Mar 6, 2013

Top 5 Basketball Shoes 2013

1. Nike LeBron X (10) Performance Review (courtesy of Nightwing2303)

Hit the jump for full written review & scores…Nike-LeBron-X-10-Performance-Review-1

Traction – The traction is the best we’ve had on a LeBron in quite a while. Court coverage is abundant and it’s featured throughout the entire outsole all the way to the edge. From a front to back standpoint you are pretty much covered no matter what… jump stops, jab steps and quick hard stops are solid without slipping or hesitation. Cutting and curling coverage could be a bit better but I’m almost positive that is due to the overall construction. With the cushion setup you aren’t going to receive the most flexible ride so you just have to deal with what you are given. I’m sure that Nike will continue to innovate & expand the new cushion tech to offer wearers more flex in the future so just sit back and wait to see what happens.
Cushion – Simply put, it’s insane. Straight beastly!
The heel feels just like a regular Air Max 360 unit but once you begin to run & jump you will see where the Zoom Air/ Air Max combo starts to fit into place. It’s almost propelling in the forefoot and is just incredible. There were some minor stability issues along the outrigger – more pillars in that location would have been useful – but overall it’s a great new setup that offers you the best of both worlds.
Material – The Fuse is thick yet flexible. Durability isn’t an issue – as we have come to expect. One positive to take away from their larger price tag – $180 for the regular & $290 for the Nike+ version – is that they will last you a while. Break-in time isn’t really required here so that is something most of us will come to appreciate. I remember when they first used Fuse on the LeBron line with the LeBron 8 P.S… this is nothing like that stiff and rigid Fuse, this time around Nike has made the plastic based material feel almost luxurious.
Fit – If you have the Hyperdunk 2012 – or have at least tried it on – then that is what you can expect with the LeBron X. They are true to size but pretty snug so if you don’t like to have the upper wrapped around your foot – I personally love it – then you may want to go up ½ size.
Lockdown is apparent once your foot is inside the shoe… and you won’t even have laced them up before you noticed. From heel to toe, you receive one of the best overall fits any sneaker can provide without chaffing or hotspots, much like the Hyperdunk 2012. The Dynamic Flywire works in tandem with your movements as each set of cables adapts to your game while in motion. Dynamic Flywire really does make the older Flywire seems outdated and it wasn’t introduced that long ago.
Ventilation – The ventilation is nice. Above average but nothing to write home about, however, it’s definitely better than the LeBron 9 & LeBron 9 Elite. With the way that most brands are making their hoop shoes – lighter, brighter and more ventilated – you sort of begin to ‘get accustomed’ to the whole air flow thing; so if it isn’t breathable you have something to complain about while if it is breathable then it’s not really a ‘special feature’ any longer.
Support – The support is available but not restrictive. You can’t really feel the TPU plate supporting your foot or arch but that is mostly due to the shoes lack of flexibility. It’s the shoes fit that really lends its support to the wearer and that is noticeable and welcomed. As stated above, the only thing I would have liked to have seen is more support columns within the Air unit itself along the outrigger. I think that would have helped the overall stability of the shoe thus offering you a slightly more supportive ride.
Overall – The LeBron X is the Air Jordan XI for this generation. If you don’t understand what I mean then allow me to explain a bit…
The AJXI had features we’ve seen before – Phylon midsole & full length Air cushion – but the Phylon was lighter in weight than the previous model – AJX – and offered a softer ride. Then you get to the tech upgrades. Carbon Fiber was introduced to a basketball shoe for the first time, something that is now expected. Patent leather was used for the first time, not just because it was shiny but also because patent leather is a bit more durable than regular leather – if you don’t believe me then play in the Jordan Melo M8 for a while… you’ll thank me later. Ballistic mesh – I’ve heard it called other names but this is what I’m sticking with – was used along the upper… it wrapped around your foot perfectly – just like this new Fuse they are using in the LeBron X – and reduced weight. Lastly, it was the most expensive model in the Air Jordan lineup at the time, retailing for $125.
The Air Jordan XI set the standard in 1995 for what we received throughout the rest of the 90’s and most of the early 2000’s as far as basketball performance footwear is concerned. Now we have the LeBron X… this is where Nike is dumping their latest and greatest tech. LeBron’s most recent signature is the most innovative and technical piece of sports equipment the footwear world has ever seen… they’ve just raised the bar and from now on we will see sneakers made that are trying to catch up… just as Nike had done back in 1995 with the Air Jordan XI.
Are they worth the extra money for the Nike+ version? I said this during the Hyperdunk 2012 review and I’ll say it again… not unless you are going to become a professional basketball player. The Nike+ system is not useful to the average ball player.
Are they worth the $180 price tag that will be on the non-Nike+ version? That’s up to you… Nike is a luxury brand. If you can afford luxury then go for it but if you can’t then you will get by just fine with a $50 pair sneakers found at the Nike outlet or some other discount store… trust me, I have firsthand experience with this and I got by just fine.

