2018 what a damn year. I wasn’t able to get on any type of real schedule to write or review shoes all year and I although I like to keep up with release dates, it’s really hard to do given the number of shoes released along with the limited quantities made for initial releases which are then subsequently rereleased in bigger quantities a few weeks later. It’s amazing how much FOMO drives demand in the sneaker biz even if it’s artificial. Don’t believe FOMO works ? Watch this on Netflix or Hulu
A few things I’m going to touch on before my actual awards and rankings. Feel free to scroll down and skip ahead, I know a lot of “readers” do this based on the questions I get.
The Canvas is changing..slowly but it’s changing
I love the movies and I could write about movies all day just like shoes but maybe I’ll save that for another time. Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians etc..it’s nice to see some color up on the screen. 25 years since Joy Luck Club was entirely too long. Keep trending this way Hollywood!
I ❤️ 🇯🇵
I got to go to Japan with my wife and it was as amazing as I had expected. They love their sneakers as much as anybody and the Harajuku district is where it’s at.
Can you get me the pair right in the middle ? Kicks Lounge Tokyo
Kicks Lab in Tokyo
I think I visited every sneaker shop in the area while I was there. I also visited a ton of street vendors there as well. Food was ridiculously good and the people were so friendly, polite and most of all orderly.
App of the Year: HomeCourt ai
I haven’t gotten around to writing a review yet but it’s freaking free so download it and you decide for yourself. Do you keep buying $150 shoes hoping your jump shot or you have more energy at the end of a pickup session? It ain’t the shoes kids get in the gym and practice.
I like McDonald’s. HomeCourt just added the arcs..pretty cool.
Although I downloaded it for the shooting drills, I really love the dribbling drills even more because it isn’t a pattern of movements, you actually have to react. It also gives you a calories burned count which is awesome because I hate sitting on a stationary bike or treadmill. Ten-twelve calories per minute with fun dribbling drills?! Sign me up!
Not often do I have to split hairs with traction so I’m kind of just lumping them together because these are all great. I did not have time this year to really compare them all as throughly but I did put my overall top shoes through the laces before I wrote this. These are somewhat in order especially the top few.
I haven’t had any major issues with the Harden V2 but the V3 is slightly better so I just left the V3 by itself.
I prefer a very balanced cushioning set up, one that isn’t too squishy and soft but is still fun and responsive. Sometimes I will go with firmer set ups and other times I like a little more softness. Cue Michael Scott …
This year, I found almost every shoe to be very balanced. I think the Tmac was the most “plush” even though it barely fits that description. Per usual Nike and Adidas dominate this category. I somewhat sorted them softest to firmest by brand
I left out the Why not bc it just didn’t feel very Zoomy and fun. Yes I will get a N3XT review out soon. The cushioning is the highlight of the shoe and feels like a mix of MicroG and Lunarlon. It doesn’t have the density of Boost or Bounce and the shoe itself only weighs 13.5 ounces so the cushioning itself must be pretty light. I do question how durable it will be in the long term though because it doesn’t feel like it’s meant to last but with sneaker life cycles shortening these days who cares right ?
The HDX fit so damn well for me as well as the Kobe NXT360. Fit isn’t ultra important to me but I do need a certain level of fit to be achieved especially in lows. Nike almost always does lows right while Adidas and UA can be hit or miss a lot of times. The N3xt fits well while stationary but I don’t just stand around so it doesn’t qualify for the fit award.
Comfort does not equal performance but I will say some shoes are more comfy than others
The Kd is a sock with a sole but lacks the support I want. It doesn’t hinder Kd though so comfort is what you seek, be like KD. The N3XT is also a sock with a sole but it is lacking in a few important aspects for me as well.
I’d rock the Kobe Exodus if the outsole were a little flatter and stable like I prefer. Nothing wrong with the shoe at all aside from that for me. It’s no name cushioning feels really good underfoot from heel to toe and is a great balanced set up. One of my first readers ever, S0lechild posted his first blog post so if you don’t believe my review, read his. I like to say I helped him but it’s all him. Give his blog a follow!
Best Value (see best budget)
This is such a great shoe for tennis or b-ball. Full length Zoom is rare for a Nike so I jumped on these. I was about to review the Adidas Ubersonic 3 but I don’t have time to right now and I saw them at the outlets so I’m waiting for more discounts.
Best Budget Shoe
Once again, Adidas takes this spot. Adidas pricing is down and I don’t even think we’ve seen the bottom for prices. Adidas hype has died and while that sucks for Adidas, I’m not going to complain. If you wait a few weeks to a few months you can save some serious cash.
