The Nike Air Foamposite One Is Still Ahead Of The Curve

In 1997, everything about the Nike Air Foamposite One screamed future. 20 years later, it’s still screaming.

Eric Avar, the mind behind the Foamposite and Kobe Bryant’s partner in crime at Nike a few year later, had an interesting inspiration for the shoe – a beetle. Or to be more specific, the skeleton of a beetle. Usually when you hear about stories behind the design, it’s man-made stuff like cars, planes, etc. Nope, the Foams were inspired by a beetle. The shoe was the result of Avar being ahead of the curve.

The actual making of the Foamposite forced Nike to look outside of the box. Because the material that was to be used on the shoe was unlike anything Nike had worked on before, it required a wholly different method than ever before, so they tapped car manufacturer Daewoo to help devise a method in making it a reality. You’ve no doubt heard the story of the $750,000 mold that was created just to build the Foams, but let that sink in for a second. Nike spent $750,000 – not including all the money burned on research and development – just to create something that was at the time yet to be proven to work. The process – which took two years to go from concept to reality – was not only out of this world, but it could have been out of reach if Nike hadn’t taken that gamble. To get to the future, you need to take some risks sometimes.

For such a revolutionary and highly experimental shoe, Nike needed an athlete who represented not where the game was but where it was going. So it made sense that they were going to have Scottie Pippen launch the Foams. That’s right, one of the great sneaker “what ifs” is who Foams should have gone to. According to legend, Avar wanted Pippen to wear the Foams but Penny wanted them for himself when he caught a peek of them in a design meeting. Penny had the foresight and Nike let him have it, breaking from his own signature shoe line to rock them.

Penny wasn’t the only the player of the future that would earn the distinction of debuting the Foams to the world. The 1997 Arizona Wildcats all received pairs of the Royal Blue Foams during their run to the National Championship, but Mike Bibby was the only star who actually put them to use on the court. At the time, many believed Bibby to be the next superstar point guard. So the shoe of the future was being worn by the point guard of the future. Makes sense, right?

The Shoe Game
It wasn’t always easy for the Foamposite, of course, as while it might have been futuristic, it was maybe too futuristic for many. With a premium price point and a look that nobody was feeling, there was a time when you could find them at Nike outlets in the middle of the 2000s. It would take a mix of nostalgia, Wale, hip-hop, and the DMV to bring the shoes back to the forefront. A new and futuristic colorway, the Eggplant, might have also helped matters too.

In 2012, the sneaker world was shaken up when graphics appeared on the Foamposite for the first time with the release of the Galaxy during NBA All-Star Weekend. It set the stage for the future of the Foams, as many more colorful takes on the shoe would follow. It was impossible to follow up the Galaxy, but Nike tried their damnedest to hope lightning would strike twice.

Now we see Foams of all kinds sit in stores once again, much like we did before it’s late 2000s revival. This time around, they’re sitting because sneakerheads have shifted in favor of sneakers with minimalist design and maximum comfort, whether it be adidas NMDs, Nike Lunarcharges or even New Balance 247s. But don’t count the Foams out as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Royal colorway this past weekend. Between the expected rollout of new Foams in 2017 and kids once again looking for what’s new and fresh, we could be at the cusp of the cycle starting once again for the shoe. And if not, then 20 years as the sneaker of the future is not a bad title to have, right?

NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero HC Performance Review

The NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero HC, while noticeably labeled as a tennis shoe, is definitely more than a one trick pony. How so you ask? We’re here to find out.

Traction on the NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero HC was superb. The refined rubber outsole grabbed and gripped the ground through every movement thrown at it. Whether it be on the basketball court, tennis, handball, racquetball, and/or volleyball (yes, this shoe should work for many sports) you’ll be covered.

The heel-to-toe transition didn’t have any problems either due to midsole shaping and the aggressive triangular gridded pattern underfoot that allowed me to stop on a dime. This is definitely one of the best aspects of the shoe, but it isn’t the only one.

This is the first time we’ve seen a curved in Zoom Air unit, let alone one that runs full-length. The top-loaded Zoom Air unit is felt directly under the heel and slowly transitions down at the midfoot to make the forefoot area bottom-loaded. By doing this, the wearer should get enough cushioning and be able to turn the pressure of each step into energy for the next movement.

My experience in the NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero HC was fantastic. There was ample feedback without loss of impact protection on landing — it’s just awesome. As a big man who plays an inside-outside game, I really appreciate the ingenuity and thought process that provided such a joyous experience in a multi-sport shoe. Now, let’s see if Nike will transition this technology into actual basketball shoes?

A single-piece mesh upper backed with a neoprene bootie-like sleeve gave the shoe a real nice and different feel. There was some fusing and rubberized materials along the toecap around the medial side to provide durability, especially for those that juke heavily and/or drag their toes.

The rest of the shoe is made up of a soft yet durable midsole that holds the comfortable and responsive curved Zoom Air unit. Beneath that is a very durable and aggressive patterned. The Nike Air Foamposite One Chromeposite features a combination of things that work well in unison — and that’s all we can ask for.

The fit of the Air Zoom Zero HC excels. While putting on the shoe was quite a struggle at first (lack of heel pull tab), once you’re in you’re set. I went true to size and even with a slightly wider-foot, the shoe fits well with a minor break-in period. Loosening the two front area laces a tad helped ease the break-in, especially for those who don’t like materials pressing down into their foot.

The feel of the foot being propelled forward due to the curved Zoom takes some adjustment, but once your feet are contoured into the shoe it’s fantastic. There is a fused strand along the top of the mesh material (above where the neoprene tongue meets) which I’m not fond of because of some pinching, but that’s probably due to the shape of my feet. I definitely wouldn’t consider half a size down because it fits well. The Air Zoom Zero HC definitely gives me a Nike Hyperchase-like feel in terms of how the foot fits the shoe — and that’s definitely not a bad thing.

The support comes directly from the great lockdown the shoe provides, along with the curved full-length Zoom Air cushioning. No matter what sport (basketball, racquetball, handball, volleyball, and tennis) or what movements you throw at it, the Air Zoom Zero HC held its own and then some. The solid rubber traction utilized on this shoe is what I wish all other Nike models would take queues from.

The notion that specific shoes are made exclusively for specific sports is always around. However, the Air Zoom Zero HC, while made for tennis, was definitely made for so much more.

From the build and thought process to the design and materials, this shoe hit on nearly every aspect necessary for me to perform at my highest level — without wavering in confidence, regardless of the sport I played in it. The curved Zoom is something that Nike can build on in future models because it is a game changer in terms of cushioning and responsiveness (as long as it’s done right).

