Rise Up & Release Your Inner Strength

Rise Up & Release Your Inner Strength

Finding the perfect basketball shoe is about more than just picking which one looks the coolest. It’s about finding a shoe that’s tailored for your game. Whether you’re a shifty guard who requires a lot of grip for cutting and exploding or you’re a bruising big who needs more stability and support there’s a shoe out there that’s perfect for you. Eastbay recently sat down some of the top athletes in the WNBA to discuss a variety of topics including what shoes they wear on the court and why they feel those shoes go best with their style of play.

Sue Bird And The Kyrie 4

Sue Bird continues to put on a show every night even at the age of 38. A three-time champion who is the all-time leader in assists, Bird is a living legend. Her ability to manipulate defenders with a series of hesitations and ball fakes is similar to her friend Kyrie Irving. The two became friends during a Team USA autograph session, and when Irving discovered Bird was wearing his shoes on the court, he went to Nike and told them to give her whatever she wanted. Bird said, “I’m just a huge fan and a subscriber to look good, feel good, play good. Whenever I put on the Kyries, that’s how I feel.”

Sue Bird is a tornado on the court

While the shoes are stylish they’re also designed for Bird’s style of play. She needs a shoe that has incredible grip so she can accelerate and cut without any fear of slipping. “There’s so much start and stop that’s part of my game, so the shoe fits my style in that regard,” she said. The Kyrie 4’s outsole has a zigzag cutout along the bottom that enhances traction while still allowing for flexibility. Under the heel, there’s Nike Zoom Air cushioning to help provide a responsive feel with every move. “They’re obviously made for somebody who’s out there doing spin moves, going left, going right over here over there.” Wrapped around the midfoot of the shoe, Flywire cables provide support for quick cuts and tough drives. All these features allow Bird to focus on the things that make her incredible without worrying about whether her shoe will hold up.

Bird compares herself to a tornado on the court. “My game is the type where I’m trying to help my teammates out by being the leader on the floor and trying to organize things,” she said “As it pertains to attacking the other team, I think before you know it, things are happening around you and you’re spinning around and suddenly we’ve scored.” This up-tempo style of play that encourages attacking early in the shot clock, constant movement, and pinging the ball around the court suits Bird’s style of play, and the Kyries help maximize her game so she is consistently at her absolute peak.

Sue Bird and the Kyrie 4

In addition to excellent performance, the 4’s also feature several spectacular colorways that draw inspiration from previous decades, paying homage to the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. You can check out these styles and more at Eastbay.

Diana Taurasi And The LeBron 16

There is no more accomplished player in the WNBA than Diana Taurasi. An MVP with three championships, four Olympic gold medals, nine All-Star appearances, and nine All-WNBA selections, she is a force on the court. In order to stay on top of her game, Taurasi competes in another GOAT’s signature shoe: the LeBrons.

Taurasi signed with Nike coming out of college and has been an avid supporter of the LeBron 10, which she says is her favorite pair ever made. Taurasi competed in the 10s for about five years before stepping into the LeBron 15s this past season. When talking about the Lebron series Taurasi said, “I think they have suited the way I play the most, you know for one I like to wear a basketball shoe that is comfortable, that’s got some girth to it.”

Nike WNBA Diana Taurasi

Taurasi is known as one of the fiercest competitors in all of basketball, a gunslinger from three who hits 38% on over eight attempts per game, who also has the ability to get into the lane, draw contact, and still finish. “I think LeBron’s shoes always symbolized the way he plays, going downhill, very powerful. Those are things I try to bring to the court too, so it’s kind of mirrored the way I play.” The recently released LeBron 16s have combine Max Air and Zoom Air in order to help absorb impact from tough landings while staying flexible. It’s also made with Flyknit material which means it’s lightweight, ultra-strong, and provides excellent support.

Diana Taurasi and the Lebron 15

Having played in Phoenix her entire career, Taurasi compares herself to a sandstorm. During the season, she loves to “sweep into a city, cause some havoc, and get on out.” This take-no-prisoners mentality is what has allowed her to dominate the league as long as she has. It’s a competitive spirit that has been recognized by The King himself who sent her multiple colorways of the 15’s including the Metallic Gold and Graffiti styles. Right now, the Multicolor and Fresh Bred colorways for the LeBron 16 are available at Eastbay so you too can become a force on the court.

