// : Recent Pickups : // December 2015

Nike Kobe 10 "Liberty Bell"

Nike Kobe 10 “Liberty Bell”

Back in mid December, I was fortunate enough to get two pairs of Nike Basketball’s most recent ‘high performance’ basketball shoes for an offer I couldn’t pass up. I must say, I was not a fan of either of the Kobe 10’s or the KD 8’s that released this past year. Both designs weren’t connecting with me, the colors and stories were awful, and the prices were WAY too expensive. Both the Kobe 10 EM and KD 8 retailed at $180, respectively – still very steep for the ‘target’ consumer of 17-18 years old.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the way both performed on court. I’ll be completely honest, when the Kobe 10 first came out early last year, I hated on the shoe so hard. I felt that it lacked the Kobe design look we had seen in the past with some of Kobe’s best signatures over the years, (KB 4, KB 5, KB 6, KB 8). It looked like a glorified Air Max to me, hence me passing on every color way that released up until I recently got the Liberty Bell Kobe 10 on the low. After playing in the kicks for about a month now, it has become my go-to hoop shoe, even over my Kobe 10 Elite low’s that I made on Nike iD and featured in my last post on here. The Engineered Mesh version just feels better on my foot than the Elites to and it flexes a lot better compared to the Elite Flyknit version as well. One thing that I noticed that’s different between the two is the tongue. The tongue on the Elite lows is a lot fatter and shorter than on the EM version. The tongue on the Engineered Mesh really locks your foot in place, to go a long with a GREAT internal heel counter as well. It sits right about your foot and when you lace the shoe tightly before playing, it locks you in and hugs the top of your foot really well.

Take a look on any NBA court this year and you’ll see just about 4 to 5 pairs on average of Engineered Mesh Kobe 10’s in Team Bank color ways on the feet of NBA guards across the league. Nike BB could have released some more simple color ways like the Team Bank colors that NBA ballers are wearing, but that’s a whole other story about releasing the ‘right’ color ways…

The selection from Nike Basketball this past year was pretty lack-luster as far as for performance basketball footwear goes. There were only a few options within the $100-$130 ball park range, the sweet-spot for most consumers. Some of the big hits included the Nike Kyrie 1, Nike Hyperchase, and the Kobe Mentality & Kobe Venomenon series. Then Kevin Durant’s KD8 came into play…After the initial release this past summer of the all red V8 color way, inspired by KD’s candy paint red Chevy V8 and the 4th of July color way, the shoe didn’t start out so hot as Nike Basketball had expected. Consumers thought it looked like a running shoe – a Nike Air Max 360 – and in a way, it kind of did to an extent. The price had gone up $30 dollars compared to last years KD7 and the design just wasn’t seeming to click with the basketball consumer as it did with say, the KD4, KD5, or KD6…

Nike KD 8 "Easy Euro"

Nike KD 8 “Easy Euro”

But damn, is the KD8 a comfortable shoe to hoop in! Forget about the colors that released or the horrendous saber tooth inspiration that was added on the heel of the shoe right before production began on the shoe, the shoe can flat out perform on the court. Color & design are a huge deciding factor in a shoe for consumers, hence the reason the shoe hasn’t been seeing as well, but the technology in the shoe sets it a part from any other basketball shoe on the market right now of all brands. The full length articulated Zoom Air bag is such a smooth and responsive ride, coupled together with the one-to-one fit of the Flyweave upper of the shoe is what makes it a great shoe in my book for any 1-3 guard. The Zoom Air bag is so responsive in the forefoot that I honestly believe that I gives more bounce in my jumpshot when wearing the shoes. The KD8 does sit a little bit higher off the court than I usually like, but the court feel is still there enough for your foot to feel the court. I give an edge to the Kobe 10 for being a bit lower to the ground and over all court feel compared to the KD8, making it my go-to hoop shoe over the past month.