To be honest, the Air Zoom Zero HC was one of my favorite shoes to play in; the shoe was fun, and it gives you a sense of direction the Swoosh is headed. It might be adding a lot of future expectation, but if this is just the beginning of what a performance tennis (or multi-sport) shoe can be then I’m all in.

Perhaps Nike’s  KD 11 basketball and tennis divisions can link up, and somehow, some way, throw their ideas together to create the ultimate performance shoe, regardless of the sport. I don’t see why not, but only time will tell. If it does, I’ll definitely be ready to test that shoe. In the meantime, NikeCourt Zoom Zero HC 2, where you at?

20 Things You Didn’t Know About the Nike Foamposite

When the Nike Foamposite One first dropped in 1997, it was like nothing anyone had ever seen before but people wore it in some impressive performances. The sleek $180 shoe had no Nike branding on the upper, save a small Swoosh near the toe, and the synthetic upper and prominent carbon plate gave the shoe a decidedly futuristic look, one that many sneaker designers still strive to achieve.

With interest in Foams that never ceases to fade, here are 20 Things You Didn’t Know About the Nike Foamposite.

Nobody thought it was possible.
Like all great sneaker stories, the naysayers were a plenty. The Foamposite was one of the most unbelievable designs, so it’s probabaly not a huge surprise that everyone from designers at Nike, all the way to manufacturers in China, said that it couldn’t be done when the original idea was presented.

The Foamposite was not designed for Penny Hardaway.

Eric Avar didn’t design the Foamposite One Denim with Penny Hardaway in mind. If the apocryphal stories are true, it was originally intended for Scottie Pippen (no word on whether it then would have been called the “Foamposite 33″). But in a session with Penny, where he wasn’t moved by any of the other designs, he saw the Foamposite in Avar’s bag, and the rest was royal blue history.

It was inspired by a beetle.

Not the Volkswagen, but the little annoyances that wander around your garage, were actually part of the inspiration for the Foamposite’s aerodynamic features.

People thought it would ruin the footwear industry.

The design of the Foamposite was so absurd compared to the traditional usage of leather and rubber that many people actually thought Nike would ruin footwear with the design. Fast forward 15 years and now nearly everything is made out of plastic-based materials. It hasn’t seemed to keep anyone from buying sneakers yet, either.

Daewoo was the company that made it happen.

A number of companies were approached by Nike with the Foamposite concept. Many of them couldn’t come up with the correct formula to make it happen but Daewoo came through. Yep, the Korean company that makes TVs and cars were the ones behind your latest Foamposite purchase.

The upper of the Foamposite begins as liquid.

If the sleek, logoless shoe itself wasn’t enough to pry your $180 (plus tax) from your wallet, maybe the T-1000 backstory was. In order to create the Foamposite One’s seamless upper, the “foam” material started as a liquid, which was then poured into molds. How does that add up to $180? Well, the molds weren’t cheap. Read on.

The perfect temperature is between 130 and 175 degrees.

No, not to wear them. In case you were wondering, Foamposite material is created at a temperature range of 130-175 degrees Fahrenheit. If we see anyone melting down Foams on Youtube, though…

The average cost of the mold was $750,000.

$750,000 for the mold alone. Considering that doesn’t include the cost of labor, packaging, shipping or marketing, you can see why the price of the Foamposite was steep.

The midsole had to be 5 times stronger than a traditional sneaker’s.

When the Foamposite was created, the process was so different that traditional ways of manufacturing had to be revamped. In order for the molded upper to stay attached to the midsole, it had to be 5 times stronger than traditional glue and stitching. So, in a way, the development of the Foamposite helped with other future technologies just by pushing the limits.

The original price of the Foamposite One was $180.

So, this might be something you do know but there seems to be some serious confusion amongst the always knowledgable group of Internet sneaker blogs. We’re just going to clear the air, the Nike Air Foamposite One retailed for $180 when it first released and the Nike Air Foamposite Pro retailed for $170. Eastbay catalogs don’t lie, bruh.

Foamposites didn’t sell well at all.

$180 price tags may be commonplace now, but back in 1997 that was a real jump. And when you put that price tag on a brand-new technology that doesn’t even feature the usual visible cues of “high-dollar” — like a Max airbag or a Jumpman or a yeezy 350 Static — it’s gonna be a tough sell. Fortunately enough people stepped up to keep Foamposite in the line.

The NBA didn’t approve of the sneakers.

The NBA said that the colorway wasn’t fit for the court because it didn’t have enough black to coincide with Penny’s Orland Magic uniform. Penny did what any sneakerhead would do, and busted out the Sharpie to fix the problem.

Penny Hardaway didn’t debut the Foamposite One.

Mike Bibby first hit the court as an Arizona Wildcat wearing the Royal Foamposites on March 23 of 1997. That same day, Penny Hardaway laced up his Nike Air Penny IIs. It wouldn’t be until a few games later that Penny finally laced up the Foamposite One with his Orlando Magic uniform.

Penny Hardaway had white Foams 15 years before you.

Penny Hardaway may not have been the first to wear his own signature shoe in a game, and he may have never worn them in an All-Star Game or NBA Finals, but at least he was getting exclusives before anyone else. The best part is that it’s been damn near 20 years and you STILL don’t have these.

The phone number has been disconnected.

One of the shoes to be featured in Nike’s simple – and brilliant – print ad campaign that simply showed a shoe on a white background with a Swoosh and a 1-800 number, the Foamposite One never looked better. Tragically, the phone number has been disconnected. We were hoping to get Lil Penny on the line, seeing that he still owes us for the dry cleaning from his Super Bowl party.

Foamposites became the ultimate takedown model.

The Clogposite is one of the most unexpected sneakers ever created by Nike — who turns a $180 shoe into a slipper? But don’t try to front in your new camo Foams this weekend, the O.G.s been rockin’ digi camo Foams, son.

It was the first sneaker people were willing to trade their car for.

Crazy shit happens when the hype hits all time highs. This dude really tried to trade his car — with a full tank of gas, even — for Galaxy Foams. This can’t be life.

20 Things You Didn’t Know About the Nike Foamposite

When the Nike Foamposite One first dropped in 1997, it was like nothing anyone had ever seen before but people wore it in some impressive performances. The sleek $180 shoe had no Nike branding on the upper, save a small Swoosh near the toe, and the synthetic upper and prominent carbon plate gave the shoe a decidedly futuristic look, one that many sneaker designers still strive to achieve.