2. Nike KD V (5) Performance Review (Courtesy of Nightwing2303)

They got it right on the money this time. Leo Chang deserves a round of applause for this one.
Traction – While these perform great on clean courts – as most shoes do – they were surprisingly good on dusty floors as well even with the story telling pattern. Luckily they went with a much more pliable rubber compound with the KD V versus the KD IV so you have plenty of friction between your foot and the hardwood. As a fast paced PG… I thought these were fantastic.
Cushion – Give them time to break-in and you’ll eventually fall in love with them. I personally would have liked to have fallen in love with them right from the start but impressing me each and every time I finished running in them was actually something I enjoyed as well.
The 10mm forefoot Zoom unit was a nice change of pace – usually the KD signature has a much thinner Zoom unit – and the heel Air unit was a nice addition as well. What I thought was most important was their choice in foam as that can make or break almost any cushion source since it rest directly under foot. This foam breaks in nicely and feels better with each and every wear… not something I experienced with the KD IV.
Material – Fuse is placed along the upper – a very thin layer by the way – and feels great as it wraps around the foot nicely. It still retains its shape better than any other material that we’ve seen placed on a performance sneaker and can withstand heavy beatings. You really can’t go wrong with Nike’s modern Fuse base… it’s probably one of the best synthetics around for performance footwear.
Fit – You like wearing socks right? That’s how these feel on your feet. Like I noted above, the upper wraps your foot up perfectly and once the break-in period is complete you have a sneaker that will last and feel great on foot. I personal feel going ½ size down was appropriate but try them on yourself if possible just to be sure you get the correct size.
Lockdown isn’t an issue in any area of the shoe. Midfoot lockdown is perfect, there is zero dead space at the forefoot and the heel fits perfectly and keeps you secured in place. I didn’t even have to use all the eyelets in order to achieve perfect lockdown so it felt as if I was wearing a low top even though these are mids/ highs.
Ventilation – There isn’t much ventilation but with the materials used and the superb fit, their performance isn’t hindered one bit. Basically, if you feel your ‘feet get too hot’ when playing, you either should look at something else entirely or take care of that athletes foot.
Support – Because the fit and lockdown are so great, the support is awesome. Keeping you secure in the shoe without movement provides you with all the support one would need without adding extra material. Having a lateral outrigger and stable base just improve the support by giving you some additional stability.
Overall – This is one hell of a shoe. Talk about bang for your buck too… at $115 these are a steal. Just make sure you can handle the break-in process and you will love these the way you do your favorite pair of jeans.