Like any other hoop shoe that releases brand by brand, it all depends on your style of play, what types of shoes you have worn in the past, and what you’re looking for in a hoop shoe. For me personally, I love being lower to the ground and to feel the court, yet I still like to have some sort of responsive cushioning underfoot like a Zoom Air. I also love playing in the low tops for the free range of mobility compared to a mid or high. With the way trends are starting to go, it looks like low tops should still be into play with kids and high still relevant in the market place. All parents across the country who are buying these shoes for their kids still need to see some sort of mid to high tops on the walls of the sporting goods stores. They just can’t get over the low tops. But if Kobe can do it, so can you.

// : Could Nike Be Running Out of Time for a James Harden Signature Shoe? : //

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James Harden // Spring ’15 Nike Basketbal apparel line

With NBA All-Star weekend fully upon on us now, brands have taken the initiative to really bring their best work and creative ideas to create a fun and event-filled atmosphere for everyone in New York City for this weekends events. For a brand such as Nike, who already endorses four different athletes under the Nike Basketball umbrella (Kobe, KD, LeBron, and most recently Kyrie) some may wonder, who is next in line for a signature shoe?

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James Harden // Nike Zoom Run The One PE “Three the Harden Way”, released Fall ’14 at major retailers across the US.

Many have speculated that next for Nike Basketball will either be James Harden, Paul George, or even third year man Anthony Davis. All very solid choices for the Nike Basketball brand. All versatile players for their respective teams. But only one can have a signature shoe, or can they? For a brand like Nike who had at least 15 different signature shoes for athletes in the NBA during the late 90’s, times have since changed. With the recent addition of Cavs guard Kyrie Irving to the list of signature athletes for Nike Basketball, Harden’s window may be closing. Although Nike has done Special Make-Up’s for Harden that have released to the public, such as carrying the Crusader and Run The One franchises, and most recently the Nike Zoom HyperChase which is releasing at All-Star Weekend, nothing has been cemented as far as a Harden signature line goes.

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Nike Basketball // Zoom HyperChase James Harden All-Star 2015 PE

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Nike Basketball // Zoom HyperChase James Harden All-Star 2015 PE

As Nick DePaula breaks it down via Twitter:

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Harden, who is having an MVP level season, definitely should be in the running for a signature shoe, but from which brand? Take a look at the picture above. With Harden’s Nike contract being up in Fall ’15, he could potentially sign with a different brand. After signing his 2-year short term deal with Nike , he knew his image and overall package would blow up (which it has) and was a very smart move on his part. He has been featured in over half-dozen Footlocker commercials, has been recognized by Nike for his ‘Fear the Beard’ campaign, and seems like an over-all personable guy. However, some argue if he would be able to push a signature shoe line at Nike, which is a very interesting topic to be considered.  In my opinion, I don’t believe he would be able to sell enough if he were to get his own signature shoe at Nike. I also think that not many people would really go out of their way and want to go out and buy a ‘James Harden signature shoe’. Although his stock is really high right now, he plays in a smaller market in Houston, and with Nike already having 4 different sig athletes, it would seem like a risk their not willing to take right now. Currently, Nike has him, and other various players in the NBA under contract by Nike as “Team Players” meaning Nike realizes their star value and potential, yet doesn’t want to give them a sig-shoe, so they release Player Exclusives of a Nike Basketball silhouette shoe to the public.

DePaula adds:

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And I totally agree. Four signature sig shoe athletes for Nike Basketball is a great number. It gives the brand more flexibility to expand on its team  and Player Exclusive line. It’s something Nike created in the mid-2000’s with Jermaine O’Neal, releasing some of his Nike Shox PE’s, then moving on to the Footlocker House of Hoops releasing a number of various PE’s around 2007 while still having Kobe, LeBron, and KD lead the force for signature shoes. Then moving on to the Nike Air Force 25 in 2008, where they had a whole team assembled to lead that shoe. Some may think Harden should get his own sig from Nike Basketball (and I definitely feel like he is deserving), yet I just don’t think the timing is right.

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So what does this mean for Harden then, you may ask? It means that after his Nike contract ends next fall, he will really have more leverage with either Nike or other brands who are interested such as Under Armour, Chinese brands like Anta or even adidas Basketball (although I don’t see him going to adidas Basketball). He would have leverage to talk with other brands for the opportunity to get a signature shoe as well as some big time money by switching brands. I don’t expect Nike to drop him a signature shoe in the meantime, just because his contract is up soon. So, Nike will probably still continue to put out PE releases for him since the shoe designs themselves are already done for Summer/Fall ’15. Until them, time will only tell. Harden’s stock will continue to sky rocket and many other brands will soon try to jump on board and most likely throw out obscene amounts of cash to him. Could his time with Nike be coming to a close within the year? Uncertain at this point, but expect the brand to still do big things with him including various promos and ad’s.

