[review by We are testers]Traction – Despite my initial first impression… traction was strong with the 12. I mentioned this during the LeBron 11 Performance Review, but I really wish I had rated the 11’s traction lower. The 10’s were the best between the 10-12 while the 11 was the worst… still good traction, but not as good as the 12’s. I’d probably have marked them down to an 8 or 7.5 when all is said and done. Back to the 12 though. Only thing to really watch out for is dust. You’ll need to wipe but you’ll still maintain adequate traction. The rubber is pretty grippy on its own so I think that aids the pattern – which I still find to be their drawback. Had they went with the exterior pattern that looks like shattered glass, well then… these may have topped the 10’s in the traction department.
Cushion – I really enjoyed the setup. It was sort of like Nike’s version of PureMotion but with substantial impact protection. You have plenty of flexibility while the cushion maintained contact with the court at all times. Being bottom loaded hurt their responsive feel, but at the same time absorbs more impact upon striking than you’d receive if the Hex units were placed directly under foot. That heel section though… that was darn close to unlocked Zoom… not quite as awesome but pretty darn close. I think these will be enjoyed by all… LeBron’s have had either too much or too stiff cushion… these feel just right.
Materials – I loved the materials. I’ve said it before and I stand by it, I officially have a thing for mesh and other woven uppers. Its my sneaker crush… I can’t get enough of it. Mega Fuse is utilized along the mesh upper and I believe this is just a type of glue with TPU strands woven throughout. Hopefully that makes sense, but I really liked it. They were supportive, yet not restrictive. A very well balanced blend between Fuse and Mesh… take the HyperRev and cross them with a Hyperfuse model… you get the LeBron 12.
The Posite material was nice as well. It was there but not noticeable. Well, I mean you could tell it was supporting your foot upon movements, but it wasn’t as if it was bothering you… it was there and doing its job, but remained out of the way. Like a cat… only I have no idea what job a cat would have except for staying out of the way. Meh… next subject…
Fit – They fit true to size and feel really nice on-foot. Much like the HyperRev, you just kind of feel cozy when you put your foot in… not the manliest way to describe something, but its the first thing that comes to mind. Lockdown was nice as well. You could tell that there was a small amount of space within the shoe once laced up since you’d see the tongue area of the upper fold or bind, but I never had any slipping internally… not even a little. I think these will accommodate a wider variety of foot shapes, unlike the 11.
The only thing I disliked about the fit was the lacing system. It wasn’t that I disliked the lacing system due to it not working – it works great – but they were so damn hard to lace tightly that I’d hurt my fingers trying to yank the laces through the Mega Fuse eyelets. I wanted to swap the laces out to something a little thinner to relieve some of the stress, but those same Mega Fuse eyelets stopped me from trying as I didn’t want to unlace the shoe and then not be able to get the laces back through.
Ventilation – There is mesh, but a lot of it is blocked by something. Whether it be Mega Fuse or layers of nylon along the interior… air flow was a bit restricted. Again, the shoes themselves felt cozy once on so this wasn’t a huge problem for me… but it is technically a problem – albeit small.
Support – For a mesh shoe, the support is pretty substantial. As it should… we don’t want a reenactment of what happen to Ginobili here. Despite all of the support features, you never felt restricted… and this is coming from a small guy. We have Mega Fuse, Dynamic Flywire, Posite, a TPU Shank and 3 giant lateral outriggers… hot damn, these things are loaded. Now that I think about it… these have nearly everything the KD 7 has… almost.Overall – I guess if we were to compare the two (KD7 & LBJ12)… you’re extra $50 dollars will get you more coverage with cushion and a much more durable upper. Other than that, they’re pretty similar. Now I wonder if the Kobe 10 will be similar in any way… I guess we have something to look forward to… other than an official release date for the LeBron 12. Overall, I really like the 12, I’d have continued to play in them if I didn’t have more shoes to test and review. But I can’t be mad… I’ve been enjoying them off-court as well.