3. Nike Kobe 8 SYSTEM Performance Review (Courtesy of Nightwing2303)

It’s that time again…
Traction – Best traction on a Kobe, hands down. The rubber is soft and the pattern – herringbone – is awesome on practically any indoor court no matter the condition. If you hoop outdoors then you will want the XDR outsole option otherwise you will grind the rubber down rather quickly due to it being so soft.
Cushion – Lunarlon is amazing foam. Besides Micro G, Lunarlon would be my choice as far as foam cushions are concerned. What is so great about foam cushions – especially Lunarlon – is that it absorbs and distributes impact evenly throughout which will help your joints out in the long run. What I like best about this setup overall is that the Lunarlon is full length so you will wear it down evenly over time without losing any comfort like you would with the Hyperdunk 2012’s Lunarlon setup.
Additionally, if you play primarily indoors, all you’d need to do is buy another midsole insert via and you can have these last for quite some time.
Material – Engineered mesh sounded cool but looked scary. Luckily it isn’t scary at all and there was much more Fuse placed on the shoe than what you can actually see. Not only did this keep things light but it also added a ton of structure and support so even though you have a shoe that weighs in at a mere 9.6 Oz… you would never know it by how much support & structure is readily available.
Fit – They fit true to size. Eastbay lists them as narrow – if you have really wide feet I could see that – but they don’t feel anywhere near as snug as the Kobe 7. If I were to compare the fit with any previous Kobe model it would have to be the 6.
Lockdown isn’t just available… its freaking awesome. There are little pillows along the center of the tongue, allowing you the ability to lace up your kicks as tight as possible without cutting off circulation, and the overall containment is top notch… especially for a shoe that looks more like a runner than a traditional hoop shoe.
Also, don’t wear the Kobe Elite socks… just a warning. If you don’t know why I say this then you missed all three Performance Teasers… yes, there were three.
Ventilation – It’s not insanely well ventilated but it is the most well ventilated Kobe to date. With the fit and the appropriate sock, they feel just fine. I personally don’t require too much ventilation so long as the materials are able to retain their shape & these do that just fine.
Support – The support is mostly coming from the outstanding fit. There is a heel clip to help keep your heel in place as well as a glass based Carbon Fiber shank for torsional rigidity and support. Inside the shoe, the Lunarlon midsoles do have a molded arch in place as well. For those of you that use orthotics, you may want to consider grabbing the Zoom Air laced orthotic ready insole option – available on NIKEiD.
Overall – Traction –awesome. Cushion – amazing. Materials – innovative beyond belief. Fit – pretty much perfect. Ventilation – the best it’s ever been on a Kobe signature. Support – plenty.
What else is there to say? If you are a Guard then this is a shoe that you can – and will – appreciate. Sure, they let most of us down with the Kobe 7’s – I say most of us because there are a few who enjoyed those – but they really made up for it with the Kobe 8.
Light done right… and better than the other guys.

4. adidas Rose 3 Performance Review (Courtesy of Nightwing2303)

Traction - Full length herringbone is in place and it starts out a bit rough. The rubber is a bit slick and lateral movements aren’t as covered as your heel to toe movements. Luckily, once the rubber is broken in you wont have any complaints & everything works beautifully.
Clean courts are phenomenal – as you’d expect – and dusty courts are a breeze as well. I have been playing on one of the worst kept floors I’ve ever played on with the current league I’m running in and the Rose 3 can hold its own for the most part but slipping is an issue… Something that has been a reaching theme no matter what my footwear choice has been… The floor needs to be refinished. All things considered… These offer some if the best traction currently available at the moment.
Cushion - Full length compression molded EVA, something that you should be used to with adidas products at this point in time. From heel to toe the cushion is consistent – something I happen to love. Heel strikes are taken care of with each stride as the foam is able to absorb and distribute the weight evenly throughout while the forefoot offers a more minimalist feel providing you with the protection needed yet never once sacrificing court feel. For Guards, this is an ideal setup as you’re protected but free to play your style without being hindered. Add the PU insole and you have a well balanced transition protected with adequate cushion.
In direct comparison to the Rose 2.5 I’d say they are better overall. More comparable to the Crazy Light 2 but slightly more dense, adding stability.
Material - This really depends on the colorway you choose. With the initial Home & Away models there are synthetic nubucks and leathers used… The Chicago Fire model uses a different synthetic altogether and we can assume the same will be for the upcoming models as well.
The only real difference between the materials will be their longevity, however, as a synthetic, you can rest assure that it’ll hold up for at least a full season of playing time.
Personally, I loved the Away pair with its premium synthetic leather for on-court action. With its minimal break-in period and soft feel, its the closest thing to leather on a pair of performance shoes that doesn’t include the term “Retro” on the box label.
Fit - With a true to size fit and re-engineered SprintFrame in place, the adidas Rose 3 will be able to accommodate many more foot shapes than any of its predecessors including the Crazy Light series.
On top of that, the materials are constructed in a way to where it wraps itself around your foot perfectly giving the wearer a feeling of owning a sneaker custom made specifically for them.
Lock-down from heel to toe is apparent and welcomed. No slipping whatsoever once fully laced making these one of the best fitting shoes from adidas without any pain or hot spots.
Ventilation - The SprintWeb has also been re-engineered on the Rose 3 which is something I also love. adidas has been able to implement a functional performance feature without making it look like a performance feature. Its not as well ventilated as the Rose 2.5 but it beats the snot out of the Crazy Light 2.
I personally don’t find ventilation to be an issue unless the fit is sloppy – which is not the case here – so if a slight step back in ventilation is enough for you to pass on purchasing then you are undeserving of the Rose 3′s beastly on-court performance and premium look/ feel.
Support - adidas’ SprintFrame is in place providing most of your support. The materials and fit play a roll as well as they all work in perfect harmony.
Overall - Awesome traction, consistent cushion, premium materials, accommodating fit, above average ventilation & great support… why is anyone complaining about a price increase?
I could understand if the shoe was a total fail or missed the mark on enhancements but adidas didn’t miss a beat. Sure, these enhancements are small and can be overlooked but they are there and they work.
Bottom line, if you drop $160 or more on a shoe that you NEVER wear on-court – and you all have… don’t lie – then $160 for a high end performance shoe shouldn’t be an issue. It would have been nice to see the increase implemented gradually and these will go on sale at some point in time but as of now, they are an ideal choice for a speedy Guard who wishes to have a complete packaged sneaker.

