*I apologize in advance, this isn’t a good flow to this post but there is so much going on with the Dame 3 that I wanted to cover*

Executive Summary: The Dame 3 feels like a step forward with improved traction and firmed up Bounce. However, it also feels like a half step back;  the heel fit is fickle even in the rear most position and the lace pressure gets painful back there no matter how you lace through the pegboard.  More padding around the ankle or wider laces would have really helped to make it a more comfortable all around performer. I recommend longer laces for better lockdown to utilize all the eyelets. Also the midfoot and back support is very stiff. 

Analytical Cubism and angularity at its finest. Photo by Pablo Picasso, shoe by Adidas and Dame Lillard

Of Adidas’s big three, Harden, Rose, and Lillard, I think Lillard is the most marketable; he’s very active on social media, comes off as authentic, doesn’t mince words, and has been loyal to Portlandia. One of the big selling points of the Lillard 2 was the price but Adidas opted to increase it $10 this year since Lillard’s stardom grew a bit after the Blazers’ playoff run last year. Is it worth the ten Dame Dolla increase? 

Here is my Lillard 2 Review from last year 

Lillard 2
Pros: traction, cushioning, overall fit is good after break in, support, stability, containment

firmer and less bouncy Bounce than last year, lacing system works but not totally necessary, some very light ight heel slip even after getting lace set up correct, needs some break in time to make shoe more fluid but still stiff at the midfoot and back, lace pressure can get uncomfortable if using double eyelet system at midfoot as well as at the rear eyelet, longer laces are needed if you choose to utilize all the eyelets like I did

Best for: any position

Buying Advice:
polarizing angular design isn’t for everyone. $90 or less is fair, $65 is near the bottom


Adidas wins 2016 for heaviest average weight per shoe and continues the trend in 2017. I personally don’t mind but I know lots of people do. 16.5 ounces is half an ounce more than the CLB and half an ounce heavier than the Lillard 2. 


If this pattern looks familiar, it’s because it has a similar blade set up as the Kyrie 2 but more linear and more blades.  The great news is that it works 

Thin pliable rubber check

Deep grooves check

Lots of points of contact check

Multi directional check 

Not much wiping needed at all and I felt covered on all moved and all directions. Not quite top tier but close enough. I felt this was a major improvement over the 2 especially on dusty floors. 

Well done Adidas!


Dual density Bounce is back and feels similar to the Lillard 2 but definitely firmer and slightly lower feeling in the especially in the forefoot. There is a slight heel toe drop this time around but not nearly as severe as the Rose 7. 

Adidas swapped the regular strobel board of the 2 (right) for a softer one which allowed them to lower the ride without losing too much Bounce (get it?) But that’s not all. 

Typically Adidas only cuts a hole in the heel but this time they cut some slits on the forefoot to allow the player to feel the Bounce a little bit more. I think one of my readers, S, asks about cutting the fiberboard strobel of the Rose 7 for enhanced feel. Guess Adidas read your mind S! 

Adidas also swapped out the thicker insole of the 2 and put in their more common thin insole. Same as the Crazy Explosive and Harden, not quite as thin as the Rose 7.  Swapping out the insole resulted in less step in comfort than the 2. Swapping the insoles does help with step in comfort but the 3 is still firmer overall. Plus the 2 insoles are more narrow than the 3 so they don’t really fit perfectly. 

I think a big reason everyone loved Bounce last year was because it surprised us.  Soft yet responsive and bouncy for a “budget” cushioning. Expectations can hurt or help a shoe so this year it meets expectations without exceeding them. Overall I found it a firmer than last year but still comfortable enough. However, it doesn’t have that same fun feel as the 2 though. I guess Bounce needs volume to keep that bouncy feeling.  For those keeping score, these are much firmer than the Hardens and CLB. The plus side to the firmer set up is a quicker feeling overall.


