Sorry for the delay. No time to take new pics or add hyperlinks as I’ve been slammed. You can just scroll on the menu for the full reviews.
2016 was an interesting year for me as I learned a lot about myself. As some of you know I had a good amount of time off due to wrist surgery to fix a totally ruptured scapholunate ligament in my right wrist. I was about to write about but I decided against it since it was felt mundane. However, I learned a few lessons:
Health insurance and doctors offices suck
Although I already knew that I didn’t know they sucked this badly. Went to two specialists to get a second opinion, was clearly told they took my insurance and was IN NETWORK only to find out later they were OUT OF NETWORK. I got a Sorry, our bad and a bill shortly there after. Always check with your insurance not just the doctors office about coverage. After some arguing I got one doctor to bill me as in network and the other to reduce the charges. Canada is sounding better and better..
I am a “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade” kind of person
I got a big bag of lemons this year. When I was in a cast for 6 weeks I didn’t just sit around and mope even though I couldn’t lift weights or play basketball or golf or tennis or…you get the point. I worked on my shot even with a cast on my right arm.. I worked on my legs, ankles and basketball cardio plus learned to stretch my hip flexors so I could prevent injury and be close to game ready when I got back on the floor. Working out the upper body is great but the legs are the engine to the machine so don’t neglect them.
A 3-1 lead doesn’t mean sh*t
See Warriors vs Cavs, Cubs vs Indians, Clinton vs Trump
I am Not an Influencer
Actually I already knew that but I’m proud of that. I’m just a guy doing the same things every sneakerhead does but I decided to write about it for fun and try to learn more about myself and my passions. I don’t post a bunch of pics on Instagram or tweet about the latest drops and pick ups because I don’t have the time. I just found out that WordPress runs ads on my blog so I just upgraded my plan to get them removed. Google Ad sense is the smartest yet most annoying (and scariest) thing in the world. If you’re wondering why you see the same pop up Ax for Men ad on every sneaker site, Google Ad Sense is your answer.
There are more important things in life than shoes.. much more important, it isn’t really even a discussion. I enjoy writing because it lets me escape from reality for a few hours at a time.
Ok enough chit chat here is my 2016 . I will say that 2016 was a good year overall with better cushioning namely thanks to Adidas. It also was nice to see Nike come down to earth with some of their prices. Twenty to thirty bucks off Lebrons and KD’s isn’t that much when you look at their entire line up. Most of the prices stayed the same especially the Kyrie and team shoes. Don’t forget Jordan Brand pushed some of their retros prices up to $220 so it all evens out …sort of. Nike/JB giveth and Nike/JB taketh away in one form or another. Pretty sure they still came out ahead. Competition is a great thing even if they still own 90% of the market. I’m hoping that just losing that tiny bit of market share wakes the bear and Nike shows us what they can really do like the early 2000’s.
On the whole though, the average shoe in 2016 was better, Nike prices fell a little, while Adidas and UA prices were left unchanged or increased. If you wait for a month or two, all shoes can be had at a nice discount, so the retuL price drop isn’t that big a deal to me. KD IX everywhere for $99 anyone?
I also called the bandwagon effect on UA as they got pounded by Wall Street. Diversify your portfolio UA.. Can Curry carry UA alone?
Photo courtesy of Chapelle’s show and Comedy Central
I should note that ONLY ONE shoe from 2016 made my rotation to end the year.
Nike Lebron Soldier X
I should have known better. Average traction, hard cushioning, slight heel slip, no containment. This shoe proves that it isn’t the shoes at all as Lebron just changed his legacy in one series.
Li Ning Way of Wade 4
This was my first and probably last attempt with a Chinese brand. I found them to be painfully numbing with very firm cushioning. Just because a cushioning has fancier name doesn’t mean it works. $195 retail. Just a joke at that price for what you get. Even at $160 it was way too pricey.
Most Underrated/Best Comeback
Nike Hyperdunk 2016
Great comeback by Nike. No frills no fanfare. Not the most exciting shoe but a good solid shoe that gets cheaper each month as inventory piles up.
Under Armour Clutchfit Drive 3
Making the shoe out of its namesake was a great idea UA unlike the CFD 2. Cushioning was ok, traction was good for the most part. Just very CFD like overall.
Risewear 720 Halo
For under $35 bucks retail you get a shoe that has similar materials, nice fit and decent traction for lots less than the big boys. EVA feels decent in these but doesn’t typically last long but they look good for being a discount brand. I really applaud them for “fixing” a glaring hole in the discount shoe industry. Please don’t make fun of what people wear, $35 to some is $200 to others and pennies to another. And if you do, I hope you get crossed up and break your ankles and become a viral sensation. #karma
I keep flip flopping between the KD IX and the Adidas Boost line up so I chickened out and made it a tie. My friend who has back issues swears that his back is great thanks to the KD. He was going to give my Rose 7 a try but he just didn’t like the fit or the thinner forefoot cushioning.
I love the Zoom on the Hyperrev 2016 and I think the full length Zoom on the Hyperdunk Fk and Jordan XXX1 shouldn’t be left out. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Low profile and springy works for me.
Adidas’s Bounce deserves more praise than it gets. Feels good right out of the box plus it’s stable and soft where and when it should be.
The Rare Metals took the Blackfoam from the JC3 and lowered the ride to make it a quicker more balanced cushioning. Just good stuff.
Crazy Explosive heel and midfoot cushioning
Why so low? I bottomed out in the forefoot because of the cored out area. I finally figured out that was the issue. Couldn’t really feel the Boost in the forefoot either. Also I had to go through multiple pairs to find the Boostiest pair which is a real issue. Some were harder than the Rose 7 and CLB.
