The Adidas D Lillard 2 might be the best basketball shoe I’ve ever worn.
Twice in my life I’ve felt compelled to buy two pairs of the same shoe; I bought three pairs of Saucony Grid Nitros a number of years ago, and I bought my second pair of D Lillard 2s last week.
With most styles running $105, they’re (relatively) cheap, high quality, comfortable, and lock to your foot like a glove. They’re also stylish if “subdued” is your style (check out the gallery of pictures above, taken by yours truly).
It’s also true that there are more versions of this thing than you can shake a stick at, and while that’s cool for customizing, it may offer folks a much different experience from style to style.
The most important of these changes – choosing either the standard “Bounce” or the premium “Boost” cushioning – will give you a drastically different experience.
D Lillard 2: Both styles
The D Lillard 2, whether with Boost or Bounce, is a superior basketball shoe. For me, it starts with the TechFit bootie and the heel, and how the two work together. When you put your foot in, it’s in. The heel lockdown is snug, but flexible. You don’t need to tie the laces to walk around, or even to do some light shooting without quick lateral movements.
The toebox is generous, which is preferred over “pinch-tight.” The laces are thoughtfully positioned so they apply good, equal pressure and hold your foot securely when fully laced. The combination of the bootie and the upper help dissipate lace pressure while keeping everything snug.
When playing, the shoe is flexible but locked in, which is optimal: You don’t want your shoe so flexible that it doesn’t stay with you on hard cuts, and you don’t want rigid material creating sore spots or distributing lockdown pressure unequally.
The shoe is responsive at the toe, and you can skip and make jabs effectively.
This is where the difference between the Boost and Bounce cushioning becomes more pronounced.
D Lillard 2, Aurora Borealis ($115): Boost cushioning, PrimeKnit upper, medium tread pattern
After 25 or so full court games, there’s a lot of good to say about the Boost version: it’s comfortable, it absorbs impact, and it’s durable. I’ve worn them outside and people have stepped on them occasionally, but they have no abrasions or tears.
My gripe: for as much comfort as Boost offers, it’s too soft on the court for my taste. Sharp cuts feel a bit “loose,” and stepping on the edge of the heel surrenders a scary amount of squishiness. Jump stops also feel less than locked in, as if you can feel your foot and the shoe’s upper stretch from the footbed just a little.
Particularly on defense, when you’re reacting quickly and relying less on moves and more on instinct, your shoes need to stay with you and offer quick court feedback. The Boost cushioning dulls this feedback, making quick movements slightly less confident.
The tread pattern isn’t as tight as on the Bounce: folks have said the medium tread pattern is better on dirty floors because the tighter tread grabs pretty much everything. My experience on relatively clean wood floors has led me to prefer the tighter tread, but this might be something to keep in mind.
D Lillard 2, Shark Black ($105): Bounce cushioning, standard upper, tight tread pattern
After 10 or so full court games, it’s clear - the standard Bounce cushioning is a better on-court shoe. More responsive and firmer than Boost, cutting, planting, and stopping with Bounce comes faster and with quicker feedback. It’s easier to “feel” the court, and moves feel easier to execute. When moving laterally, the footbed feels strongly bound to your foot and the upper of the shoe.
Imagine the difference between running on either firm or loose sand: to a far lesser extent, that’s the difference between Bounce (firm sand) and Boost (loose sand).
Bounce still gives a decent level of shock absorption, but not as much as Boost. I’d gladly trade that for the responsiveness and stability you gain with Bounce, particularly at the corners. At those moments when you’re REALLY leaning as you run, because you’re chasing a loose ball or making a very tight cut, you need the corners of your shoes to be stable. With Bounce, it is, and you feel confident at pretty much every angle. Hitting the edge of the heel doesn’t “squish” the way Boost tends to.
The tight tread pattern is both cool looking and sticks well to the court. It’s not overly-sticky to where your foot catches or drags unnecessarily, but I didn’t have to wipe my feet at all during games. Again, your mileage may vary if you’re playing on a court that hasn’t been mopped in a while or rarely gets swept.
Conclusion: $105 Bounce better for the court, $115 Boost better for casual wear
I wanted a functional basketball shoe, and the standard Bounce version of the D Lillard 2 is better on the court. It’s rad being a Blazers fan and being able not only to rep the shoe of your team’s best player, but ALSO know that it’s a seriously great shoe. At $105, it’s an incredible value for its construction and function.
The Boost version is softer, making it an ultra-comfortable lounging shoe. The fact that you can play basketball in a shoe that comfortable is almost unfair, and you can, but for me it’s the better option for walking around town, going out, etc.
The difference between the PrimeKnit and the standard woven upper is unnoticeable when playing. Both look great and maintain their shape well after multiple uses, and both are reasonably flexible. I noticed no difference in function between the two, so it may boil down to preference.
With the tight tread, you can stay connected to the court marginally better, but the medium tread sticks well, too. Some have reported the tighter tread needs more cleaning, but I didn’t find that to be the case on a reasonably clean court.
Both are an excellent choice, and for the price, you can’t do better. If you like them, you might want to buy more than one pair; the D Lillard 3s haven’t been released, but leaked photos suggest a drastically different shoe.
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