Good riddance 2017
One of my friend’s houses who got hit hard
2017 felt like a non stop cycle of bad news: Mass shootings in the US, bombings in the the UK, crazy wild fires, and of course hurricanes. Hurricane Harvey but particularly close to home both literally and figuratively since Htown is my hometown. Luckily most of my friends and family came out unscathed with only a few friends of mine having any flood damage. A lot of families are still displaced in Houston because their houses are uninhabitable and there just aren’t enough workers to go around to rebuild. In addition, FEMA didn’t come through for everyone so rebuilding will have to wait until enough money is saved. Keep in mind Houston might have gotten all the press coverage but cities up and down the entire middle Gulf Coast got hammered especially Port Aransas and Rockport. You can donate here if you have some spare change.
As grim as late August and early September were for us, the Houston Astros uplifted everyone’s spirits in Houston and really all of Texas (except maybe Texas Ranger fans). Fifty five years of existence, one World Series appearance in 2005 and the Astros win the World Series in seven games the year that Hurricane Harvey decided to take a dump on Houston ? And the final score was 5-1 (Harvey dropped 51 inches of rain on Houston). You can’t write a better movie ending people. Still, there is lots of work to be done in Houston but at least we can call ourselves World Series Champions.
The Best Things I Purchased This Year
‘47 Brand knocked it out of the park. I bought every shirt in this pic from Academy which is a smallish sporting goods store here in the south. Not only are they official Astros sponsors, but they stood by Houstonians and Texans during Harvey by opening up theirs stores for First Responders. Whataburger and will always have me as customers while Mattress Mack and JJ Watt will always have me as a fan because they just stepped up to the plate when we needed them most. There were so many unsung everyday non celebrity heroes during Harvey that they all deserve a serious round of applause.
Capsule X Staple Minimalist Wallet
I got tired of having the same LV wallet that all my friends had and I liked the fact that I could show some sneakhead fandom while not looking over the top. Great leather, a beautiful smart and simple design for $75 bucks. If you don’t know who Jeff Staple is you can’t call yourself a sneakerhead.
Of course in typical sneaker fashion, these are all sold out but Capsule still has a lot of cool options: Capsule Wallets
Titleist 917D3 9.5 degrees, Graphite Design BB 6X.
My first new driver in five years. Not highly talked about but longer, straighter and more forgiving for me than the highly touted TaylorMade M1 or Callaway Epic. Just picked it up and smacked it straight out of the box. Also I went back to the ProV1 and I’m back to being an elevator..getting up and down from everywhere. I love you Titleist.
I’m Training Rip Cones
You’ve probably seen these cones on any training video and I finally pulled the trigger this past month. I’m thrilled with the results so far because these dumb little cones get you to get down low and be explosive. Standing erect is great for posture but not during hoops. I’ll be writing a full review soon. I used soda bottles prior and they work just as well for most cone based exercises but are free versus $10 a piece
Two Tickets to Paradise Kids Free
A much needed break for me and the wife
Too many Loco Mocos in Maui, I’m pretty sure I had about one per day. Hawaii is my spirit state, I just love the vibe. If I lived there I would probably never hoop because the ocean calls my name. I am Moana of Te’fiti.
Anyways, onto the 2017 rankings and awards
My Favorite Off Court Shoes
Nike Free Flyknit
The last pair of Nike Frees I bought lasted ten years but I don’t run so that’s why they lasted so long. One rule of thumb with Nike Free’s that I follow is to never buy at retail. Got these for $65 or so. The design doesn’t change much year to year so there really is no reason to buy them right away. Just a comfortable lightweight sock.
New Balance CruzI really like the design and colors of this pair. Like the Free, I didn’t buy them until a few months after the release date and got them for $47. Nice cushioning, fit and very comfortable out of the box. I’ve always liked NB stuff because they are typically made well and last. My last pairs were 802’s or something like that and they lasted seven years through constant abuse.
Simplicity sells simple as that. All the mumbo jump tech speak doesn’t matter if the average consumer thinks it’s ugly.
Nike improved everything from the X and the XI is solid across the board. No where to really go but up from last year’s model.
Most Comfortable cushioning
No surprises here
Best Blended Cushioning
WTF is blended cushioning ? It’s my definition for a nice combo of comfort and responsiveness. Basically, firmer yet still comfortable cushioning.
I had the Curry 4 in here but I had to knock the Curry 4 down a notch because it is too “one size fits only one”. If you don’t fit your normal size you have to adjust to it not the other way around.
What’s this category? Only a few shoes offer some additional support nowadays.
