Performance Review First Impression: Kobe IX EM Low – On Court

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

I was able to get a solid hour workout in the Kobe IX EM Low the other night and came away with a few insights:

– Traction is insane – maybe the best I’ve tested so far. You could smell the burning rubber as you broke them in. It is a fairly soft compound though, so we’ll see how it holds up.

– Overall fit reminds me a lot of the Kobe VI. I went a half size down to an 11 in the IX EM Low, and the fit is very snug. The shoe just laces up really well and locks you into the footbed. No slippage at all on first wearing.

– I do wonder about the midfoot support, since it’s a drop-in Lunarlon midsole (very comfortable, though not especially supportive). Time will tell as I get more hours in them.

Here’s the video:





Performance Review: adidas Rose 4.5

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

I picked up the Rose 4.5 a few weeks ago, due to the fact the performance shoe releases had either slowed down a bit or were increasingly difficult to cop (seriously, why do they have to make the Kobe 9 Elite so limited? It’s a performance basketball shoe that some of us, ya know, would like to wear on the court and I’m not paying some BS reseller price either).


I had previously struggled a bit with Rose’s signature shoe line, as both the 2 and 3 were not favorites of mine. The cushioning, to me, was non-existent and non-responsive in those shoes. (It should be noted that his first pseudo-signature shoe, the TS Supernatural Creator, is an all-time great performer and one that I scour eBay for on a weekly basis.) I passed on the 4 since I had other shoes I was reviewing at the time, although the “Quick”-inspired midsole intrigued me. I finally came around on the 4.5 and have given it several runs over the past few weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Rose 4.5 is one of the best guard shoes I’ve tested.


Like many adidas models that employ a Sprintframe heel counter, the Rose 4.5 runs pretty narrow – especially in the heel. You can see how narrow it’s built looking straight on at the back of the shoe, so if you have a wider foot you might struggle to get in these. Personally, the narrow heel was great and the fit at the heel was completely secure.


Through the midfoot and toebox you have a mixture of synthetic leather and mesh, known as Sprintweb, with the wavy pattern laid out in a way that promotes flexibility. I found the upper to be a little stiff, a little plastic-y at first, especially in the toes where you have a thicker toebox with some structure for protection. Still, you’re able to get a very snug, yet comfortable fit after a game or two when tightly laced and the upper breaks in nicely. If you’re an adidas fan and have played in some other models this year, it’s not 1:1 or glove-like as the Crazyquick, but it locks down way better than the CrazyLight III.


It should also be noted that the asymmetrical collar and Geofit interior padding are both very nice, providing range of motion and interior comfort and structure.

Heel-Toe Transition

As mentioned before, the midsole is segmented similar to the Crazyquick but only on the medial side. The lateral, or outer edge looks basically like a traditional midsole, and the heel-toe transition is excellent. The outsole is set up similar to the Crazyquick as well, with prominent flex grooves and zones. Overall, you’ll get a smooth transition from heel strike to toe off and shouldn’t have any issues whatsoever in that area.



As is the theme with a lot of current adidas models, the cushioning is very low-profile and fairly firm. It’s an EVA midsole with an adiprene insert under the heel (you’ll see it looks like Crazyquick under the insole.) The flexibility aids the responsiveness of the shoe, and I felt like I was able to plant and change direction quickly.
rose45_Court Feelrose45_Responsiveness

The court feel and stability are also excellent, and there’s a surprising amount of midfoot support built into a low-profile cushioning setup. As someone that had experienced some soreness after playing in the Venomenon and HyperRev, the support in the Rose 4.5 was a blessing. You don’t always get that in a basketball shoe but when you do (like in this shoe and the UA Anatomix Spawn) it makes a noticeable difference.




Traction was pure herringbone laid out into various zones on the outsole. The grooves were deep and traction was good from the start on just about any floor. It provided great stopping and cutting ability, and was simply very good overall.



I anticipate the Rose 4.5 holding up very well. The synthetics are high-quality and feel pretty sturdy on foot, even if they are a little stiff. The midsole foam is a proven compound and adiprene is typically long-lasting when it comes to impact protection. The herringbone grooves are thick and fairly deep, while the outsole as a whole is a firm and durable compound. It’s a rock-solid shoe overall.


Rock-solid is probably the best way to describe the Rose 4.5 overall. Want a snug , structured fit? This shoe has it. How about a low-to-the ground midsole, great traction, and midfoot support? Look no further. This is just an all-around excellent guard shoe, and a solid one for anyone desiring a low-profile ride with considerable support and flexibility.

The Rose 4.5 is one of my favorite shoes I’ve tested so far and one that I anticipate hooping in for a long time.