With interest in Foams that never ceases to fade, here are 20 Things You Didn’t Know About the Nike Foamposite.

Nobody thought it was possible.
Like all great sneaker stories, the naysayers were a plenty. The Foamposite was one of the most unbelievable designs, so it’s probabaly not a huge surprise that everyone from designers at Nike, all the way to manufacturers in China, said that it couldn’t be done when the original idea was presented.

The Foamposite was not designed for Penny Hardaway.

 

Eric Avar didn’t design the Foamposite One Denim with Penny Hardaway in mind. If the apocryphal stories are true, it was originally intended for Scottie Pippen (no word on whether it then would have been called the “Foamposite 33″). But in a session with Penny, where he wasn’t moved by any of the other designs, he saw the Foamposite in Avar’s bag, and the rest was royal blue history.

It was inspired by a beetle.

Not the Volkswagen, but the little annoyances that wander around your garage, were actually part of the inspiration for the Foamposite’s aerodynamic features.

People thought it would ruin the footwear industry.

The design of the Foamposite was so absurd compared to the traditional usage of leather and rubber that many people actually thought Nike would ruin footwear with the design. Fast forward 15 years and now nearly everything is made out of plastic-based materials. It hasn’t seemed to keep anyone from buying sneakers yet, either.

Daewoo was the company that made it happen.

A number of companies were approached by Nike with the Foamposite concept. Many of them couldn’t come up with the correct formula to make it happen but Daewoo came through. Yep, the Korean company that makes TVs and cars were the ones behind your latest Foamposite purchase.

The upper of the Foamposite begins as liquid.

If the sleek, logoless shoe itself wasn’t enough to pry your $180 (plus tax) from your wallet, maybe the T-1000 backstory was. In order to create the Foamposite One’s seamless upper, the “foam” material started as a liquid, which was then poured into molds. How does that add up to $180? Well, the molds weren’t cheap. Read on.

The perfect temperature is between 130 and 175 degrees.

No, not to wear them. In case you were wondering, Foamposite material is created at a temperature range of 130-175 degrees Fahrenheit. If we see anyone melting down Foams on Youtube, though…

The average cost of the mold was $750,000.

$750,000 for the mold alone. Considering that doesn’t include the cost of labor, packaging, shipping or marketing, you can see why the price of the Foamposite was steep.

The midsole had to be 5 times stronger than a traditional sneaker’s.

When the Foamposite was created, the process was so different that traditional ways of manufacturing had to be revamped. In order for the molded upper to stay attached to the midsole, it had to be 5 times stronger than traditional glue and stitching. So, in a way, the development of the Foamposite helped with other future technologies just by pushing the limits.

The original price of the Foamposite One was $180.

So, this might be something you do know but there seems to be some serious confusion amongst the always knowledgable group of Internet sneaker blogs. We’re just going to clear the air, the Nike Air Foamposite One retailed for $180 when it first released and the Nike Air Foamposite Pro retailed for $170. Eastbay catalogs don’t lie, bruh.

Foamposites didn’t sell well at all.

$180 price tags may be commonplace now, but back in 1997 that was a real jump. And when you put that price tag on a brand-new technology that doesn’t even feature the usual visible cues of “high-dollar” — like a Max airbag or a Jumpman or a yeezy 350 Static — it’s gonna be a tough sell. Fortunately enough people stepped up to keep Foamposite in the line.

The NBA didn’t approve of the sneakers.

The NBA said that the colorway wasn’t fit for the court because it didn’t have enough black to coincide with Penny’s Orland Magic uniform. Penny did what any sneakerhead would do, and busted out the Sharpie to fix the problem.

Penny Hardaway didn’t debut the Foamposite One.

Mike Bibby first hit the court as an Arizona Wildcat wearing the Royal Foamposites on March 23 of 1997. That same day, Penny Hardaway laced up his Nike Air Penny IIs. It wouldn’t be until a few games later that Penny finally laced up the Foamposite One with his Orlando Magic uniform.

Penny Hardaway had white Foams 15 years before you.

Penny Hardaway may not have been the first to wear his own signature shoe in a game, and he may have never worn them in an All-Star Game or NBA Finals, but at least he was getting exclusives before anyone else. The best part is that it’s been damn near 20 years and you STILL don’t have these.

The phone number has been disconnected.

One of the shoes to be featured in Nike’s simple – and brilliant – print ad campaign that simply showed a shoe on a white background with a Swoosh and a 1-800 number, the Foamposite One never looked better. Tragically, the phone number has been disconnected. We were hoping to get Lil Penny on the line, seeing that he still owes us for the dry cleaning from his Super Bowl party.

Foamposites became the ultimate takedown model.

The Clogposite is one of the most unexpected sneakers ever created by Nike — who turns a $180 shoe into a slipper? But don’t try to front in your new camo Foams this weekend, the O.G.s been rockin’ digi camo Foams, son.

It was the first sneaker people were willing to trade their car for.

Crazy shit happens when the hype hits all time highs. This dude really tried to trade his car — with a full tank of gas, even — for Galaxy Foams. This can’t be life.

8 Things You May Not Know About Kobe Bryant’s Nike Series

As folks around the social media and blogosphere landscape prepared to celebrate one of two (2!!) manufactured holidayesque celebrations for NBA icon Kobe Bryant this week, the stories of the Laker legend’s career in advance of #KobeDay were extensive.

There was the endless videos of his end of game clutch shots, Kobe’s longtime “Mamba Mentality” and the anecdotes and quotes that spoke to his approach. and more closely to our world, his awesome series of signature sneakers that spanned for nearly the entirety of his two decade career, and beyond.

While the newest Kobe AD Nxt 360 is rightly getting its fair share of love for its sleekened design and sharp use of tactical materials, we figured we’d take a look back today on 8/24 as well, diving into some of the layers and details from throughout Kobe’s Nike run that might’ve gone unnoticed. Read ahead for a look at a batch of Bryant insights, featuring old interview quotes from Kobe itself.

His logo was inspired by the movie Kill Bill
When the Huarache 2K4 was originally created, there was an ill-fated “8 Ball” logo that almost made it to the shoe’s heel counter, that would’ve represented Bryant’s jersey number at the time, and not much else. As it turned out, his eventual logo was far sleeker, and representative of his attacking mindset, given its direct inspiration from the sword holster design seen in the movie Kill Bill.

“The logo, to me, is more of an inspirational symbol, in terms of what you use as fuel and what you use to drive you,” Bryant told me years ago. “That symbol is where I store that and where I hold that fuel.”