All the usual suspects
Best Lowish Top Shoe
Since Nike is calling lows mids now so I decided to make the category count anything I felt constituted a lower cut. I’m not really low type of guy but all of these worked great for me.
Best Lowish Cut
Best Performing Signature Shoe
I had a hard time trying to decide where to put the NXT and the XXXI Low, so I went with the one I thought performed better due to traction. I threw the Dame 4, Rose 8 and AJ 32 in together at the five spot because they all do some things very well but they also have some glaring weakness. The Rose 8 is probably the most well rounded out of the three though.
Best Budget Shoe
I wasn’t really sure what I should make the cutoff for what counts as budget. $100? But ten bucks more gets me a PG1 but then ten bucks more gets me a Kyrie..but then ten bucks more gets me the Curry 4. Do I include shoes that are under $100 due to sales ? In reality I should do it that way since the purchase price is the actual paid price not the retail price but that just opens a whole new can of worms. I’ve noticed price cuts and sales have been coming faster and heavier this year so just wait a month or two and everything ends up in the budget category.
In the end I went with $115 but it doesn’t matter because the Explosive Bounce wins anyways due to the best on court performanceand the lowest price. Not to mention they are on sale for $70 now on Adidas before any promos. These almost took the top overall spot.
I’d put the Instinct at 3 if it didn’t roll up like a ball.
2017 First team (in order of preference)
Pic courtesy of the Score
Nike React Hyperdunk 2017
The React Hyperdunk took my top spot for the year around mid July and hasn’t let go. It’s always been a jack of all trades and it continued to do that this year as well. Traction really stood out for me and is tied for the best the year with the Explosive Bounce. React foam worked great for me and is a nice balance of springiness, impact protection and responsiveness. Flyknit or mesh, it doesn’t matter, the HD 17 flat out performs. Nike is artificially keeping the price of the FK high on their website but you can get them at a discount on Eastbay or Finishline. The mesh versions are all discounted heavily everywhere. A little patience saves a lot of dough my friends.
Adidas Explosive Bounce
I can’t get over how generic this shoe looks but damn, it plays great. If it’s good enough for average height ultra quick guard Yogi Ferrell and the Process (sometimes) I can assure you it will work for you. It could use some more midfoot support but the balance of excellent traction, cushioning, and stability makes it a favorite of mine for the year even if it isn’t sexy or full of latest and greatest tech speak. It just plays like a shoe should. Too bad I can’t swap the outsole with the Dame 4..
Kobe AD Mid
Another performer that seemed to go under the radar for some reason. True, the materials aren’t the best looking but everything else about it is great. Great traction, fun cushioning, and very stable with a full range of motion. Best of all they are sitting and are being discounted. If The Kobe brand had an official ambassador like Jordan brand, these would spark some more interest…well that and better color blocking. Just say no to monochrome.
Air Jordan XXXI Solid Outsole
Don’t buy the translucent outsole because it’s just as bad as the mid. I tested out my friend’s pair and sure enough it was Yamaguchi time just like the mids. This is the Zoom BB I reborn. If you want some bang for your buck, pick these up now since they are super cheap.
If you like drop in insoles, you’ll love these. I keep flip flopping between which one I like more between the NXT and AJ XXXI Low. I like the cushioning more on the AJ but the traction is better on the NXT. Oh poor me I can’t pick between two shoes to play indoor basketball in. Wtf is wrong with me?
I really wish MiAdidas added more speckles. I guess I’ll do it myself
I really really love playing in these but not when it counts. I played in four tournaments this year (won two, finals of another and went 0 Fer in the last one…don’t drink and ball kids) and you know what I reached for every time it was championship time? The Curry 2 or HD17 just because I trusted the traction that much. If traction were a little better on dusty floors I’d definitely include them in the top 5 but the rest of shoe’s greatness can’t be ignored. If you play on clean floors or don’t need top tier traction, these are for you.
Sorry Dame, always the bridesmaid. Can we still be friends ?
Scroll to the 2:30 mark. Hooper, Rapper and Actor, Golden Globes look out!
Second team (also in order)
Pic courtesy of SI
These are all great options but I just didn’t get excited about them for one reason or another.
I know my review wasn’t super enthusiastic about the Rose 8 and that’s because I have the Rose 7 which is very similar but with better traction. If you want another all around great performer, go for the Rose 8 especially as it gathers dust on the virtual shelf. I haven’t seen these in any store, is it just an online exclusive ? Once again, materials might feel cheap but they break in just fine. Another alternative of course is to just buy the Rose 7; just because the calendar year is over doesn’t mean you can’t buy shoes from last year. Pretty much why I don’t like yearly lists. Hmm I might have to write a best of for the past five years.
