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: Long-term Updates

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

We’ve got performance reviews for seven different models already in our archives, with yours truly responsible for four of them. The Nike Hyperdunk Low 2012, Jordan CP3.VI, adidas Crazyquick and Nike KD V Elite are the four models I’ve had the pleasure of hooping in. While you can hit any of the links and read the full review, I wanted to give you guys a quick update on how each of the shoes progressed in terms of performance over time.

Nike Hyperdunk Low 2012
Review posted: 1/29/13


The Hyperdunk Low really impressed me in terms of fit and lockdown, with the Dynamic Flywire doing a better than expected job in both departments. Fit is an important aspect of the performance of any pair of shoes, but is especially crucial in a low-top basketball shoe because so little material is used for lockdown. The Hyperdunk Low did not disappoint and I continued to feel secure and strapped in when it came to the fit, no matter how many games I put it through.

However, after 5-6 weeks of playing in them, I really noticed the Lunarlon cushioning go flat. I felt that the foam used simply compacted and lost a lot of responsiveness. I know plenty in the sneaker community are fans of Lunar foam, and I’ll admit that the cushioning setup does form to your foot – thus improving the fit even more. I simply don’t think it holds up as long as it should, especially given the price of the shoe. It got bad enough on my knees that I eventually switched over to the CP3.VI full-time, as its Podulon cushioning setup was one of my favorites so far.

Jordan CP3.VI
Review posted: 3/15/13


The CP3.VI was really close to being an elite performance shoe – and it was still really, really good. The Podulon cushioning, as mentioned before, was awesome. The targeted zones were well-placed and allowed for excellent responsiveness and transition through the footstrike. Traction was top-notch too, with a deep herringbone pattern featuring flex grooves at precisely the right points. The traction remains some of the best I’ve had on a performance hoops shoe.

The only complaint I had with the shoe had to do with the fit, especially near the heel. The achilles pad, so often used in the CP3 line, really hindered the lockdown at the heel. It was just impossible to get total lockdown with the pad in the way. It’s great for comfort; not so great for lockdown. I also felt that the Fuse upper – while proving to be extremely durable – didn’t give me a perfect either simply because the material was too thick or stiff to fully conform to my foot.

adidas adipure Crazyquick
Review posted: 5/13/13


The Crazyquick is easily my favorite shoe of the bunch and one of my all-time favorites in terms of performance (alongside the Kobe VI, Zoom BB2 and Zoom Drive). I’m currently playing in it for all competitive games and have been switching it out with the KD V Elite for workouts. The fit is simply fantastic. It’s snug and locks you into the midsole from heel to toe thanks to the Techfit upper and Sprintframe chassis. There’s been a lengthy debate concerning the cushioning and whether it’s plush enough, but to me it allows the shoe to function perfectly. The Crazyquick plays low to the ground with excellent court feel – thus giving up some impact protection – but the shoe’s responsiveness and lateral stability are unrivaled.

Nike KD V Elite
Review posted: 6/11/13


While it’s not as “long-term” of an update, here’s a few final thoughts on the most recently tested model, the KD V Elite. The KD V Elite was a shoe that I was eager to test out, but simply didn’t meet the expectations set up by the Elite title, high-end materials and price point. The technology isn’t in question – it’s riddled with high-performance parts. Caged Zoom Air, carbon fiber shank and heel counter, and a Flywire-based upper are more than enough when it comes to tech. It’s just those pieces don’t function as well as they should.

The Zoom cushioning is hampered by poor, slappy transition that saps its responsiveness. The chassis was simply too stiff to allow for smooth heel-toe transition for those of us that are heel-strikers. The fit was extremely snug and lockdown was tight, but there wasn’t a comfort level that I was used to in the CP3.VI or Crazyquick. I loved the low cut and the fit, but the shoe simply felt too stripped down for its high-performance elements.

Performance Review: Nike KD V Elite

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

Colorway Tested: Hyper Blue/Volt/Blackened Blue
Size: 11
Price: $180


Of all the Elite 2.0 series models, the KD V Elite was the most different from its base model. It dropped the top, swapped heel Air Max for a caged Zoom Air bag, employed a carbon fiber shank and floating heel counter and worked the performance staple Flywire into the upper. I was excited to try the shoe from both an aesthetic and technology standpoint, and once I got the funds in order I went ahead and picked them up.