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And the man has a point.

// : adidas D Lillard 1 : //

adidas-d-lillard-1-header This Friday (February 6th), adidas Basketball is officially welcoming Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard to the ‘signature shoe’ family from adidas and is set to release the adidas D Lillard 1 nationwide. Lillard, who had the live launch party for his signature shoe in mid January at adidas America HQ in Portland, Oregon, was all smiles as the brand celebrated the big day with guests such as rapper Future and media from all of your favorite footwear blogs. If you remember, I voiced my opinion about Lillard and how he deserved his own signature shoe from adidas Basketball back in May of 2014 (which you can view HERE) and I’m really glad to see that brand is moving forward with Lillard. Lillard is now the fourth active signature athlete for adidas Basketball, joining John Wall, Derrick Rose, and Dwight Howard. (images via: Sole Collector, adidas Basketball, and Casey Holdahl).

Lillard at the launch party of his signature shoe

Lillard at the launch party of his signature shoe

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 2.47.07 PM   D Lillard 1 Rip City Detail 1 (D68974) Horizontal

For the creation of Lillard’s logo, the design team wanted to represent all four O’s in his life: Oakland, for being Dame’s hometown, Ogden, to represent Ogden, Utah and Weber State where he went to college at, and Oregon, where he currently resides, and to also represent the #0 that he wears.

Lillard 1 Logo

Lillard 1 Logo

 

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As for the design aspects of the D Lillard 1, the shoe comes in a low-top cut form and features a full-length adiprene+ for cushioning and TECHFIT tongue and inner booty for premium comfort and stability. One of the first things you will notice about the shoe is the absence of adidas new wave technology, BOOST. First introduced in the running market of adidas Running, BOOST made its way onto adidas Basketball product in late 2014, being featured on the adidas Crazy Light BOOST, which retailed for $139.99. Although Lillard was the main promoter for the new Crazy Light BOOST and played in it for the beginning of the 2014-2015 NBA season, it was left off of his first signature shoe for pricing. Lillard realized the cost of implementing BOOST on his shoe and decided he wanted to keep the pricing lower for all of his fans to afford his shoe (which is priced at a smooth $105). A respectable move to Lillard and adidas Basketball. Lillard has voiced his love for BOOST on adidas product and expect to see it implemented going forward on his signature products from adidas. His shoe will do just fine without BOOST, in my opinion though. Adiprene+ is a good cushioning setup that adidas has to offer which will give Lilalrd the propulsion and ‘spring’ feel he needs. The technology is used mostly in adidas running footwear and basketball footwear, and has stood the length of time since first introduced by the brand.

adidas D Lillard 1 tech info

adidas D Lillard 1 tech info

The shoe was designed by adidas Basketball Design Director Robbie Fuller, who has been with the brand for some years and has a previous record for designing some of Derrick Rose’s shoes from adidas Basketball. The shoe was designed by Dame’s relentless attitude and love for the game. “We designed every aspect of this shoe to compliment Dame’s play on the court,” said Robbie Fuller, adidas Basketball Design Director (SoleCollector, 1/13/15). With Lillard playing for the Portland Trailblazers, and adidas having their adidas America Head Quarters in Portland, Lillard was able to have a very hands on feel during the whole design process. Usually what happens is when adidas signature Basketball athletes are in town to play the Trailblazers, designers will often have to set up times to meet up while the player is in town very briefly, maybe a day or two (outside of the the already scheduled meetings the athlete has with the brand ahead of time). That wasn’t the case with Lillard though, who was very vocal with his designers and would often go over to the brands HQ before/after practice and text his team of designers about anything he felt would help the process of his shoe. adidas is very lucky to have a guy like Lillard to be right in the same city as their HQ’s, which makes for an all around easier process from all aspects of creating a signature shoe for a big time athlete.

