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.

Performance Review: Nike Air Way Up

Prose: Finch (@Sir_Stymie)

Weight: 18 oz (in size 11)
Size Tested: 13
Colorway: White/Black/Red
After several weeks of waiting with little to no information about the release, I was able to get my hands on a pair of the Nike Air Way Up retro. Now this shoe either has a very celebrated or very murky past depending on your kicks history knowledge and many of today’s generation are unaware of how great a retro of this kind is when it comes to performance kicks. The Way Up, much like the Air Force 2 Strong (which I have have written about in previous posts), was one of the most popular shoes of the late 90s among many prominent NBA players. Although Penny Hardaway had a PE of the Way Up and the Way Up shares some striking similarities with the Penny I (thanks to the large lateral wing) the colorway that released on 4/13 was a predecessor of both models.


The Way Up was worn most notably by Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman in the 1995-1996 season when the Bulls went 72-10 and became known as the greatest team in NBA history. This is also the same season that MJ debuted the Concord XIs, perhaps in a way lending to the lack of attention given to the Way Up. This shoe was also the flagship for Nike’s youth movement of the early 90’s which included Jason Kidd, Eddie Jones (who got some damn good team Jordan PEs down the road) and Kevin Garnett.

The Way Up retroed in three colorways: black/white, grey/white and white/black/red. I was able to cop from my place of employment and I had to get the “Chicago” white/black/red colorway. I love the color blocking and felt it only natural to give a nod to the 96 Bulls. Although I am not a Bulls fan, I’m not one to spit in the face of history.

Fit: 8
In my lifetime of trying on shoes, I have come to the realization that shoes from the late 80’s and early 90’s have lots of cushion in the ankle, tongue and inner bootie that aids in overall fit. Because of this, I have become a fan of the shoes from this era from a comfort standpoint and was intrigued on how the Way Up would perform in this regard. In short, it did not disappoint. I was impressed with the overall fit, and although it differs greatly from my ultimate in fit, the Adidas Commander TS, that doesn’t make the design flawed. The Commander TS fits best in the heel and in the toe box; the Way Up fits more comfortably at the ankle and forefoot. In a perfect world, I’d like the Way Up to fit a little more snug in the toes. This is due to the shape of the last (basically, the shape of the footbed) in the Way Up probably not being engineered narrower like most modern shoes. The padding of the tongue and the heel makes for a very secure and locked-in feel though, and with the adequate space in the toe box there is little chance of stubbed toes or broken toe nails.


One aspect of the shoe that I thought was a cause for concern was the placement of the laces and eyelets. I have had instances when while walking or running the heel of my foot would slip slightly off the midsole. The lace holes are spaced rather far apart and you have to pull the laces pretty hard in order for you foot to stay firmly planted. The shoe has to be laced to the top eyelet in order to get close to the desired ankle fit and support, but there are only five eyelets total. While these weaknesses are more of an inconvenience than an actual problem and I am able to over look them when I play, in the same voice I feel I would be doing you a disservice if I did not at least mention them as a deficiency. Once the shoelaces are tightened and tied firmly, I had little to no issue with the lockdown and/or fit.

Heel-Toe Transition: 6.5
I was very excited to test out the heel-toe transition when looking at the profile of the shoe. There’s a noticeable drop from the heel to the toe and it looked similar to my best example of heel to transition the, Nike Force Max. Thus, I thought that I would have a similar experience with this shoe…and I was wrong. The Way Up was not great in terms of heel-toe transition because the Phylon midsole is relatively flat on the interior, almost Air Force 1-like. (The Force Max, on the other hand, had a rounded toe for a nice toe-off and roll through the footstrike.) It did have a slight flex or transition point in the toe, but no more than something like an Air Max 1. I generally like my transition point to start in the forward third of the shoe near the ball of the foot and almost where the big toe flexes.


The shoe also has a rather firm midsole. It does give some under the forefoot but it has a hard rubber outsole (and firm Air Max bag) on the heel which hinders the natural bending a bit, but I wonder with further break-in time if the transition will improve. The jury is still out, but for now I’m giving it an average score.

Cushioning: 9
Though the Way Up is a retro design, it features technology that makes it timeless as far as cushioning goes. The main example is obviously the visible Air bag in the heel and also an encapsulated Air bag in the forefoot. This Air to Air combination makes the shoe very comfortable and absorbs impact very nicely; although I was not a fan of the midsole firmness in terms of heel to toe transition, I believe that it actually helps the shoe in terms of cushioning.

In my review of the Nike Zoom Hyperdisruptor, I explained how the softness of its midsole took away from the effectiveness of the the Zoom bags. In the case of the Way Up, I feel that its firmness makes the Air bags more effective thus making the shoes more comfortable. Though I am married, it seems to the Zoom/Max Air Combination, I feel that Air/Air is an effective and long-lasting cushioning system on-court and in everyday wear.

Traction: 7
If you’re a hooper, you know what good traction feels like and the security it brings. To me it can make or break a shoe, and personally its herringbone or bust. The Way Up features a wavy pattern that is more segmented in the toe section. It has some stippling but it’s not very grippy. For the most part, it doesn’t seem functional compared to most of today’s top performance models (but it does look nice, and most of you will probably be rocking these off-court anyway). When it is on hardwood it grips the floor respectably since it is a new shoe, but I am concerned that it will wear down quickly. This may simply be a case of outdated technology, but I will not know for sure until I wear them in a few more games.


Materials and Durability: 7.5
When it come to durability, to me, you can’t go wrong with a leather upper. Call me old fashioned, but it’s what I like. The Way Up does have an all-leather upper which would usually make for a solid score from me, but I’ve learned over the years that not all leather is created equal. I generally prefer tumbled leather, since the quality of most of today’s synthetic “leather” is poor. That being said, the quality of the leather on the Way Up reminds me of the Air Force 1 – which means it’s average but at least not as bad as a Reebok Classic. Whereas tumbled leather moves with you, this leather is stiff and I’m concerned with deep creasing from an aesthetic standpoint, though that shouldn’t be a worry for a shoe you are gonna hoop in and beat up anyway.


With that being said, the cushioning in the tongue and inner bootie are quite nice – no paper-thin tongue here. The seams appear solidly glued together and the the paint seems to be good quality and hopefully will not crack and flake off like other retros.

Overall, I’m glad that Nike was able to put out a retro team shoe that is not only a classic, but will also stand up performance-wise with today’s athletes. Performance-wise, this shoe does have its downsides (like most retro models) in terms of transitioning and traction, but I believe that what it provides make up for its faults. If you’re looking for a good hooping shoe for your rotation or for some retro flair in your wardrobe, I’d pick them up. At $120, they don’t necessarily break the bank either for such a versatile shoe. They’re available at in all three colorways and at in the gray/white and black/white colorway.

Overall Score: 38/50 x 2 = 76/100
Fit: 8
Heel-Toe Transition: 6.5
Cushioning: 9
Traction: 7
Materials/Durability: 7.5