5. Jordan Melo M9 Performance Review (Courtesy of Nightwing2303)

I used up my good line for the last Performance Teaser… hit the jump for the full Performance Review…
Traction – Herringbone… you can’t really go wrong when this is the setup… unless you use translucent rubber. As stated in their performance teaser, even with the use of translucent rubber the Melo M9 was well above average. I strongly suggest you choose a solid rubber version so you can really receive everything these offer in terms of traction.
Cushion – The forefoot Zoom Air unit wasn’t as responsive as I had assumed it would have been but that is mostly because it’s bottom loaded versus being directly under foot. Basically, it still is absorbent and responsive cushion but because it hits the floor and it’s not placed directly under foot, it’s not something you tend to feel. At the heel you have a large volume Zoom unit and that is great… I wish they would have used the larger unit is the heel and forefoot – the Melo M8 had this sized unit in the forefoot – as you would get the best of everything. Their cushion is still phenomenal no matter how you look at and at their price… you can’t really beat it.
Material – The materials on this pair happen to be 3M but the other models have patent leather/ smooth grain leather toe caps and nubuck uppers. They are very pliable yet supportive with the overall lockdown – I’ll get into that later – while their best feature is the minimal break-in time. Depspite how they look, only a few hours are required in order to make them feel as if you’ve been wearing them all year.
Fit – The Jordan Melo M9 fits like a glove. It’s one of the plushest fitting shoes we’ve had in a while. With most shoes getting slimmed down for weight and whatnot – these do reduce weight a bit but it’s not their main focus – the fit ends up feeling thin and sometimes cheap. For example, Hyperfuse based models tend to feel as if you are wearing plastic wrapped around your foot – which you are – while these feel like a 90’s styled sneaker… plush and comfortable fresh out the box.
Its one thing to have a nice feeling fit but it’s another to have the nice feeling the interior brings also provide you with some of the best lockdown found in any shoe available right now. Don’t get me wrong, there are shoes that offer great lockdown but there are none that offer you great lockdown with a plush feel to them. If you don’t understand what I mean then go to the store & try on the Hyperdunk 2012 on one foot & the Melo M9 on the other… then come back and leave me a comment letting me know I was spot on… you don’t actually have to come back and leave a comment… I already know I’m right.
Ventilation – The ventilation is much better here than in the Melo M8 but it’s still nothing to get excited about. While the inner sleeve provides you with a plush feel… it also retains a lot of moisture. If you feel like your feet can’t handle being a little damp while you play then look elsewhere… for those of you that can hoop no matter what… look no further.
Support – TPU shank for torsional support, TPU lateral support cage, Flywire lockdown straps and an incredible minimal upper that happens to keep your foot in place… yeah… support isn’t an issue at all.
Overall – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… the Jordan Melo M9 is one of the most well rounded shoes available. You can wear these at any position and feel comfortable, supportive and protected from impact.
Would I call them perfect? Probably not… but it sure as hell is close.

