// : The Return on the Signature ‘Team’ Shoe : // Nike Basketball

Over the last few years, we’ve seen quite a resurgence in both Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant’s signature ‘team’ shoe lines. From improvements with Lebron’s Soldier line, Kobe’s Venemomenon series and Mentality series, and KD’s Trey-Five line, Nike has been giving the consumer some really good options at more affordable prices.

What started back in 1997 when Jordan separated from the Nike umbrella and became their own brand, Jordan Brand, we saw the first rendition of what what a ‘team’ Jordan shoe looked like and what it meant for MJ himself and his brand. That first Team Jordan was the Air Jumpman Pro. The full grain leather mid top was very similar to the Jordan 12, taking some design cues from the 12 and implementing them at a more affordable price. The shoe featured a sticky-rubber outsole which offered great traction, a full length Zoom Air unit for responsive cushioning, and a very durable leather upper with a lower cut and lower weight. The shoe was perceived very well among consumers at the time and graced the feet of many Team Jordan NBA players such as Mike Bibby, Kevin Garnett, Eddie Jones, and Ray Allen. The Jumpmn Pro was such as homerun hit for Jordan Brand back in 1997 that they continued their Team Line from there on, launching more team shoes such as the Jordan Team1, Jordan Pro Strong, Jumpman Pro Quick, and the Jumpman Quick 6. The Jordan Team shoes did so well because they offered a lot of the same performance benefits as the signature Jordan flagship product at the time, all while offering similar design elements just at a $25-40 cheaper price point.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 5.32.24 PM

Jordan Jumpman Pro, which released in 1997.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and we now have similar Team concepts from Lebron, Kobe, and KD. Back in 2007 just after the Nike LeBron 4 had dropped, Nike Basketball equipped LeBron with a more light weight, locked down option in the Nike LeBron Soldier just in time for the NBA playoffs. The Lebron Soldier was a completely different shoe than what LeBron had been wearing all season, the LeBron 4. Unlike the Lebron 4, the Soldier featured two straps – one in the midfoot and one in the heel for premium lockdown and protection all while shedding some ounces off offering a lighter shoe. Coupled with a heel and forefoot Zoom Air combination for cushioning, the Zoom Soldier led LeBron to his first ever NBA Finals appearance. Little did we know that the Soldier Line would soon become Lebron’s signature team line, much like Jordan Brand did in the late 90’s and grace the feet of athletes from a very broad spectrum to high school courts, college courts, and the NBA.

Nike LeBron Soldier (nikelebron.net)

Now on the 9th rendition of the Lebron Soldier, the Soldier 9, the shoe features a lot of the same design elements that we’ve seen from the Soldier line – straps for lockdown and Zoom Air for premium cushioning and responsiveness. Nike Basketball dove back into their early roots from the Soldier line and cooked up an amazing product in the Soldier 9 that will soon grace the NBA and college courts this upcoming season. Priced at $130, it makes a great option for young athletes and players of all ages to be able to afford a LeBron product. The Soldier 9 has in a way become what the Nike Hyperdunk once was. Granted, a lot of players across the world still wear and like the Hyperdunk series, the Soldier line has just become a top-notch option to go long side the Hyperdunk series. With last seasons LeBron 12 being priced at $200 and the upcoming LeBron 13 expected to be retailing for $220, the Soldier 9 is a perfect example of an affordable option for those for want to buy LeBron product but just aren’t willing to offer up $220. The Soldier 9 has already gotten great praise for being a great performer on court, and you’re getting all of that without giving up performance benefits.

Nike Zoom Soldier 6 and 7 progression. Soldier 6 being the top picture and Soldier 7 below. Nike Basketball updated the Hyperfine upper form the 6 to 7 and utilized straps in the midst area. Both shoes were a big hit among college players and NBA players.

Nike Zoom Soldier 6 and 7 progression. Soldier 6 being the top picture and Soldier 7 below. Nike Basketball updated the Hyperfuse upper from the 6 to 7 and utilized straps in the midfoot area. Both shoes were a big hit among college players and NBA players.

