adidas Dame 3 Performance Review

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.

Fit

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

Aside from the wide base, adidas incorporated some key features that help with stability. 


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.

Cushioning

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.

Traction

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. 

Overall


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. 

adidas D Lillard 2 Performance Review

Okay, let me just put this out as early as now—I’m in love with these shoes. From the moment I put them on and hooped in them for the first time using the Black History Month colorway, I knew that the D Lillard 2 would be my 2016 hoop shoes. I’ll get into the specifics, but let me tell you right now that adidas took what worked on the D Lillard 1 and upgraded them, and fixed the things that didn’t work so well on Dame’s first signature shoe. 

Let’s break down the D Lillard 2 feature by feature and you’ll agree that this could be the best bang-for-the-buck basketball shoe this year. I’m basing this review on the “Road” colorway as it has a wider release than the BHM variant.

Fit

Heel and midfoot lockdown were two of the biggest negative factors on the D Lillard 1, and adidas did a great job in improving those areas. 
The plastic heel counter covers a large part of the ankle and the Achilles, hugging the back of your foot well. The inside of the ankle collar has molded pads that align perfectly with the contour of your foot, aiding in keeping the foot secure. The only time I experienced heel slippage was when I laced them loosely while walking to the court. Once you tug on them laces and knot them, you shouldn’t experience any issues.
         
The lacing system has been improved, with better spacing, better lace hole sizes that hold the laces in place, and the final lace hole positioned higher up in the shoe that lets the shoe hug the foot better.

The strips of rubber that has the three middle lace holes are connected to the inside of the shoe, maximizing the lockdown effect and providing not just a great fit, but stability. These three components work well together in strapping your heels down and keeping them secure during pivots and spins, sudden turns, and lateral movements. 

The upper is a form of woven material that is very flexible but seems very durable. It combines both flexibility and protection as it’s thick enough to withstand getting stepped on in the post.

The shoe overall runs about a half size longer than normal, but wider than your average shoe, so if you have slim to narrow feet, you can go a half size down on these. I opted to get my true size since I have wide feet. I tried going down half a size but I felt some pinching in the lateral midfoot area. 


Stability

If you’re used to low-tops, these won’t feel like lows when you first put them on because of the TECHFIT bootie. The bootie wraps snugly around your ankle that it feels like a mid, but once you start moving, you get the flexibility that lows normally give you.


One of the things I like about the Lillard line is the stability that they give despite being lows. In the D Lillard 2, there’s a lateral outrigger that helps keep you stable when going sideways and aids in preventing your foot from rolling when you apply too much force. 


I felt very stable and very secure in these shoes. No fear of slipping or losing my balance or turning my ankle. 

Cushioning

adidas utilized Bounce cushioning on the D Lillard 2. The Brand with the Three Stripes has used Bounce in the past, albeit in a different iteration. This version combines a springy and flexible inner core with a firmer outer, offering both cushioning and response. 
The D Lillard 2 feel normal—that is, like any ordinary shoe—when at rest or when taking light steps, but when you start running or jumping or putting more force/weight on the shoes, you feel the springiness and the energy return. The harder I pounded the floor, the more bounce I felt (no pun intended). Definitely one of the most comfortable cushioning systems I’ve ever tried. 


Bounce isn’t Boost, but don’t sleep on it. Personally, I prefer Bounce. Boost fans, don’t come chasing me with pitchforks and torches just yet, as there’s more to it. Let me say it again: I prefer Bounce when used on a basketball shoe. While Boost is without a doubt the best cushioning system in the market, landing on Boost feels mushy. It’s very comfortable, no doubt, but it doesn’t offer the responsiveness and stability that Bounce does. 

This version of Bounce allows for a more explosive first step, better cuts, and quicker lateral movements. Those are important in a basketball shoe and for me Bounce allows you to do those things better than Boost does.

Overall, a solid cushioning system that’s comfortable, responsive, and stable. No back, knee, or plantar pain like I normally get with non-Boost basketball shoes. 

Traction

If there’s one thing that maybe needs to be improved on the Lillard 2, it’s the traction pattern. Not that it doesn’t work, it does and it works well, but the soles are dust magnets. 


I played on mostly dusty courts with these and the BHMs, and I had no problems whatsoever with traction. Didn’t slip, always had purchase when pulling up (my favorite move), and I was able to move naturally since I never had to think about whether I’d fall flat on my butt. 
 
The Continental rubber outsole speaks of durability and traction, and they were squeaking all over the court for the most part. On the fourth day of using them without cleaning the outsoles like I normally do, there was less squeaking but the grip held. No issues during an hour or so of dribbling, shooting, and layup drills.
The heel part, for some odd reason, was squeaky throughout, no matter how dusty that area got. I feel that this adds to the shoe’s overall stability as the heel plants well and you can take off fairly quickly. 
Overall, the D Lillard 2 offers exceptional traction. Other users say that the dust does take something away from it, but a quick wipe does the trick. I tried not wiping the dust off during the 10+ hours of testing the shoe and I didn’t have any problems.


Overall

I’ll say it again: I am in love with these shoes. I’ve never used a shoe that gave me this combination of support, lockdown, cushioning, and traction. And at PhP 5,995 ($105 in the US), you get more than your money’s worth with the technology.
The adidas D Lillard 2 is available at adidas retail stores, Titan 22, and the NBA Store. Go grab your pair now as these are selling pretty fast! I promise you, you won’t regret this purchase as it’s probably the best basketball shoe that adidas has ever produced.