Performance Review: Nike Zoom Crusader

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.

Performance Review: Nike Zoom HyperRev

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

The Nike Zoom HyperRev is likely the most unique silhouette you’ll see this season. Featuring a proprioceptive (it allows you to move naturally) collar, foam-based upper, Dynamic Flywire, full-length Zoom and a Phylite midsole, the shoe is loaded with tech and geared to allow your foot to move naturally.

I initially was drawn to the shoe because of the aesthetic and the functions that followed that form. It’s a unique cut with a unique upper and lacing system, and a welcome artistic departure from (in my opinion) bland, angular designs like the Hyperdunk and Hyperfuse. I simply like my shoes to flow more and be different while achieving a high level of performance, and the HyperRev satisfied that desire.

This is the make-or-break aspect of this shoe. You will either love the fit or hate it; love the freedom of movement or fear for your ankles.

From a lockdown standpoint, it’s Jekyll and Hyde. From the toes to the midfoot, the lockdown is excellent. Dynamic Flywire cables are really, really functional (gasp!) because they’re not embedded in an upper that limits their ability to pull tight to the foot. The only thing between the cables and your foot is a very thin layer of foam sandwiched between two ultra-thin layers of mesh, and when laced tightly the cables do a fantastic job of locking your forefoot over the footbed. The laces go directly through the Dynamic Flywire cables – no fixed eyelets – and that really forces the cables to pull tightly to the foot.


The other side of this coin is the heel fit. There may possibly be a heel counter in there, but it is the most flimsy of any shoe I’ve ever worn on court. The collar wraps high around the ankle and connects to the footbed to provide some support, but there’s nothing locking your heel in. I understand this is a result of the natural motion movement (natural motion is all give-and-take), but I really would have liked to see a small heel cup for some added security.


You’ll feel some heel slippage and there’s very little ankle support because the lack of a heel counter and inability to provide a snug heel fit. For me, it’s not as much of an issue because I’ve never even slightly rolled an ankle, but my ankles were noticeably sore the day after a wearing because of the lack of support. If you have any ankle concerns though, I can’t recommend this shoe.

Heel-Toe Transition
Heel-toe transition is fantastic, hands down. The HyperRev has the smoothest and most natural ride you’ll find on the market (along with the equally perfect Crazyquick). The mobility this offers is simply amazing.


hyperrev_Court Feel


The full-length Zoom bag is glorious, providing great responsiveness and court feel. Paired with a Phylite midsole (a softer, more flexible Phylon) the ride is downright pillowy. If you’re looking for step-in comfort, look no further.


The drawback to this plush comfort is that there is very little structure or support to the midsole – something that was an immediate concern when I saw Phylite was the midsole compound. My arches were very sore after the first few wearings, although I have gotten used to it more now.


The gigantic, 3/4 length Zoom Air window underneath the shoe doesn’t help this either, because it prevents the outsole from connecting underneath the midfoot. This robs the shoe of some torsional stability and leaves a gap directly under the arch where the only support comes from the Phylite and Zoom bag. I’d gladly sacrifice the cool factor of the exposed Zoom bag for some solid rubber underneath my arch to give me more support.

It’s a modified herringbone pattern underfoot, and does an average job of providing stoppage at full speed. It’s not nearly as good as I’d like though, and the combination of shaky traction and a loose fit in the heel initially made me very concerned.


The grooves aren’t deep enough in my opinion – though they work well on a pristine floor, any dust collects quickly and I find myself swiping the soles literally dozens of times during a game.

The jury is still out on this one. It’ll take a good month or two before I really see how the Phylite holds up, how the foam upper retains its little bit of support, if the tissue-paper-thin mesh stays connected to the midsole and how the Flywire holds up under increased stress. Fused overlay graphics give the shoe some structure and protection near the toes, but the rest is foam and airy mesh. Nothing bad to report at this time, but I’m honestly a little concerned with its longevity.


It’s helpful to compare the HyperRev to another natural motion shoe, the adidas Crazyquick. As you know, the Crazyquick was my favorite shoe of 2013 because it offered superior fit and mobility, traction, responsiveness and stability. The only drawback was its very firm cushioning (I honestly didn’t mind it but I know a lot of you did) – but that was inherent given the fact that it was designed to ride low to the ground and provide unrivaled quickness and change of direction ability.

The HyperRev aspires to do the same thing, and it does excel similarly in terms of flexibility and freedom of movement. But Nike’s press release even mentioned the “stability and support” of the proprioceptive heel and collar. That part is simply false. The soft midsole and lack of a solid heel counter compromises the support and stability, and less than stellar traction makes the shoe significantly less secure than the Crazyquick.


