Performance Review: Nike Kyrie 2

Prose: Jake Sittler

Before I dive into the Kyrie 2, just a quick note: starting with the Rose 6 review, you’ll be able to find all TGRR reviews featured on Tackl is approaching shoe reviews from a crowd-sourcing standpoint, aggregating feedback from other wearers on just about any hoops shoe out there. They’ve asked me to post some expert reviews for them, and I’m happy to get TGRR content on more and more platforms.

As noted in my first impressions post from a few days back, the Kyrie 2 is a very different shoe right out of the box. The highly rounded midsole/outsole not only looks unique, but also feels unique on foot. I’ve now had a chance to get in a few 2-hour runs in them (thanks to the annual Columbia City Christmas break hoop sessions) and I’ve gotten a handle on one of the more intriguing (and sought-after) shoes out right now.


If you’re familiar with the Kyrie 1 at all, you’ll remember that the shoe ran very narrow. I never played full-time in the 1, but in my store try-on I needed to go up to a 12 to get the right fit because of the extremely narrow last. The Kyrie 2 is still fairly narrow, but is much improved especially under the midfoot. I went with an 11.5 in the Kyrie 2, which is true to size for me in everyday use, but I almost always go down to an 11 in hoops shoes.


From a general point of view, the full Fuse upper provides good lockdown and containment from heel to toe. It’s a better quality upper compared to the 1 and is pretty straightforward (there are a couple medial notches at the forefoot to aid flexibility) until you get to the neoprene heel area and strap setup. The heel is well padded internally, conforms to the foot and is nice and flexible, and the strap kept my foot locked into the collar pretty well. There’s not a particularly solid heel counter in there, but the strap does help with heel security. The strap basically only affects the heel/ankle fit – but the midfoot laces up plenty tight. I didn’t notice any slippage internally and felt secure on all hard cuts, stops, and starts.


Heel-Toe Transition
The Kyrie 2 really shines here. The rounded sole came with a lot of scientific jargon in the Nike press release, but it boils down to this: it feels easier to roll from heel to toe during the footstrike. It’s a natural movement, and I kept getting the feeling that I was rolling inward just slightly – making it easier to push off the ball of my foot and big toe on hard changes of direction.


The shoe isn’t going to make you quick or improve the speed of your crossover (hit some ballhandling drills with tennis balls and hit the weight room for that) but I do feel that the radiused midsole/outsole promotes more natural movement than a lot of shoes. If you’re a quick guard or wing to begin with, you’ll probably like the feel of these.

While the rounded sole was great for transition purposes, it did leave something to be desired from an overall cushioning standpoint. Some of this may have been because I came from playing on the pillowy Rose 6, but the Kyrie 2 cushioning felt very thin and firm. It’s a Phylon midsole with a tiny Zoom bag dropped in the heel and that Zoom is pretty non-existent. It also would have been nice to see an insole upgrade from the relatively thin unit used here (brands across the board, for whatever reason, are really skimping on the insoles lately).


With that said, I think that the thin, firm midsole was necessary for the shoe to function as it was a intended. A thick, cushioned midsole isn’t going to be as flexible and responsive as the Kyrie 2 needs to be. I’m not even sure a Zoom bag in the forefoot would feel right with as rounded as the sole is. However as a guard, I don’t really mind the low, firm feel because it gives me great court feel and responsiveness. My knees might feel it after playing in these for another month or two, but so far I haven’t noticed any additional soreness. I had some of the exact same feelings about the Crazyquick 1 (which I loved playing in) in that the thin cushioning platform was a necessity and it’s benefits outweighed the lack of step in comfort.


Overall I think it was a well-designed innovation from Nike even if their science is a bit dubious. It plays very low to the ground and is as stable as they come – look how the lateral side midsole wraps up around the heel to prevent a rollover – just don’t expect a plush ride.

Once again, the Kyrie 2 scores very well. A soft, pliable rubber makes up the multi-directional traction pattern that wraps up on the lateral side of the midsole. Designed to give traction in all directions (aren’t most traction patterns?), I found it to be a good performer on YMCA courts ruined by kids with dirty shoes and an excellent performer on two clean high school courts.


It’s a pretty no-frills build, but I think it’ll hold up very well. Fuse is a tough, long-lasting upper material and the midsole cushioning has enough density and support that I don’t see it breaking down too quickly. The strap is a quality hook and loop setup and the overall finish of the shoe is pretty good for a $120 price point.


