, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll get about half the thickness of this set up  (see AJ XIV retros) . 

That signature feel of Zoom can be felt in the forefoot although it doesn’t feel anything like the XX8.

Transition is ok not super smooth since there is a large gap between forefoot and heel

  

Fit

Lebrons were one of the first shoes that  I had to go up half a size to my current size 11. I wore 10.5 in almost everything but when the AZG came out it fit smaller than previous Nikes and Jordans. Thankfully, they fit perfectly as an 11 for me with my ideal length at the toe.

Back in 2003, I deemed this leather as crappy because it just looked and felt cheap compared to other shoes. It wasn’t as thick and natural feeling as shoes like the AJ XIV (my gold standard) or even the XVII but then again it was priced at $110 so you got what you paid for. That being said, leather is so rare nowadays that I find it almost luxurious. Thanks a lot synthetics.

  
 The fit on the AZG is just perfect. No movement side to side or front to back. And that leather upper just conforms perfectly to the foot.You can practically see where my toes come up or touch the toe box. This is one of my newer less worn pairs by the way. Who wants pics of my yellowed beaters? 

  

Also helping with the fit is the Nike Sphere in the ankle collar. It doesn’t really wick moisture or increase breathability but it sure is comfy.

  
Support and Stability

The AZG is easily the lowest cut Lebron ever and could almost be considered a low. Despite the cut, the support and stability are good. Nothing major support wise other than the fit and heel counter but the flat sole is very stable and hard to tip

Too lazy to take the tape off   
Carbon fiber on a Lebron ? Unheard of nowadays

  
Containment 

As with all Lebrons, these do a great job containing the foot. My foot stayed in place on hard cuts thanks to the leather at the forefoot and slightly raised (silver piece) midsole

  
Conclusion 

I didn’t get warm and fuzzy talking about this shoe but it’s still a great performer despite the average traction.  Back in 2003, Nike didn’t use the AZG as a platform to market its technology… No Posite, no visible Zoom, just a good looking shoe with technology under the hood. I miss the simplicity of the first few Lebrons. 

Would I recommend wearing a shoe from 2003? From my experience, the AZG has held up well as have my Lebron II and III but based on Swaggy’s experience I’m not so sure. There are tons of better shoes out there to hoop in now but sometimes it is fun to play in older, historically significant shoes.  


22 Comment on “The Archive: Nike Zoom Generation Performance Review

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