The fuel apparently worked for Kobe, as he of course dropped 81 points in the very first shoe to feature his “Sheath” logo along the tongue, the Zoom Kobe 1. Most of his sneakers have featured the geometric logo along the tongue ever since.

Eric Avar has designed the look of the line ever since the Kobe 3
When you think of Michael Jordan’s personal involvement on his storied series, Tinker Hatfield immediately comes to mind. For Kobe Bryant, the same could be said about equally legendary designer Eric Avar, who has helped to define the no frills design language that’s pushed the Kobe series into its own tier of performance products.

“The most special shoes that I enjoy the most is when me and Avar are sitting around and we come up and just brainstorm man, because that’s just having certain guys that are on the same wavelength and get each other,” says Bryant.

As he often describes it, he’ll come to Avar with a simple insight or request — “I want to reduce my reaction time” — and Avar will come up with some new way of locking in Kobe’s foot better on plants, to help maximize his first step. Other times, Avar will bring Bryant a new idea or a new advanced innovation from his fellow Kitchen team of masterminds, as a means to push his footwear forward.

“I’m always around a bunch of people who are competitive and just as competitive as I am, or just as passionate about the sport as I am,” Kobe says. “I’m not looked at as being different or anything like that because I’m ultra competitive. I’m just around a bunch of people who are exactly the same way as I am.”

Soccer, in addition to Venom from Spiderman, inspired the Kobe 4
Sure, the Kobe 4 was a big departure from the 3 and the starting point of veering towards a true low cut, something Bryant felt would “cut weight” as they looked to “continue to slice it down.” He was partly inspired by the low heights of soccer cleats, which fascinated the ever-curious Kobe. He argued that soccer players ran and cut just as much as NBA players throughout the course of a match.

As he shared with then-developer Tom Luedecke during the process, he was also looking for a sneaker that improved on fit and stance.

“The Spiderman 3 Venom character is something that Kobe talked about to us,” Luedecke shared at the time. “He got really hyped about this character and it was the notion of the shoe feeling like a second skin.”

While the insight from Kobe helped to inform the slope and fit of the upper, the outsole featured a subtle nod to the iconic scene in the movie, with a graphic flowing out from the shoe’s pivot point, speaking to the skin’s closely wrapping nature that the team was hoping to achieve.

Kobe Took NIKEiD to New Heights
While Nike’s Morph Skin series debuted signature shoes on the iD platform, the Zoom Kobe 2 was the first signature sneaker to appear on NIKEiD in featured form both online and at select Nike Town locations worldwide. It wasn’t until two years later when the Kobe 4 launched though, that things really took off.

By the time Bryant’s fifth shoe launched, he was soon finding himself matched up against defenders, sometimes several, each wearing his own prior model. It was something he had to get used to seeing on a nightly basis, partly because there were times he barely recognized his own shoe after someone spun it through their own NIKEiD filter, like CJ Watson’s infamous chili red and orange pair.

“I was like, ‘Wait a minute, he did something real interesting with that one,’” laughed Bryant. “It’s pretty cool to see though, because you know — yes, it’s a signature shoe — but it gives everyone its own life to it. I think that’s very important to have.”

The Kobe 4 and its follow-ups took signature shoes to new heights on iD in both NBA and amateur play. Kobe’s collection on iD opened up the floodgates for LeBrons, KDs and Kyries to follow.

The Kobe 5 almost introduced an earlier version of the Kobe System
When the Kobe 7 launched, the vaguely dubbed “Kobe System” marketing campaign carried the sneaker almost instantly, thanks in part to a star-studded list of commercial cameos from the likes of Serena Williams and even Kanye West.

The shoe did incorporate a “system” of sorts, with two interchangeable insoles that offered up different benefits. The “Fast” midsole had an attached standard tongue, along with both heel and forefoot Zoom Air units for responsive cushioning. The “Strong” setup offered a taller strapped up collar, along with a Lunarlon footbed for a more firm ride.

As it turns out, the System idea was a concept in the works well in advance, sampled up on the Kobe 5 two seasons prior, while the Innovation Kitchen team took their time before finally releasing the short-lived modular approach.

Several people at Nike were scared of the “Mamba” skin on the Kobe 6
Building off of the Kobe 4 and 5’s breakthrough success and widespread adoption amongst basketball players and casual fans alike, naturally, Kobe and Avar were looking to take a huge risk and incorporate a snake skin-like texture across the entire upper of the sixth shoe.

“Oh man, some people in marketing hated it!” joked a member of the team working on the shoe at the time.

While the Kobe 4 and 5 featured a then-daring lower collar height, the designs were still fairly familiar, classic and refined, translating to being huge sellers that helped to reinvigorate the Nike Basketball category. Some folks in sales and marketing initially pushed for a compromise early on — release some versions with the snake skin, and then also drop additional colors in a more safe synthetic paneled look, like on the prior two models. Folks were terrified that the scales would be too polarizing for a mass audience, and hurt the sales of what was an emergingly successful formula.

Avar and Bryant held firm, and it didn’t matter much anyway, as the 6 went on to be worn around the league, saw several much-coveted collectible colorways launch, and was eventually yet another beloved model of the Kobe series that people still gravitate to years later.

The Kobe 8 almost had a toe Swoosh, vetoed by Bryant
For the 2012 Olympics, Nike launched their newest edition of their flagship Hyperdunk team shoe, featuring an entirely new Swoosh placement along the toe. According to those close to the process at the time, it was also discussed that the Kobe 8 for the following 2012-13 season would also feature a toe Swoosh, as part of the brand’s new design direction and a shift toward larger branding.

As it turns out, Kobe vetoed the idea early on, and save for the collaborative “Mambacurial” colorway later down the road, the 8 eventually released with a standard collar Swoosh placement. Kobe has often preferred the same branding location ever since the 4, while other players switch it up from time to time.

Kobe’s contract guarantees a signature shoe up to 5 years after retirement
When Kobe retired in 2016 and left the game for good, Nike made one thing clear, his sneaker line wasn’t going anywhere. Walking away from the NBA in his 11th signature shoe, his contract actually calls for the continuation of his Kobe series until at least 2021, for an additional five years. It’s entirely possible the series, along with retro models, lives on well after that date, of course.

While the numbered models became much loved during his career, his series has of course now transitioned into the AD phase, which is made up of traditionally designed AD models all featuring common Kobe design language, along with the AD 1 Protro , which is meant to represent the concept car of sorts for the line.