Whereas the Crazyquick had a rock solid Sprintframe to lock in the heel to a sculpted midsole and glove-like Techfit upper, the HyperRev has no such heel counter, a flat midsole, and an upper that laces up only to the middle of the foot. There’s simply no way to get the overall lockdown you need.

With that said…I actually enjoyed playing in them. The freedom of movement felt great at times and the cushioning is incredibly soft, responsive and generally comfortable. It’s a fun shoe for me to play in despite the concerns I have, and I have gotten used to the fit more and more.

It’s a shoe you absolutely need to try on first, but it’s worth a look for quick, low-to-the ground guards.

Performance Review: adidas D Howard 4

Prose: Finch (@Sir_Stymie)

Back in July of 2013, our good friend Jake reviewed the adidas Crazyquick and I must admit that I was itching to try adidas’ new natural motion midsole for myself. While It wasn’t in the cards for me last year, I stumbled upon a shoe that not only satisfied my desire to try adidas’ newest tech but also is garnering interest with the 2014 NBA All Star game rapidly approaching: the adidas D Howard 4.


Recently, we have seen adidas go with a minimalistic approach in its performance line with models such as the Crazy Light and Derrick Rose silhouettes. This is far cry away from the Feet You Wear line of the late 90s, including the recently retroed Crazy 97, Crazy 8s and Real Deal (worn by Kobe Bryant and Antoine Walker, respectively). These classics featured a bulkier silhouette and a midsole that wrapped up around the foot – providing natural motion and support in a never-before-seen way. This line was one of the most popular and innovative developments in shoe history.

adidas dabbled in it again in the mid-2000s, with a new Formotion iteration showing up in Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas’ signature shoes among others. They hit the nail on the head with the TS Supernatural Creator, a performance monster and the shoe that Derrick Rose wore in his first NBA season.

That’s why it’s still surprising to see adidas focus on minimalistic and lightweight designs. While adidas has a nice guard rotation repping the brand (Lillard/Rubio/Wall/Rose, etc.) I was really interested to see how bigger NBA players such as Tim Duncan (Crazyquick), David West (Crazy Light 3) and Dwight Howard played in these minimalist shoes. I couldn’t imagine those models being able to support their larger frames and in Duncan and West’s case, their older joints and muscles.

Furthermore, I was interested to see if these shoes could work well with my style of play. So with all the background out of the way, let’s get into the review.

I’m normally a 13 but I’ll go a size smaller in my basketball shoes to get the best possible lockdown, but I grabbed a 13 instead of the 12 for the D Howard 4. Personally, I didn’t really like the fit overall, but there were some really nice things about it.

The heel fit was very nice and had lots of added padding and structure on the interior around the ankle. The lockdown and partical mesh sleeve aid in a very nice overall fit. Even with that being said the overall shape of the shape didn’t fit my feet well at all – but this is where our new review charts should help take our own needs out of it and let you decide if a shoe might work for you.


It seemed to fit long, so going a size down may have helped some but after I went back to try a 12 on it still felt long – like I may have needed an 11.5. This lead me to believe that my foot wasn’t really meant to fit this shoe. There was a lot of space in the shoe on the sides of my foot (I have a narrow foot) and near the toe box. The shoe shape simply wasn’t for me, but if you have a wider foot this might be good for you. Wider builds are tough to find right now so the D Howard 4 is worth a look.


Heel-Toe Transition
Due to the natural motion midsole/outsole of the D Howard 4 the transition was very smooth. No “slappiness” and lag or hang-up in my gait – I was pleasantly surprised in this regard as the sole and midsole flexes really nicely under foot.

It’s easy to see why this type of natural motion design has transitioned from a running technology to being integrated into training and basketball models (even dating back to the Nike Free Huarache Basketball 2012, which was recieved with mixed reviews), although the kinks in the technology as a whole are still being worked out.


This shoe has very firm, low profile cushioning from the foam in the midsole. This is inherent due to the minimalist natural motion design. What you gain in terms of flexibility, mobility and traction you sacrifice cushion and support.


In my experience with playing in the D. Howard 4, I recall feeling pain in my feet numerous times upon landing from rebounds and contesting shots. After a while, I continually felt the impact of landing on my joints. I had to give it low scores in this regard – any shoe that causes pain is never a good thing.

dhoward4_Court Feel

The shoe’s almost complete absence of a midsole leaves a lot to be desired for in terms of responsiveness. There’s quite clearly a difference in the cushioning setup or at least the foam distribution between the D Howard 4 and the Crazyquick. I found myself growing more fatigued in these shoes then I have in my other basketball shoes (Jordan Superfly 2), which feature unlocked Zoom cushioning. The cushioning setup in the D Howard 4 is very bare bones overall and your foot simply isn’t supported.