Soldier 8 in the top photograph with the newly released Soldier 9 in the bottom photo. Expect to see a lot of the Soldier 9 this upcoming season, which is priced at $130.

Last season’s Soldier 8 is in the top photograph with the newly released Soldier 9 in the bottom photo. Expect to see a lot of the Soldier 9 this upcoming season, which is priced at $130.

Much like the Zoom Soldier line for LeBron, the designers at Nike Basketball have recently been promoting Kobe Bryant and his new line of team shoes, the Venomenon series and the KB Mentality series. What was first only Asia exclusives (Kobe Venemonenon 1-3) the Zoom Kobe Venomenon 4 was the first of the series to release state side. Since Kobe has such a huge popluarity among Asia, Nike decided to make him a take down series which featured a lot of the elements found in Kobe signature product, just priced cheaper and made for the outdoor game in Asia. Much like Team Jordan, the Nike designers take some design elements from the previous season Kobe signature model and pack those elements into a more affordable option. If you notice, most of the Venomenon shoes look and perform a lot like previous flagship Kobe signature shoes. Priced at $20-40 cheaper than Kobe flagship footwear, they make great options for those who want Kobe product just at a more affordable price. The most recent release from the Zoom Venomenon series, the Zoom Venomenon 5, takes design elements from previous Kobe signature shoes as well as recent Nike Basketball releases such as the Nike Hyperchase and Hyperrev 2015.

Kobe Bryant with all of his Asia inspired Nike Basketball shoes, including the most recently being the Zoom Kobe Mentality 5. (Nike)

Kobe Bryant with all of his Asia inspired Nike Basketball shoes, including the most recently being the Zoom Kobe Mentality 5. (photo // Nike)

Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 5.

Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 5 (photo // Nike)

Priced at $120, you’re getting a Hyperfuse mesh upper, Pylon midsole with heel and forefoot bottom loaded Zoom Air units, and an external molded heel counter for lockdown. The shoe also comes with Extra Durable Rubber (XDR) for outdoor surfaces. With the bottom loaded Zoom Air, the shoe is a great performer on court for guards and offered at an amazing price point for being Kobe product. With the Kobe 10 being priced at $180 and the Kobe 10 Elite priced at $200, the Venomenon 5 saves the consumer $60-80 dollars without giving up any performance benefits. The updates from the Venomenon 4 to the Venomenon 5 have made the 5 a much better overall performance shoe. Although the Venomenon hasn’t gotten much shine on NBA courts, it does do well among high school players and for the casual basketball player. The Zoom Kobe Venomenon 5 is out now at most retailers, with more color ways on the way for Holiday 2015 and Spring 2016.

Kobe’s other team shoe from Nike Basketball family, the KB Mentality, is another option for the consumer who’s looking for more of affordable option from the Kobe line. Priced at $100, the shoe is great option for guards who love the low-to-the-ground feel that has come from the Kobe line over the years. The KB Mentality is a pretty simple shoe on paper, only featuring a Hyperfuse upper with a drop in Lunarlon insole for cushioning, but performs like a beast on court. The shoe is eerily similar to the Kobe 8 which also featured a Hyperfuse upper and a drop in Lunarlon insole. Kobe specifically told his design team for the KB Mentality that he wanted the shoe to look and perform just like the Kobe 8 because he knew just how much the consumer loved that shoe. The design team had to take away a few things that were in the Kobe 8 to make the KB mentality an affordable option, but they did a great job in doing so. The shoe performs exactly like the Kobe 8 and features an amazing outsole design for outstanding court grip and feel.

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 3.29.58 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 3.29.48 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 3.29.26 PM

With the recent price increases from all signature product for Nike Basketball over the last few years (LeBron, Kobe, KD), Nike has still managed to make a good product for the secondary market at a more affordable rate for their consumer without giving up any performance benefits. Yes, some of the technology may be behind a year or two, but making a good performance basketball footwear option today isn’t as easy and cheap as it may sound. Most consumers know what type of shoes they like and a lot of the time already know the technology inside of the shoes. Today’s consumer for basketball footwear is the most educated consumer we’ve ever seen. With the sneaker culture growing rapidly over the last five years, people like to know what they’re paying for.