Breanna Stewart And The KD 11

Breanna Stewart has dominated the hardwood at every level. In high school, she was a McDonald’s All-American and the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year. At the University of Connecticut (UConn) she was a four-time National Champion, three-time Naismith College Player of the Year, and finished as the all-time leader in blocks in UConn history. She left UConn as one of the greatest players in program history, which, given the players that have come before her, is an incredible accomplishment. In just three seasons in the WNBA she’s already a two-time All-Star, MVP, and Champion.

Her game is defined by her versatility. She’s a forward who has the ability to dominate in the post with a litany of moves, step out and knock down the long ball, and take her defender off the dribble. That’s why Stewart compares herself to a tsunami hitting the court. “I’m dangerous on offense,” she said. “I’m powerful, and I wipe out every defense I’m up against.” There is perhaps no other player who can impose their will as well as she can. It’s impossible to stop her. Smaller defenders don’t have the strength to handle her down low and have no hope of blocking her shot, while bigger players are often too slow to keep up with her on the perimeter. She has drawn comparisons to another versatile forward in the NBA, Kevin Durant. Both players can impact the game from anywhere on the floor, and both wear the KD 11s.

Diana Taurasi is a tsunami on the court

“I think the KD 11s fit me because KD’s style of play is similar to mine. It’s a comfortable shoe, very compact, light, and I think it’s his best one yet,” Stewart said. The KD 11 has Flyknit material that covers your foot for flexibility and incredible support, while still allowing your foot to breathe. A rubber sole extends up the sides of the shoe to provide stability as you move and cut. Nike React foam and Zoom Air provide responsive cushioning, allowing you to explode into the air.

Breanna Stewart and the KD 11

The KD 11 is the ideal shoe for players who prefer to rock a low-cut on the court, and features a unique style that you can check out at Eastbay.

Jewell Loyd And The Kobe AD

Jewell Loyd only knows how to play basketball one way: attacking full throttle. Never stopping until the whistle blows. It’s the same mentality that has pushed her from the small town of Lincolnwood, Illinois to starring for Notre Dame, to being the No.1 overall draft for Seattle where she averaged 16 points and 5 rebounds per game to help secure a third championship for the franchise. Her willingness to attack the rim and take tough shots is what turned her into a star.

Loyd likes to think of herself as an earthquake because, “When I enter the game, I have a tendency to shake things up and keep opponents on their heels.” With a penchant for taking and making tough shots – fadeaways, stepbacks, and stepthroughs – she is the ultimate game changer. Those shots leave defenders shook because they quickly realize that even their best defense is no match for Loyd. Watching her work magic from the mid-range is reminiscent of another star and the inspiration behind her shoe choice: Kobe.

Jewell Loyd is an earthquak on the court

Loyd has always worn the Kobe series. “The whole concept of the lower-cut shoe, how it completely grips your foot giving you complete control. The pattern on the bottom, the way you cut and shoot, it feels like the shoe is part of your foot,” she said. This mix of comfort and grip is vital for Loyd to play her game. As she blows by defenders weaving her way into the lane, Loyd knows her shoes won’t let her down. “The grip is phenomenal and it’s super light.” The Kobe AD has a micro-blade outsole pattern allowing Loyd to explode in any direction without slipping. It also features a hidden lacing system that lets you to lock in by simply pulling a cord.

Jewell Loyd and the Kobe AD

The Kobe AD features some of the brightest colorways of any shoe with its fluorescent purples, greens, and yellows. Those and others are available at Eastbay.

Elena Delle Donne And The Hyperdunk X

Elena Delle Donne has overcome a lot in her career to make it to this point. She’s weathered multiple injuries and has been fighting an ongoing battle with Lyme disease since she was a sophomore at University of Delaware. Her incredible perseverance and belief in herself is the reason she has become the superstar she is. After playing volleyball her freshman year, she switched to basketball and became a force, eclipsing 2,000 career points and helping Delaware advance to the Elite Eight her senior year. She was drafted No. 2 overall, helped lead Chicago and Washington to the Finals, and was an MVP in 2015.