The traction that is used on the D. Howard  is a mix of the classic herringbone with a twist. The outsole is identical to the Crazyquick, and I’ll explain the functionality briefly. 


The natural motion (think Nike Free) midsole/outsole with the multidirectional herringbone grip pattern allows grip and traction in every way you foot can go. This helps defensively when guarding someone off the dribble, gaining position boxing out in the post, or planting to driving to the basket. Like the Crazyquick, this pattern worked very well.


The D. Howard 4 seems to be a very durable shoe. The upper is made of a synthetic leather with Sprintweb overlays. This material feels a bit thicker in certain areas and light stippling on the surface which seems to prevent scuffs somewhat. It is also quite flexible, and works well in conjunction with the midsole. For what it’s worth, I have worn this shoe a few times now and it shows very few signs of wear. Valued at $125 ($140 dollars retail, you would hope that you get a shoe that would last and I feel it will.


All in all this shoe has a lot of good things about it, but due to its bare bones design and lack of an adequate cushioning system I find this shoe hard to play in and not really conducive to my style of play. For wide footers, it’s definitely worth a try-on. And if you are a power forward/center or a wing player looking for a lightweight shoe to provide great traction and durability, it may be an option.


Overall, just be advised that there is little to no support and cushion so if you’re looking for a plush ride, go elsewhere. Also, with the firm cushionings and lack of support, this shoe should probably be priced closer to $100.

There are a lot of new and interesting colorways coming out – like the All Star version – so at the end of the day it may just be a nice shoe to rock off the court.

Performance Review: Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 4

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


Before this year, the Venomenon line of the Kobe Bryant signature shoe collection was relatively unknown amongst American hoopers in the states. An Asia-only release since 2011 (much like LeBron’s Ambassador models), the Venomenon typically features a heavy-duty (sometimes XDR) outsole for outdoor use and a durable Fuse or synthetic upper. It’s the more industrial sibling compared to the Kobe signature line.

This year, the fourth Venomenon model finally saw a U.S. release, and I was excited to test out a shoe that’s typically only been available overseas or off eBay. I was also looking forward to hooping in a low top once again – my preferred type of peformance shoe – and I had high hopes for the shoe in general given the generally positive feedback I’d found online.

It turns out that my hopes for this shoe were realized, and I came out with a very well-rounded low top that will stay in the on-court rotation for the near future.

Venomenon_Lockdown copy copy

The upper is comprised of a synthetic Fuse material/Flywire combination and is coupled with a carbon fiber heel counter to make up the majority of the upper key upper technology. 6 eyelets take care of the lacing setup.


To me the fit was good on all fronts, yet not quite great. The shoe fits naturally in the toes with little to no pinching in the toe box. I went with my normal 11.5 and they fit nice and snug. The Fuse upper will take a little time to break in and become flexible in order to move and crease with the foot, and I noticed some interior slippage my first couple times wearing them. The slippage remained a slight issue for me, and I believe it’s because the upper just isn’t that flexible like a thinner, softer synthetic or leather would be (I felt the same way about the CP3.VI).


Also, the heel counter is fairly thin and not super rigid, which allows for a little bit of slippage in the heel. It’s not unnerving and I still felt comfortable with it, but I couldn’t quite get perfect lockdown on high speed moves (like pull-ups in transition).

Heel-Toe Transition
venomenon_Transition copy copy

Transition is very smooth, aided by Zoom forefoot cushioning and a TPU shank under the midfoot. The shank isn’t overly rigid if support is a main concern of yours, but it does give good flexibility. There’s no slap from heel to toe, and I have no real complaints.

Venomenon_Cushion copy copy

The tech specs include a Zoom Air bag up front that spans the width of the forefoot(slightly larger than the traditional Kobe met bag, I might add) encased in an injected Phylon midsole. The Zoom bag is high quality and plays low to the ground and responsive. The heel feels fairly firm (the whole midsole itself is pretty firm overall) but maintains court feel and stability.


venomenon_Court Feel copy copy

The Venomenon is excellent laterally thanks to the low-profile midsole. In terms of the outsole, the rubber compound is slighly more firm than a normal outsole (it is NOT XDR in the purple/volt colorway I tested though). This affects traction more than cushioning, but it’s worth a mention as the outsole will just feel slightly more firm when you try it out.

venomenon_Responsiveness copy copy

I mentioned the TPU shank earlier in the article, and it’s really not a rigid, supportive shank in my opinion. It has a few cutout areas underfoot and provides a nice fit – you can feel some support just by slipping it on – but my arches have been a little sore after the last few wearings and the shank may be the culprit.


