Performance Review: Nike LeBron 9

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It is very possible for you to go to your local gym and see more colorways of LeBron James’ ninth signature shoe instead of any other signature sneaker on the market. In the same manner, this shoe is worn casually just as much. The LeBron 9, Nike’s first shoe to feature both Flywire and Fuse, is obviously a very versatile shoe in terms of wear, but just how good is it on the hardwood? How specifically does the mix of Flywire and Fuse help the wearer on court? Check out our in-depth performance review on the Nike LeBron 9 below.

RELATED: Performance Review: Nike Zoom KD IV

Nike LeBron 9 Performance Review

Initial sketches of the Nike LeBron 9

Nike LeBron 9

Lockdown: The Nike LeBron 9′s lockdown factor is simply amazing and by far its best attribute. When placing your foot in the LeBron 9 and lacing it up, you initially notice a very compact and compressed grip. Even when the shoe is not entirely laced up, you still fill as if your foot is tightly fastened in the LeBron 9. Why does this shoe feature such a clamped down feel on the foot? Nike incorporated bilateral support wings to help shield and stabilize the foot. When lacing these shoes up, the wings, located in the midfoot area, basically fasten your foot inside the shoe and sort of snugly move the ankle back and lock the heel in. It’s almost as if the LeBron 9 features an internal seatbelt for the foot. Also, the midfoot is laced with extremely strong Flywire cables that act as harnesses by squeezing the foot. The locked down factor totally helps with reaction time. No one wants a shoe that drags, causes your foot to slide and/or makes you lose seconds.

Nike LeBron 9

Traction: The traction level is not the LeBron 9′s best attribute, but it’s not atrocious either. One section of the outsole I did find helpful was the exposed outrigger. Unlike other sneakers that feature this trait, the Nike LeBron 9′s outrigger, placed on the lateral side, really helps in terms of holding your ground when it comes to stop-and-start moves and/or moving laterally on defense.

Nike LeBron 9

Cushioning: LeBron’s ninth signature model ranks high in the cushioning column. The focal point of the cushioning in the Nike LeBron 9 seems to be directed towards absorbing impact and providing the wearer with extreme protection; therefore, this shoe does not feature the soft foot strike and smooth ride that the Nike LeBron 8 and the Nike LeBron 8 V2 possessed. The combination of 180-degree Max Air in the heel and Zoom in the forefoot does not feel as smooth and consistent as the aforementioned full-length Max Air signature sneakers, but as mentioned earlier, this duo of cushioning technologies sponges up impact more than anything else. You can definitely feel the encased infrastructure of the cushioning on returns to the floor whether it’s coming back down from a rebound or contesting a shot. Now, don’t think the LeBron 9 is some hard-shelled basketball shoe that doesn’t have a player-friendly soft side to it. In addition to the combination of 180-degree Max Air in the heel and Zoom in the forefoot, Nike also incorporated a Cushlon midsole, which is a very soft and flexible foam material. It simply adds plushness to this shoe’s cushioning and helps keep the foot comfortable for explosive takeoffs and soft landings.

Nike LeBron 9 Performance Review

One of Jason Petrie's early Nike LeBron 9 sketches

Nike LeBron 9

Responsiveness: In regards to bounce and springiness, I wouldn’t deem the Nike LeBron 9 a super-responsive shoe. As mentioned in the cushioning section, it is more of a impact protected shoe rather than a resilient wear, especially in the heel. Yet, I will say that Zoom in the forefoot of this shoe has a bit of a spring to it, which helps with taking off and/or launching from your first step.

Nike LeBron 9

Support: Jason Petrie and the Nike design team did a good job with this shoe in regards to support. One word to described the Nike LeBron 9 is stabilized. The LeBron 9 is by no means a flexible sneaker. It’s actually very stiff throughout its construction, and the composite shank plate adds an extra stiffness and supportive element to this shoe. Depending on the wearer, this may be a positive attribute because it assuredly keeps the shoe stable, but if you’re a player that likes flexibility in a shoe, this may not be for you. As for the ankle support, Nike incorporated Pro Combat sections on the inner sides of the collar, which mold to your foot and help keep the ankle secure and locked in. You can really feel the Pro Combat sections at work when you tie this shoe up tightly and play a few games in them. Your ankle is pretty much immovable.