Robbie Fuller's initial sketch of the D Lillard 1 for Damian Lillard.

Robbie Fuller’s initial sketch of the D Lillard 1 for Damian Lillard.

Robbie Fuller D Lillard 1 sketch

Robbie Fuller D Lillard 1 sketch

Robbie Fuller D Lillard 1 sketch

Robbie Fuller D Lillard 1 sketch

Another cool aspect of the D Lillard 1 was how Lillard himself debuted the shoe on social media. Unlike other shoe brands who often times try to keep their signature shoes ‘under wraps’ and away from being leaked, adidas Basketball let Dame leak the shoe in mid October, four months ahead of the official launch and debut it on his personal Instagram with his famous #4barFriday posts where he raps a few lines and posts it to Instagram with the hashtag #4barfriday to interact with his fans. Instagram has become the common platform for brands to connect and interact with their fans and adidas wanted to give Lillard the ‘ultimate amount of control’ when it came time to show off the shoe to his fans. A very unconventional route, but will this be a new way we see brands interact in 2015?

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Lilllard wearing the D Lillard 1 in white/red for warmups of a Trailblazers home game

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Lilllard wearing the D Lillard 1 in white/red for warmups of a Trailblazers home game

The D Lillard 1 will hit retail February 6th for $105 at adidas.com and at Foot Locker in three different colorways. The shoe is also available for purchase on miadidas.com, adidas very own custom platform and will sell for $125.

// : 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.

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Under Armour Clutch Fit Stephen Curry Christmas Edition

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Aaron Brooks Nike Zoom Run The One Christmas PE

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Nike Kobe 9 Elite Red Knit Christmas Day PE

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Nike Kyrie 1 Christmas Day PE

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Nike Soldier VIII Christmas Day PE

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Pau Gasol Nike Hyperdunk 2014 Christmas Day PE

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JR Smith Nike Zoom Run The One Christmas Day PE

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Nike Zoom LeBron XII Christmas Day ‘Akron Birch’ PE

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

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

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adidas Crazylight Boost ‘Bad Dreams’ Christmas Day PE

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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

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Paul Pierce Nike Air Legacy 3 Christmas Day PE

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D-Wade Li Ning Wade 808 Christmas Day PE

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Andre Miller Reebok Answer 14 Christmas Day PE

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Carmelo Anthony Jordan Melo M11

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// : adidas J Wall 1 : //

// : adidas J Wall 1 : //

After a disappointing signature line with Reebok Basketball, combo guard for the Washington Wizards joined forces with adidas Basketball in early January of 2013. After wearing special makeups of adidas Basketball footwear such as the Crazy Quick and Crazy 1 last season, … Continue reading

// : Kyrie Irving Signature Nike Basketball Shoe : //

// : Kyrie Irving Signature Nike Basketball Shoe : //

Does Cleveland Cavaliers point guard and rising star Kyrie Irving deserve his own signature shoe from Nike Basketball? Shortly after his quick stint at Duke University in 2011, Irving entered the summer 2011 NBA draft and was selected #1 overall by … Continue reading

LeBron Drops A Career High 61 Points Wearing Nike Zoom Soldier VII

On Monday night, LeBron went off for a career high 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats. The game marked the best night for LeBron in his 11 years in the league.  For the game, the self proclaimed ‘King’ stuck with his go-to model for the season, the Nike Zoom Soldier VII. LeBron has been sticking with this model for majority of the NBA season and hasn’t worn his signature Nike Zoom Lebron XI’s since the NBA All-Star game. So basically, he laced up the LeBron XI’s twice in the month of February. Should LeBron be wearing his signature shoe more often? The Zoom Soldier VII’s is technically considered his ‘team shoe’ and a lot of college basketball teams have been seen wearing it on court this season. It has also been a heard to be a good performer on the court as various NBA players have actually laced them up this season. Another point to raise is that Michael Jordan never played in his ‘team shoe’. It has been rumored that LeBron doesn’t like the fit of the LeBron XI’s, hence him sticking with the Soldier VII’s. Will Nike Basketball release this Player Exclusive in honor of his historic night?

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