6. Nike Lunar Hyperdunk 2012 Performance Review (Courtesy of Nightwing2303)

Hit the jump for full written review & scores…
Traction – Much better than what is offered than any of the previous Hyperdunk models, this traction pattern works better than it may look. Facing multiple directions aids the rubber giving it some additional friction on the courts surface no matter what direction you plan to move.
The one downside is the use of translucent rubber. Clean floors are perfectly fine as are fair court conditions but those of us who end up on some dirty floors will soon realize that the clear sections eventually adhere to the dust and debris causing some slipping unless consistent wipes are implemented. I typically don’t ever clean the bottom of my hoop shoes but I ended up having to keep these soles as clean as possible in order to maintain above average grip.
I recommend using a solid rubber if you plan on purchasing as those should allow the traction pattern to do its job much better than the translucent rubber.
Cushion – Lunarlon is one of my favorite cushions, possibly my favorite foam cushion, but here is shows that foams aren’t perfect. Don’t get me wrong, the Lunarlon does its job of distributing weight from impact perfectly, however, it would have been better if implemented into a full length portion rather than the heel and forefoot targeted zones. Once the foam starts to break down – what some call bottoming out – you will have a slight uneven feeling as the arch of the shoe is made of a more dense Phylon. Its something that will take time so don’t let it stop you from trying them out but I will say that Nike may want to stick with what works for performance series such as the Hyperdunk by just sticking with Zoom Air.
All-in-all, some will complain that the Zoom is missing while others will finally understand my love and appreciation for foam.
Material – The upper is comprised of mesh and next generation Flywire. This style of Flywire seems to utilize Fuse material with thicker Nylon strands of exposed Flywire cables… it works wonderfully. Having this rubbery type of Fuse is great as it offers durability without adding stiffness. Break-in time is minimal so that is a huge plus.
I know that some are questioning the longevity of the exposed cables but in all honesty… I don’t see them getting torn or cut during game play. I’m sure its possible but its highly unlikely.
Fit – The latest Hyperdunk uses the same last as the Hyperdunk 2011 so they run a bit narrow at the forefoot. Wide footers may want to either try them on prior to purchase or go with ½ size larger. Length wise they are true to size.
The snug fit at the forefoot is welcomed as it leaves you with little to no room or dead space. At the midfoot is where you will feel the Flywire cables hug your foot and stay with it during changes in direction and other harsh movements… almost giving a custom fit for each wearer.
The heel is great. Slightly molded padding keeps the Achilles and heel in place while the rest of the collar hugs the ankle without restricting its natural movements whatsoever. They fit so nice at the heel and collar that I didn’t even need to lace them up to the top eyelet as I typically do.
Ventilation – Every Hyperdunk has greatly lacked in ventilation… until now. With the next generation of Flywire in place, exposed medial and lateral side panels are in place featuring mesh along with the rest if the inner boot/ sleeve (attached to the tongue).
There is very little air flow restriction so these have a ton of ventilation throughout the shoe… possibly better than a lot of sneakers available on the market currently; including most Fuse based sneakers.
Support – The overall fit provides a decent amount of support that work in tandem with the external glass based Carbon Fiber shank plate. One of the most notable features on this latest rendition of the Hyperdunk is the wider base which sits a bit lower to the ground when compared to Hyperdunk’s of the past. This created a much more stable platform along with better court feel, allowing you do do what you do without hesitation or awkwardness.
Overall – They may not be my personal top performance model of the year (at this time) but they are definitely in my top 3. Overall scores will push these to the top of the list for 2012 but again, this is based on their total average.
They are, however, the best Hyperdunk to date. If you have enjoyed Hyperdunk models in the past then you’re in for a ride as these are nothing like the past versions… in a good way. Do you NEED the Nike+ version? Not at all… in fact I recommend getting the basic $140 version unless you are neurotic about training or plan on being an NCAA/ NBA prospect in the near future. Sure, its fun to see your stats but its not something that requires an additional $100 or so dollars.
I will be reviewing the Nike+ Basketball system separately so stay tuned for that. Until then… enjoy your time on-court!

