adidas Rose 6 Boost

Prose: Jake Sittler

While I wasn’t able to review as many shoes as I would have liked to this calendar year, I still hooped in quite a few including the Under Armour Curry 1, adidas Rose 6, adidas CrazyLight Boost 2015, adidas Crazy 8, Brandblack Black Hawk, Nike Zoom HyperRev 2015, Nike Kyrie 2 and Jordan CP3.VIII. If you’ve read my Rose 6 review here or over on tackl, you’ll know how much of a fan I was of the Rose 6. It’s no surprise then that it’s my 2015 shoe of the year.

Simply put, the Rose 6 is the best cushioned basketball shoe on the market right now – maybe the best one ever. Adidas finally nailed the Boost setup in a hoops shoe, marrying two plush units with a stable midsole for a near-perfect balance of comfort, transition and support. If it sounds like I’m gushing over the shoe, well I kinda am (and they were paid for with 130 of my own dollars).

adidas Rose 6 Boost

First and foremost, Boost is just ridiculously comfortable. No shoe can hold a candle to the Rose 6 in terms of step-in comfort. The forefoot unit is the key one here, as adidas had to take into account forefoot stability and court feel with such a plush, responsive cushioning material. The volume of the forefoot Boost struck that balance perfectly, giving great responsiveness that we’ve come to expect from a Boost unit while also remaining stable and providing good enough court feel for a guard like me.

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I think the Stableframe midsole is key too – as we’ve seen in the CrazyLight Boost models, Boost can be rendered way less effective and less comfortable when it’s not paired with a supportive carrier. Robbie Fuller totally nailed it. The Rose 6 knocked cushioning out of the park in every aspect I care about.

From there, they went nuts on internal padding, which is thick and comfy all over. Yeah, the tongue is a little weird but it pads the top of the foot and ankle very well, protecting them from the potentially harsh feel of that top strap. Another great design element was the fabric used on the lining, which was smooth if you felt it from the top-down, yet was grippy when felt from the bottom-up. This just meant it gave you a little extra help in the lockdown department and kept the foot in place even more.

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Traction was awesome in the white/silver colorway I tested, and I found the overall fit was great too. Once the upper broke in after a few minutes, it was easy to get everything laced up tightly. The white/silver upper was a bit basic, with a mesh/synthetic combo for a fuse-ish feel, but it was flexible and more than adequate in all areas.

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The most obvious visual element is the TPU heel cage, which really didn’t help a ton as far as lockdown, but nonetheless gave the Rose 6 a nice stable external frame. I would have loved to see it articulate a bit more for that exoskeletal feel. To be frank, the shoe is a little ugly (in the white colorway anyway, the away black/red is fire) but it played so well, I don’t really care. It functions beautifully, so it’s beautiful to me.

Unfortunately (and unexpectedly) I did have an issue with the outsole beginning to peel away from the Boost unit on the heel where a tiny outsole flange sticks out. I’ll be sending the Rose 6 back to adidas for replacement, but it’s not an issue I’ve read about elsewhere. The shoe is simply so good on-court that I can overlook this for now.

Doesn’t matter how it looks, doesn’t matter if Derrick Rose is a superstar anymore or not. Bottom line, if I had to wear any shoe I tested this year for a championship game, the Rose 6 would be my go-to without hesitation. Therefore, it’s The Gym Rat Review 2015 Shoe of the Year.

adidasRose6_review guide

Performance Review: adidas Rose 6 Boost

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

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The last three years of Derrick Rose’s career have been utter disasters, largely thanks to issues beyond his own control. Multiple knee and ankle injuries, and a facial fracture in the preseason have battered the body of the one-time MVP and the face of adidas basketball.

adidas has marketed hope, the will to come back from injury, and Rose’s quiet resiliency but the fact of the matter is their ambassador has been sitting on the bench for roughly 2/3 of Bulls games since the ’11-’12 season. Because of that, Rose signature shoe releases have either been mocked (some recklessly think that his shoes somehow played a role in the injuries) or basically ignored by the sneaker buying community. They haven’t won many over with their aesthetics and Rose hasn’t been on the court enough to create a desire for people to want what he’s wearing.

While the adidas folks have been hamstrung in that department, what they have done is create the best performing signature shoe line in the game. People can pan the looks, the use of different materials and some ever changing tech but ever since his TS Supernatural Creator PE, Rose shoes have been absolute monster performers.

The Rose 6 once again debuted with muted responses and plenty of negativity regarding its looks, but Robbie Fuller and the adidas team may have created the best Rose – maybe the best adidas shoe period – of all time.

