Our verdict

The Nike LeBron 18 is a much-hyped shoe that simply did not live up to our expectations. Heavy and highly cushioned, we definitely consider it a big boy shoe that narrows down its target audience. With impact protection and grip being the shoe's strongest points, it is still not a complete performance beast. But the good news is that the shoe has evolved tremendously by version 20.

Pros

  • Good traction
  • Great impact protection
  • Premium materials
  • Durable
  • Perfect for heavy athletes
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Insufficient lateral support
  • Tongue digs into foot
  • Heavy
  • Needs breaking in

Audience verdict

86
Great!

Who should buy the Nike LeBron 18

The Nike LeBron 18 is good for:

  • heavier players who need supreme cushioning
  • players who do not engage much in quick direction changes and lateral movements

Lebron 18 upper materials closeup

Who should NOT buy the Nike LeBron 18

LeBron shoes are not really for those who want light sneakers. For lighter options, they can check out the Kobes, which are still from Nike. The Crazy 8 from Adidas is also a good alternative. 

Lighter players who thrive on sprints and quick turns won’t be happy with the 18, too. This model provides little to no court feel; lighter players’ weight does not push hard enough for the thick cushion to compress well. Stephen Curry’s shoes from Under Armour are good options for them. 

Finally, those who are on a tight budget may want to consider cheaper alternatives

Nike LeBron 18 vs Nike LeBron 17

Even with all its faults, the Nike LeBron 18 appears to be slightly better than the LeBron 17 simply because it improved its traction, which is the foundation of any hoop shoe.

LeBron 18 vs. LeBron 17

What got better

  • Dependable traction
  • Awesome cushion
  • Slightly improved upper materials

What got worse

  • Ineffective stability features, especially for lateral containment
  • Annoying tongue

Lebron 17 vs lebron 18 comparison

Traction you can rely on

We were happy to find that the shoe's traction works even on outdoor courts. It gripped consistently and rarely needed wiping.

Lebron 18 outsole

AWESOME cushioning but reduced court feel

If we had to choose one reason to buy this LeBron shoe, it would definitely be its comfortable cushioning setup. The shoe's impact protection is on another level and remains that way no matter how heavy the player is.

However, as with any other LeBron shoe, the court feel is practically non-existent in this shoe.

LeBron 18 is so unstable that it’s unsafe

The 18th LeBron annoyingly fails at providing sufficient support. This is probably the worst thing about the shoe. We have no idea why or how LeBron James himself would play in the 18.

It was rather wobbly on lateral movements, making us worry about rolling our ankles a lot. If only there was an outrigger to make the base a little bit wider, the shoe would feel much more steady.

Lebron 18 heel design

Breathable and premium upper materials

We found that the shoe's upper material feels very premium, has decent breathability, and flexes just fine. The quality of materials indeed makes it feel like a top-tier signature shoe.

Tongue is a MAJOR disappointment

The tongue sounds like an innovation gone wrong. It just kept digging into the foot and felt off all throughout the game.

Lebron 18 tongue design

Nike LeBron 18 fits OK after break-in

When talking about fit, the shoe felt a little snug at first. But after a very short break-in period, the knit stretched exactly right. Thus, we recommend going true to size.

Lacing of Lebron 18

These shoes are (still) heavy

Like its predecessors, the LeBron 18 is still on the heavier side.

  • Nike LeBron 16 (men’s): 15.59 oz (442g)
  • Nike LeBron 17 (men’s): 16.16 oz (458g)
  • Nike LeBron 18 (men’s): 15.73 oz (445g)
  • Basketball shoes on average: 14.2 oz (404g)

The LeBron 18, or LeBron shoes for that matter, is pretty damn heavy, especially when you compare with alternatives such as Kyries and KDs that can go as low as 12 oz (340 g). This should serve as a fair warning for those who want lightweight shoes.

Costly!

The LeBron 18 is definitely on the pricier side of the spectrum. Even if we assume that Nike’s “best technologies” are incorporated in it, we are still not assured that we get our money’s worth because the 18 seems to fit only a very specific sector of the basketball-playing population.

The average price of a hoop shoe these days is $130.