Signature shoes are, for the most part, designed for indoor use. But that’s not to say they can’t be used on outdoor courts — as our list of the best outdoor basketball shoes that don’t get dirty easily shows. The aforementioned ranking is topped by the Nike Men’s Air Visi Pro V and the Beita High Upper.
But notably making appearances are the Adidas Dame 5 and Dame 7, signature shoes of Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard, and the Under Armour Men’s Sc 3zer0, a signature pair of 2-time MVP Steph Curry.
That said, let’s take a look at three of the most popular pairs of signature shoes today — the Curry 8, Dame 7, and LeBron 18 — and check out how they’d stack up for outdoor use. This guide will direct ballers to which signature kicks are the best, thereby ensuring comfort on the court, keeping them safe while hooping, and saving them money as well.
Curry 8 — Under Armour
The Curry 8, the latest in the Curry line of kicks and the first under the “Curry” brand. While not the most aesthetically pleasing of Curry’s shoes, this iteration boasts top-of-the-line traction, along with an all-foam outsole that ensures unprecedented grip — perfect for outdoor courts rendered slippery by dust and dirt.
And like their predecessors, the Curry 8 has ultra-comfortable cushioning, on-court responsiveness, and complete support and lockdown. All these translate remarkably well on any surface and will ensure maximum comfort and safety for any player who wears the Curry 8, whether indoors or outdoors.
The fact that the Curry 8 is a feat of shoe engineering isn’t surprising given the caliber of Curry as a basketball player. The two-time MVP led the Golden State Warriors to three titles in 2015, 2017, and 2018 — padding the Dubs’ overall title count to six, and elevating them into joint third with the Chicago Bulls on Bwin’s graphic on the most successful US franchises of all-time.
Curry could’ve led the Warriors to another championship in 2019 and up to solo third, but injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were too much to overcome.
LeBron 18 — Nike
Noticeable right away is the 18s’ sturdy frame — a hallmark of LeBron sneakers. This helps the 18s handle better the wear and tear of use, especially in outdoor courts where conditions can be rugged. Despite that sturdy build, the LeBron 18s are among the softest, most well-cushioned in the LeBron line thanks to a combination of end-to-end Zoom Air, Cushlon, and Max Air. The padded outsoles are also durable for outdoor use, though the shoes’ traction is compromised on dusty courts.
Overall the LeBron 18s are a versatile pair, more so for bigger players who don’t make lots of hard cuts. That said, players using the 18s outdoors ought to make their sneakers more grippy, and they can do so by cleaning the shoes regularly, applying shoe grip enhancers, or moistening the soles where necessary.
Sneakerheads are right to expect only the best from a LeBron pair, as Nike has consistently manufactured sneakers that meet James’s exacting standards and his need for comfort, cushioning, and responsiveness. Besides, LeBron deserves nothing less than kicks fit for a king, as he is part of NBA royalty — firmly in the greatest of all-time conversation with his 4 championships (with a 5th possibly on the way), 4 MVPs, 4 Finals MVPs, numerous All-Star appearances, and countless accolades.
Dame 7 — Adidas
Like the Dame 5s we reviewed just last month, the Dame 7s rate quite high too! In fact, like the 5s, the 7s are also ideal for outdoor use thanks to an outsole made of durable rubber and grip that is as tight indoors as it is outdoors. Additionally,
Adidas’s new Lightstrike foam cushion setup helps ensure impact protection, responsiveness, and court feel, making these pairs a definite upgrade over the 5s and 6s. And among the three models in this guide, the 7s are arguably the best all-around performer — equally great to use either indoors or outdoors.
It’s just a shame that Lillard, the man who inspires this line of sneakers, is oft-overlooked and is always second fiddle to a LeBron or a Curry. But make no mistake: Lillard is elite, combining unlimited range with savvy playmaking, pinpoint passing, and that ability to deliver in the game’s biggest moments. He has also passed upon joining a super team, preferring instead to stick with the team that drafted him, the Portland Trailblazers, in the hopes of bringing back a title to the city.
While all three of the Curry 8, Dame 7, and LeBron 18 are good enough for outdoor use, we’ll have to rank them in this order: Dame 7 as the best, followed by the Curry 8 and then the LeBron 18.