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.

crusader_Lockdown copy
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.

Heel-Toe Transition

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.

crusader_Court Feel

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.

9 thoughts on “Performance Review: Nike Zoom Crusader

  1. Hey guys,

    I must say, your site is great! I love what you’re doing and your reviews are super helpful to those looking to find the best kicks for their game. As a mobile forward (6’4″/210lbs), I’ve exclusively hooped in bulky high tops: Melo M8s, Lebron 10 Elites, KD 5s, etc. A while ago I Nike Id’ed a pair of Kobe 8s but never balled in them. I broke them out the other night during a clinic and scrimmage and LOVED them. I don’t know if the stars were aligned or I just had a good night but the experience was the best I’ve had since I started playing basketball. I found the ankle mobility to be welcoming.

    That said, I was wondering if you could offer some comparisons between the Kobe 8s and the Zoom Crusaders. The Crusaders are less expensive than the new Kobe 9s and I think they may be a better value. In terms of cushion, ride, support, traction, etc., would they fare well when compared to the Kobe 8s?

    In your opinion, what would be the best low cut, cushioned sneaker: Kobe 8/9, CP3 7s, Crusaders….?


    1. I didn’t get time in the Kobe 8s, although I’m reviewing the IX EMs right and its a similar setup with the engineered mesh and drop in Lunar midsole. Cushioning comes down so much to personal preference but here’s my two cents: the CP3.VII from a pure cushioning standpoint is the most well-cushioned low top I’ve played in. The midsole is quite different than Lunarlon, is more dense and has a TPU plate – support should be much better. Thats my biggest complaint with the drop in Lunar in the IX – just too flexible and not sturdy enough through the midfoot. The CP3 has a dual density midsole with more firm inserts, plus a met Zoom bag.

      Finch did the Crusaders, but I know he wasn’t thrilled with the lack of responsiveness in the midsole. Sometimes with lower-priced Zoom shoes (unfortunately) the Zoom bag is buried in a lower quality midsole and kills the responsiveness. If you like the Lunar in the 8s then go with whatever works for ya. But as a bigger, active wing I’d think the CP3.VII might be your best bet for the long term. Thanks for reading!

    2. Last thing I might suggest, is the Anatomix Spawn Low. The cushioning/support in the mid was insanely good, and the low should have the same setup although I didn’t cop the low yet to review.

    1. It’s pretty durable build overall, the Hyperfuse is thick and the midsole/outsole is fairly firm. There’s an XDR version with a slightly different kind of Fuse that is specifically made for outdoors, but I think either version would be good

  2. This is wayyy late, but how is the length/ toe box on these? I like my shoes to be tight with a tight toe box so they don’t crease when i walk or play. I wear a 10.5 and was thinkin about going down to a 10 cuz i don’t want them to be too long like my kobe 8s. Sorry to be so random, i just don’t want to get these too long like my kobe 8s.

    1. I’m not sure if Finch will see this or not, so I’ll do my best to help out. If I’m on the fence, I always go down a half-size. Just gets me a better fit overall and if the shoe locks down well then I’m usually not too worried about toebox room. That said, I’ve tried on the Run the Ones and I don’t know how great the fit would be on-court. The half size down might help to snug it up a little bit, but that kind of thing depends on the wearer more than anything.

  3. I was thinkin about gettin the Run the Ones actually my bad, but these are so similar, if u have any feedback on the Run the Ones that would be cool too.

    1. I have worn The Nike Run the Ones. They are a pretty solid shoe. I was a bit scared at first cause this shoe is low and I mean really and upon first expection looked to not have a lot of substance interms of cusion and reinforcement in the areas of need. When wearing the shoe I have notice that not only is it a comfortable shoe but also very light and breatheable. Not a shoe I would wear for outdoor or for more than a few months but it would be good for a couple leagues and an awesome shoe for casual hoopers

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