While footwear technology continues to advance and prices increase, it’s good to know that Nike and other brands are looking out for the consumers who can’t afford signature product from their favorite athletes. Just this past year, Nike Basketball added Kyrie Irving to the Nike Basketball family and priced his first signature shoe at $110, something we hadn’t seen since the early days of Kevin Durant’s signature shoes. Making more affordable options without giving up performance benefits is going to be key for Nike Basketball moving forward. It will be interesting and exciting what they have in store for the years to come.



// : Top 50 shoes of 2014 : //

With all of the thousands of shoe releases that come out in one year, it can be tough to keep up every weekend from various brands. For this post, I let a good friend of mine, Nick Soyer, go ahead and do a guest post with his ‘Top 50 Kicks of 2014’. With 2015 now upon us, lets take a look back at some of the top 50 shoes from 2014. Like any subjective list, this is all Nick’s opinion but I hope you enjoy it none-the-less.

Make sure to check out Nick on twitter at @OswaldSoy and on Instagram at @sneaksoy and hit him up with a follow! (Nick ranked his top 50 from 1-50). How do you think he did ranking the top shoes of 2014? Let your opinion be known in the comments below.

  1. New Balance 997

I sort’ve cheated when it comes to my #1 as I would’ve clogged my top 50 with so many 997 it would have felt repetitive. So I’m putting them all at #1. The 997 was just reintroduced in its original form at the beginning of 2014 and has provided steady and stunning colorways all year long. It’s the perfect running shoe, Made in USA, more cushioning than I can even desire, and multiple high-quality materials on each pair from pigskin suede to leather lining to 3M hits when you least expect them. These are just a flat-out phenomenal pair of shoes

If I had to rank the 997 colorways, I’d have to go with : 1. PR (black) 2. GY (grey) 3. DBR(dark brown) 4. Concepts “Rose” and 5. NV (navy)

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.26.52 PM

  1. Air Jordan XI low “Concord”

Three Jordan’s in my top 5 in the year that I really started to move away from basketball shoes and more into runners? While the market may be oversaturated with new colorways and retro releases every weekend, Jordan continues to slip us a few classics. The Concord XI is one of my favorite three shoes of all-time and a low top version that MJ wore to celebrate his first championship back from retirement? Well, I guess that warrants a place at #2. Iconic.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.27.59 PM

  1. Lance Mountain x NikeSB x Jordan 1 High

A Jordan 1 for the skaters that embraced the shoe back in 1985. The paint-scraping-away effect to reveal asymmetric colorways underneath is awesome, especially since it’s the classic Black/Red and Black/Royal colorways. These are one of the coolest shoes from Nike SB or Jordan Brand in a long time.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.28.17 PM

  1. Ronnie Fieg x Filling Pieces Quilted RF Mid Pack

Filling Pieces came on strong in 2014 and the quilted pack collaboration with Kith were their best offerings of the year. Top notch leathers, quilted upper, clean and classic colorways. Not even my bitterness towards Aaron can stop me from putting these top 5. I could wear each pair from this pack and never really another pair of shoes for about any occasion.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.28.29 PM

  1. Air Jordan Retro VI Black/Infrared

MJ won his first championship wearing these shoes. That’s about all I really have to say. Classics. Jordan’s best Black Friday release to date.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.28.39 PM

  1. Nike Kobe IX Elite Low HTM

A pack of four black and white based Kobe IX lows, the HTM models featured a multi-colored flyknit pattern on the medial side that is different on every pair. Seriously though, white and multi-colored flyknit upper on a gum bottom with speckled carbon fiber? HTM continues to be killer.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.29.32 PM