Fit
I went a half size down from my true 11.5 like usual – I always feel like it helps with the fit as long as I can live with the length. I’ve personally loved the fit of the Rose 4.5 and 5, with each providing complete lockdown. The Rose 6 isn’t quite on that level, but it is still very good.

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The upper on the white pair that I purchased is a kind of mesh overlay on synthetic base (the black colorway is more of a traditional Sprint Web). It’s a nice combo, if simplistic, but it is stiff enough to provide good support and retain flexibility throughout. The upper is also well-padded on the interior and features an interesting liner material on the collar – it’s smooth if you run your finger from top to bottom, but from bottom to top it’s grippy with an almost sandpaper-like sensation (Bryan over at Weartesters did the black colorway and said adidas called the material Cat’s Tongue, which is exactly what it feels like). This gives the liner some friction and helps prevent extra movement within the shoe.

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Moving the shoe’s most curious design element: that giant heel cage. I initially thought the cage would articulate and tighten when you laced through those top lace loops, but it’s actually fixed in place. The fabric straps will tighten slightly, but the heel portion itself fits pretty snug as is. Lacing is simple and the laces stay in place in the eyelets (some shoes don’t do this and it’s maddening). There’s a nice lace loop on the interior, basically right where the notch is. Lacing through that really locks the top of the foot in and is probably the key piece to that whole upper. Besides that, the loop and strap make up the only other eyelet.

(Schwollo, another reviewer and TGRR supporter, took matters into his own hands to improve the lockdown even more – check that out here.)

This brings that massive tongue into play. It’s extremely comfortable and well padded, but I’ll admit it’s a little awkward at first. It’s really padded because there’d be an uncomfortable amount of ankle pressure from those loops without it, but I will say it keeps me from feeling 100% locked in. I don’t report any side to side or worrisome slippage, but the tongue does give you a little more room around the ankle than you might be used to. It’s the only (extremely minor) negative I have with the upper.

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The collar, I might add, is probably the most padded and comfortable one I’ve found on a hoops shoe.

Heel-Toe Transition
Two large Boost units plus a midfoot Stable Frame give you buttery transition right out of the box. I can’t stress how quickly these felt broken in. They’re ready to go the second you put them on.

Cushioning
As much as I love Micro G and some versions of unlocked Zoom, Boost is the best cushioning platform on the market. I rock a pair of Energy Boost 2 ATRs almost daily because everything else – even my Flyknit Trainers, Brooks Glycerins and Asics Gel Noosas, all fantastic shoes – can’t match up in terms of sheer comfort. Same goes for this version of Boost in the Rose 6; it’s the most comfortable basketball shoe I’ve put on.

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Boost volume was increased in the forefoot, and it’s definitely noticeable. The plushness and responsiveness is incredible, but stability is also very good. I felt very connected to the floor and able to move laterally like I wanted to. Sometimes you’ll give up responsiveness and court feel with a soft cushioning platform, but Boost is unlike any other cushioning platform.

Another aspect that I loved was the midfoot Stable Frame. It’s a perfect moderating piece between the two Boost units and gives me just the right amount of support through my arches. With 6 years of high school and college ball followed by double reconstructive hip surgeries (swear I’m only 26), my back and lower body are generally in a chronic state of soreness. It’s not a miracle worker or the answer to an injury or anything, but the Rose 6 has been as good as any shoe I’ve recently played in when it comes to supporting me and relieving some of that foot, knee, hip, and back pain.

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I’ll leave you with this: I love Micro G and I slipped on the Curry 2 after I tried on the Rose 6. But the Curry 2 cushioning felt completely inadequate compared to what I felt in the Rose 6. I have no doubt that the Curry 2 has a great setup and I’d like to review a pair, but the Rose 6 absolutely blew it away on the first impression.

Traction
adidas nailed the traction setup once again. The grooves look a little shallow at first glance, but the outsole grips like crazy. Extremely sticky on every indoor surface I’ve been on – a YMCA court, middle school gym floor, and tile-like church league surface.

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Materials/Durability
No qualms from me here. adidas’ overall quality has been excellent in the Rose line and it’s no different on the 6. Everything is well built and put together with no apparent shortcuts in workmanship or materials.