Nike LeBron 9

Breathability: Fuse is usually an extremely breathable material seeing that we have tested a number of Fuse-laced silhouettes that have scored high in this department (Jordan Fly Wade 2, Nike Zoom Hyperfuse, Nike Zoom KD IV), but the Nike LeBron 9 is not as breathable as the previously mentioned sneakers. This has a lot to do with the unmatched clamped down feeling this shoe possesses. Plus, Nike did not incorporate a lot of ventilated areas on this construction. The wearer’s only source for ventilation is the tongue. It wasn’t awful to the point where my foot was sweating profusely after plays in this shoe, but at times my feet felt too clenched at times, and I’m sure some sort of perforations would have helped.

Nike LeBron 9

Durability: As mentioned in the Nike Zoom KD IV review, Fuse seems to be the toughest and sturdiest material on Nike’s basketball silhouettes these days. On the Nike LeBron 9, however, the materials seem thicker, which, as stated earlier helps with support but also durability. Fuse has already proven to be as durable as it gets, but the LeBron 9 takes it to another level. It preserved its shape throughout my wears, and I definitely think the LeBron 9 is a great choice for outdoor basketball considering its heavy-duty construction. Nike’s latest Flywire technology, named the 3.0, helps with the durability of this shoe. In the midfoot area, the cables really hug the foot. This shoe can be looked at as more of a performance weapon than a basic basketball shoe. It is that good durability-wise, and is one of, if not the most durable shoe I have tested in a while.

Nike LeBron 9 Performance Review

Nike LeBron 9 Performance Review Scorecard

Overall: LeBron James’ ninth signature shoe is a distinct combination of durability, support and lockdown. Creating a shoe for a one-of-a-kind athlete like LeBron James seems tough, considering his blend of speed, power and agility, but the LeBron 9 encompasses attributes that benefit the previously mentioned characteristics. It is easily one of the most locked down shoes I have ever worn. Breathability could have been better with added perforations or some way for air to seep through, but overall this shoe is perfect for the player that relies on athleticism and covets a long-lasting, supportive shoe.

The Nike LeBron 9 is now available at select retailers in various colorways for $170.

Click the next page to see detailed photos of the “Mango” Nike LeBron 9.

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  1. Naptown's Finest says:

    Thanks g3 for not rating these better than the aj 2012! Spending $223 for great shoes is nothing to me but I’ll never spend $200 on a b+ rated shoe.

    1. Dude says:

      LeBron 9 Elites are $220. LeBron 9′s are just $180, if I’m correct. So, the Elites might be worth it, but we won’t know for a bit.

      1. Naptown's Finest says:

        The aj 2012 is the 600 Benz of shoes. There’s just so many options and features!!!

          1. Dogbutt says:

            i hear youre gay

          2. Jarrett Jack says:

            yea i heard that too

          3. Philo1025 says:

            The Derps fully support the Jordan 2012.?

          4. ThePrufessa says:

            yea well you look gay when you’re on the court so what’s worse? a rumor or actually looking suspect?

          5. ThePrufessa says:

            gay!! now get off my dick!?

          6. ThePrufessa says:

            and in case you were wondering, i was wearing my AJ2012 deluxes with that hookup with some black nike sweat pants. and my babe loved the way it looked. so all of you can think the AJ2012s are ugly if you want to, but if you wanna impress the ladies you should dress more like me.?

          7. DaperDan says:

            Bro, you’re going way too hard. You did yourself a disservice by posting those pics. I hope that “hookup” was your work clothes and not something you put together and thought was fly, because it definitely looks like your rocking a crossing guard vest.?

            Some of the time you have some insightful stuff to say, but other times you just sound like a dick who pretends to know more than you actually do. You look like a clown and the only ladies who are impressed by that type of look are unaccustomed or subpar like the one you’re huddled next to in the pics.

          8. DaperDan says:


          9. ThePrufessa says:

            First of all ain’t nothing subpage>sub par about my babe. Those pictures might not have been the best and her hair was in a pony tail. Regardless of that she has an ex boyfriend desperately trying to get back with her and I got lots of compliments on her when she has her hair done.