As Adidas continues on it’s never ending riddle of sizing, I bought my true to size 11 and 10.5 to find the right fit. These feel like they run a tad longer lengthwise than last year probably due to the thinner insole and thus more space. I recommended half a size down last year and I’ll say the same for the Dame 3. Wide footers can go true to size based on tightness preference since the mesh stretches a little. Ultimately I decided to go half a size down with the 10.5. 

Hey Mom look, no leather puncher ! But boy is it tempting

Adidas states the lace pegboard was Dame’s idea and it works(at least the rear three)…thank goodness it works or heel slip would have been terrible. In the stock set up with the top laces in the “neutral” position, I had serious heel slip. Moving it back to the second back and down help a little but still too much slip for me. I felt locked in with the rearmost position but it would loosen during play and still have some very tiny heel slip which is fine. The rearmost position was also the most painful in terms of lace pressure since there isn’t much padding in the tongue or around the ankle collar. As always with Adidas, I had to modify my pair somewhat to make them more comfortable so I added some moleskin to the tongue. Not ideal but it helped somewhat. 

The Pegboard
Being my curious self, I fiddled around with the lace set up for an hour and a half. I’m not kidding, what kind of cruel joke does Adidas want to play with anal people like myself?  Half the time was going back through the double lace hole set up which is akin to the Harden V1 set up but a little more user friendly. Still a pain in the butt, but effective because the laces don’t slip at all during play (there are downsides to this, keep reading).  One problem I noticed is that you may run out of laces if you choose the back positions if you don’t slip any of the midfoot holes. 
 This is the set up that ended up working best for me in terms of lockdown. I bought 72 inch boot laces and I still barely had enough to tie them. 

I suggest not double holing 
because if you accidentally pull too tight, those laces will just stay there and cut off circulation. Lace through one hole instead of two so that the laces automatically adjust to your liking. 

Does the pegboard work? 

The back three eyelets make a difference because they are used to lock down the heel from different angles but the midfoot eyelets (first two) don’t really make a difference where or how you lace them. 

I laced through the lowest holes of the midfoot eyelets as well as the highest two to see if I could tell a difference and I really couldn’t. The laces just pull the entire pegboard down onto the foot regardless of position. 

Adidas could have just used full length lace straps that they typically use that run all the way down to the foot bed which would cover all foot types or preferences. Laces automatically give you customized lockdown, that’s what they are designed for. They already used those straps in the forefoot of the Dame 3 already so why not the whole shoe? Instead of having to lace through the pegboard,  the lace straps could just feed through the it from the bottom of the footbed. 

I also think lockdown could have been improved by putting one eyelet higher up like they did on the Lillard 2. I always have issues with eyelets are are set too low

If Adidas really want to be efficient with modularity, they could have just made more eyelets at the top like the old days.. two or three holes near the ankle would have been enough. I only needed one extra eyelet to totally change lockdown on the CLB16. 

I feel Adidas just did this pegboard triangle for buzz/polarizing factor more than anything else. They have really been experimenting with different lace set ups so I guess the can claim to be the leading lacing “innovators”. I’m guessing you won’t see a return of the pegboard next year though. 

   Sometimes all you need to catch a mouse is a piece of cheese, no need to reinvent the mousetrap Adidas


Fused Mesh which is exactly what it sounds like, mesh with Fuse. Nothing wrong with it since they fused high pressure areas of the mesh to strengthen the upper.  Soft where it should be, strong where it should be. There is a nylon backing along the entire interior as well. 

It doesn’t feel premium since it’s fused mesh but it works which is perfectly fine for me. Adidas has to cut corners somewhere to make a $115 sig shoe. 

Support and Stability 

You can see the Dame 3 is slightly lower than the Lillard 2

This Dame 3 is a high lowtop or a low Mid whichever way you want to look at it. The majority of the support will come from the fit and the very firm external heel counter. There is actually an internal heel counter as well. 

Unlike the Mamba Mentality which can contort into my pocket for easy transport, the Dame 3 has a super stiff midfoot structure.