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Bottom line, this shoe is incredible. The best cushioned basketball shoe I’ve played in, beating out personal favorites in the  XX8, TS Supernatural Creator, Zoom BB II and Kobe VI. But it’s better than just Boost – the lockdown, support, and overall package is really, really good. I’ll be playing in these for a long, long time.

adidasRose6_review guide

Performance Review: adidas Rose 5 Boost

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

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Along with many other reviewers and sneaker aficionados, I anticipated the release of the Rose 5 as much or more than any other this year – mostly due to the implementation of full length Boost for the first time ever in a hoops shoe. The Crazy Light Boost experimented with heel Boost only, and in my only try on in-store the forefoot felt so terrible I couldn’t justify spending my own cash on it (we pay for all reviews out of pocket).

But I was going all in on the Rose 5, and a little unsure of what to expect. Running shoes featuring Boost foam were pillowy soft and bouncy – great for linear activities but not so much for the dynamic movements and change of direction that come with the game of basketball. The Boost setup in the Rose 5 though, is fine-tuned for the hardwood and is actually only a small part of what makes the 5 one of my favorite shoes I’ve put on my foot this year.

Fit
I went a half-size down to an 11 and found the fit perfect for my foot, with just the right amount of length and a very sung lateral fit.

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I’ll throw Boost aside for a second, because the tremendous fit and lockdown is the best aspect of the Rose 5. The shoe features a SprintWeb upper with a Fitcage structure along the medial and lateral sides. Fitcage is a frame of sorts, holding the sides of the foot in place, wrapping around the heel with a substantial external heel counter, and extending up to the collar around the ankle bone. It’s stiff yet still molds with the foot and locks the foot in place. There’s not even a hint of slippage, even with my narrower foot. It’s every bit as secure as the best fitting shoes I’ve tested – the Clutchfit and Crazyquick 1 – and provides extra security against ankle inversion.

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I’ve seen some criticisms of the synthetic upper material for its excessive creasing in the toebox. And it definitely does crease immediately, but I didn’t find it affecting the performance in any way. It may affect wide footers that take up more of the toebox volume, but I doubt that it’s a significant thing. I found it creasing in the normal areas that any Fuse or Frame type of upper would, and the shoes laced up with vise-like lockdown from toe to ankle. I didn’t notice any hotspots, and while it’s not a natural feeling upper like the Crazyquick 1, XX9, or Clutchfit, it’s as secure as anything out there. Much like the Rose 4.5 achieved great lockdown despite having a more stiff upper, the Rose 5 is near-perfect for all intents and purposes.

For what it’s worth, other colorways appear to have a SprintWeb mesh upper rather than the thicker SprintWeb synthetic found on this “Brenda” colorway. These may crease and fit a little more naturally than the colorway I picked up.

Heel-Toe Transition
The full length Boost midsole is spongy and smooth, and transition is aided by a large stability plate underneath the arch with four fingers extending to the forefoot and heel portions of the shoe. With the translucent outsole, you can easily see this plate sandwiched between the outsole rubber and Boost midsole. Transition was perfect, especially after a couple of wearings.

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Cushioning
Boost is one of the hottest technologies in the industry, and has to be one of the most unique cushioning platforms on the market. In running shoe form, it’s super soft and flexible, providing spongy responsiveness and one of the plushest rides you’ll find. The basketball shoe version doesn’t feel quite the same, although it’s still softer and bouncier than anything else you’ll try on today. Zoom Air, Lunarlon, and Micro G are all more firm and structured, and I still think I might prefer a heel-toe Zoom setup or Micro G midsole. But Boost is damn close to those two and I can’t really find anything bad to say about it.

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The midsole foam in the forefoot feels a little thin and less responsive than in the heel, but still provides good impact protection and responsiveness. Stability is taken care of by the Fitcage and low to the ground ride, and overall responsiveness is very, very good. I mentioned the support plate before, and it provides plenty of arch stability and lateral stability as it slightly wraps up and around the side of the Boost foam.

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Boost is revered for its energy return, and it doesn’t disappoint. I’m not sure if I’m ready to put it ahead of Zoom Air, but adidas finally has a hoops cushioning platform (although they HAD a great thing going with Supernatural Creator-era FYW) that can compete with Zoom and Micro G.

Traction
The toe half of the forefoot is pretty traditional solid rubber, wavy herringbone and provides good stopping ability on most floors. The middle half of the forefoot and heel portions are a translucent rubber with a nubby pattern. On semi-dusty floors, I found myself needing to swipe to get great traction, but on most good floors you’ll be fine. Very good, not quite great, overall.