  1. J. Crew x New Balance 998 “Independence Day”

Another 998 that is just clean and extremely well executed. Made in the USA so you know the quality is there, and the USA is well represented through the red and blue colorway done by J. Crew just in time for the July 4th festivities this past year.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.29.43 PM

  1. Afew x Kangaroos Coil R-1 “Peanut Butter”

This is about as good of leather as you can get on a running sneaker. New Balance tried with its Horween 998 this year but this collab between Germany’s Afew and Kangaroos makes me drool. Guesis it’s the peanut butter influence. We need Kangaroos to start bringing some of these ultra-premium releases over to the United States.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.29.52 PM

  1. Ronnie Fieg x Asics Gel Lyte V “Sage”

I really should move these down the list after I had my order for this GLV cancelled from the “Kithmas” restock. Kith customer service is awful and I’m salty about not getting a pair, but the combination of materials and a new colorway that somehow tip-toes between feminine and perfect lands the Sage in my top 10. Damn you Aaron.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.30.00 PM

  1. Nike Air Yeezy II “Red October”

Like it or not, this shoe is the most influential sneaker in the past 5 years. Kanye’s last shoe with Nike. Let your inner hypebeast come out and embrace the Red October’s. Just do it.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.30.10 PM

  1. Hender Scheme MIP-10

They’re not Jordan IV’s. They’re better. Hender Scheme has become notorious for taking (whether you think it’s a violation of copyright or not) classic styles and doing them in the highest-quality leathers, all handmade atop a leather midsole. These aren’t your dad’s Jordan IV’s.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.30.42 PM

  1. Hanon x Diadora N9000 “Saturday Special”

If you like high-quality materials on your sneakers… Well you need a pair of Saturday Specials. I wasn’t sold on the colorway at first but the burgundy and light blue combination is as flames as the Hanon logo. I wish the United States could have gotten a wider taste of this release.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.30.58 PM

  1. Offspring x Saucony Shadow 6000

The best Saucony collaboration of the year, both colorways perfectly blend the neutral grey and navy bases with just the right amount of pop with the pink dots in the logo, and the suede on these is as buttery as any release this year. These just hit on every level, Offspring nailed this collab.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.31.06 PM

  1. Air Jordan Future

I really liked what Jordan Brand did by taking a causal woven upper and putting it on the iconic Jordan XI midsole/outsole. The result is one excellent relaxing shoe with basketball roots and a little bit of a luxury feel. The black/clear sole colorway done exclusively for the Jordan Brand Classic is incredible with gold strands running through the middle of the weave. Must be nice to be good at hoops.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.31.15 PM

  1. Nike Air Command Force “Billy Hoyle”

Made famous on the court by David Robinson in 1990 and on the big-screen by Woody Harrelson in “White Men Can’t Jump”, I have a soft spot for an original high-top worn by one of my all-time favorite movie characters. I can’t dunk anymore but it’s alright cause Billy can’t jump either.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.31.21 PM

  1. Nike Air Tech Challenge “Open Pack”

More retro fever, this time in a classic Andre Agassi model done in premium materials and colorway significant to each major tennis championship. All-around awesome pack.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.31.59 PM

  1. Anteater x Saucony Jazz Original “Sea & Sand”

One of the simplest collaborations of 2014, Saucony went to Russia to team up with Anteater to bring back the Jazz Original model with baby’s-butt-soft suede on the toebox and a blue nylon upper. The colors contrast perfectly, just like an ocean and beach after which they were modeled.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.32.10 PM

  1. Adidas ZX Flux Prism

The ZX flux became a hit in 2014, almost like Adidas’s answer to Nike’s Roshe Run. Much like the Roshe lends itself to taking on some exotic patterns, this ZX Flux manages to be colorful and loud while still being refined in a way that allows it to be wearable on an everyday basis. Instant classic material.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.32.19 PM

19.Premier x Saucony Shadow 6000 “Life on Mars”

Saucony and space themes seemed to go hand-in-hand this year. Michigan’s Premier crushed it with this pair of Shadow 6000 that bring the red planet into sneaker for. The red toe on the grey/black/red pair is stunning, just like the suede used on this collab.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.32.25 PM