All in all, I was a fan of the cushioning setup. It tends to feel like a firm tennis court shoe and left a little to be desired from a straight comfort standpoint, but it was still very good. The biggest improvement would simply have been a beefier midfoot shank.


Venomenon_Traction copy copy

Nike’s Blade traction pattern is geared for outdoor courts but it works perfectly well on indoor ones too. You’ll get that reassuring stop and squeak, and both linear and lateral traction are solid thanks to the deep-grooved, multi-directional pattern. The hardness of the rubber needs to be broken in a little at first though, so on the first wearing it might not quite feel perfect yet.


I had been interested to try the Blade pattern after seeing it on the H.A.M. Low this summer and I was pleasantly surpised with it.


Venomenon_Materials-Durability copy copy

For $120, you get Fuse, Flywire, a decent Zoom bag, a special traction pattern and a quality outsole/midsole combination. Some would say that the materials aren’t quite as “premium” as the main Kobe line, but I like this tech combination pretty well.


Overall, the Venomenon is good in terms of value and I have no concerns about the longterm durability here. I came away impressed with the build and quality from day 1.

For a model making its U.S. debut, I was pleased with how the Venomenon performed. If you’re looking for a low that won’t break the bank, the Venomenon is a great choice in a market that doesn’t currently feature many low tops. It’s a well-rounded shoe – good, not great on all fronts – but I think it’s a good, durable choice for a guard.

Performance Review: Jordan Super.Fly 2

Prose: Finch (@Sir_Stymie)

There have been a lot of changes in the lives of the TGRR duo (college graduation, engagements, and moving back home, so on and so forth) over the past few months. Due to these developments it has been pretty tough to crank out consistent reviews, but I am proud to announce that we are back on track.

Before I get into the review itself I wanted to touch on a few topics that have been on my mind. Here at TGRR, we are a grassroots operation. We are basketball players first and foremost and all of our reviews are based on our experiences with the product in the field. We appreciate the views and enjoy answering your questions and reading your feedback so I implore you to comment and review as much as possible.

On to the review, Jake provided you with one of our two-part sessions with the best that Jordan Brand has to offer in the XX8 SE. For my portion of our review package I have had the pleasure of reviewing the Jordan Super.Fly 2, a shoe that I have become rather fond of over the last few weeks.

The first Jordan Super.Fly model made its debut in June of 2012. In its original form, the shoe came equipped with durable Hyperfuse upper, Lunarlon cushioning and a carbon fiber plate in the midfoot, giving the shoe overall all structure and shape. While the original model was very good performance-wise (and worn by Russell Westbrook, Joe Johnson and Maya Moore in the NBA and WNBA, respectively) it lacked a signature athlete to truly give it a face.

Enter Blake Griffin. His involvement in Jordan Brand and the Super.Fly 2 (which was inspired by his play and debuted on the 2013 All-Star weekend) is a major reason for the success of the shoe. While Griffin gives the shoe some marketability, the Super.Fly 2 proved to be a great performer on-court – where it really matters.

(ed. note: Thanks to ones of our readers, Daren, who took pictures of the black Super.Fly 2 you saw throughout the article and also gave us some really detailed feedback on his experiences in the shoe. We always appreciate reader feedback.)

Fit: 9
Much the XX8 SE, the Super.Fly 2 utilizes a Dynamic Fit upper. Jake touched on this in his review, and I will go a bit more in depth. Jordan Brand explains Dynamic fit as “textile straps that wrap up from the midsole and integrate with the laces for a lightweight support that moves with the foot.” In layman’s terms, they extended the lace holes or eyelets and connect them to the midsole in the form of a strap. The widening of the straps near the midsole allows the more of the midfoot to be covered, thus giving you better lockdown.


In my personal experience, I will agree that because of its simplicity, this gives you a better fit than something like Flywire. The Super.Fly 2 also has a sandwich mesh inner sleeve with an integrated tongue for a sock like fit (which is something that I am personally a fan of). The neoprene Achilles pad works cohesively with the padding around the ankle and helps with the lockdown while preventing heel slippage. The Pebax Flight Plate – which is not carbon fiber like on the XX8 SE – is kind of disappointing but Pebax has proven to be a durable and rugged material. It gives the shoe great structure and works well with the Zoom bag (which will be covered in its designated section.)


For full disclosure, I went a full size down with most of my shoes that I play ball in to make sure that I get a more snug fit but I feel that even in my normal 13 I would have been ok.