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Materials/Durability
If you’re someone that cares about creasing, you won’t like these. The speed at which they crease hurts the Rose 5’s appeal as an off-court option – although that’s not what it’s built for anyway. I see the upper holding up extremely well, as it’s sturdy and tough from any angle. I did get mine stepped on in a Saturday morning league and got a pretty nasty scuff on the side, but again it’s not affecting the performance in any way.

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I’ll be interested to see how Boost holds up over the long term, and whether it will lose some of that bounce and plush feel as it wears down. All cushioning eventually will get beaten down, but longevity is what I’m interested in. Given how soft it is, I imagine it will wear down some but so far, so good.

Overall, I loved this shoe to be honest. It fit fantastic and checked all of the cushioning boxes: soft impact protection, good responsiveness and an extremely low to the ground feel – even if it was a little thin under the forefoot. The Fitcage frame is still probably my favorite aspect, as the lockdown it provided made it feel as secure as any shoe I’ve worn. Do I wish the upper was more natural and less stiff? Yes, but then it probably wouldn’t have worked as well with the Fitcage and may not have provided the containment needed on this platform.

I think Boost lived up to and exceeded my expectations in basketball form. The Rose 5 should be one of the first shoes you try on this season, and is a shoe of the year contender alongside Nike’s KD7 and Under Armour’s Clutchfit.

adidasRose5_review_guide

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).

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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.

Fit
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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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Cushioning
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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.
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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.

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Traction
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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.

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Materials/Durability
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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.

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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.

 

TGRR Blog: Nike KD VI and adidas Rose 4.0 Release Dates

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

At my current place of employment, we recently posted a list of upcoming sneaker release dates that will be hitting our stores over the next few months. Two models stood out on the release calendar: the Nike KD VI and the adidas Rose 4.0.

Despite being the next signature models of two of each company’s biggest names, very little has been revealed about either shoe. A Google search revealed just one relevant post (from the always-reliable nightwing2303) concerning the tech specs of the KD VI. Searching “adidas Rose 4.0” yielded a little more information, though mostly just the blurry sample pictures that have been floating around over the last week and a half.

At any rate, the only new information that I can provide you is the tentative release dates for the two shoes. Again, I’m not an insider, but this is the first information I’ve seen concerning the release of these two shoes. The Nike KD VI (in a “YLW/NAVY/TEAL” colorway) is set to drop for this particular retailer on July 3, 2013 with a $130 price tag. The adidas Rose 4.0 in an “Away” colorway is slated to hit on October 10, 2013, while the “Home” colorway is scheduled for a December 5 drop. The Rose 4.0 has a MSRP of $160.

The other shoe of particular note to us here at TGRR is the Jordan Super.Fly 2, which is supposed to drop at this retailer on August 1 in four different colorways and a $130 price tag.

I stress again that I’m not an insider, and I’m only relaying the information from one footwear release calendar. Once more:

Nike KD VI – (Ylw/Navy/Teal) – $129.99 – 7/3/2013
adidas Rose 4.0 – (Away) $159.99 – 10/10/2013
adidas Rose 4.0 (Home) $159.99 – 12/12/2013
Jordan Super.Fly 2 (Gry/Blue/Ryl, Blk/Gry/Wht, Grn/Blk/Wht, Purp/Org/Blk) $129.99 – 8/1/2013

Can’t wait to see official pics and further release information regarding a few of the top performance shoes on the market. Leave us a comment or drop us an email at thegymratreview@gmail.com if you have any more info on these or other release dates.

TGRR Blog: State of the Industry, Part 2: adidas Basketball

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

In part one of our State of the Industry series, we took a look at the present and future of Jordan Brand. The face of the basketball sneaker industry and leader in market share, we looked for Jordan Brand to continue to push the limits of design and innovation while being led into the future by the Jordan namesake, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and newcomers Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin. While I jumped straight into the JB review and the future of the brand, the adidas story requires more of a history lesson.

Overview
The adidas basketball division is one that has undergone massive changes in terms of the branding and design of its products. Back in the late 90s and early 00s, adidas basketball launched a largely successful “Feet You Wear” campaign that made the company competitive it the basketball market.

Feet Your Wear was more a philosophy rather than an actual, tangible technology. Basically, Feet You Wear differed from a traditional shoe “last” (the shape of the outsole that the shoe is built on) by curving and molding the midsole and outsole to better fit the wearer’s foot. Adidas shoes built on the Feet Your Wear philosophy feature midsoles that wrap up higher on the foot than typical shoes while molded and form-fitting outsoles that targeted specific areas of the foot. This provided better lateral stability and torsional rigidity underfoot and promoted a natural footstrike. The upper was then brought close to the foot to provide better fit all the way up.

