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“Inexperienced”, “Not clutch”, “No playoffs”, “Overrated”, the list of “reasons” goes on. LeBron is used to this, but unlike the King of The South, Bron won’t tell you to just respect it and keep his name out your mouth, he just smiles and plays on. “I created the hype by playing the way I play”, these words are LeBron’s, after he was snubbed for the Eastern Conference All-Star Team while averaging a 20, 5, and 5 that only Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson achieved in their rookie year. 21, 5, and 4 was LeBron’s predicted line in ’04-’05, the King answers with 27, 7, 7. Still not impressed, still more reasons. “But they missed the playoffs!”, LeBron’s not gonna have it, 31,7,7 and a 2nd place MVP showing later, still not impressed? Doubters joke at Nike’s “Witness” campaign, as if there wasn’t any greatness to witness, and that the Cavs can’t even make it out of the first round. After a six-game dismantling of the helpless Wizards, a triple double, and a game winner, critics still figure that ignorance is a bliss. “You’re supposed to make it out of the first round with homecourt advantage”, “See, 0-2, LeBron can’t do it by himself”, LeBron is all too familiar, and serves the 64 win Pistons three straight losses. After a heart breaking two point loss in game 6, the Cavs were still on the brink of accomplishing the unthinkable, until the supporting cast shot 9/41 from the field in game 7. Although the Cavs were finished, nothing but praise was awaiting the young king. Here’s to the doubters, he is The One, proof? I’m a god damn Witness!
|Now for a player to own a signature shoe is one thing, but a low and an outdoor shoe, this is in the territory of that other 23 guy.|
The Nike senior designer of the LeBron 20.5.5. is Ken Link, who also designed the Zoom LeBron II and Zoom Kobe I. Link said in an interview that: “We’re not gonna do middle-of-the-road shoes with LeBron, some people are not going to like them, and we accept that”, Link meant this in a sense that even LeBron’s marketing campaign was to be one of a kind. After the ’05 NBA finals, Nike released the Zoom LeBron 20.5.5. without much hype or anticipation, the results was poor sales. To the surprise of many, LeBron wore the 20.5.5. in many regular season games and playoff games in special colorways, bringing the shoe’s hype to an all time high. Although the 2nd release of the 20.5.5.’s includes no new features, it shows us the power of marketing, and what a 21 year old version of Mike, Larry, and Magic all rolled into one can do to us.
|The Nike Zoom LeBron 20.5.5. is one of the most padded shoes I’ve ever tested.|
I’ve regretted not purchasing a pair of the first release Zoom LeBron 20.5.5.s, so I jumped into my Air Max 360s early in the morning on the day of release and ran down to Footlocker for my black/black pair. For outdoor use, like the shoes are designed for, $125 is a huge price tag, the question always has been: “Are they really $60 better than And 1’s?”, and my only reply can be that it depends on your personal taste, your playing style, and all the other factors that go into making a great shoe. My job is to let you know how those factors may affect your decision, lets go to work now.
“We’re not gonna do middle-of-the-road shoes with LeBron, some people aren’t gonna like them, and we accept that” – Ken Link
|The Zoom LeBron 20.5.5. features two straps on its upper to provide lateral lock down.|
The First thing I noticed when I tried on the 20.5.5.’s was its plush inner bootie, fully padded down from behind the tongue to around the ankles to the top of the toebox, allowing for a comfortable, plush ride I’ve never experienced in a basketball shoe. In this world of trade offs, this comfort comes at a price, and depending on you, this may or may not be too much. The use of so much padding around the ankles and heel take a hit on its overall fit and support. The reason that the Huarache 2k4 and 2k5’s wafer thin ankle straps provide such excellent support and protection is because the straps weren’t padded, therefore leaving no room to stretch or compress. The case with the 20.5.5.’s is that, after being fully laced, whenever the padding around the ankle, around the heel, and all along the inner is compressed, it will create space on the opposite side, taking away some of the lock-down fit needed for outdoor play.
A common problem with most users of the 20.5.5. is that there have been complaints about the straps becoming undone, I also had this problem in the first few wearings. Taking inspiration from the “B1lly Hoyle Huarache 2k5 lacing method” (an NTer put his laces through the nearest “hole” in the ankle hole of his Huarache 2k5 for an improved fit and support), I put my laces through the 2 metallic loops of in the back of the trio of metallic loops, this effectively made the shoe’s upper narrower, and with less tension, the straps stopped coming undone.
|I’ve always been a sucker for shoes with good traction, and the Zoom 20.5.5.’s provide probably *gulp* the best traction I’ve ever felt in a basketball shoe.|
You might have noticed that I’ve become very picky and unsatisfied with the previous few shoes I’ve reviewed mainly due to their shortcomings in the traction department, as a change-of-pace guru, I truly value grip of the hardwood, sometimes even as the most important characteristic I look for in a basketball shoe. Rarely have I been thoroughly impressed by one shoe’s traction, with the exception of possibly the Huarache 2k4 and 2k5, the Zoom LeBron 20.5.5. was such an exception. The traction of the 20.5.5. was so good that I went as far as wearing one on my left foot and wearing a Huarache 2k5 on the other, by now I was simply stunned, the traction of the 20.5.5.’s is even better than the Huarache 2k5, and any other shoe that I tried for that matter. Any ankle breaker will drool over the 20.5.5.’s traction, which is straight nasty on either hardwood or blacktop in any condition.
“I created the hype playing the way I play” – LeBron James
Nike’s Zoom Air technology has always been known to the average fan as the only cushioning that you can feel “working”, displayed flawlessly in the Zoom LeBron II, I had very high expectations for the Full Length Zoom Air used in the Zoom 20.5.5., and it didn’t disappoint, but rather stunned me yet again. The cushioning underfoot of the Zoom LeBron 20.5.5. can be described as “mushy” and “plush”, possibly the softest air sole unit I’ve ever worn, but that’s not to say the Zoom in the 20.5.5.’s are not responsive, how can this be an ankle breaker’s dream shoe if their feet sink in their shoe? The feel of the Zoom Air in the forefoot and heel are reminiscent of that in the heel of the Air Jordan XIII, where Double-Stacked Zoom was used. Nine years after its introduction, Zoom Air still remains the cutting edge technology when it comes to keeping your feet happy, the problem? You can’t be without it.
|Here is a view of the 20.5.5.’s heel, which have a “2” and a “3” on the left and right outsoles.|
In the summer of 2005, the 20.5.5. and two “Kobe colorways” of the Huarache 2k5 were the Battlegrounds shoe of that summer, where players at Nike events would wear these on the blacktop. The 20.5.5. is the first high profile outdoor shoe since the fabulous Nike Shox Xplosive, and without a doubt the best performing outdoor shoe ever. Equally adequate for indoor or outdoor use, and due to the ultra-durable outsole of the 20.5.5., the shoe can easily be cleaned after outdoor use if you change your mind and decide to use it exclusively for indoor play.
To Sum up the, Zoom LeBron 20.5.5. is as much the best outdoor basketball shoe in existence as LeBron himself is the most freakish athlete in the world. This shoe is highly recommended for any all-round baller at any position at any weight class, this is extremely rare in a basketball shoe, but the 20.5.5. will truly hold up for lightning quick guards with its responsiveness and first class traction, wing players and big men will find the 20.5.5. more than adequate as well. It took me a full year to get off my couch to get these, and I’ve learned that simply, you can’t stop the reign.
|Comfort & Fit:||9.5|