Prose: Finch (@Sir_Stymie)
It is now the mid point in the NBA season and we here at TGRR are in full swing, bringing you as many performance reviews as we can (as money provides of course). This season we have seen several additions to existing product series, such as the Hyperdunk 2013 and Super.Fly 2. These models have been solid performers, revamping and updating existing models for fans of these popular silhouettes – but they’ve also kept the basic overall concept the same.
More recently, there have also been some brand new silhouettes which we will review in-depth in a two-part series that I have deemed “New School Nike.” Jake has already covered the Nike Zoom HyperRev, and I’ll be digging into the Zoom Crusader now
Both of these shoes are being worn by some of the brightest young stars in the NBA, including Paul George, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Those three seem to be the new faces of Nike alongside Kobe, Lebron and Durant, whom all have signature shoes. The Crusader has been linked with James Harden as a psuedo-signature shoe and it is no surprise, due to Hardens rise to superstardom, that these shoes have been in high demand. The shoe initially was only available overseas as well, piquing interest stateside.
I recommend at least trying on a half-size smaller than your normal shoe size when picking out a new on-court shoe, especially if you have a narrow or normal width foot. In my experience it helps with the snugness of the fit and also seems to help the foot hit the cushioning system properly.
Shoe fit is essential to a performance line and can be a death sentence if done wrong, but I was pleasantly surprised with the Crusader. The full synthetic, Fuse upper looks and feels a little strange in person and flexes oddly upon the initial wearing before breaking in pretty well.
The interior fit is where the Crusader excels. The shoe sports a neoprene inner sleeve and it is very snug. The pull tabs on the heel and tongue are not there for style – you literally cannot get this shoe on without those things. The fit is very sock-like and the cut of the shoe is very much like a running shoe. For a low top that fits tight, there is ample room in the toebox as well.
Overall, it fits my narrow foot like a glove so it should adapt fairly well to most foot sizes. I felt the involvement of the neoprene was flat out impressive. There are no seams or spots that aggravated my feet and the bend point was in a nice place that didn’t irritate or squeeze the foot.
Though this shoe looks similar to those of the Kobe line, the aspect that sets them apart is the midsole. While most Kobe’s since the IV have a very low profile midsole, the Crusader has a more one. Though I am usually a fan of shoes with more structure built in, I was afraid the thickness in the sole and midsole would obstruct flexibility.
I was partially right, but with the upper materials being so flexible (especially after a short break in period) the heel-toe rotation was pretty smooth. The upper simply doesn’t restrict movement, and that’s key for this model.
Of course they are not going to be as flexible and smooth as the Crazyquick or the HyperRev (as Jake will tell you in his review) but you have to sacrifice some flexibility for structure in this case.
As you have seen in the name, it’s a Zoom-based shoe. I personally am a big fan of this cushioning system, and it’s probably the industry’s best with its low-profile responsiveness. That being said, not all Zoom bags are created equal and the way that it was manifested in this design is not my favorite.
It’s not bad, but you just don’t feel the responsiveness of the Zoom bag very much. In a prior review on the Hyperdisruptor, I explained how the density of the midsole can be a detriment to the shoe’s cushioning technology. In the case of the Hyperdisruptor, the midsole was so soft it took away from the Zoom bag’s responsiveness; in the Crusaders, case the density didn’t allow my foot to feel the responsiveness I am used to.
I must admit that I may have been spoiled by the Super.Fly 2, which had an amazing unlocked Zoom bag/Flight Plate combination that engulfed my foot. The Crusader, not so much.
Though I’ve harped on the midsole density, I honestly like it for my game and the firmness of it reminds my of the Huarache 2k4. The court feel is solid and very stable – key in a low top.
It is well documented that I love herringbone, and the Zoom Crusader does not have that so I wasn’t expecting great things. The traction mirrors the geometrical design of the upper but in tighter arrangement. But even in the first wearing, it seemed to grip well in most directions – I don’t recall sliding much. That being said, they are brand new shoes and time will tell how they hold up.
As is the case for a lot of Nike performance shoes today, the upper is made of synthetic Hyperfuse mesh panels on the sides and full Hyperfuse on the toebox and heel counter. We have touched on the neoprene inner sleeve, which is padded around the Achilles’ area and is simply fantastic overall. The outsole creeps all the way up to the toe box and wraps up around the ball of the foot. All signs point to this shoe being durable for the long haul.
Priced at $110, it is not too hard on the pocket for what you are getting in return.
In closing, I really enjoyed playing in this shoe and it suited my needs well. If you are a guard or wing player looking for a lightweight shoe with great structure, the Zoom Crusader would be a great option.