3 years. 3 Damian Lillard models. And it gets better year after year.
The Lillard 1 made me switch from retro adidas basketball kicks (TMacs and Kobes mostly) to the more modern models. The Lillard 2 was so good I stuck with one on-court model (in different colorways, of course) for nearly an entire year. The Dame 3 will likely make me do the same.
Let me get right into the details.
adidas continues to use a Techfit bootie on Lillard’s signature line, again improving on the design with each iteration. The Dame 3 has a lower ankle collar height and a tighter bootie than the Lillard 2. The inside of the shoe is also padded in the heel area and contoured with the foot. The tighter bootie and the padding help keep the heel secure and prevents heel slippage, a common occurrence in low-tops.
The shoe’s best feature is the new lacing system. The multiple holes on the side panel allow the wearer to customize the fit and adjust tightness based on preference. If you like the foot-hugging, tight fit then lace all the way to the bottom. If you’re like me and like it just right, then use the second row. For people with really wide feet who need as much space in the shoe, you can use the top set of holes.
A minor drawback to me is the side panel’s durability. As you can see in the photo, there are a couple of lace holes which have already started to widen and there’s some scuffing on the top part due to friction from the laces. I’m waiting for other colorways to see if they change the material and make them more durable against friction and stretching.
The shoes run long and wide, and I recommend going a half size down on these for that 1:1 fit. I personally prefer some wiggle room so I went true size. Getting your foot into the bootie will be challenging at first, but a shoe horn helps slide your foot in smoothly. The bootie also seems to have been constructed better compared to the 2’s so I don’t expect any ripping issues.
Stability and Support
The triangular section on the heel serves not just as an anchor point for the side panel lace holes, but also as a heel counter to keep the rear part of your foot locked down. Coupled with the raised midsole wrap, this ensures that your heel is held firmly in place to keep you stable at all times.
The second feature is the midfoot TPU wrap that hugs the middle part of your foot. I initially felt a raised section in the midfoot, which caused some discomfort, but after an hour or so on court that section flattened out and I haven’t felt anything else since.
The fused mesh upper provides both support and flexibility. The breathable material is reinforced around the toe area to contain the foot during those quick changes of direction, but the rest of the area is soft enough that it gives you a semi sock-like feel. They’re the right thickness as well to protect your feet when stepped on.
The two sets of lace loops go all the way to the inside of the shoe and are anchored to the midsole. This lets you tighten that part really well to prevent your feet from sliding around. They’re designed well as I didn’t feel them biting into my foot unlike with other basketball shoes I’ve used in the past.
Overall, I felt very stable and secure in these shoes. I never felt any concerns about rolling my ankles or suddenly slipping and falling. Although primarily designed for guards, these could be an option for big men who prefer low-tops for that added ankle flexibility.
Bounce once again lives up to its name, and this time giving even more energy return.
I instantly felt the difference as soon as I slipped my foot into the shoe. Even while wearing thin socks, I could feel the bounciness in the forefoot. It’s almost a similar bounciness to my Pureboost ZGs.
On court, I loved the impact protection it gave me during landings. The Bounce cushioning does its job well without sacrificing court feel, which is critical to majority of people who play in the backcourt. I averaged 2 hours per session during testing and my legs and knees felt great at the end of each run.
The cushioning isn’t all in the forefoot though. Bounce is still there in the heel, and it helps make running up and down the court easier and smoother. Heel-to-toe transitions are pretty good, too, since there’s good proportion to the cushioning in the front and back of the shoe.
I’m still liking Bounce over Boost as a basketball cushioning system, but that’s just my personal preference. Boost can be too mushy at times while Bounce has that firmness that I like while static, but with the right plushness when needed.
I saved the best part for last.
The grip on these babies is UNBELIEVABLE. Sticky and squeaky on any and every surface I’ve played on, they really allow for quick takeoffs and changes in direction. Even on the dustiest court I was on, the shoes were squeaking all over the place and kept me planted with every step.
The traction pattern adidas used on the Dame 3 works really well. Dust was never a problem and I never had to wipe even once. As with the other pairs I test, I didn’t clean the shoes throughout the testing period to see how they’ll hold up, and the shoes provided consistent traction throughout.
A big surprise for me is the durability. As I was looking at the soles while preparing to write, I didn’t see any obvious signs of wear other than the dirt. Considering that I used these nearly daily for two weeks, I’m amazed at how durable these outsoles are.
I won’t recommend them for blacktop or concrete courts, but on hardwood, smooth cement, or painted courts you’ll definitely like the traction these shoes provide.
Priced the same as the D Lillard 2, these won’t break the bank as much as other signatures would. With adidas’s 3STRIPES coupons or Titan 22’s TPC discount, the shoes could go for lower than its PhP 5,995 SRP (other colorways may be priced higher).
Damian Lillard’s signature line continues to evolve and improve, and it’s us consumers who benefit every year. The Dame 3 gives me all I want in a basketball shoe—excellent traction, good cushioning without sacrificing court feel, and a customizable lacing system that gives me the level of lockdown and stability that I need.