What I found was a mixed bag, and I was reminded that premium materials don’t necessarily translate to premium performance.

Fit – 8.5
In the Elite series, Nike typically tried to strip away layers of the upper and get the shoe down to its bare minimum with premium materials. The synthetic upper is reinforced with Kevlar-based Flywire and features a carbon fiber heel counter. The fit is snug through the toebox, midfoot and heel – no complaints there. The heel fit, especially, is absolutely perfect. I was locked it from the get-go, though there’s a definite break-in period (3-4 solid wearings) before I really felt it flex with my foot.


The problem is, it’s just not very comfortable. Stripping down a shoe to its essentials and using high-end textiles is great, but it doesn’t guarantee comfort. I found it feeling sort of harsh and not overly comfortable. The lockdown was great – I felt extremely confident cutting and planting at high speeds – it just wasn’t a comfortable fit, especially when combined with the cushioning (which I’ll get to later).

One other thing that did bother me was the tongue. Nike billed it as an articulated tongue and the padding is adequate but the tongue continually slid off to the lateral side of my foot, which was annoying and made the fit less comfortable overall. The lacing system still worked fine and locked me into place, but the tongue was just bothersome.

Heel-Toe Transition – 8
With the shoe’s high arch, I worried a bit about the transition being clunky and my fears were realized to a certain extent. That caged Zoom bag is sexy and gives the shoe a great silhouette, but it really protrudes from the heel and sits quite a ways off the ground (I don’t know what the heel-toe drop is, but it definitely felt more significant than the Crazyquick or CP3.VI). Because of that, there’s a noticeable slap from the heel strike through the toe-off and that’s just not what I’m looking for in terms of transition.


It’s not necessarily bad – KD runs on his toes and if you do the same you shouldn’t have issues – but it was not as smooth as I like my transition to be. The carbon fiber midfoot shank and rigid chassis did seem to become more fluid after several wearings, but they both combined to make the transition slightly disjointed. Again, planting and cutting was fine but the heel-toe transition just didn’t suit me.

Cushioning – 7.5
I’ve mentioned it in prior reviews, but Finch made an excellent point about the relationship between the midsole flexibility and the cushioning system. How the midsole is constructed has a huge effect on how well the cushioning system responds. The forefoot and heel Zoom bags normally prove to be my favorite cushioning setup, but I felt that the stiff chassis of the KD V Elite hindered the effectiveness of the Zoom.


With a harsh slap from heel to toe rather than a smoother roll, the Zoom bags seem to only deaden the impact without giving you the full responsive feel you’re probably used to. I simply didn’t feel the level of responsiveness I normally do out of a Zoom-Zoom setup, and I have to believe that chassis has something to do with it. It’s not terrible, just not what I’d normally expect from that setup. The cushioning itself is pretty minimal too, so it’s something to keep in mind if you have bad knees or hips that require more impact protection. Court feel is great, but I felt like the Crazyquick offered equally good court feel with better impact protection and the CP3.VI certainly was more comfortable (and still low to the ground).

Traction – 9
Yes, I know it’s not herringbone, but the polygonal pattern used on the KD V Elite still performs pretty well. Stopping and starting at full speed gave me no problems (the best test is a full speed pull up jumper – as if I need an excuse to shoot another one), but the outsole will pick up some dust over time. Tons of personal details are worked into the outsole design which is a nice touch, but I’d rather see those used on an area of the shoe that’s not so fundamentally important to its performance.


Materials/Durability – 10
It’s an Elite shoe, so the materials are top of the line. Carbon fiber everything (midfoot shank and heel counter), caged Zoom air, Kevlar-reinforced Flywire and a high-end durable synthetic upper give the shoe premium materials from top to bottom – even if they’re not used quite as well as I’d like.


Overall, I liked the KD V Elite but it simply fell short of expectations. With the amount of premium materials and hefty price tag, I expected better – especially in terms of cushioning. The fit was excellent and the caged Zoom, carbon fiber shank and chassis made the shoe very supportive, but I still feel like it just didn’t play well despite the impressive package. Because of the high end materials, I feel like the KD V Elite is slightly better than the sum of its parts, but still doesn’t perform to the level I would expect.

