When you take a look back at Nike’s stable basketball stable since it’s inception, very few (less than one percent of all its endorsed athletes have been given a signature shoe, actually) have been bestowed the honor of being given a signature shoe. It is, however, what every Nike athlete wants. Last December, Kyrie Irving was the latest to receive a signature shoe from the company – the Kyrie 1 launched in New York to much fanfare on December 9.
“As a kid, imagining that I’d be in the Nike family with my own shoe was something that seemed almost unattainable,” said Irving. “Now that I’ve received the KYRIE 1 I’m honored to represent Nike and its next generation of players.”
The following night, Irving proceeded to drop 37 points on the Knicks at the Garden when he debuted the shoe on an NBA court.
“He released his shoe and wore them for the first time and then put up those gaudy numbers in the Garden,” said LeBron James that night. “That’s what we do at Nike. You know, spectacular.”
But just how do the Kyries play for us regular folks? Starting5online recently tested out the Kyrie 1, and have now prepared our thoughts.
If you asked ten different people if this shoe ran true-to-size, I imagine you’d get half the group saying yes, and the others no. Personally, I wear a 9.5 and decided to go true-to-size. In saying that, though, the shoe is narrow and long and the top of my foot was very constricted initially. However, with a few hours of play in them it did begin to loosen up to the point of being comfortable as it molds to your foot.
I do suggest trying them on before you buy because, like I said, everyone seems to have a varying opinion of the fit. See what works best for you.
The durability is there because the shoe’s materials consist of mainly Hyperfuse which has been reinforced with textile mesh glued to it. It makes for a greater break-in time, but your shoes will last in the long run. The Fuse material is much more forgiving after a few wears than other signature sneakers – the KD V’s in particular really hurt my feet, I never even attempted to play in the KD VI for that reason. There is open mesh areas to enhance breathability …. but we’ll get into that a bit later.
The most telling part of the support system is the massive heel counter. This provides great lockdown as it’s high enough to give that tight and secure feeling, but also low enough to allow your foot to move in a natural fashion while playing. My heel felt totally supported the whole time – there was no side-to-side movement at all.
Normally with hoop sneakers I tend to lace them all the way to the top, but with the Kyrie I actually had to take it down a notch – literally. Because of the aforementioned fit, I felt way too constricted by lacing them all the way up. It allowed for greater range of movement by not doing so.
The traction is the strongest feature of the Kyrie 1 – I guess it would have to be when it’s designed for a guy know for leaving defenders in his wake. Nike boasts that it has a “dynamic grip with a 360-degree dynamic traction pattern wrapping the shoe’s sidewalls.” It’s that coverage that really brings out just how good the herringbone traction pattern really is. It had me feeling like Kyrie on lateral movements, push offs, and step backs. The shoe grips the court very nicely.
This shoe will definitely suit quicker guards (Kyrie, duh!), and I wouldn’t recommend you using this long-term outdoors.
As far as the cushioning, I was left a little underwhelmed. Perhaps it’s because I’ve become so accustomed to Jordan Brand’s Flight Plate tech, but the Kyrie 1 just didn’t do it for me. The forefoot Zoom Air allows for a great court feel, but the rear of the shoe is essentially phylon foam, and it doesn’t give you that responsive bounce that you feel with the Jordan Brand models. It’s not a lost cause, but I definitely have felt better cushioning systems. I would have preferred full-length Zoom Air.
As I mentioned earlier, for those that ventilation is an issue, this shoe will have you thinking twice. Because of the welded textile mesh it doesn’t allow for a very breathable shoe. My socks were slightly soaked at the end of each session, but that’s not an issue for me.
The Kyrie 1 isn’t a bad shoe, but it isn’t the best either. I’ve hooped in better.The traction is a huge plus, but the (lack of) cushioning really turned me off the Kyrie 1 as a regular in my hooping shoe rotation.
It does start at a US $110 price point (the All-Star version I hooped in was $130 US), so, as far as value for money, it’s definitely worth it, but for me, I feel like this is a shoe that I will be wearing as an off-court shoe more than an on-court model.
All images courtesy of Nike.