While Bryant is off writing scripts, investing in a variety of new projects and far removed from shooting a basketball any time soon, he’s still hands on with his sneaker series, tapping in with his Nike team on several occasions throughout the year, working up ideas for the next few AD models on the way.

“We create stuff that you’re just not gonna see on the shelf like any generic shoe, because it’s not a generic shoe,” Bryant said early on of his series. “It’s me and we fit our personality into the shoe, so it can’t be a shoe that looks like a LeBron shoe or whoever else’s shoe. It has to be a shoe that’s you and is your special shoe.”

The Most Important Air Max in Years Is Here – Nike VaporMax 2018 Review

Do you remember the Nike Air Max 2016? Can you even conjure up an image of the Air Max 2017 in your head? We won’t blame you if the answer is no. While the Air Max line has been responsible for millions of dollars in sneaker sales since its inception in 1987, recent models have not been entirely memorable. The revolution described in the first ad campaign around the shoes feels significantly less rebellious now. Gone are the days of iconic designs like the Air Max 90 and Air Max 95, and the now yearly main offerings in the franchise have felt somewhat stale since the big bag of the Air Max 2009.

If there’s anything that can reverse the trend it’s the Nike Air VaporMax ($190), a highly-touted model first unveiled at Nike’s Innovation Summit event in 2016 that’s set to release on Sunday, exactly 30 years after the debut of the original Air Max. The shoe has an exaggerated bubble on bottom paired with a sleek Flyknit upper, a combo that Nike claims results in the “most flexible Air Max ever.” The cushioning system is especially notable for its lack of foam—the traditional midsole is gone and the Flyknit upper sits directly on top of the Air bag. In removing a layer separating the foot and the sole, Nike hopes to address a design issue that’s been there for years.

“What’s different here is that the properties of Air are still there—that protection, that durability, that resiliency—but what’s been always elusive to us is that sensation of air,” said Nike VP of Innovation Kathy Gomez at an event for the VaporMax. “Nike Air Max hasn’t really felt like you can imagine it should feel like, and that’s what we unlocked here.”

While Nike’s been very focused on the tech aspects of this shoe, it’s clear how much the brand cares about things from a visual standpoint. In this regard, perhaps the best outcome for Nike with the VaporMax is for it to operate in a space like Adidas’ celebrated Ultra Boost, its home in sport recognized, but its place in casual wear much more salient. It’s mostly touted as a runner, but remember that the first pair to hit retail before Sunday’s wide launch was a fashion collaboration with Comme des Garçons. Nike Sportswear Design Director Nate Jobe says it’s the first time the brand has debuted a shoe like this through this lens.

“It’s always been launching first as a performance-true product, and then later being adopted by culture,” Jobe told Sole Collector. “In this case, we worked directly with Rei [Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons,] in the beginning to have sport and style coming together in the beginning versus the end.”

All this is not to say that the VaporMax doesn’t have performance chops. Finite element analysis informs the patterns and tubes that shape the sole. The shoe’s been in development at Nike for seven years, with rigorous product testing throughout. Gomez speculates that it might be the most-tested Nike model ever, saying that around 350 athletes ran a total of 126,000 miles in them.

But even at a wear-test event for the shoe Nike reps aren’t shy about its casual appeal, mentioning that it falls somewhere between hardcore runner and lifestyle silhouette. While gushing about the VaporMax in 2016, Nike CEO Mark Parker referenced its spot between these lanes.

“It’s a great example of an innovation that stands at the intersection of high-tech, pure function, and aesthetic beauty,” Parker said.

How well does the VaporMax deliver on Nike’s promise of the “running on air” sensation from a functional standpoint? When wearing the shoe, it’s difficult to separate oneself from all the marketing dollars spent convincing the wearer the sensation is there. Do I actually feel that Air underfoot, or do I just want to after hearing Parker’s eulogizing and eagerly anticipating the shoe for so many months? At least some of it is the former—on a run the shoe delivers a very bouncy ride that’s more present in the back half of the sole. The feeling of Air is certainly there to a greater extent than on any Air Max I’ve worn before. To really test the bubble, the wearer can bounce up and down on the heel for a piece of tactile evidence. The tubular Air sections toward the front aren’t as apparent, although one gets the idea the shoe would be too bouncy were the forefoot’s cushioning shaped the same way the heel’s is. Note that this isn’t the firm energy return feel of Adidas Boost; what the wearer gets with the VaporMax is something more exaggerated.

The fit of the Flyknit upper is snug, but not tight. The Flyknit material has more stretch to it than that of models like the Flyknit Racer, which is welcome given the somewhat constricting shape of the midfoot. (Think the stretchy stuff used on 2016’s Nike LunarEpic.)

The VaporMax is a statement product from Nike, that much was clear when the shoe was debuted at the brand’s Innovation Summit last year. The statement translates to the wearer too; it’s a visually striking model that almost demands the attention of onlookers with its alien sole. There’s an auditory element to the sneaker as an announcement as well, although that one is not totally positive. It’s a bit loud, the VaporMax’s big bubble still squeaking after a few days of regular wear.

The jumbo bubble also evokes a sense of fragility. The first thing many ask when seeing the sneaker is whether it can withstand the rigors of everyday wear without popping. But that fear has been there since the beginning—when designer Tinker Hatfield first developed Air Max, the feedback from Nike was that the exposed cushioning looked like it would pop, which wouldn’t fly for consumers. Nike says it’s prepared for that fear on the VaporMax, where the bubble is more exposed to the elements than ever before, by testing it on the rugged trails of Colorado.

“We test a lot of things in Colorado,” Gomez explained. “There’s a great community of athletes and runners there, also lots of trails that can be really hard on the shoes, which we want to see. You can put a lot of miles on shoes in a short amount of time.”

Opposite efforts like the testing to prove the shoe’s worth while logging miles are moves like the color choices that highlight the shoe’s fashion aspirations. While Air Max designs of yesteryear leaned on bright accents to establish themselves, with colorways like the Air Max 1’s bold blue and red or the Air Max 90’s sharp infrared helping to change the look of running footwear, the VaporMax aims for something more subdued. Its debut colorway is a foggy mixture of flat platinum and grey with a metaphorical meaning

“We wanted to reinforce the idea of running on air,” said Andres Harlow, VP/Creative Director of footwear for Nike Running. The idea is channeled through Flyknit material made to look like an actual cloud with blended neutral colors that are more intricate than they appear on first glance. Again style points are mentioned, the shoe’s lack of popping colors being a play toward contemporary palette trends.