It’s staying in the rotation (along with the CP3.VI and Crazyquick) when I go through weekly shooting workouts, but I’m still hooping in the Crazyquick when I roll with the Terminator X squad.

Total: 43/50

TGRR Blog: A Quick Look at the Nike Elite 2.0 Series

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)
Pics: Finch (@Sir_Stymie)

With Finch hooking us up with a couple of quick in-store looks at the Nike Elite 2.0 series, we thought we’d pass along the images and some brief thoughts on the performance aspects of each.

With some of the tech-packed Elite models officially hitting retail already and others coming at various dates within the next few weeks, we were interested to get our hands on the three models (at least from a first-look standpoint; we ball on a budget right now and will try to cop and review the Elites at a later date if possible) and take a closer look at the performance aspects.

KD/Bron elite

We have a nice look at the KD V Elite and the LeBron X Elite in the above picture, but we’ll focus on the LeBron X Elite model first. Much like the IX Elite, the LeBron X uses carbon fiber wings for lateral support. The IX featured a one-piece carbon fiber wrap around the lateral side and from my experience with the “Taxi” colorway of the IX Elite, the fit and support were excellent. Though the LeBron X Elite uses two separate carbon fiber “wings,” expect top-notch support. The 360 Zoom Air Bag remains intact for great, responsive cushioning. A Fuse upper with Kevlar-infused Flywire should provide great lockdown provided you don’t have a super narrow foot.

kobe elite

Next up is the Kobe 8 System Elite in a Poison Green colorway. One of the things I’ve always loved about the Kobe line (we’re talking Kobe V-present) is the external heel counter that provides the best heel lockdown and fit on the market today. The Kobe 8 Elite keeps the external counter and upgrades it with a carbon fiber build, locking the heel on to the footbed. I’ll mention it later in the KD V Elite blurb, but I feel that the fact that the Kobe heel counter is attached to the midsole is what gives it an advantage over the floating heel counter of the KD V Elite. I believe the KD V Elite will give you an awesome fit, but carbon fiber counter locked into the midsole is at the top of the lockdown chart. I also love the Dynamic Flywire – which I found to provide great fit as a key element of the Hyperdunk Low – and its placement on the bottom two eyelets in order to provide extra lockdown in the area where lateral forces are most extreme.

KD elite

Aesthetically, I prefer the KD V Elite over the other two models and I hope to purchase a pair as soon as the price lets up slightly. The caged heel Zoom bag is HUGE and it works in conjunction with the carbon fiber shank to provide great support and cushioning underfoot. As I mentioned previously, I’m a fan of the carbon fiber counter but I do feel like it would be most effective if attached to the midsole. I expect the fit and lockdown to still be top of the line, but it remains to be seen how well I like the floating counter on-court. From a design standpoint, the shoe still reminds me a lot of the Nike Zoom Vapor tennis shoe series and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the KD V Elite has some inspirational roots in that line of shoes. Elite tennis shoes are light, low to the ground and stable laterally, which is exactly what a basketball player needs as well.

TGRR Blog: What It Means to be Elite

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

In 2012 Nike introduced the Elite series, which consisted of upgraded versions of the LeBron IX, Kobe VII and Hyperdunk for the athletes’ playoff runs. Upgraded construction like carbon fiber heel clips and midfoot panels, a reduction in layers of the Flywire-based uppers and beefed up midfoot shanks worked to provide wearers with a better fit, more durability and lighter weight.

On March 20, Nike officially unveiled the Elite 2.0 series. The LeBron X, Kobe VIII and the KD V all received the Elite treatment and were upgraded in different ways. We don’t normally do breaking sneaker news here because we try to keep TGRR as performance-based as possible – we’re not just another sneaker news blog. But this news was especially pertinent to us at TGRR, as these shoes are supposed to represent the best in Nike basketball technology and performance.

At the end of the post, add your vote to the poll at the bottom and let us know which of the three Elite 2.0 shoes you like best.

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The first model we’ll take a look at is the LeBron X PS Elite. “Unstoppable Power” is the tagline along with the shoe, and there are a few noticeable differences between the Elite version and the standard model. The midsole is slightly more chunky, but the real difference comes in the form of the large carbon fiber panels on the midfoot and heel. The heel piece, with three “wings” wrapping around the lateral side and two more wrapping around the back to the medial side, should provide a lockdown fit.