            And yea that was a safety vest. Your point? Everybody that saw me in it complimented it because it matched my shoes perfectly. Nobody I know ever questions anything I wear because I know how to pull shit off.

            And you got a lotta nerve saying I’m going too hard when I can’t say anything here with all.these fucking bums harassing me!

            And finally I don’t PRETEND to know anything. If I know something for a FACT then I’ll say it matter of fact-ly. If I don’t know it for a fact then I make that perfectly clear with words like “i think” or “maybe” or something along those lines when I leave the comment.

          10. ThePrufessa says:

            Furthermore how the fuck can you pretend to know more than you actually do. You either know it or you don’t! There’s nothing to pretend! That was a convoluted statement there that made absolutely no sense.

          11. ThePrufessa says:

            And for the record when I wore that hook the most common thing I heard was “only AL-B can pull off a security vest with some damn Jordan’s.” And they also said sweet the shoes looked with the hook up. So fuck what all yall hating muhfuckas gotta say about me.

          12. ThePrufessa Is Gay says:

            That girl is ugly as fuck by the way.?

          13. ThePrufessa says:

            I never fuck with ugly girls my dude. He hair wasn’t done and quite frankly she wasn’t trying to look cute in those pics. I promise you everywhere i take her niggas compliment my babe so you’re not really saying much.

        1. IwearBOATS says:

          WARNING: You are about to read a long and pointless?argument?between 2 douchebags. proceed with caution

        1. ImmaEatHerAss says:

          Shit my xbox costed 200$

    2. ThePrufessa says:

      in terms of design which one is better to you (and NOT all you aj2012 haters) the aj2012 or the lebron 9??

      1. Naptown's Finest says:

        Aj 2012 by a landslide!!!

      2. Jigsaw2347 says:

        ?The Lebron 9 by far. I just love the detail on the shoe..they’re an aesthetic masterpiece imo.

      3. Wacevedo07 says:

        i hate lebron as a player, with that being said his shoes are amazing. Lebron 9>jordan 2012 in design terms

    3. anon says:

      What? Lebrons are 170$. It clearly says it at the end of the review. In fact Kobe’s are more expensive at 180$. So I don’t get what your saying.

      1. ThePrufessa says:

        Only the deluxe Kobe’s are $180.

  2. Naptown's Finest says:

    I’ll say it since g3 can’t,? THE LEBRON’S ARE TRASH!!!?

  3. Jdwinn34 says:

    ?This is a very good review on King James show looks like a very comfortable show to hoop in maybe my next shoe to hoop i rate the shoe ?an A not because of the name of the shoe but the support that the shoe has a very nice write up by the way!!

  4. Kobe3265 says:

    I love playing in my Lebron’s, wouldnt mind grabbing me a couple more…

  5. Alex Gandero says:

    i love these shoes. And i think the breathability is pretty good. I wore my China’s and Christmas’ in the passed couple days, and i kept feeling air hitting my foot. only other shoe i felt this in was my Air Max+ 2011

    1. ThePrufessa says:

      yea but you probably weren’t hooping in them like they were in this review. if you wear them with the laces loose then of course they’ll breath more than if they were laced up tight for hooping in.?

      1. Alex Gandero says:

        i dont really leave them too loose . A little snug, but you’re right, i wasn’t hooping. But still, they felt very breathable, and this was indoors. they’re one of my favorite shoes of my collection to wear. comforatable and very durable.

        1. ThePrufessa says:

          I feel you bro but you still wear them looser than you would when hopping. If you wanna get an idea of what they experienced you should lace yours up tight and wear them around for a while. As long as you don’t mind getting laughed up for having your kicks laced up tight lol.

          I have the China joints and I love em to death.

  6. SLTennis2003 says:

    This is a great review!

  7. Tee marks says:

    Looks real comfortable and that somethin that old lbj were not wanna try on a pair and test em out

      1. Ky says:

        do you have to comment on everything?!?

        1. ThePrufessa says:

          I don’t comment on everything. Do YOU have to worry about what the fuck I comment on you dumb fuck?!

          1. ImmaEatHerAss says:

            Niggas mad, im callin you the nutty prufessa from now on.

        2. Hismom says:

          yeah i heard his mom doesnt love him so thats why

        3. ThePrufessa says:

          I comment on WHATEVER I wanna comment on just like EVERYBODY ELSE HERE YOU FUCKING MORON!