Nike PG 1: very good at everything, great traction and fit, boring Phylony cushioning, sits a little high. Crazy cheap now.
Dame 4: Technically, it isn’t on the first team so I’ll just stick it here. Fix the traction for us common folk please Adidas. At least they are under $86 already at Finishline.
Air Jordan XXXII: the 32 does everything well while doing nothing badly although I find it a little clunky and too shoeish. I think a few tweaks to the shoe really would have made this great. Lots of tech specs doesn’t always translate into an exceptional shoe and this feels shoe still feels like a shoe after break in.
Crazy Explosive 2017: traction and outsole durability didn’t improve and I still feel the forefoot bottoming out. I loved the fit, stiffer upper and the looks though.
Third Team (somewhat in order and more than five but who cares at this point)
Pic courtesy of the Undefeated
Curry 4– Seth Curry parts, Steph Curry name. I could put this on the 2nd team due to its great fit and traction but its very average EVUA cushioning *this description was changed this week* hahah
and sharp lace pressure put it into the 3rd team. It’s over precise fit also helped knock it down a notch because if you’re not exactly a certain size, you have to adjust to the shoe, not the other way around. I’ve never had a shoe where half a size matters this much so while it is good for some, it is a lot of adjustments for everyone else. It is sexy though.
Nike Mamba Instinct: Areally good shoe especially for the price. I’ve seen them around fifty bucks lately and there is ZERO reason to get the 2018 model, the Mamba Rage. It does need more midfoot support since it can roll into a ball but it does everything else well.
Nike Lebron Soldier XI: A jack of all trades. Very good traction but did nothing outstanding for me.
Nike KD X: traction slightly worse than the IX after break in, containment improved slightly still not great, nice materials. Great cushioning just like IX after you break it in. Felt very bottom heavy for me, more so than the IX and I can’t figure out why. Sorry I didn’t have time to write a review.
Curry 3 Low: my favorite of the Curry 3 line. I really wish the Curry 3 had the Curry 2 traction. Good shoe all around but nothing outstanding and does nothing better than the Curry 2 Mid. Traction isn’t nearly as good as the Curry 2.
Curry 3Zero: better fit than the 3, plays better than the 3 Mid due to improved heel fit and less padding. Actually heavier than the Curry 3 despite what the marketing materials say. Same traction as the Curry 3, 3 low and very similar to the Clutchfit Drive 1 set up as well.
Nike Kyrie 4: not the best or worst at anything. Okay traction and decent cushioning. Take the Kyrie name off and nobody would care about this shoe let alone pay $120 for it. Even Kyrie doesn’t care for it and he gets paid to wear it.
Adidas Dame 3: lots of lace pressure, a little clunky, very good traction. I found some at the outlet for $29.99 so I can’t complain about the price now. Adidas basketball shoe prices fall like bricks and will continue to do so until an Adidas player is holding a championship trophy. No pressure James Harden.
Pic courtesy of ESPN. Corn dogs anyone?
Adidas Ball 365: even though it was released last year I’m counting it for this year. The Ball366 was a major disappointment: Painful lace pressure, some heel sli, same materials as the Dame 3, and a Climawarm lining that retailed for $130? Regretted the purchase almost immediately.
LBJ XV: just not for me. Nice cushioning and materials but easily the worst traction of the year and sits way too high off the ground. I’d rather wear the Lebron XIV, KD IX Or X if I wanted cushioning or the Soldier XI for a more complete shoe AND have some extra cash in my pocket.
Nike Lebron XIV: excellent cushioning, sloppy fit, too tippy in the heel for me though. Two Lebron sigs within ten months is one too many. Space it out better Nike!
There are a lot of good shoes out there, probably more than ever so just because it didn’t make my list don’t think a shoe is garbage. Anything from my First to Third team is more than playable but there are little details that may or may not work for you. If you like how a shoe looks or it’s a shoe of your favorite player, just buy it, you won’t regret it since you already have an emotional attachment to the shoe. It’s okay to be shallow when it comes to shoes just don’t be that way with people. #proverb42018
I try my best to give an honest assessment of every shoe that I buy so if I miss something or I’m not in tune with another review, don’t have tunnel ears, do your research and look on Niketalk or use YouTube/Google to help you decide. And if you still don’t have answer you like, go buy a pair yourself to decide if the shoe is right for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, I’m always happy to answer questions because I will inevitably miss something. Always speak up and ask questions..hey another proverb to live by.
Bring on 2018!
Oh btw, I was so busy this year that I didn’t even get to talk about NCAA shoe gate and how dirty sneaker companies but I hope to get around to it this year. Happy 2018 everyone!