7. Jordan CP3.VI (6) Performance Review (Courtesy of Nightwing2303)

The Jordan CP3.VI will be released nationwide tomorrow, October 3rd, so let’s get you prepared on whether or not they are worth the purchase.
Traction – This traction is straight up insane! Best traction on a sneaker… EVER! Traction is so good you’ll break your own ankles if you aren’t careful.
Cushion – The cushion is minimal and consistent. Foam distributes impact more evenly than anything other type of cushion so it helps relieve stress on your joints. With the CP3.VI, the forefoot is low profile and offers adequate cushion while maintaining some of the greatest court feel I’ve experienced in a shoe. While the forefoot is great, the heel lacks a bit as you can feel your heel sink in a bit due to the recessed section. If the foam weren’t recessed then it would’ve been better… at the least it would have been better had the foam been a bit more firm, not much more, but just a little.
Material – The Fuse upper is great. It’s sturdy where you need it – forefoot – and flexible everywhere else. Fuse is lightweight and durable; I say that often enough that it should already be well known. Overall, I like the materials and think they are applied perfectly.
Fit – They fit true to size and the Fuse wraps around your foot like a glove. Having a plush tongue helps with the overall fit and lockdown but the heel lacks greatly. If you haven’t watched the video then I suggest you do just for the visual. I was unable to achieve secure lockdown at the heel which was a problem I had with the CP3.V. If the designer(s) could get this right, which they should seeing as how other Jordan Brand models don’t have this issue, then the CP3.VI would be the perfect on-court option for Guards.
Ventilation – Much better than the CP3.V. There is nothing that irks me more than a shoe that uses something in its design yet isn’t functional… that’s how I felt about the CP3.V but luckily they have changed all of that by implementing the design they wished to have and made it functional.
Support – The support is good in sections. The midfoot and forefoot fit are superb. Midfoot support – TPU shank – is great. Foundation is nice as it’s slightly wider that the CP3.V and lower to the ground making you feel more stable. Down side… that darn heel.
Overall – I love them personally. They are light, fast and low… everything a Guard wants in a shoe.
Is the heel lockdown something that would make me distract anyone from purchasing them? Yes and No. If you need support, and I mean NEED it… then these are not for you based on the fact that heel lockdown is very important when support is concerned. However, if you like light sneakers that keep you low to the ground allowing you to feel every single thing you are doing on the court as if you weren’t wearing shoes at all… then these are a perfect match for you… as long as you aren’t prone to ankle injuries.

8. Nike Zoom Soldier VI (6) Performance Review (Courtesy of Nightwing2303)

Hit the jump for full written review and scores…
Traction - One of the best traction surfaces this year… one of the best I’ve ever used of all time.
The forefoot is the highlight of the shoe where traction is concerned so if you are in need of ultimate forefoot traction then the latest Zoom Soldier has you covered. Watch out for dusty floors as you will need to maintain consistent wiping at the heel… Dusty floors have almost no effect on the forefoot so that area will always keep you grounded.
Cushion - Some may have been disappointed with this years Hyperdunk since it featured Lunarlon. If thats true for you then the Zoom Soldier VI will make you forget all about the Hyperdunk altogether.
Forefoot Zoom Air is featured, Providing you with low profile responsiveness. The heel is said to have bottom loaded Zoom but upon inspection I found that they have a top loaded Zoom unit in place directly under foot… Unless i cut them apart I wont be able to confirm if the bottom loaded unit is there so i will assume it was mistake in their description.
Bottom line, everything you wished the Hyperdunk 2012 had wound up in the Zoom Soldier VI.
Material - Fuse is used throughout making the overall construction very similar to the LeBron 9 Elite… Minus the Carbon Fiber & Flywire. Durability & strength are present as they typically are in Fuse based models but they also offer plenty of flex where you’d need it so break-in time is minimal.
Fit - These fit true to size. They can also accommodate a variety of foot shapes so they’ll be a good option for almost anyone.
I mentioned this in a previous Performance Teaser but the tongues construction was an issue. The stitch work is sloppy and exposed… Knotted at each end which ends up pressing against your skin when fully laced, eventually leading to uncomfortable chaffing. Tape, doubling up on socks or wearing a level 1 ankle brace made of neoprene would be recommended to avoid the issue.
The lockdown is great from heel to toe… Heel especially. This strap locks the foot and heel in place the way a strap should.
Ventilation - These were pretty much on point with the LeBron 9 Elite as far as ventilation is concerned. Unrestricted ventilation holes are place along the medial and lateral side which work well with the open mesh. I was able to feel the air flow which is something I’ve only experienced one other time and that was with the adidas adiZero Crazy Light.
Support - Even though there isn’t a support plate in place, I personally didn’t notice its absence, they remained fairly supportive everywhere else. The overall fit is where most of your support comes from – that heel strap does a great job – along with the outrigger. If you are a player who needs a shank plate in place then this may not be the shoe for you.
Overall - This years Soldier is one of the best… Maybe even the best Soldier model ever. I’ll always hold the Soldier III in high regards but when directly comparing (non biased) the Soldier VI beats them out by a long shot.
These can easily suit most positions, from 1-4, depending on your needs or personal preferences. At $120, this is a great buy and my personal favorite this year – at least for the time being.