I heart traction…I may have forgotten one or two good ones but the first few really stood out. The Curry 3 and KD 9 aren’t far behind either.
Least Bad Low Top
I didn’t really love any low this year for one reason or another. Some shoes did a few things great but nothing killed it all around. None of these are making my rotation but if I were to pick on to play in today…
1. Project Crazylight Boost 2016
I really shouldn’t have to modify a shoe to find the right fit but the extra eyelets helped a ton. Heel fit was sloppy in my true size that I had to make new eyelets which eliminated 95% of the heel slip. Going down half a size did help but my wide feet couldn’t stand wearing them for too long. I shouldn’t have to compromise comfort and performance or be forced to choose what is the lesser of two flaws. Plus the four lace loops didn’t help with making a one to one fit. Some suggested more adding more eyelets and I don’t doubt it would work but then I have to find new laces to match.. just a lot of extra steps. The stock Crazylight is good if you have the right foot and ankle for it but since I don’t, it’s not on my list.
2. Nike Kobe A.D.
Excellent fit and traction got me to enjoy this shoe. Cushioning is not as soft as previous Kobe’s, most notably 8-11 but it feels responsive and pretty good after break in, not rock hard like the Kyrie 2. Think a slightly softer Curry 2.5 . The forefoot outrigger does roll under the outsole on hard crossovers which is annoying but mine have held up and it happens only on occasion. Long term I’m not sure how it will hold up but at least Nike has a two year warranty?
3. Adidas Harden Vol 1
I wasn’t sure where to place this shoe but it’s overall a better shoe than the stock lace set up of Crazylight Boost 2016. Adidas improved all facets of the CLB except traction on dusty floors. Needed some serious break in time for me and my arches still get sore. If these had better traction on dusty floors I’d like the a lot more.
4. Kobe XI
Another shoe I didn’t love due to traction. I loved the heel fit, cushioning was good, containment was ok. I may try a solid outsole once prices fall some more but with the A.D. I already found a better traction pattern.
5. Brandblack Rare Metal
Everything about the shoe is great except traction. Just not as much bite as other shoes overall and stupidly placed foam on the outsole plus a harder rubber compound made for inconsistent traction.
*I didn’t count the KD IX as a low although I guess it could be?*
Top 6 Overall
This list is not my top 6 rotation. Only the Rose and Curry 2.5 are in my rotation although the Soldier VI nostalgia has made me give it a lot more PT lately. Newer almost never means better kids.
I like all the shoes on the list but some performance flaws keep them out of my rotation . I wasn’t sure if I should count the Curry 2.5 since it’s pretty much a better fitting Curry 2 so I made it a top 6 instead.
1. Adidas D Rose 7
I don’t hide my unabashed love for excellent traction so this should come as no surprise. Ridiculous traction, great cushioning made even better with an insole swap. Flexible yet supportive, it just fits my game. And prices keep falling so really can’t beat that.
2. Curry 2.5
Same as the Curry 2 but with an even better fit. Once again a top traction set up, decent cushioning (it just plays fast) and super stable.
3. Hyperrev 2016
Most have probably forgotten about this shoe..I mean it’s almost a year old (sarcasm). It fell out of my rotation because it played to similar to the Soldier VI but Nike gave us awesome Zoom, excellent traction (one of the best this year), while being supportive and stable. My heel counter got beat up and lost its stiffness which I should have expected given how soft it was to begin with while my Soldiers have kept trucking along.
4. Hyperdunk 2016
The HD16. My review didn’t sound enthusiastic about it but it wasn’t because it didn’t perform. It did everything well just not lights out great. However, I do have to say the way it pulled the ankle and foot back really stood out to me. Just a solid performer if not exciting. And for the price ..
5. Adidas D Lillard 2
The Lillard 2 is another shoe that I love and I wish its traction on dusty floors was at least better than average. Very comfortable out of the box without sacrificing performance. Looks great and else about the shoe is excellent and at $105, pretty much a no brainer. I even picked up a Primeknit Rip City pair for $85 bucks because I like Dame and the shoe itself. And no, there is no performance difference between the uppers.
6. Nike KD IX
This is why I love competition. Nike brought the big guns with the revamped Zoom and great traction. I felt it was a little too soft for me and the containment wasn’t the greatest. Over time the shoe’s upper and heel counter has gotten too soft and I can’t move like I want to in these because I’m sliding off the footbed. But the good outweighed the bad for the most part and at $99 bucks and below now, it’s almost a no brainer. Nike has the Birds of Prey on sale for $75 and even I picked those up for that price.
Brandblack Rare Metal
I didn’t think fit could be addictive but man these fit great out of the box. No break in time to get locked in. Too bad traction held it back.
What about the Crazylight Boost 2016? See low top section
What about the Crazy Explosive? Just didn’t float my boat like the rest of the sneaker world. Traction was decent not great and prone to peeling. I had pain in the ball of my due to the cored out areas in the forefoot. In addition the forefoot cushioning felt thin to me probably because most of the foot pressure was landing right in that cored out area. Materials? Yes it’s soft but I’d rather just be locked in than have knit materials sitting on top of my foot. To me, materials are almost a non factor in terms of performance unless the material cause constant pain even after break in. Materials are only a talking point nowadays because shoe companies all use different materials now since they all ditched leather. Can’t hurt to market one more thing right? Would MJ missed his last shot if the upper were stiffer on the AJ XIV? Very doubtful, but if the traction sucked and he slipped..well you can’t score when your turn it over.