Heel-Toe Transition: 8.5
To be honest this shoe feels a bit blocky due to the thickness of the midsole but with that said, thanks to the structure of the Flight Plate and midsole, it still makes for a very smooth forward rotation with some added flexibility. This allows for very little “slappiness” that you could get with shoes designed for forwards/big wings (i.e. Nike Foamposite Max.)

Daren also agreed with me, and thought the thick Zoom bag made the transition feel a little chunky initially.

Cushion: 9.5
To be honest, I really wanted to give this category a ten but I always want to leave space for improvement and for better product down the line. I know my logic can be a bit confusing but just know that it’s really good – and probably some of the best out there.

The Super.Fly 2 went away from the Lunarlon cushioning of its predecessor to a more responsive Zoom Air midsole. This was undoubtedly an upgrade. Lunarlon is very nice in running shoes and in shoes for quicker players (like the Kobe line) that are more about speed and lateral movement. Lunarlon wouldn’t quite work with this model, which requires impact protection from the heavier, explosive forces put on by bigger players.


The Super.Fly 2 has a front loaded unit similar to the one used in the XX8 silhouette. The unit works in tandem with the Flight Plate and gives you the best possible responsiveness in the forefoot. The plate allows for the Zoom unit to compress and expand at exactly the right time. This also gives you a solid pivot point for post ups and spin moves.

Overall the midsole is spongy but also firm enough to support body weight and allowing for the tech to work effectively. This tech and the dense foam also adds weight to the shoe though, making them a bit heavy for my taste.

Daren, a guard, also chimed in and thought that the court feel was a little lacking because of the way the new Zoom bag has so much volume and hits your foot. As more of a wing/post hybrid, I loved the cushioning but if you’re a guard that likes a lot of court feel, this is definitely something you’ll want to pay attention to.

Traction: 9
It is a well-known fact, if you are an avid reader of this site, that we have favorites when it comes to certain aspects of performance shoes. Herringbone traction patterns are near the top, but Jordan Brand has found away to somewhat improve an already great innovation. I have dubbed it “burst” herringbone because of the look of course, but the design also has a function allowing for traction and grip at almost every angle that the foot can maneuver. It’s great for post ups and boxing out – once you plant your feet you’ll be hard pressed to get pushed off the spot because of your shoes slipping.


Materials/Durability: 7.5
This is probably the lowest score I gave the shoe and in my eyes one of the few glaring weaknesses in the silhouette. First and foremost, the upper is some type of woven synthetic fuse material. This is fine, but the material was coated with rubber near the midsole and began to peel away. The upper started to fray a bit near the lace holes and near the bend points, which can’t be a good sign with less than two months of play in them. Unfortunately, something that seems to be more and more common for me, is midsole separation near the forefoot and I saw the early stages of this on the Super.Fly 2 as well.

Like I said in the beginning, this shoe has become very special to me. Not only does it fit my style of play, but the Super.Fly 2 has great cushioning and structure. The whole is sort of greater than the sum of its parts here. I also possibly had one of my best games of my life in these very sneakers in our last championship game, scoring 18 points (ed. note: and defending the opposing team’s best player.) Jake also did his thing as well in his UA Anatonix Spawn and we got the win – what more can you ask for?

Moreover this shoe fits my style of play and I think that if you are a wing or a post, or fan of the Jordan performance line (XX8 line, Melo M9 and M10, CP3.VII) this may be a great shoe for you.

Champs of the Noblesville B&G Club winter league


Performance Shoe of the Year

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

I reviewed nine different models this year and my Shoe of the Year pick basically came down to two choices: the adidas Crazyquick and the Under Armour Micro G Anatomix Spawn. After much deliberation, my shoe of the year is the Crazyquick. It was really a brutal decision for me, not only because I loved both shoes, but because I understand that the Crazyquick isn’t for everybody. I’ll do my best to convey why I loved the Crazyquick so much and also why there were a couple other shoes I felt like could be considered top choices for many people.


Like I said, the Crazyquick suited my needs perfectly. Not everyone loved it and not everyone could wear it because of how narrow it was and the lack of plush cushioning. But the shoe needed to be flexible, low to the ground and responsive – and the cushioning setup allowed it to be just that. Techfit was a dream to play in and the upper fit as snug and as comfortably as any shoe I’ve ever played in. I’ve been through it before, but the shoe just performs exactly like it was intended to and I have yet to find a better overall guard shoe.

I ultimately came to the decision in this way (and I think it’s a good thought process when deciding what to hoop in when you have multiple options): if you were playing in a championship game, and you had to choose the shoe that allowed you to be most confident and play your best, which shoe would you choose? For me, it was the adidas Crazyquick.