  1. Capsule x New Balance MT580 “Canadian Tuxedo”

I needed some denim shoes in my life and Capsule brought the heat with their spin on the MT580. Drawing from their Canadian roots to feature a “Canadian tuxedo” all-denim upper on a “maple syrup” outsole with wool-inspired laces, these scream Canada and I love when a shop can really relay themselves through a single shoe.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.32.31 PM

  1. Air Jordan XI “Legend Blue”

I’ll always call these Columbias. Call them what you want, but they’ll still be called a classic. More NBA nostalgia as Mike first debuted these in the 1996 All-Star game. White patent leather? Sheesh. Tinker, Mike and Nike were ahead of their time with these beauties.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.32.38 PM

  1. Concepts x Brooks Chariot “Merlot”

Brooks? What are those? I barely knew Brooks had a backlog of classic running styles until Concepts decked out the Chariot model in a suede with colors of grapes and wine with the light blue overlay to give this shoe a little character. Concepts continued to kill it with their runner collabs.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.32.45 PM

  1. Fragment x Air Jordan 1

I tried to cop and failed but even that bitterness can’t stop me from appreciating this original-vibe but new-colorway version of the AJ1, done up in premium materials in conjunction with Japan’s Fragment design.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.32.53 PM

  1. Highs & Lows x Le Coq Sportif R1000

French sneaker brand, Australian retailer, American fan. Girls lust for the red bottoms we associate with Louboutin but sneakerheads everywhere fell in love with the red toe on in this limited runner. Another release that I wish would have made it to the United States as these are hot.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.33.00 PM

  1. Ronnie Fieg x Clarks Kildare

I’m a little frustrated with Ronnie Fieg right now (we’ll get to that later) but this new Clarks model he created is awesome. With a bit of a Wallabees-meet-sneakers vibe yet still set on a crepe sole, Ronnie finally gave us another taste of the salmon toe colorway first seen on the classic Gel Lyte III. These scream casual Friday in the best way possible.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.33.07 PM

  1. Offspring x Asics Gel Lyte V

At first I thought I hated this GLV collaboration, but after I saw some of the details it was a wrap. The nappy tan suede, smooth purple nubuck, and most of all the asymmetric tiger stripes featuring pink outlined in white on the lateral side and white outlined in pink of the medial. I wish I would have realized early enough to get a pair for retail.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.33.16 PM

  1. Nike KD VII NSW Lifestyle

I never liked any of the “lifestyle” iterations of Nike’s most popular signature basketball shoes (Kobe, Lebron, & KD) up until the KD VII NSW Lifestyle. The first release in the hazelnut colorway had a distinctly moccasin feel but this all-red pair really highlighted the design with the most popular colorway from 2014. Count me in on this all-red shoe.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.33.49 PM

  1. Puma Suede Angora

More luxury materials, this time from Puma on their most classic Suede model. Each pair was handcrafted in Japan and it shows in the detail and craftsmanship on this pair. Quality comes at a price though, as these retailed for just under 5x as much as a standard pair of Puma Suede.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.34.01 PM

  1. Overkill x Kangaroos Coil R-1 “Wine Pack”

A collaboration that many didn’t even know about, Kangaroos came together with German retailer Overkill to release an extremely limited run of these exceptional leather Coil R-1. Good luck finding a pair as just over 50 were released and only in Germany. Talk about quality materials.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.34.07 PM

  1. Air Jordan Retro 1 “Jeter”

Derek Jeter was my favorite athlete when I was a kid, all the way back to when I played t-ball at the YMCA and my team was the Yankees and I fought over getting the #2. A solid Jordan 1 with the famous Yankee pinstripes, these hold as much sentimental value for the Captain as they do for their clean looks.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.34.13 PM