As much as the VaporMax is able to win from a style perspective, one suspects it won’t quite end up with the performance accolades of the Adidas Ultra Boost. The short history of Boost suggests it’s currently a more effective performance platform than Air, one with marathon wins to help back up all its claims. But maybe that doesn’t matter that much given that the majority of sportswear is not worn for its intended purpose.

Regardless of adoption by runners, the VaporMax is a win from Nike in this writer’s opinion in that it’s a reminder of what the brand can do to push the look of footwear forward. And beyond aesthetics, it feels how one imagines Air Max should. The win is especially big when one considers how much agreement there was about Adidas besting Nike with product in 2016. The shoe is a confirmation and realization of innovation, the brand’s favorite buzzword. And there’s more VaporMax to come—Parker has said that Nike is scaling the technology to bring it to a wider range of products. Through this, the brand will look to deliver on something else that Air Max has promised from the start: a revolution.

Better PSNY Friends and Family Air Jordan 12: “Wheat” or “Black/White”

Inspired by the Japanese rising sun, Tinker Hatfield designed the Air Jordan 12, which was the first Air Jordan to utilize Nike’s Zoom Air technology.

Known for their partnerships, menswear brand Public School NY is one of Jordan Brand’s top choices when it comes to releasing a collaborative design.

Back in 2017, the two released an Air Jordan 12 “City Pack” that consisted of three colorways for New York City, Paris, and Milan. During the design process, Jordan Brand and PSNY released a limited Friends and Family edition that came dressed in a similar “Wheat” motif as the NYC retail pair, but with a few minor differences.The Wheat Public School NY x Air Jordan 12 was first showcased at the PSNY Air Jordan 12 restock that took place at the brands pop-up shop located at 330 Hudson in New York City.

Another limited Friends and Family release was a Black/White colorway of the PSNY x Air Jordan 12. This pair features a plush and grainy leather upper in Black with White soles and “PSNY” branded on the tongues. this PSNY x Air Jordan 12 is a friends and family only release that comes in a full Black-based upper with White detailing on the rubber outsole. PSNY branding is also located in the same areas as the retail release, but in these images it’s hard to see.

While both pairs never made a retail debut, if you could pick one to release, which would it be? Cast your vote below, and leave your thoughts in the comments section.

UA Curry 3ZER0 2 Performance Review

Under Armour was very close to making one of the best $100 sneakers of 2018 with the Curry 3ZER0 2.

Traction on the Curry 3ZER0 2 is aggressive, rugged, and covers every direction you can think a basketball player would strike their foot for starts, stops, and changes of direction. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Under Armour might be the best when it comes to traction on basketball shoes. The Curry 5 was a hiccup, but between the Curry 3ZER0 2 and the HOVR Havoc…man, both are great options.

Like the HOVR Havoc, I never had an issue with the Curry 3ZER0 2 indoors or outdoors. Nothing could really distract the outsole from its main job: providing great traction.

Micro G and Charged are used on the Curry 3ZER0 2, much like they had been used on the original Curry 3ZER0. This time around it felt like Under Armour really tried to cater to those that love court feel but dislike shoes that lack cushion.

The tooling here almost feels like a runner; the shoe starts thick in the rear and tapers off to the point where you almost feel like it’s just you, some rubber, and the court. It made for an interesting first few runs that I ended up really liking after testing was all said and done.

I will say that this still isn’t that OG Micro G that we all miss, but it’s still really comfortable. Yes, the HOVR Havoc is a bit more comfortable, but the 3ZER0 2 isn’t bad. If you liked the Curry 3, but wanted something slightly better then this is it. If I were to compare this setup to the original 3ZER0 then the original felt thicker, you sit higher off the ground in it for sure, and it also felt a little bouncier than the new iteration.

Now, if you’re comparing the 3ZER0 2 to the Curry 4 or Curry 5…well…there really is no comparison. This shoe has the cushion each of those lacked, without the loss of court feel.

Materials on the 3ZER0 2 are interesting. The shoe almost feels like a wetsuit for your feet, but the upper isn’t neoprene. Under Armour calls it a “molded maxprene upper with zonal restriction engineered from within for maximum comfort and breathability.”

All I know is that I really liked the 3ZER0 2’s upper and the way it wrapped around my foot. I recently completed the performance review on the Nike Kobe AD Exodus and one of my critiques was that the forefoot didn’t feel like it was warm and inviting. I prefer the upper of my basketball shoes to really hug and wrap around my foot, and the 3ZER0 2 offered exactly what I like.

Sometimes, when you have a shoe fit this close to the foot it ends up being a bit too restrictive for some, but the 3ZER0 2 doesn’t fit that description. It is snug but not suffocating. It’s like your favorite pair of compression shorts/pants. Yes, they’re tight, but it’s the type of tight you enjoy versus the kind that you loath.

The Curry 3ZER0 2 fits true to size and that is what I’d recommend. However, wide footers may not enjoy this one.

Its rubber outsole wraps up the forefoot a bit for containment and support while the materials really mold themselves around the foot. If you’re a wide footer and go up half a size to try and give your foot some breathing room then you may not get the support you need out of the upper construction — which is lacking support, but I’ll get into that in a bit.

Lockdown is more like locked in with the 3ZER0 2. Once you get your foot into the shoe, slightly difficult but not annoyingly difficult, then you’ll know what I mean. The 3ZER0 2 just sucks your feet into the shoe and then all you’re left with is lacing them around your foot-shape. The upper really takes care of everything else.

Much like the Kobe AD Exodus, this shoe has everything you need out of a shoe in terms of support…except one thing. The Kobe’s lacked torsional support and the 3ZER0 2 lacks a heel counter. Like, there isn’t one in there. I was surprised by this when I first got the shoe in-hand and was very skeptical with this area because it’s missing one of the most important aspects to heel/ankle support.

To be fair, I never had any ankle or rear support issues in the shoe. None at all. But I still feel there should be something there just in case. The upper and its giant nylon lacing that runs from one side of the shoe to the heel is what keeps your heel in place. There is also a small section of the midsole that comes up just a bit to try and make sure your foot doesn’t roll over the footbed, but c’mon. Shoes need a heel counter. I would have, at the very least, liked to have seen something similar to what was provided with the Curry 2. While that heel counter was thin and flexible, it still did what it had to do to keep your heel on the tooling. That should have been carried over to this model.

Again, I had not experienced any issues, but for added security and reassurance…put a heel counter in your shoes. Please.