I loved the Anatomix Spawn almost equally as much, even though it wasn’t quite as guard-specific. Where it wasn’t as light and flexible as the Crazyquick, the midfoot support and cushioning were just awesome. The TPU frame underneath was an awesome innovation and provided tons of support while allowing the shoe to still be light and flexible. When I’m not reviewing a new shoe, I switch back and forth hooping in both the Crazyquick and Anatomix Spawn.


I also definitely enjoyed playing in the Jordan XX8 SE and CP3.VII. The XX8 SE had an incredible cushioning setup – the Zoom Air units were utilized perfectly and provided a ton of responsiveness. Unfortunately, those bags blew out within in two weeks so there was a definite caveat in that shoe. The CP3.VII was extremely well-cushioned, and felt great underfoot. It didn’t fit my foot that well personally, but I’ve heard tons of good feedback about the shoe and I would not hesitate to recommend it.



We’ve had over 66,000 hits on the site this year and are carrying a lot of momentum into 2014. Thanks to all who’ve checked out the site, commented and spread the word about our small operation. We’re looking to get more consistent with our reviews this year, as Finch and I both have finally settled into solid jobs, and it’s my personal goal to double the amount of reviews in 2014.

Keep an eye out for a Jordan Super.Fly 2 review in the near future, as well as ones on the Nike Zoom HyperRev, Zoom Crusader, and adidas D Howard 4. Happy New Year from TGRR.

TGRR Year in Performance Reviews

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

With the end of 2013 quickly approaching, I thought we’d take a quick look back at every shoe we’ve reviewed here at TGRR. With Finch and I both wrapping up our college days and entering the real world, this site has been a great creative outlet and a way to keep both of us in the shoe game. It helped me get my first real job and kept me writing and editing.

Finch and I both also still play a lot of competitive ball (our latest league championship was won just two weeks ago) and we’re always looking for the best performance products. Focusing on how a shoe really performs – not just the colorways or hype that it gets – is something that gets lost in the sneaker community at times. At TGRR, we try to keep on-court performance at the forefront.

Hyperdunk 2012 Low
Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Fit and lockdown; plays smooth and low to the ground; lightweight
Cons: Traction could be better; midsole/cushioning breaks down too quickly; not enough impact protection
Verdict: A nice alternative to the midcut Hyperdunk, the Hyperdunk Low gives you great fit and court feel. But the cushioning wore out much too quickly for my taste and I felt the lack of impact protection in my knees and hips after just a couple months of wearings.

Nike Zoom Hyperdisruptor
Reviewer: Finch
Pros: Heel lockdown; lightweight; traction; plush Zoom cushioning
Midsole is too flexible, creating various issues; outsole separated from shoe after a couple of weeks
: A lightweight shoe that’s nice to play in initially, but the flimsy midsole hurts performance in a variety of ways. The Zoom bags aren’t as responsive as they should be, there’s not enough structure or rigidity through the heel-toe transition, and there’s simply a lack of support due to the soft midsole and no shank. Plenty of durability concerns. Also probably overpriced at $130.

Jordan CP3.VI
Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Podulon cushioning has been refined and improved; traction is top-notch; smooth transition and low to the ground feel
Cons: Upper a little stiff, leading to fit being not quite snug; Achilles pad is comfortable but tough to get full heel lockdown
Verdict: The CP3.VI is an elite guard shoe. It featured some of the best traction and cushioning of any shoe I’ve tested and the whole shoe just played well. I wasn’t a fan of the fit – I couldn’t get a glove-like, snug fit with the Fuse upper being kind of stiff – but I do have a narrow foot and that may be more a reflection of my own needs than the shoe itself. If the shoe fit me better through the midfoot and heel, I really would have loved it. It’s an extremely comfortable shoe as far as cushioning goes, and it was immediately added to the off-court rotation.

Nike Flyknit Lunar1+
Reviewer: Kim

Nike Air Way Up
Reviewer: Finch
Pros: Ankle, tongue and heel padding; supportive midsole
Cons: Poor transition; traction doesn’t meet modern standards; bulkier shoe than most of today’s models
Verdict: It’s probably better served as an off-court shoe, but it was still fun to see how a 90s retro compares today. The leather build and interior padding were great from a quality standpoint, but the shoe just doesn’t play like the current options out there.

adidas Crazyquick
Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Flexible and low to the ground; excellent traction and lateral stability; fit is the best of any shoe I’ve ever had
Cons: Midsole doesn’t have a ton of support (it’s not built for that); runs very narrow – good for me, bad for a lot of folks
Verdict: The Crazyquick is shoe 1b for me this year. I absolutely loved it. I’ve never worn a shoe that played so low to the ground and allowed for such quick changes of direction. The shoe actually gave me confidence, in the sense that I knew I could play and move exactly like I needed to with it on my feet. The fit, with a Techfit upper and extended Sprintframe, was like a glove.

