EDIT 10/1/2014: I've stopped wearing these shoes. It isn't that they aren't comfortable, or that they don't perform under normal conditions, but when the floors are dusty they don't grip well at all. earlier this summer they gripped fine, but as they have worn in, and the dusty grain-harvest and fall planting seasons have started in this part of the country, they stopped…well, stopping me. I realized I was feeling off balance and unwilling to drive decisively or come to a two-footed stop in the lane…which is absolutely necessary for a driving player. Then I found myself having to recover from lots of foot slips. After I switched back to my old pair of Fly Wade 2 EV's (my review here) the problem resolved after a couple days of getting back in the groove. To be fair, some of the off-balanceness had to do with playing too much on old legs and knees, but the shoes contributed. 

This is the first of what I think will become a semi-regular series of posts reviewing basketball shoes. Three things motivated me. First, most of the online reviews are essentially paid for by the manufacturers. The reviewers get a free pair, or are invited to an unveiling event where they get a whole locker full of swag and a new pair of shoes, and then proceed to (unsurprisingly) write a glowing review of whatever shoe it is. Second, many of these guys aren't really ballers so much as desk jockeys who once played. Third, most reviews are written after only wearing the shoe for a workout or a quick pickup game, if the performance is reviewed at all now that many people simply collect shoes and never wear them.

Take this review of the new Air Jordan XX9 as an example. Would you ever expect someone to write a bad review after being invited to Manhattan to play in the new $225 kicks at an exclusive Nike-owned gym, with an interview from the (very famous) designer and a locker full of personalized swag? You simply don't bite a hand that feeds you that well. Well, luckily for you, nobody in the sneaker business is feeding my sneaker habit and I hope my reviews reflect that.

In the same review he all but admits that he isn't really a baller anymore:
As for me, more than a decade after college, my days of playing 3-4 times a week are long gone...Admittedly, the majority of my sneakers don’t come within a mile of the blacktop; at times, I have to remind myself to put certain models on my feet at all...Inspired, I headed that afternoon to a court in my neighborhood to put some shots up. I was emboldened — and a little relieved — when a reasonable number of jumpers rattled home….In the interest of full disclosure, I wish I could say the same for my game. It took a lot longer for me to get loose at 35 than it used to in college, and I was one of the shorter guys out there. By the time I got in a bit of a groove in the fourth game and broke free for a few layups, everyone else was just about ready to call it a night 
How accurate a portrayal of the actual performance of a shoe are you going to get from someone who is still trying to shake off the rust? How accurate is a review if the shoe is so new they haven't even managed to scuff it before they start writing? Like it or not, a new pair of Jordan's don't cure a lack of practice, and you can't really know a shoe until you've put in a few miles in different conditions.

I do play, a lot. I usually play 3-4 times a week. I play a regular noon-ball game with some excellent athletes, games with the undergraduate crowd at the University of Idaho Rec center that sometimes include players from the U of Idaho team in the offseason, and morning games with the varsity players and coaches from my old high school. Every winter I play in an alumni tournament for my high school. I play at a pretty high level, despite being 36, a year older than the guy writing the review of the XX9's.  Usually I play a 1 or 2 guard type role, but I played small forward in high school and still utilize the post game. My reviews are probably useful for everyone but the heaviest and tallest of centers since I'm not a tall guy at all at 6 feet.

None of the shoes I review are going to be the latest model. I don't see this as a problem. There are plenty of people like me who get most of their shoes at ROSS, Marshalls or Nordstrom Rack. If you aren't you should, I've scored an unbroken line of signature sneakers for $50, each between $100 and $150 new, over the last three years. While the shoes might be a year or two old the tech they use gets recycled into newer models. Any positive attributes or deficiencies are likely to be similar unless they've been specifically addressed in a new model. I guarantee that my reviews will only be of shoes I've worn long enough that it shows on the shoe, a couple weeks to a month of regular balling at least.

For my first review we'll take a quick look at the Adidas adiZero Crazy Light 2.

The first thing about this shoe, obviously, is how light it is. It feels like it's too light to hold up but that hasn't been my experience over the last month. The upper is made of laminated plastic, cloth and mesh that is remarkably flexible. I was drawn to it by the metallic graphite color that I think looks striking without the eye-burning neon of so many recent shoes.

I'm not usually an Adidas person. The last pair I wore was in 1996, a pair of black and purple Adidas EQT HI's I bought cheap on Eastbay for my high school all-star game. Coincidentally they were also designed to be ultra-lightweight, with an upper made of coated wire loops, nubuck and a removable inner bootie. Like most Adidas I've tried they were on the narrow side and the sole cushioned like wearing a 2x4. The wire loop over the toe dug in just above my toe joint, and they wore out pretty quickly. Still, they stuck to the floor like glue, looked great and breathed well. I scored 11 coming off the bench in that all-star game and I used them to train for the run-up to my first and only college season. I guess they weren't all bad.

For looking forward and not into the past, the new Crazy Light versions have the same foam in the midsole (with the addition of the Boost gimmick in the heel) and the Sprintweb has a different look but the same basic idea. The soles have changed some, but they look similar, though with a more front-back linear pattern in the Boost version.The Crazy Lite 2 reminds me of those old shoes in many ways. Most obviously there is a similar emphasis on light weight design and they fit really narrow. I usually wear a size 10 but I went up to a 10.5 for these. They also have great traction. They aren't as sticky as others I've owned but they do well on the dusty courts I play on…read the rest after the jump.



As much as these shoes remind me of the old EQT's, they are different in many ways, not least of which is that modern shoes are just plain better. The first is the cushioning, which is amazing. I am a big fan of Nike's Lunarlon and Podulon soles (I've liked the Chris Paul and Dwane Wade's as well as the Hyperdunk that use these foams) but these are perhaps better. The soles look pretty thin, especially in the forefoot, but as you can see from the pictures the foam flexes a lot and feels very cushy. I don't know how long the foam will last but while it does these shoes feel great. I use the cushier of the two insoles that come with the shoe as well, I like to keep my joints from feeling every impact with the floor. This is especially important with the stirrup-
style ankle brace I wear putting a piece of hard plastic directly under the insole on one heel. The one issue I have with the soles is that it feels like there is a steep step-down from the heel to the toes, right under the ball of my foot. It feels a lot like the heel-toe transition in a cowboy boot, very extreme like the shoes have a high heel. I don't feel it in games, maybe because I spend more time on my toes, but every time I put them on I feel that ridge just behind the ball of my foot.

The uppers give you plenty of support. Once they are laced up they keep your foot on one place. They also have enough room for my Active Ankle brace, which I wear after spraining the cr*p out of my ankle this summer. I bought these shoes for that very reason as my previous pair were not working very well with the brace.

The plastic "Sprint Web" is really tough. I usually end up with lots of scuffs on my shoes from my feet hitting each other or from other peoples shoes but these don't scuff at all really. The only issue is a small hole in the fabric of the inside of my right ankle which I seem to do with every shoe I've ever owned. If anyone has advice on running/defensive form that will eliminate this let me know.