I really like the budget category because it shows you don’t have to pay more for performance. More importantly, if you wait a month or two you can get great deals.
These are definite don’t buy at retail shoes. Unless they are limited I’d wait for Curry’s if you unless you really really want to have a Steph shoe. Anything other than a Curry, UA kicks are “heading to the outlet for sure” kind of shoes.
I couldn’t pick one sorry, I think both were done really well. People slept on the Cement 3 for some reason which is fine by me. Lebron retros were executed well too.
Pic courtesy of the Big Lead
Adidas is slowly getting their sh*t together with lows. The Tmac is a high low so I got a perfect lockdown. The Harden V2 and V3 are very different but they are both great. Doesn’t really seem to matter to the Beard what he’s playing so why should it matter to you?
I didn’t review that many shoes in 2018 and I haven’t even published a few of them but for the sake of not getting into Feb 2019 here are my rankings for 2018. Most are based on actual performance aspects, some are based on my personal preference and some of it is based on “damn I played fking great these are keepers”. *not sure what’s up with the formatting sorry*
Damn I still reviewed 25 shoes? Still need to get a few reviews done. I had a few people message me about the Puma Disrupt and I used my friend’s pair and it’s an easy pass for me. Poor traction on dusty floors and slightly clunky (although cushioning and fit were good) Why bother paying $120 for a shoe when I can get a more well rounded shoe for less ? That being said, it you like how the shoe looks, go get it.
WTF happened UA
The standout at the bottom is Under Armour. A few years ago I loaded up on the Curry 2 and I’m glad I did because nowadays UA has gone marketing first, performance second. At least they got Embiid? I threw the Curry 4 low in there for fun and even though I didn’t love it. After number 15 they all kind of jumble together but the Curry 5 and 6 were pretty disappointing. I kept the 6 above the five because the traction was much better. Don’t let this footage fool you, it was caused by a wet spot from the LA Kings’ game before
Oh to see potential go out the window 😞. I spent a good percentage of my sneaker buying collecting everything Curry because I loved the looks and performance but now not so much.
Good luck finding these PE’s. New Spawns look like meh but I’ll try them out anyways.
Top 5 of the year
For me 2018 was the best year of b-ball shoes I’ve ever seen. Adidas and Nike really stepped up this year while UA lagged behind even though they introduced HOVR to their basketball line. Almost every shoe I tried this year was at least a second team and I think I gave out more first teams than usual because almost every shoe had all their bases covered. Because of how good they all were I had to go with what I reached for without hesitation. I rearranged my list a few times before posting this so keep in mind the difference between 1-5 isn’t very much at all if anything.
The Kobe I was already in my top 10 all time and to get a fresh pair nearly identical to it? Great at everything plus I have years and years of great memories and games in these. Nike made enough that of these so they really don’t cost $175. They are popping up on secondary markets for under retail in the $120-140 range. Not really any performance benefit vs the OG just a bunch of marketing and a different Zoom set up but it’s nice to grab colorways like the 81 points since it’s been a grail since ..well the 81 point game.
I love everything about this shoe. Comfortable out of the box, it’s unique looking and it does everything I need. Plus it’s gonna be cheap very soon. (I’m trying to talk sense into everyone when I write reviews, not sell them on hype). I’ve already seen them on eBay from legit sellers for $100 shipped and have barely seen any sold.
The V3 is more flexible than the V2 so there’s that but Adidas designers took a break inspiration wise with the V3 as these are the most boring sig shoe I’ve seen in some time with poor colorways and color blocking and apparently grammar..
look ma, no wings
I count the Adidas line as a three headed monster because it feels odd that they occupy so many top spots and they all play pretty similarly. The Tmac is overpriced at retail of $160 so these are sitting. The Tmac is a great blend all around with a little thicker plusher cushioning than the Harden V3 and Marquee which is pretty much a perfect cushioning set up for me. However, after finally getting to compare traction on the same dusty floor, these performed the worst out of the top performers so I had to bump them down
I left the Lebron XVI off my top five/six because it just felt like a shoe to me and I prefer a little lower feeling ride. I just didn’t feel like I could cut the way I wanted to. Technically its a great shoe but it just doesn’t work for me. Thus the Pg2 got the nod in front.
I know I’ll get this question, did any of these make the real Top5/10 rotation and for once yes and no. The Protro is just a replacement for the OG Kobe I and I’m actually confident enough with my Top 5 that I can’t kick any out but I can certainly add on. My rotation is full of mostly older kicks and will wear out so I have to limit my time with them as they get older. Welcome home Marquee, Tmac, Lebron and James..or is it Jame’s? Time to get #grammerly Adidas.