          1. Rlee07928 says:

            ?they shouldnt be hatin on a nigga u seem legit enough

  8. I'm sorry butttttttttt..... says:

    Flywire doesn’t work yet.

  9. love it says:

    i copped my mangos last week..I love these shoes!
    (first pair of lebrons)

  10. Xjumpman5 says:

    The LBJ 9′s are great for hooping. The padding on the top isn’t comfortable for the first 2 times you play in them, but after that they are nice. My favorite pair of shoes to ball in.

  11. Jswans2323 says:

    I give this shoe an A!

  12. Mookieitunes says:

    The breathablity is not that bad imo. They aren’t the most breathable shoes out there, but it doesn’t really get uncomfortablely hot. Plus between the 3 Nike signature shoes I liked these the best, cause the Kobe’s felt slightly clunky and the KD’s hurt the pinky toe sometimes.

    1. Rlee07928 says:

      def man those kds look sick but absolutely murdered ur feet

  13. Chris Higley says:

    just got the slh but i would much rather wear the hyperdunk supremes i already have on the court

  14. Anonymous says:

    these shoes are dope, i got a pair of the mangos. nice to hoop in and nice looking off the court, break alotta necks?

  15. Brian_Hill1224 says:

    Great review.

  16. Tuck says:

    these break necks my nigga. ?kobe still better than everyone!

  17. TheMacLikeRoni says:

    I got 3 different CW in the Lebron 9 because theyre the best basketball shoe I have ever owned hands down. Style and comfort I don’t buy sneakers to wear in the street but these I might have to buy more just for that too.

  18. Yunginflyy305 says:

    I have multiple pairs of this sneaker and i have to say they are not comfortable. maybe i need to get a half or full size up then i would agree.. i wear a 10 and this is my size in every shoe. i wonder if lebron wears these true to size or a half size up

    1. Osheaduane says:

      Hell yeh !! I wore my dunksmans last nite to movies (hunger games) which is over 2 hours long and by the time i got home my feet were killing me !! I think the all the 3 competitors kicks run a lil small or tight. In order Lebron 9 i have to go a full size up, Kobe and KD a half size up, then they are wearable.

  19. Boged says:

    I’ve played in the Lebron 9′s, the Kobe 7′s both systems, and busted both of them.? The Lebron 9′s lasted 2 months, the Kobe 7′s one.? To be perfectly frank the Lebron 9′s lockdown is fine unless you lace up the top, then the crappy construction of the tongue give’s you nice little blisters supramedially to your ankle.? And before anyone says anything, yes I have game, yes I play 4 times a week, and yes I’ve bought a pair of Lebrons every year.? The 9′s were a big dissapointment, which led me to buy the Kobe 7′s.? Both are inferior products for over a hundred dollars.? I’m sorry, if I buy a 180 dollar sneaker it shouldn’t bust after a month or two of basketball.? Because I have a hookup now I will be buying elites of both the Lebron 9 and Kobe 7, the Lebron’s because I have liked all the previous shoes for various reasons and I want to give the line a second chance, and the Kobe’s because I am hoping they cleaned it up a bit from people actually testing and wearing them. ? ?

    1. TheMcLikeRoni says:

      Maybe your getting knockoffs or something because I play 3 days a week sometimes more and mine are fine.? Plus I run on a tred mill with mine instead of my frees because I like em more and they haven’t busted yet.

      1. Anonymous says:

        ?what colorway u wearing in the gym, just curious

  20. wobilor says:

    I severly rolled my left ankle landing on someones foot while doing a Jumpshot while hooping in the Lebron 9′s. No matter what tech they put in like the padded combat pro in the ankle or the lockdown stability wings..nothing can stop a rolled ankle. Now I feel more comfortable playing in the Kobe 7 play fast version..Its a bit clunky compared to the Lebrons but mentally i’m more comfortable in them.

    1. Xjumpman5 says:

      Its hard to not roll your ankle when landing on someone’s foot. I’ve done it twice with braces and tape on. The shoe is supposed to help keep your ankle stabilized when landing on the ground normally and stuff like that. I rolled mine for about the 5th time and went and got these just so I could hoop without braces on.