  1. Patta x Diadora N9000 “9”

Diadora burst into the running market in 2014 thanks in large part (well, thanks entirely) to its collaboration releases with shops like 24 Kilates, Hanon, and Patta. The Italian brand stuck to its roots with this quality offering inspired by the famous #9’s that have played for the home soccer club, AC Milan.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.34.20 PM

  1. Nike Air Max 93 Retro “Menthol”

Just another original colorway from a classic Nike runner. Less heralded than its older brothers the Air Max 1 and Air Max 90, the Air Max 93 still comes correct in classic colorways like this menthol-blue version.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.34.27 PM

  1. New Balance 998 “Pool Blue”

Just a simple, well-done, ultra-smooth 998 that showcases buttery soft suede and 3m hits in one of New Balance’s most classic silhouettes.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.34.33 PM

  1. Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 High

Call me a hypebeast, but three clean and simple AF1 high colorways topped off with bold lettering on the heel is New York City. It’s Supreme. These are dope plain and simple.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.34.43 PM

  1. Nike Huarache Light “Ultramarine”

Huarache’s made a comeback this year thanks in large part to the Huarache Run, but this original Air Huarache Light colorway also snuck its way back over the summer. Ultramarine is hot but these didn’t manage to make it across the pond unfortunately as size? and other UK retailers were the only ones to get them in stock.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.34.52 PM

  1. Adidas Stan Smith Consortium

Adidas brought the Stan Smith back to the forefront of the market this year, started by these four high-end Consortium releases featuring premium leather, reptile, ostrich, & cracked leather. A first-class twist to an ultimate tennis court classic.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.34.59 PM

  1. Extra Butter x Saucony Shadow Master “Space Snack”

Part of the “Space Race” pack from Extra Butter, these neopolitan, dehydrogenated-ice cream-inspired Shadow Master’s were the best offering in 2014 from a shop that consistently nails execution of their collaboration themes. I think I’m hungry now.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.35.06 PM

  1. Nike Footscape Woven Motion “University Blue”

An under-the-radar spring release, the Footscape woven has always been a bit of a cult-like classic. This offering used light blue as a base for the rainbow weave that managed to catch your eye without being too flamboyant. And they look even better on foot.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.35.12 PM

  1. Nike Air Flight Huarache

I like retro basketball sneakers. And although I can’t say I got to watch the Fab Five in person, black socks, baggy shorts, and Flight Huaraches were all gifts from the fabled Michigan freshman. Can’t beat the original “Lyon blue and bold berry” colorway.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.35.19 PM

  1. Bodega x Gel Lyte V “Wet Pack”

Gel Lyte V collaborations ruled the sneaker landscape in 2014 and this beefed up pack from Bodega brought a little more versatility to the arsenal. Goretex provides a material perfectly suited for rainy days, these are the antidote to every sneakerhead’s venom – rainy days.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.38.45 PM

  1. New Balance P740 Worthy

New Balance jumped into the retro basketball sneaker segment by digging in the vault back to 1985 for the signature sneaker of former #1 pick James Worthy. I loved pretty much every colorway in these, from the simple and classic white and black offering to the all purple suede with yellow satin lining “Purple Reign” iteration from Packer Shoes.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.38.51 PM

  1. Fragment x Nike Roshe Run LD-1000 SP

Fragment closed 2014 with another sneaker you’ll see a little further up the list, but this modernized take on the original Nike Cortez model was a perfect combination between classic upper styling and the new beloved Roshe midsole.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.39.09 PM

  1. Air Jordan Retro 1 KO “Rivalry Pack”

Representing the NCAA champions from 1983 and 1984, the AJKO rivalry pack brought together two classic university colorways on the canvas brother to the infamous Air Jordan 1.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.39.16 PM

  1. Nike Mercurial Superfly HTM

The whole world had World Cup fever this summer from Brazil, and Nike piggy-backed on that excitement to create a street-ready sneaker based on the design of their World Cup soccer boots. Too bad these were tough to get like most HTM releases.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.39.25 PM