Nike KD V Elite
Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Snug fit from heel to toe; quality materials used throughout
Cons: Stiff and rigid midsole; cushioning neither soft nor responsive; traction not as good as most I tested
Verdict: The KD V Elite was the one Elite model I was most excited to try out this year (because it differed so much from the base shoe) and I was wholly disappointed. While I loved the lockdown and support from the premium upper materials (including plenty of carbon fiber), the transition was poor thanks to a very stiff chassis. The cushioning was overly firm – from the outsole to the midsole, it just wasn’t an enjoyable setup underfoot.

Nike Hyperdunk 2013
Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Excellent fit, flexible with great lockdown; overall comfort
Cons: Midsole support leaves some to be desired; Lunarlon cushioning
Verdict: The Hyperdunk 2013 will probably the shoe you see on court more than any other this year, and for good reason. It’s a great all-around performer that will fit a variety of player types. It’s good – but not great – in a lot of areas, with the most glaring being a lack of support in the midsole. A more substantial shank would have been a huge bonus. But the fit and lockdown are great, and it’s a shoe I’d recommend.

Nike Zoom Hyperquickness
Reviewer: Finch
Pros: Zoom cushioning setup; traction is excellent; overall value at $105
Cons: Fuse upper is a little stiff, doesn’t hug the foot; Fuse isn’t quite as high quality as other models
Verdict: At $105, the Hyperquickness is a good value for budget-conscious hoopers. You’re not going to get an overly refined shoe from a fit standpoint, but the cushioning and traction are solid and the Hyperfuse upper is plenty durable.

Nike Free Flyknit
Reviewer: Kim

Under Armour Micro G Anatomix Spawn
Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Midfoot support system is excellent; Micro G cushioning is responsive as ever; lockdown is perfect
Cons: Traction pattern is not deep enough and is poor on even slightly dirty courts
Verdict: Along with the Crazyquick, this is shoe 1a for me. The fit and lockdown are as good as any shoe on the market. Micro G cushioning doesn’t get enough respect, and it proves to be both responsive and stable in the Anatomix Spawn. The midfoot TPU frame is one of the coolest support systems I’ve seen and it actually works too. A great overall shoe that will probably be ignored by too many people.

adidas Adizero Crazy Light 3
Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Extremely light; plays low to the ground
Cons: Cushioning is firm and a little slappy; lacing system and fit are sloppy; midsole is barely there
Verdict: The Crazy Light 3 is, in fact, light. But that’s just about all the benefit I could glean from the shoe. The cushioning is fairly responsive considering how thin it is, but it just doesn’t offer much impact protection or general comfort/support. I could never really get true lockdown thanks to a poorly designed lacing system (needs more eyelets) and the upper itself felt too thin and cheap.

Jordan CP3.VII
Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Excellent use of materials; cushioning provides both impact protection and responsiveness; traction is very good
Cons: Couldn’t get perfect lockdown; shape of the footbed didn’t personally suit me
Verdict: The CP3.VII is undeniably a great on court option – but it didn’t fit me all that well. Each aspect of the shoe was very good, even excellent, except for the fit and that is too crucial for me to ignore. Make sure you try them on first before ordering, but you’ll get great cushioning, traction and quality from the CP3.VII.

Jordan XX8 SE
Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Midfoot support with Flight Plate chassis; heel fit and overall fit; Proplate Zoom setup is awesome
Cons: Lack of customization with 5 eyelets in the lacing system; Zoom bag blew out within 10 wearings
Verdict: I loved everything about the shoe until the Zoom bag blew out. Normally, it could be chalked up to a freak occurrence but I’ve seen a pair of regular XX8s – with same cushioning/midsole setup – have the same issue. Both shoes had a huge bulge develop along the vertical line in the forefoot Zoom bags. Other than that, the shoe was awesome. The Zoom setup was super responsive, carbon fiber was used strategically and effectively; it was simply a great performer on-court.

Moving forward, we have a couple of reviews on deck. Finch will be supplying us with a Jordan Super.Fly2 review in the near future, and is excited to cop the Nike Zoom Crusader for his next review. I’ll be copping Kyrie Irving’s Zoom HyperRev (as soon as my voucher comes back from Nike for my XX8 SEs that blew out) and reviewing them next. The HyperRev is certainly a unique silhouette, but I’m interested to see how much support will come from a Phylite midsole (with a full-length Zoom bag). We’re looking forward to a new year and a plethora of new shoes to review here at TGRR.