9. adidas adiZero Crazy Light 2 Performance Review (Courtesy of Nightwing2303)

Hit the jump for full review & scores…
Traction – As previously mentioned in the last Performance Teaser, the adiZero Crazy Light 2’s traction is awesome. With its spiral pattern – creating a multidirectional surface – it brings you great court coverage from nearly every angle. Front to back movements were supported by the horizontal grooves allowing you to stop on a dime while the forefoot’s strike zone maintains coverage with the circular pattern’s extension across the ball of the foot. If you play outdoors you can as the rubber is a bit more durable than the original Crazy Light, however, it may not last long so that will be something to think about prior to making a purchase.
Cushion – The cushion is practically the same as it was in the previous model which provides you with a full length EVA midsole & two insole options. I personally prefer the PU insole as it offers more protection upon impact. Heel strikes are absorbed by the foam itself while the forefoot remains low to the ground for greater court feel. Transition feels very smooth in the CL2 that you hardly notice you are wearing shoes at all… it’s almost as if you are gliding across the floor atop supportive pillows.
Material – SPRINTWEB, SPRINTFRAME & EVA foam are complimented with mesh and solid rubber along the outsole. While the SPRINTWEB is thinner than its predecessor, it’s also a lot stronger as its more of a TPU based layer rather than a fabric… similar to the adiZero Crazy Light Low just thinner & lighter.
While there is break-in time required, once that is complete you won’t have any issues with the material itself. To say this is an upgrade would be a complete understatement when comparing it to the Crazy Light 1.
Fit – They run true to size but very narrow at the forefoot. Wider footers will want to try these on before purchasing as the pressure they have at the forefoot could cause discomfort. Lockdown along the midfoot is perfect while the heel is well supported.
Ventilation – The original Crazy Light was very well ventilated… possibly the most well ventilated basketball sneaker I’ve ever worn. While your foot remained cool you also lost a ton of support which is where the Crazy Light 2 comes into play. There are four open mesh windows on the medial side of the shoe which is where your ventilation is coming from. Although the shoe is lines with a nylon it’s just not enough to offer as much ventilation as you may have expected, however, the support that comes with the lack of ventilation was much needed so in my opinion we received the lesser of two evils.
Support – The support is the most upgraded feature and rightfully so. Last year’s model lacked support and practically made the shoe un-wearable for certain types of players whereas the CL2 offers greater support from every angle.
adidas’ SPRINTFRAME is modified slightly to where the medial section has been lowered to offer greater range of motion while the lateral is extended a bit for greater lateral support. The most improved area is the forefoot and SPRINTWEB material. Since converting the top layer to a TPU based skin you receive a lighter weight and thinner upper while it promotes much more strength than the previous CL. It’s also been reinforced at the forefoot (thankfully) so you are pretty much covered all the way around the shoe this time around.
If you wish to view some clear images of the upgraded support then check out the First Impression.
Overall – I did not recommend the Crazy Light last year after my time spent on-court & my thoughts on the Crazy Light 2 are completely opposite. Their ‘Light done Right’ campaign speaks for itself… this truly is light done right. As the old saying goes; if at first you don’t succeed, try again.