There’s also another smaller wing along the midfoot to provide some lateral stability. With Kevlar-reinforced Flywire and laces, this shoe is designed to lock you in and withstand any pounding a player could put it through.

LEBRON X PS ELITE: Unstoppable Power

Forged by time, heat and pressure, the diamond inspires LeBron James’s tenth Nike signature shoe. His elite version drafts off the rare Carbonado diamond, a virtually indestructible stone said to derive from an ancient supernova, the most explosive force in the universe. The shoe’s bright citrus colorway and graphic collar lining capture James’s unstoppable power.

The LEBRON X PS ELITE is designed to be stronger, offering the highest level of performance for James in the post season. The shoe builds on the innovative advances of the LEBRON X and takes it to a new level with:

  • Carbon fiber-reinforced mid-foot wings for excellent lateral stability
  • Kevlar® aramid-reinforced Nike Flywire technology for consistent lock-down through the midfoot
  • Kevlar® aramid laces resist stretching for a more consistent fit
  • Articulated foam tongue provides impact protection and minimizes lace pressure

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Next up in the Elite 2.0 series is the Kobe 8 System Elite “Deceptive Speed.” The Kobe 8 doesn’t get quite as many external upgrades as the other two – though it does feature a carbon fiber heel counter and midfoot shank – and some Dynamic Flywire shows up on the forefoot and reinforced with Kevlar. Under the hood though, the Kobe 8 gets Zoom Air cushioning (finally) and improved padding in the once paper-thin tongue. A better fit and more responsive cushioning should lead to a quicker shoe on-foot.

KOBE 8 SYSTEM ELITE: Deceptive Speed

Kobe Bryant often showcases the adept speed and precision of his on-court alter ego, the Black Mamba. The KOBE 8 SYSTEM ELITE is inspired by the lethal green pit viper snake and the x-ray vision emitted by its heat-sensing eyes. Bryant stays three steps ahead of his opponent with his keen vision. The KOBE 8 SYSTEM ELITE highlights Bryant’s power of deceptive speed with a poison green colorway and x-ray vision graphic on the collar lining.

The KOBE 8 SYSTEM ELITE is designed for precision footwork while offering:  

  • Carbon fiber heel clip and shank for lightweight stability, quick cuts and jumps
  • Dynamic Flywire technology reinforced with Kevlar® aramid to provide more consistent stability and lockdown
  • Articulated foam tongue provides impact protection and minimizes lace pressure
  • Kevlar® aramid laces resist stretching for a more consistent fit
  • Phylon midsole and Nike Zoom technology providing consistent, responsive cushioning

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Without question, the shoe with the most drastic changes from the base model is the KD V Elite. And I am instantly infatuated. The shoe goes from a mid-top in the regular version to a low in the Elite, a plus as far as I’m concerned. The next thing you’ll notice is the prominent, dare I say late 90s/early 00s-esque, caged Zoom Air bag in the heel. The large volume, visible bag transitions to the midfoot via a carbon fiber shank and noticeable arch. The arch and Zoom bag combination reminded me of the Zoom Drive or Zoom Vapor 8; I expect great cushioning and stability through the midsole but I’m interested to see if the heel-toe transition is smooth thanks to the high arch. Kevlar boots the Dynamic Flywire strands that are found throughout the upper, another new feature from the Fuse-based standard KD V. Carbon fiber shows up on the V as well, in the form of a large floating heel clip. If there’s a shoe of the three that I’d most like to review, it’s the KD V Elite.

KD V ELITE: Ultimate Control

Capturing Kevin Durant’s thunderous power of ultimate control, the new low KD V ELITE debuts in a volt colorway, illuminated by the sharp glow of lightning bolts. The design speaks to Durant’s versatility, shooting accuracy and finely-tuned court vision. 

The re-engineered low-top silhouette offers a full range of motion for Durant’s playoff push. Additional enhanced technical highlights include:

  • Carbon fiber heel counter and shank provide lightweight stability for quick cuts
  • Dynamic Flywire technology reinforced with Kevlar® aramid to provide more consistent stability and lockdown
  • Articulated foam tongue provides impact protection and minimizes lace pressure
  • Caged Nike Zoom unit in the heel for responsive cushioning and stability

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