Behind Feet You Wear shoes like the adidas Real Deal, Top Ten and Crazy 8, adidas brought models to the consumer that were distinctive and performed well. They also had a strong presence on-court behind a young, budding superstar named Kobe Bryant. Feet You Wear proved to be short-lived, and once Bryant got his signature line – with the Audi-inspired Kobe and Kobe Two – adidas created some of the most loved/hated signatures of all-time.

Here’s a banger of a commercial with Kobe in the Top Ten:

Later on in the 2000s, adidas moved into the a3 and Bounce era as a response to the Nike Shox craze. While neither technology ended up enjoying much longevity, adidas’ versions were basically always seen as the little brother to the Vince Carter-led Shox series. Adidas had some moderate success with the a3/Bounce line as team shoes – I wore the a3 Pro Team during my time with the Indiana Elite AAU program – and the a3 Superstar Ultra was probably the most comfortable basketball shoe I’ve ever owned (though the outsole peeled off and the a3 pillars literally disintegrated after two weeks – and a couple of other teammates had the same thing happen).

Then, adidas trended back towards Feet You Wear with the Formotion campaign behind young stars like Gilbert Arenas while incorporating Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett (who had a couple of adidas signature models). They also pushed the limits of design with Tracy McGrady’s signature shoes (particularly the T-Mac IV and V). Finally, we got to the Team Speed line and with 2010’s TS Supernatural Creator and Commander. Adidas had created two of the best performance shoes of all time with the Creator and Commander, and were beginning to be led by Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard. The Creator is one of my all-time favorite performance shoes – its heel-toe transition, fit, cushioning and traction were nearly perfect. The shrouded upper also gave it a sleek, clean silhouette. The outsole was vintage Feet You Wear – perfectly tuned and molded, as well as stable and form-fitting with the pod outsole. Adidas was back and Feet You Wear was better than ever. I was prepared to buy whatever guard-geared TS shoe they cranked out…

And then adidas moved away from it all. Again.

In late 2010, adidas introduced its SPRINTFRAME and SPRINTSKIN on Rose’s first true signature shoe and thinned out the midsole. Then within the first two months of 2011, adidas rebranded their basketball line – under the adiZero campaign – in the name of speed. They launched the Crazy Light  – the lightest basketball shoe to date. At 9.8 ounces, the shoe and the campaign changed the idea of how light a shoe could be built. Even with Nike’s Kobe line pushing the low-top limits, adidas still clocked in lighter. And at $130, they were testing the limits of the consumer who’d pay top dollar not for superior technology or comfort, but for a lack of weight. They’ve continued with the Crazy Light 2 (as well as other light-driven models like the Ghost and Crazy Shadow), and appear committed to pushing the weight barrier on all its shoes for the near future.

*Market Share: 5.5% (via @MattSOS)

Latest Performance Models
Adidas Crazy Light 2
Adidas Rose 3/3.5
Adidas D Howard Light
Adidas Crazy Shadow/Crazy Fast
Adidas Top Ten 2000/Real Deal

The Crazy Light 2 has been a popular shoe at the professional, collegiate and high school levels. It was lauded as an improvement over the original Crazy Light (which had some durability issues) and beefed up the midsole and targeted stability of the SPRINTWEB upper. It’s available in a myriad of colors and we’ll likely see the Crazy Light line continue as a go-to team shoe in the future.

The Rose 3 was an interesting release to me because of the price point. At $160, the Rose 3 was priced to compete with the high-end Nike and Jordan Brand products such as the Hyperdunk and XX- line. But in my opinion, the shoe didn’t provide the type of technology or innovation that I want if I’m dropping $160+ on a shoe. Yes, the fit was very good and the SPRINTFRAME chassis was very well-sculpted. The full-length herringbone traction was a sight for sore eyes (especially after the embarrassment that was the Rose 2), but looking at the entire package the Rose  3 simply didn’t bring the requisite luxury feel and technology it should have at that price point.

Howard’s signature shoe has been lightly marketed and isn’t the prettiest shoe aesthetically. His line has been lauded in terms of performance for providing an extremely light but protective shoe (with top-notch Alive cushioning and cilia traction pattern) suitable for many positions, but as I’ll talk about later, Howard himself is limiting marketing opportunities. His shoes simply aren’t that good-looking and the namesake isn’t endearing himself to the public.