With all that out of the way, the rest of the support features on the 3ZER0 2 were great — especially the forefoot outrigger section. As I mentioned earlier, the rubber outsole cages the midsole at the forefoot and wraps up to the upper material. This provided a ton of stability along with lateral support when needed. If you’re a forefoot-heavy player then I feel the 3ZER0 2 will be a great option for you. Land on a foot the wrong way though and you will really need a heel counter.

The Curry 3ZER0 2 was a nearly perfect shoe for Guards. Had it had a heel counter then it would have been — especially at the $100 price point.

Traction is its standout feature along with the fit. Forefoot stability and support are off the charts awesome in the 3ZER0 2. Heel support is, well, it isn’t really even lacking — it’s just plain missing. Head scratcher, I know.

As the 3ZER0 2 sits now, it’s a really good shoe that’s missing a major component. Had that component been there it would have been a great shoe. Period.

Nike Hyperdunk X Performance Review

10 years is a long time for a shoe line to live and after that decade the Hyperdunk may have hit its peak. We present the Nike Hyperdunk X Performance Review.

10 years. The Nike Hyperdunk has been around since the 2008 Olympics, so we have gotten 10 years of the “ultimate” Nike team shoe, a shoe made for every player at any position. We have seen Lunar, Zoom, and React cushioning on it. Nike has put Flywire, 2nd generation Flywire, mesh, knit, and fuse on the uppers. Now let’s see how the 2018 version does.

One thing the Hyperdunk has never lacked is traction, and the Nike Hyperdunk X is no slouch either. The shoe uses a multi-directional pattern that looks like soundwaves (not the Decepticon), so there is coverage in any direction…although the pattern does look more linear than lateral.

Once on-court, the Hyperdunk X is solid and stops quick but smooth due to the softer rubber and spaced out pattern (a hard stop, to me, is the Jordan XX8 and Kobe Protro). The Hyperdunk X were put to the test on four different floors — normal (dirty) 24-Hour Fitness, swept and clean 24-Hour Fitness, clean high school court, and rubber church court — and there was not one instance of slipping or skating. Matter of fact, I’m not sure I ever wiped. The pattern is set wide and pushes dirt and dust out, making the outsole extremely reliable from court to court.

Outdoors? At this point, why even ask — it’s easier to find Waldo than a suitable outdoor shoe. The Hyperdunk X uses a soft rubber and a shallow pattern, knowing this is a team shoe and will last just until the last buzzer sounds and then no longer. Don’t even think a couple of months on concrete/blacktop is possible because it ain’t.

Okay, get this out of the way now: the Hyperdunk should never ever go away from responsive Zoom Air cushioning. I don’t care what new foams are out or what Nike has to push, and I know the original was the vehicle for Lunar Foam, but Zoom Air is still (over 20 years later) the best cushioning Nike has ever made for basketball, period.

If the Hyperdunk is your “everyman” basketball shoes, why not give the cushioning that makes “every man” happy? After the disaster that was React in the 2017 HD (and if you liked React, I don’t know what to say about you), the Hyperdunk X brings back the heel and forefoot Zoom from the HD2016, only a lot thicker.

The heel unit in the Hyperdunk X is 14mm thick, where the 2016 was around 8mm. The forefoot is almost the same and feels it. The biggest difference is the foam carrier; the Hyperdunk X still uses Phylon but a much softer makeup, giving the shoe a better compression and rebound ability. The foam takes the initial landing force and compresses until the Zoom takes over, providing a stiffer response that springs into your next move — just like Zoom was meant to do! Zoom was never about impact protection; it was first and foremost about low ride, court feel, and response.

After almost three weeks of this being the only shoe I have played in (the Kobe AD made an appearance towards the end), the cushioning is actually fantastic. No pain, no aches, no harsh jarring from landing, and it feels quick and bouncy on every move. From the first time I put the Hyperdunk X on I could tell this was the way Zoom should feel, and it’s magic. Still, after 20 years, good Zoom makes me smile. From pushing off laterally on defense to my first step driving off of a pump fake three, I felt quick on court.

If there is area that lags behind the others on the Hyperdunk X, it is materials. The shoe features a textile upper with strategic foam backing (although it looks like jersey mesh in-hand), the materials are…okay. Nothing is premium except for the little hit of leather on the heel cup, but it works. The mesh isn’t stretchy at all, providing serious containment in the forefoot on lateral movements, while a fused area over the toebox gives a little extra durability in that area for toe drags.

The one deviation from the mesh is a big one and that’s the midfoot saddle. Made out of a smooth nylon that feels more neoprene than mesh, the area has a little more stretch than the rest of the shoe, but also provides some compression around your arch. It’s a cool little touch that wasn’t needed but certainly is appreciated.

The ankle collar has dense memory foam padding around the ankle bones that form perfectly around the joint to stop heel slip and movement once laced up. Again, nothing new, but it works and works well with everything else.

Since the Hyperdunk is the shoe for every position and player, it makes sense the fit is accommodating to different foot-shapes and needs (unlike the KD 11 or Curry series, which appear to be made for one athlete). The lacing system is set wide and allows for loosening if needed (and the midfoot stretches to allow more room), and, on the opposite, the laces can be pulled tight for slightly narrow feet.

The upper doesn’t have a true traditional tongue system but does open up wider than most one-piece shoes for ease of entry. Again, the heel padding locks in your foot until movement is gone, so no worries about heel slip if you mess up and get a half-size too big.

As for length, I tried on my true 10.5 and a half-size down to a 10. I honestly could have went either way, but I normally go with the larger size if I’m not sure just because I know after a few games in a row my feet will need a little room (if it’s too much room I can add a sock — easier to fill space than to stretch a mesh upper). If you like a little room up front, go true to size. If you like as little space as possible, go down a half size and enjoy.

Nothing special here; the Hyperdunk X uses a lacing system that pulls the shoe tightly and securely around your foot, with a solid heel counter (both internal and external), and a midfoot shank placed between the forefoot and heel Zoom. But, and a big but it is, there is an added piece that helps a ton, at least on lateral movements: the TPU Swoosh piece on the midfoot.

It looks like it would make the midfoot restrictive and stiff, but it is placed off of the midsole, right around the foot, giving the player something to push off of to slide and cut but not interfering with the function of the cushioning. The rest of the your foot sits slightly below the top level of the sidewalls, providing even more lateral support.

There is a small outrigger on the forefoot that provided the one true problem I had with the Hyperdunk X. On some hard stops and plants (yes, I’m the guy who gets a steal and pulls up full-speed to shoot a three pointer on a one-on-three break) I could feel the outrigger kind of pull under the forefoot. It was a strange feeling, and didn’t happen all the time, but it almost felt like the sole was separating from the shoe when I would stop to jump. If the outrigger was larger this probably would not be a factor, and it isn’t enough to mark the shoe off my list, but be aware.