I have a hunch that reviews will be all over the board for the Kyrie 2. I actually have loved playing in it so far and plan to keep it in the rotation for the time being, but I can completely understand if the cushioning setup turns some players off. At $120, these deserved a better heel Zoom unit and a beefed up insole. For me though, the smooth transition, overall lockdown and stable, low to the ground feel are perfect for my game.

kyrie 2_review guide

This review can also be found at, right here

First Impressions: Nike Kyrie 2

Prose: Jake Sittler


I picked up the Kyrie 2 on release day – something I don’t always do with performance shoes – but I was excited to get in them for a couple of reasons. First, I was intrigued by the construction. The radiused outsole is something we haven’t seen much of in a performance hoops shoe, and especially not to this degree. I really wanted to see what kind of affect it would have as far planting and changing directions quickly. Second, my beloved Rose 6s are having a couple of durability issues and I needed to pick up a new pair while I send the Roses back.

What follows is a brief rundown of the 5 aspects of the Kyrie 2. You can also check out more info on the shoe over at

I was immediately impressed by the overall lockdown. The Fuse upper laces up very tightly and the tongue extends up higher than normal for a pretty secure feel. The midfoot strap only enhances the lockdown across the top of the foot, and I don’t have any movement to report on the interior. I don’t anticipate the strap causing any discomfort, as it’s pretty flexible and is well placed across the foot, helping to lock the foot into the heel of the shoe. Very good overall.

Heel-Toe Transition
The midsole is a bit stiff right out of the box, but it breaks in well in no time. The footstrike, thanks to the curved outsole and midsole, felt a little weird to me at first. I felt like my foot wanted to roll inward slightly off the big toe with each step, but I have to think that’s by design with the curved sole. Some extra support on the medial heel would have been nice in my opinion, but you really feel the effects of the curved sole with each step. I think the curvature is a good idea and while it’s not going to make you blow by every defender now, it does promote easier movement when changing direction and off my first step.


It was a bit of a shock going from the plushness of the Rose 6 to the rather spartan setup in the Kyrie 2. It’s firm and plays low to the ground, with decent flexibility and responsiveness. The heel Zoom bag is…there I guess? I never was a huge fan of heel Zoom since I don’t typically play on my heels. Would have loved to see it in the forefoot, but I have a hunch that would play well with the curved platform. As a guard, I like the cushioning setup from the freedom of movement standpoint, both laterally and in a linear manner, but it’s nothing outstanding.

The multi-directional traction pattern was designed so that Kyrie would be able to stop on a dime or accelerate as fast as he needs to. I, as a matter of fact, am about 1/100th of the athlete he is but for me it’s worked very well. It’s rather soft, however, so I don’t anticipate it being a good outdoor option if you hoop a lot on asphalt.


So far I’ve been very impressed. Fuse is pretty much bulletproof and this iteration feels like it’ll last awhile. The midsole is Phylon and feels pretty supportive out of the box. Overall, the fit and finish is very good.

After three wearings and a total 0f 5 or 6 hours, I’ve been impressed with the Kyrie 2. I like feel of the radiused sole and I think it’s an innovation from Leo Chang that directly aids performance. We’ll see what a couple more weeks brings, but I’ve liked it so far (especially at $120).

Performance Review: Nike Zoom I Get Buckets

Prose: Finch (@sir_stymie)


With the weather getting warmer and warmer I get the urge to participate in one of my favorite activities of my youth: outdoor basketball. Some of my fondest memories in hoops have come in church parking lots, elementary school playgrounds and the driveways of friends’ houses. I consider the outdoor game to be one of the foundations of my toughness and grit as a player.

Jake can also attest to this. We have shared the field of battle many times, and we often discuss a certain 3 on 3 tournament back in 2012 in 100 degree heat that I still believe to this day we have not fully recovered from. (Jake’s note: This is true – we actually won a game because some kid on the other team had a heat stroke and had to sit out. Any injury/soreness from that point on is blamed on that godforsaken tournament.)

I can remember how sore I was and how I wished I had made a better footwear choice. I was playing in a pair of low top Nike Air Total Package and while this shoe was one of my favorites ever to hoop in, they were beaters at that point and not the proper shoe for the constant pounding and grinding that goes with an all day affair in a parking lot.

So when I rediscovered Nike’s Outdoor Tech products, I was excited to see what they had to offer. Each year Nike makes a couple of shoes for this little-used division – one shoe is a variation of the previously reviewed Zoom Crusader, which we have seen on the feet of several young up and comers in the NBA like Paul George and James Harden.


The other is a new model that pays tribute to another young up and comer: Kyrie Irving and his alter ego Uncle Drew’s catchphrase “I Get Buckets.” Though its shares similarities from other designs of the day – namely the Hyperfuse 2014 – this shoes is very unique and has elements that make it one of the best outdoor shoes I’ve played in.

But what about on the hardwood? Well that’s where it gets tricky.

It is well documented that I prefer to go a half-size to a full size down in my performance shoes so that I get a snug, glove-like fit. Since size 12.5 seems to be one he rarest size in human existence, size 12 is the way I usually go.