The Crazy Shadow and Crazy Fast silhouettes have also been popular among athletes at all levels, providing a lightweight option without the $130 price tag. Both the Top Ten 2000 and Real Deal are retro performance models – a welcome nod to the Feet You Wear days. The Top Ten has been seen on the feet of John Wall and Damian Lillard, while Avery Bradley was the first to break out the Real Deal.

Technology
When adidas went light with their basketball line, two technologies drove the weight cutting measures: SPRINTWEB and SPRINTFRAME. The SPRINTFRAME component is one that I personally loved. The idea of a single piece chassis makes a ton of sense in terms of cutting out excess material and providing a consistent fit and stability. SPRINTWEB is similar to Nike’s Fuse technology, as it’s a layered outer skin with targeted zones of overlays for durability. Where that support isn’t needed, such as the toebox of the original Crazy Light for example, it’s basically just a thin layer of mesh.

Further adi tech is pretty well known. Adiprene and adiprene+ have been cushioning staples for years, and the Torsion system has been providing lateral stability for a long time.

A quick note: adidas unveiled new Boost cushioning last week in their running shoes, and look for it to creep into the basketball line in time. Boost reportedly is three times more responsive than traditional foam, and seems to be a natural candidate to be employed on a basketball court to compete with Nike’s Zoom Air and Under Armour’s Micro G.

Top Athletes
Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Tim Duncan, Ricky Rubio, Damian Lillard, Eric Gordon, Harrison Barnes, Jrue Holiday, John Wall, Serge Ibaka

Adidas is obviously led by Rose and Howard in the signature shoe department, but they’ve also featured Smith in adizero Ghost ads. Adidas does deserve serious props for the job they’ve done in terms of bringing young, marketable talent to the brand. Rubio is one of the most watchable guys in the league and has international appeal, Lillard is far and away the best rookie in the league and Holiday is 22 and already an All-Star. Barnes has the potential to be a starter for years to come, and Gordon and Wall are young, productive vets who could still become stars.

I didn’t even include guys like Avery Bradley or Arron Afflalo, who both deserve mention for being the first to preview the Real Deal and Crazy Light 2 Low, respectively. In terms of drawing young talent to the brand, adidas has done a great job in the last two years.

Future Outlook
The Rose signature line is now six signatures deep (three regular models and three “.5” models, plus a low-top version of the Rose 2) and Howard has four officially to his name. One year ago, adidas had to be thrilled with their two headliners. Rose was the reigning MVP and Howard was the best big man in the league.

But today, various circumstances have clouded each players’ future and put adidas in a precarious spot with their top two basketball athletes. Rose endured a horrific ACL tear on April 28 and has yet to return to the floor this season (a minor dustup involving Nike designer Jason Petrie implying that Rose wouldn’t have gotten hurt had he signed with Nike put adidas basketball in the spotlight too). Adidas went ahead with the release of his third signature shoe before the 2012-2013 season and marketed “The Return” of Rose to the floor. It was a quality strategy due to the circumstances, but it’s still going to be hard to sell a $160 signature shoe behind a player that can’t play. It was nobody’s fault, but it is what it is.

Howard has quickly become one of the least-liked players in the league for his perceived lack of competitiveness, petulance, selfishness in Los Angeles and the way in which he left Orlando. This could not have helped sales of his signature shoe, which wasn’t exactly the most popular shoe on the market based on looks or marketing beforehand.

With Howard taking a hit in terms of public perception and Rose’s playing future somewhat in question, adidas may have to rely on its young talent to carry the brand. Luckily for them, the trio of Rubio, Lillard and Holiday appear ready to step up and be the face of the brand. This doesn’t necessarily mean signatures shoes all around, but adidas could have three All-Star point guards under 23 years old as soon as next season. And with the brand already driven by lightweight performance, the Three Stripes could end up with a perfect combination of product, players and performance.

*3/12/13 Update

Last week adidas unveiled the CrazyQuick, a shoe that may bridge the gap between reduced weight, comfort and performance. The shoe was the most weartested ever from adidas, and features a 17-piece outsole for greater stability, comfort and transition while keeping the midsole thin. The shoe also features the first-ever TechFit upper which keeps the weight down. To me, this shoe is a hybrid between the Feet You Wear adidas and the CrazyLight school of thought. Hopefully, they’ve found a way to incorporate the great fit and comfort of a Feet You Wear model while still making a competitive lightweight product. So far, John Wall is the most visible athlete associated with the Crazy Quick (personally, I don’t think he has the clout to carry a shoe) but I expect to see other guards in it very soon. For TGRR purposes, I plan to cop and review the CrazyQuick when it drops on May 1.