  1. Wings & Horns x New Balance 580

A simple and premium collaboration between Canadian retailer Wings & Horns and New Balance provides an all-black upper mixing leather and suede. Sometimes less is more and in this case that holds true.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.39.33 PM

  1. Concepts x Asics Gel Lyte V “Pistachio”

2014 was the year of the collaboration. This pair from Concepts and Asics followed up the release of the “Ember” GLV and was even more limited, leading to some overrated hype but with the tan/green/purple combo highlighted by purple 3m stripes on the medial, this collab was well-executed.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.39.41 PM

  1. Nike N7 Free Inneva Woven

Most people only know the Free Inneva for being worn by Kanye when first debuted in back in 2012, but this offering as part of this year’s N7 collection was one of the best iterations yet. A grey-to-black fade within the woven pattern complimented with a gold heel counter give these a place in my top 50 of 2014.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.39.47 PM

  1. Nike Air Max Lunar1 Burnished

The Lunar1 made a splash this year with some original colorways and a lighter, softer midsole, but it was this premium offering with the burnished leather uppers that really caught my eye. Too bad they weren’t more widely available in the United States.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.39.57 PM

  1. Converse CONS Aero Jam

Larry Johnson, 1994, Charlotte Hornets, Grandmama. Finally a true retro to one of the coolest 90s basketball sneakers.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.40.04 PM

  1. Saucony Grid 9000 Premium “Three Dots Pack”

Saucony had an extremely strong year and it all got started with the Three Dots pack. Buttery charcoal suede, gum bottoms, and contrasting light blue dots in the logo made these one of the best releases from early in 2014. These were so nice they ended up being my first Saucony purchase.

Screen shot 2015-01-01 at 1.40.11 PM










// : Christmas Day Kicks Around the NBA : //

The tradition of the NBA playing on Christmas Day continued this year and as always, brands took full advantage of it to give their select endorsed athletes special Player Exclusives (P.E.’s) for Christmas Day games. With star athletes such as Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Chris Bosh out due to injury, many other athletes from various brands carried the torch for fresh Christmas Day kicks.

Nike, Jordan Brand, and adidas all did their respective Christmas pack editions, while other brands such as Under Armour, Li Ning, and Reebok also joined in on the fun.

Nike Basketball went with a darker shade of green and red for their Christmas edition shoes for non signature athletes, as well as a white version with green and red colors included. For their signature collection, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant all got their own exclusive Christmas version of their shoes. adidas Basketball went with the ‘Bad Dreams’ theme for their signature athletes, John Wall, Derrick Rose, as well as the other adidas Basketball members.

Scroll down to see more photos from Christmas Day kicks. Images via SoleCollector.


Under Armour Clutch Fit Stephen Curry Christmas Edition


Aaron Brooks Nike Zoom Run The One Christmas PE


Nike Kobe 9 Elite Red Knit Christmas Day PE


Nike Kyrie 1 Christmas Day PE


Nike Soldier VIII Christmas Day PE


Pau Gasol Nike Hyperdunk 2014 Christmas Day PE


JR Smith Nike Zoom Run The One Christmas Day PE


Nike Zoom LeBron XII Christmas Day ‘Akron Birch’ PE


Iman Shumpert adidas Crazy 2 ‘Bad Dreams’ Christmas Day PE


adidas D Rose 5 Boost ‘Bad Dreams’ Christmas day PE


adidas Crazylight Boost ‘Bad Dreams’ Christmas Day PE


adidas John Wall 1 ‘Bad Dreams’ Christmas Day PE

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat

Luol Deng Nike Lunar Hyperquickness Christmas Day PE

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat

Norris Cole Nike Soldier VIII Christmas Day Pe


Paul Pierce Nike Air Legacy 3 Christmas Day PE


D-Wade Li Ning Wade 808 Christmas Day PE


Andre Miller Reebok Answer 14 Christmas Day PE


Carmelo Anthony Jordan Melo M11

jordan-hill-nike-kobe-ix-9-elite-christmas-01 Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 5.54.07 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 5.53.08 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 5.53.31 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 5.54.29 PM