Two years ago, I decided to get a gym membership. In addition to having the ability to exercise late in the evening, gym membership privileges included access to several good quality basketball courts complete with clean wooden plank floors and fresh white nylon netting laced on plexiglass supported hoops.
The basketball court soon became my fanny pack-less Muscle Beach bench press. My warm up consisted of form shooting, layups, and dribbling drills. The need to use fancy exercise equipment was replaced by a Spalding basketball in hand. While I have made steady progress with my basketball skills, I fully acknowledge that I am older, slower, and generally less energetic than my contemporaries on the hardwood floor. I like to imagine that my professional basketball playing twin as a finely aged, yet less talented version of J.J. Redick.
Before the acquisition of my gym membership, the last time I played basketball formally was in a recreational league twelve years ago. At that time I rocked a pair of court only Lebron Zoom 2s in grey, worn without the velcro strap. I remembered the Lebron 2s were a good basketball shoe back then, but a lot has changed in shoe performance since that time.
My search for performance oriented court only basketball shoes brought me to the Nike store. Prior to my visit, I did not have a suitable pair of sneaks to hoop in. I rocked my Air Jordan 1 lows, which were surprisingly better than I initially thought. Although the 1s provided great court grip, they offered little in terms of foot support. The 1s also sported cushioning technology from the 80s, which had my knees yelping for help after late night hoop sessions.
After a friendly conversation with the staff at Nike about my hoop shoe needs, I was handed a mysterious black box. They were the Lebron 11s in the black and diffused jade colour way. As an added bonus, the Lebrons were heavily discounted.
The Lebron 11s initially looked bulky and cumbersome, but since Pandora’s shoe box was already opened, I figured there was no harm in a little test fit. To my surprise, they were very comfortable. The Lebron 11s felt immediately supportive on the forefoot and had good heel lockdown. After looking like a maniac and trying a couple of cuts on Nike’s concrete floor, I was amazed at how low a profile the 11s were on the lateral side. The 11s, despite their boxy demeanour, had a very smooth yet supportive sole transitioning seamlessly from the medial to the lateral side. Basically, they were the opposite of the chunky Air Force 1s I used to play street basketball in.
After a dozen or so games in my Lebron 11s, I am satisfied with my purchase with the caveat of being overly snug in the forefoot for the first few games and coming with nice looking shoelaces that are a bit too short if you have medium to wide feet.
Below is an updated snap of my Lebrons with new longer and more stylish laces from Laceduplaces. Check out that gold tipped bling.
Overall, stumbling upon and purchasing the Lebron 11s was like a good Forrest Gump type of experience. Sneaker buying is like opening a shoebox; you never know what you are going to get. And you won’t know what you’re going to get, if you don’t give all sneaks a chance to be laced up. All I am saying is give sneaks a chance.