words & images // Zac Dubasik
When the Crazy Light launched this past June, it unofficially launched a new era of adidas basketball. Sure, last season marked their return to the signature shoe world, but it was the Crazy Light that first brought back that level of anticipation that had been missing from the brand since the heydays of the TMac line. “I think you’ve seen pretty clearly that adidas Basketball has focused on being the lightest weight brand, and we set the tone with the Crazy Light,” says the Rose 2’s designer, Robbie Fuller. Considering the years of R&D that went into the Crazy Light, along with its success, it makes total sense to begin incorporating elements into the signature line of its biggest star: Derrick Rose. So, it’s only logical to use the Crazy Light to compare and contrast the models.
From the ground up, you’ll see many similarities between the two shoes. Perhaps the most visible is the SPRINTWEB upper. There is less SPRINTWEB found on the Rose 2 than on the Crazy Light, but it is more targeted. Rather than being found throughout the entire upper, it’s limited to the midfoot. From a performance perspective, it offers excellent lateral support, but remains flexible where you want it to be. It’s also very breathable. The addition of a heavier leather toecap (or synthetic, depending on the colorway) has the performance benefit of adding support, but also offering a cleaner and more style-friendly aesthetic. I found the toe shape and proportions to be spot on, and both extremely comfortable and stable. That’s just one of the methods where the adidas team merged style and performance benefits though. The most drastic has to be the unique collar strap system.
For years, the adidas Y-3 line has quietly been producing some of the company’s most intriguing shoes, bringing a high-fashion perspective to the brand. And while some of their models have been a little too “out there” for me, I’ve loved some too – specifically the Kazuhiri. So it was particularly interesting to me when I first saw leaked images of the Rose 2, and noticed the awful familiar lateral and medial elastic collar straps. “Not only did it solve a style need, it also solved a functional need, because he wears an ankle brace, but a lot of people don’t,” begins Fuller. “There’s always that adaptation that needs to happen around the ankle. And this is perfect. Perfect. If you’ve got an ankle brace on, it stretches to fit. If you don’t have one, it stretches just enough to support your ankle without a brace. We were so excited, and it’s an awesome marriage of function and style.”
I’m a player that doesn’t use ankle braces, and I found the collar to be solid, but different. I like to lace my laces as tight as I possibly can, so I wasn’t immediately excited about the fact that the main points to anchor my ankle were elastic. But when fully laced, I did feel supported. The elastic also worked wonders for range of motion. The shoe’s cut feels much lower than it actually is, thanks to the maneuverability made possible by the elastic straps. My one remaining concern is how the elastic will hold up over time for players who lace very tight. I had them pulled so snug that the two ends almost met in the center, which pulled at the straps the entire time I had them laced. After a few weeks, it didn’t feel like the elastic had weakened, but I could see the toll it was beginning to take on the straps. I would have liked to have seen those straps have a little less give, for a little more support from up top. One last note on the lacing of the shoe is that I found the tongue overlay, which the laces go through, to be a bit of an inconvenience. I wasn’t able to get my fingers between the laces at the lower points because this strip of material was in the way. I was still able to lace plenty tight through the forefoot and midfoot, but it was more of a hassle than I’m used to for a simple task. There is always the easy fix of simply lacing over this, which I’d recommend if you plan to often be lacing tightly.
The elastic straps alone might not be an ideal lockdown method for a hoops shoe, but the reason they do work is because of the outstanding level of lockdown in the heel provided by the SPRINTFRAME. If you’ve been following the past few Rose shoes, it’s not the first one you’ve seen, but it’s the best. Fuller explained that a “difference between this one and the 1.5 and 1, is this has an enlarged Sprint Frame. If you put them next to each other, it’s massive compared to the last one.” The heel counter portion of the SPRINTFRAME locks you in from the back so well that it allows the collar straps to offer more range of motion, without sacrificing heel stability. The support continues through the midfoot, where it offers much more rigidity than past Rose shoes, and especially more than in the Crazy Light. This bigger and more thick SPRINTFRAME obviously comes with a cost: weight. But luckily, the transition is smooth enough that the increased weight doesn’t actually hurt the shoe.
The midsole of the Rose 2 is also configured very similarly to the Crazy Light, right down to the materials. “It’s the same premium sourcing foam, which is injection molded. And what you get from that is a very consistent rate,” says Fuller. But while the foam itself is the same, the construction is different. “On the Crazy Light, the Sprint Frame is stitched to the upper, which allows us to make the midsole a little bit lower to the ground, and you get more cushioning, because you are standing straight on the foam. In this case, we wanted to give him enhanced protection,” says Fuller. That enhanced protection also means that the midsole thickness through the midfoot and heel are slightly higher than on the Crazy Light. But while increased thickness may imply a softer ride, I found it to be quite the opposite. The cushioning is still good, but not nearly as good as the Crazy Light. The heel feels great, but I found the forefoot to be a bit too firm. It is however, as designed, more protective with this construction.
Up until this point of the review, everything about the Rose 2 points to an “A” grade. There are plenty of flaws, but nothing that hurts the shoe too much. And that’s why the traction is so disappointing to me, because I like so much about the rest of the shoe. While the Crazy Light had some of the best indoor traction in recent memory, the Rose 2 struggles with dust. Storytelling on a signature shoe is an essential part of what makes something a signature shoe, but I’m extra disappointed when it comes at the expense of traction. The volcanic splatter pattern looks cool, but just didn’t handle dusty floors well. I played on many different courts over my few weeks of testing, and experienced good and bad. There were courts where the traction was a dealbreaker, and there were courts where it was perfectly fine. I did find some improvement as the traction broke in but in real world playing conditions (aka, most non-NBA or D1 courts), I found myself swiping very often. From a durability standpoint, this traction will be able to hold up for playing outdoors, unlike the Crazy Light. But indoors, I was disappointed by it more times than not.
The Rose 2.0 is a great signature shoe. Its storytelling elements, attention to detail, and overall quality and value are all on point. As a performance shoe, it’s really good, but could have been a solid “A” with some relatively minor tweaks to the traction pattern. If you have the luxury of playing on clean courts though, it’s still an easy recommendation for guards looking for a shoe offering both maximum support and speed.
best for: Guards looking for maximum support
colorway tested: Black/Red/White
key tech: Sprint Frame, SPRINTWEB, elastic ankle straps
pros: support, comfort, protection, cut
cons: traction very slippery on dusty courts, elastic straps have too much give
improvements: less storytelling, more stick in the traction pattern; less give in elastic straps
buying advice: The adiZero Rose 2 isn’t the lightest shoe made my adidas, but for guards looking for maximum support, it’s an easy choice – as long as you have the luxury of well-maintained courts. Over my few weeks of weartesting, I found that the traction broke in some, but was still less than ideal on a dusty court.
Available Now : adidas adiZero Rose 2