10. Nike LeBron 9 Elite P.S. Performance Review (Courtesy of Nightwing2303)

The LeBron 9 Elite P.S. has been a great shoe to play in. Is it worth the $250 retail price… that’s really up to you and how much you feel performance is worth.
Traction – The LeBron 9 had good traction overall but the rubber here is more flexible and works even better than the original. No matter how quickly I moved or how sudden of a stop I made, the LeBron 9 Elite was able to keep up with every step.
I only had one issue where I slipped; I noted this is the Performance Teaser. Basically I had to modify my way of moving around a bit in order for the outrigger’s traction-less surface to not affect my movements. This wasn’t a huge issue as it only happened once so overall the traction here is very solid.
Cushion – I personally like to have consistency within cushion setups. The Jordan Melo M8 & the LeBron 9 Elite are very similar in the fact that the combo cushion was enhanced by the foam used in the midsole which made everything feel very consistent and offered a smooth ride from heel to toe. Having Cushlon in place added for much great flexibility as well so a Guard can comfortable perform at their highest level while larger players will benefit from the increased cushion source.
Some have said that the LeBron 9 offered Cushlon along the midsole when in fact it’s a lightweight injected Phylon. The difference between the two is very noticeable and I prefer the Cushlon over the Phylon.
Material – The materials are roughly the same as before but have been reduced to the point where flexibility has increased while maintaining a secure fit. I loved the weight reduction after some of the layers were removed and the flexibility offered is far greater in my opinion. Having the Carbon Fiber in place also was a good choice as it brings the wearer a much greater sense of security while in motion allowing you to move freely with complete confidence the materials can keep up with the pressure.
Fit – These fit true to size unlike the LeBron 9. I also noted a few issues I had experienced with certain areas of the shoe in a previous Performance Teaser. These issues only occurred when certain socks were used. I recommend a thin sock to avoid hotspots, especially with the Carbon Fiber sidewall.
Ventilation – This was a complete upgrade from the original LeBron 9. Layers have been removed and perforated sections are now in place which offers a good amount of air flow. The use of the Pro-Combat inner sleeve was a nice touch as well as it surprisingly didn’t retain moisture.
Support – The support featured in the LeBron 9 was great and these are even better. Carbon Fiber has been strategically placed along the lateral side panel which keeps the foot in place perfectly and adds some additional lockdown at the midfoot section of the shoe. Those nifty lockdown wings are still in place and these keep the foot drawn into the heel of the shoe giving you above average lockdown, this is also complimented by the inner sleeve which is nicely sculpted at the heel.
Overall – These were fantastic to play in and make the LeBron 9 look and feel like a stripped down version of what should have been. I recommend these to nearly any position on the floor as they offer enough support & cushion for larger players along with enough flexibility & range of motion for smaller players. $250 is very high… but again, I am now forced to judge these based solely on performance leaving the “is it worth it?” up for you to decide.


  1. Anyway to make a Top 10 list of best balling shoes for the $50-$100 range?

    1. I can tell you a couple good shoes for around that price. Nike Hyper Dunk 2012 and the Adidas crazylight 2 are great shoes for a great price.

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  3. hey great review , i had a partial ACL tear in my left knee and i would love some extra cushion , so which one will u prefer kobe 8 or lebron 10 ? i am 6'1 and 188 pounds !!

    1. nothing, just retire. ;P just kidding lebrons

  4. I have the Melo 8′s and and my brother Jake P. has LeBron 10 and I have to say….. You were right! great shoe, a little heavy but doesn’t matter, good flexibility, one of the support in the LeBron series, Cushion for me is 11/10 because it’s too perfect! Overall very great shoe and Thank You! Hope you do the review on the upcoming Kobe Dream Season IV and Nike Air Max Hyperposite!

  5. I'm sure that Nike will continue to innovate & expand the new ...

  6. Carbon Fiber was introduced to a basketball shoe for the first time, ...