The upper of the I Get Buckets is made of some of the thickest Fuse material that I have ever encountered. Though it is a stiff material, I was pleasantly surprised with the flexibility because of how the upper is constructed with many ventilation slits near the eyelets. This serves a dual purpose as both ventilation on hot summer days and to help with flexibility.


Under this thick layer Fuse is a thin layer of mesh that is build upon a neoprene bootie. The makes for a very snug (in hindsight I could have gone with a 13 and been OK) and sock like fit without lacing them very tight – something that you look for in any performance shoe and in a shoe made for the rigors of the outdoor game.

The plush interior makes for a very conformable fit, but the downside of  this shoe comes when you get on the hardwood. Due to the thickness of the material in the upper you feel most if not all the flex points when you take a step. It’s uncomfortable and strangely enough wasn’t as much of a problem outside on the concrete.


Heel-Toe Transition
To be completely honest, smoothness in the transition is not a strength of the shoe . The silhouette has decent looking shape, seems to be conducive to a good transition and doesn’t feel necessarily square or clunky. The biggest problem is in the structure – and I’ve seen it in a lot of Nike’s latest models – and the absence of any type of midfoot plate.

Maybe its just my personal preference, but I wish this shoe had a plate in the midsole. You can do a plate or chassis wrong like the KD V Elite, but it can also really aid support and transition if used correctly.

This shoe and shoes like the Zoom Crusader that I reviewed have softer midsoles and hard outsoles, making the shoe flexible but also a little bit of a mixed bag. While this flexibility is good, sometimes you get too much range of motion or you need something more firm underfoot. A sturdy upper with an overly flexible sole can make for a clunky feel.

So while though the transition is adequate, I feel that an upgrade of a midfoot plate would be optimal. It would not only give the shoe a better structure but would also enhance stability.

Now this is where it gets funky. It is well documented that we here at TGRR love Zoom cushioning. Though we subscribe to this system and its benefits, not all Zoom bags are created equal.

If you remember my review of the Hyperquickness, I described how the softness of the midsole made the cushioning somewhat ineffective. The Zoom bag needs to hit your foot at the right point of the footstrike, and that’s a problem in the I Get Buckets too.


Another aspect that seems to hurt this cushioning system is the size of the units themselves. The I Get Buckets is equipped with a forefoot Zoom unit and Phylon midsole. The fact that the Zoom bag is a small met bag under the ball of the foot, combined with the softness of the midsole, almost renders the Zoom cushioning useless. You don’t feel the responsiveness and springiness that you are used to. The HyperRev proved you can have a soft, flexible midsole with Zoom embedded but you better have a full-length bag like it did.

An example of Zoom cushioning done correctly, in my opinion, would be in the Jordan Brand performance line – most notably the XX8, M10 and (one of my new favorites) the Super.Fly II. Not only are the Zoom bags massive in terms of volume but the way they they are installed in a Flight Plate-loaded design makes for peak performance. The plate helps your foot hit the bag properly, and that bag itself is extremely responsive. Obviously, these types of advancements can’t be seen in a shoe with the price point of $115 but at least a bigger Zoom bag would have been better for outdoor use if cushioning was a primary focus.


In terms of balance and court feel on the hardwood this shoe gets a decent score. Never did I feel like I was unstable or that I couldn’t get my feet under me in order to shoot or move my feet to get in a defensive position. I felt comfortable landing for rebounds, etc. This shoe does run a bit narrow, so that is something to keep in mind if you have wider feet.


I am happy to report that this shoe features herringbone traction. While herringbone can wear a bit faster than some if made with soft rubber, I feel that its the best overall pattern based on my personal balling experience. The outsole in this case is a HAGR (High Abraision Green Rubber) compound, designed for heavy outdoor use so that stops it from wearing too quickly.


We have seen exaggerations of herringbone in iconic outdoor silhouettes as the Reebok Blacktop and, my personal favorite, the Nike Air Raid. It works for those, and it works for this model.


As I have alluded to in previous sections of this post, the shoe is built with thick Hyperfuse, a layer of breathable sandwich mesh and a partial inner bootie. The toe and heel areas are also reinforced. While this seems like a bit of overkill for an ordinary court shoe, these features excel if the is shoe is used outdoors.

Outdoors, these materials work hand in hand to protect your foot from the constant pounding and twisting and turning that playing outdoors entails. This shoe is built like a tank, and I can feel that this shoe – at least in the upper – is going to last me a while.


In closing, if you are looking for great shoe for outdoor ball in the summer months, this is the one. Though it has its shortcomings as a high-performance shoe on the hardwood, in its natural element on the blacktop you will get the most use and the best performance from this model.

Make sure you comment if you’ve hooped in the Get Buckets – we love to hear your feedback and talk shoes.



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.