It doesn’t flex at all even after break in. Some people will like the extra support, some will think it is too stiff and some won’t even notice it. Most shoes flex a little bit even if they have a shank but the Dame 3 is stiff as board midfoot and back. 

This was the best shot I could take with one hand. Looks like a car crash test

I feel the midfoot brace makes the shoe stiffer and slightly clunkier than the Lillard 2 on heel toe transitions. It keeps the midfoot and back from over flexing which helps prevent plantar fasciitis or other foot injuries but just doesn’t have that natural feeling. I like a more balanced blend personally. 

Stability is excellent as well thanks to the a very flat outsole and this rectangular outrigger 
Sticking with the angular theme I see Adidas

Overall support and stability is excellent on the Dame 3 even if the midfoot support is a little overdone. 

Well done Adidas!


Adidas is getting more love from me lately because they have been addressing this highly overlooked performance aspect consistently. They must visit my site a lot 🙂

Raised midsole across the entire footbed so a true foot bucket. My forefoot actually sits at the bottom of the ridges and my heel sits at about the middle to top third of the ridges. 

Notice how the ridges run up and down. This allows the “bucket” to flex more naturally. It takes a little break in to make this pliable but it doesn’t take long. 

In addition to the raised bucket, Adidas reinforced the  mesh in high stress high wear areas with fuse to limit stretch. And don’t forget about the pegboard, look how thick the synthetic leather it is. 

Your foot isn’t going anywhere on hard cuts .

Dame knows what he wants and Dame it, that’s what he gets..and gives to us. 

Well done Adidas!


I really wanted to like these because I think these look different…in a good way. Very slim profile and the pegboard doesn’t bother me looks wise either.  The improved traction really got me excited and I liked the faster feel of the Dame 3 cushioning. However, the lack of padding at the midfoot and especially around the ankle really made the lace pressure uncomfortable. It feels like Adidas took the bootie of the Lillard 2 and just didn’t add any overlays or padding to compensate. I usually get over lace pressure pain but it never went away and I need to tie them tightly to keep my heel locked in. 

  I just never looked forward to wearing despite the performance improvements.  If your foot doesn’t fit the one piece bootie perfectly, then the laces have to do all the work to hold the heel down and back. I enjoy wearing the Lillard 2 more even if the traction isn’t as good (and you all know how heavily I weigh traction). It’s just a better blend of comfort and fit for me. 

   I also got frustrated with the pegboard because it works decently but Adidas didn’t bother giving us longer laces to accommodate all the lace options. I don’t mind the occasional tweak but I feel like every time I order some Adidas, they forget the French fries and I have to switch or change something  . I also don’t feel it works any better than a good standard set up.  I’m 99% sure this is the last we will see of this. #goodriddence

   I feel like the Dame 3 is one of those shoes that performs well in every catagory but just under performs as a shoe overall. Or maybe I’m just spoiled from my other shoes. 

    Everyone complains about Nike pricing because it’s easy to do but the Lillard/Dame 3 didn’t add anything this year to justify the $10 price increase. 

  • Mesh and fuse this year versus textile last year. 
  • Same cushioning but firmer

I guess Adidas justified the $10 with the pegboard but in all reality it’s because Dame got some quality air time last year in the playoffs versus GSW.  All companies use the strength of their brand and players’ brands for profit, that’s just how business works. Unfortunately at $115 and a late, almost mid season release, Adidas may have priced itself out within its own stable of shoes.  Why buy the Dame 3 when the CLB 16 is available for much less? Similar if not better traction, more tech, better feeling cushioning for $91 or less on Adidas.com. Even with a leather hole punch, it’s still around $100 before any coupon codes. Or get the Rose 7 or Crazy Explosive for similar prices. If Dame is your favorite player, that’s a different story altogether. But still wait to buy because these are sitting everywhere. $90 is a fair price and I see the bottom around $65 like last year. 

73 Comment on “Adidas Dame Lillard 3 Performance Analysis and 2 Comparison

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