The Nike Hyperdunk X is a top 5 shoe this year. Well, maybe top 8 — it’s been a good year. The Hyperdunk X definitely gets a vote for most improved shoe in 2018, mainly just because of the killer cushioning that returns to the line.

If you need a dependable shoe for any indoor surface, with great cushioning, a semi-durable upper, and killer fit, look no further. The Hyperdunk X achieved what Nike always looks for in the shoe: it works. It isn’t flashy (although I like the way it looks) and it gets the job done. From high-flying wings to quick guards to mobile big men, the Hyperdunk X is your slide. There isn’t much else to say — it’s a great shoe for every player you will ever be. Nike: please, please, please keep us happy next year.

Nike Kobe AD Exodus Performance Review

The Nike Kobe AD Exodus is the Kyrie 3 of the Kobe signature line — sans the rounded sole.

While I’ve been receiving many DMs and comments — both positive and negative — regarding the latest Nike Kobe AD’s traction, I’ve had nothing but a positive experience. Only on my very last day of testing did I wipe the outsoles and that was in the middle of a three hour hoop session. The court was very dirty that day as well so I’m not sure if I would have needed to wipe had the floor been cleaner.

What I like is that the rubber compound feels tacky, much like it did on the Nike Kobe 10. I know that wasn’t a fan favorite in terms of traction, but like this recent Kobe AD Exodus, I never really had any issues. Along with the rubber compound there is a tooth-like traction pattern that allows dust to channel through it, even though the rubber felt like a dust magnet at times. If there was dust on the floor, it wound up on the bottom of my shoes. Again, I never had any real issues because the Kobe AD Exodus maintained grip the entire time.

Unlike the Kobe AD NXT 360, the traction on this shoe has been durable. That is not a co-sign for outdoor hoopers — I’d still say there are more durable options out there — but for what it’s worth, I haven’t had any fraying or teeth missing like I did on my Kobe AD NXT 360.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the traction on the Kobe AD Exodus. It’s been reliable and I’ve never had a second thought about the traction the entire time I was testing the shoe.

At $140, I expect more. Not much more, but forefoot cushion of some kind would have been nice.

The midsole is Injected Phylon with a large-volume heel Zoom Air unit. Yes, similar to the setups used in the Kyrie 3 and 4 — but not all Phylon is equal. There is compression molded Phylon and Injected Phylon. Compression molded is more common and dense; it lasts a long time and it the main culprit behind not being able to feel the Zoom Air in some Nike models. Injected Phylon is lighter, a bit more airy, and allows some give to it with very slight rebound. This is the type of Phylon where you can see creases in the foam.

Being injected Phylon, the Kobe AD Exodus wasn’t uncomfortable. It’s good enough for a few hours of pickup at a time without wishing you had worn something else. The downside is that it’s just Phylon. It isn’t anything special and definitely not what I expect out of a $140 shoe.

The heel Zoom Air unit was nice, but I don’t use my heels often enough to really care that it was there. I would have preferred that there be Lunar in the forefoot or reverse the setup Nike provided — Injected Phylon midsole with a 6-8mm thick Zoom unit in the forefoot — because that would have made the Kobe AD feel more like a Kobe and less like a Kyrie.
Much like the cushion, the materials used on the Kobe AD Exodus are not what I expect out of a $140 sneaker.

While performance wasn’t hindered by the materials, I’m getting tired of seeing the synthetic felt-like suede used on the uppers of some of these Kobe AD models. Both the AD Mid and the AD Exodus just look and feel cheap. It’s a drastically different approach than what we see on the Kobe 1 Protro — and not in a good way. The material quality on Kobe’s first Nike signature is leaps and bounds better than what is found on his most recent, and that isn’t a good look. Innovation should move forward, not backwards.

The forefoot of the Kobe AD Exodus has the lightweight mesh and the ripstop flex zone. I loved the flex zone area and didn’t like the mesh until I was nearing the end of testing. That’s when I finally started to get used to the toebox feeling empty. With mesh this light you just don’t feel like anything is on your foot. Some may love that, but to me it felt like playing in an open-toed shoe — just a little awkward. Now that the lacing areas are somewhat accustomed to my foot-shape the entire area feels just fine.

Slight hit and miss with this area. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. And I really feel like the materials are what I’d see on an entry-level Nike model and not a Kobe signature model.

I initially wished I had gone down half size in the Kobe AD, and I still feel like I could have. However, now that the laces are adjusted to my feet the shoes feel fine. Lockdown at the forefoot flex zone, up the midfoot, and towards the collar is pretty good.

I do have some hot spots on top of my feet after wearing the Kobe AD Exodus. Those are clearly areas where I tie my shoes a bit tighter to feel more locked in to the shoe. Having a separate tongue with some padding would have solved that pretty easily; the use of a standard tongue would be a benefit to most wearers as it would allow us to customize the fit more to individual foot-shapes rather than the one-size-fits-most approach.

There is no midfoot support shank in the Kobe AD Exodus. I’ve been told by designers that having a flat outsole eliminates the need for a shank. That’s about all I was told so I wish I had a bit more information. All I know is that I never felt like it was missing.

The outsole being flat helps with stability while the forefoot section is slightly wider than the rest, which only further promotes stability at the toe. There isn’t a real outrigger, but like the Kobe 10, the midsole itself was made into one. I’ve used this type of “outrigger” setup many times and I love it every time. Your foot sits slightly within the midsole while the wider base rolls up to act like a natural outrigger. It gets the job done without getting in the way.

Heel support is decent. There is a thin internal heel counter that bolsters the exterior heel counter. These areas help keep the foot on the footbed well enough. I still would have preferred a separate tongue so I had the ability to tighten the rear lacing area a bit more, but for what was offered I can’t complain too much.
I like the Nike Kobe AD Exodus but I don’t love it. If I were to put the shoe up against the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 then I’d go with the NXT 360. The NXT offers the things I wish this AD offered — a separate tongue for improved fit and slightly more cushion at the forefoot.

The Nike Kobe AD Exodus feels like the Nike Kobe 1 Protro version of a Kyrie. Lightweight, low profile, aggressive traction — it’s a shoe built for a fast paced player that gets up and down the court. It’s got enough of the basics to keep them safe to play in, but nothing in them that screams $140 or “I’m a Kobe.” The Kobe AD Exodus is definitely lacking a bit of that “Mamba Mentality.”


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