Delle Donne describes her game as being like a hurricane. “Hurricanes might bring a ton of wind, a ton of rain, a lot of force, or all three,” she said. “They’re versatile, and you really never know what you’re going to get.” It’s pretty clear that defenders never know what they’re getting with her either. One minute she’s pulling down a rebound and going coast to coast for a layup, the next she’s pulling up off the dribble for three, or she’s posting up picking out open shooters or taking it herself. Her ability to do whatever she wants on the court has turned her into an offensive wrecking crew capable of tearing through defenses in any way she wants.

WNBA Elena Delle Donne

When deciding which shoe she wants to wear, Delle Donne takes several factors into consideration. “I definitely look for it to fit like a glove. I want it to be light, and then grip. It’s super important.” Delle Donne is a modern day point forward who can comfortably run the break, shut down opposing guards, and knock down shots from anywhere on the floor. Having a shoe that doesn’t weigh her down and allows her to cut smoothly is a must.

One shoe that fits this mold is the Nike Hyperdunk X which just celebrated its 10th anniversary. You can find a plethora of Hyperdunks both mid- and low-cut at Eastbay.




Nike Hyperdunk – Blake Griffin Metallic Platinum

Nike Hyperdunk – Blake Griffin Metallic Platinum

words // Brandon Richard

Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin was officially shifted over to the Jordan Brand back in November, but custom colorways of what would have been his ’12-’13 Nike Basketball game shoe are still being released.

Available now is the ‘BG’ Nike Lunar Hyperdunk in a fresh Metallic Platinum colorway. The shoe features a tonal version of Griffin’s “earthquake” print, as well as Clippers-inspired royal and red accents throughout. “BG32” is centered across the tongue, while a translucent icy rubber outsole completes the look below.

The Hyperdunk is equipped with performance-based technology like Dynamic Flywire support for enhanced stabilization and a basketball-specific Lunarlon cushioned sole.

Pick up Blake Griffin’s new Nike basketball shoes here today.

Available: Nike Hyperdunk – Blake Griffin Metallic Platinum

Nike Lunar Hyperdunk 2012 Blake Griffin Metallic Platinum 524934-009

Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 Elite Performance Review

Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 Elite Performance Review

words & images // Nick DePaula

Sometimes you’ll read paragraph after paragraph about a shoe before finally making it to the verdict and main chunk of the performance review.

This is not that review.

That’s because the Hyperdunk Elite is the best shoe of the season – the best shoes in years, actually – and a complete joy to play in.

During that first week after I got my pair, I was looking forward to the clock hitting 6:30 every day so I could bounce from work and go play in them. They’re the best-fitting shoe I’ve ever worn. They’re incredibly supportive, lightweight, cushioned, responsive and stable. Everything you’d want in a sneaker, these have. (Well, maybe not the price tag …)

The Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 was already my favorite shoe of the year when it launched, with its sweet blend of cushioning, fit, traction and support. When I first heard about the Elite Series that Nike Basketball was kicking off this spring, I really wasn’t sure how they could improve on it.

It’s pretty easy to see that pretty much the entire upper has been revamped here, and while the launch Hyperdunk 2011 fit damn well, the Elite version takes things to an entirely new bar-setting level. The upper has actually half the layers, and it hugs better than anything I’ve ever worn.

On top of that awesome fit, the Pro Combat tongue is tremendously plush and padded, but unlike the LeBron 9 Elite, it’s only incorporated right over the top of your foot and then thins out towards the top of the tongue, resulting in less puff and exact lockdown around the collar. The shoe is flooded with Kevlar Flywire, and in tandem with the actual carbon fiber heel counter, you’re locked right in.

This is the first shoe in a while that I have zero complaints about. Perhaps the breathability could be better, but literally everything about them is money. The traction is squeaky and perfect on even a dusty court. The lockdown and support are perfect for slashing players and speedy guards. And the sheer comfort that comes from the beefed-up insole, Pro Combat tongue and heel / forefoot Zoom Air combo is unmatched.

You won’t read many reviews this brief, and in this case, it’s because the Hyperdunk Elite is simply that good. If you have any specific questions that you’re curious about, fire away in the comments section and I’ll be sure to answer. Literally everything about these is awesome, and they’re also great for any position on the court. (Unless you cut powerfully and plan to have Marc Gasol stepping on your foot.)

If you’re up for the $200 price point (even though you can definitely buy two pairs of the launch Hyperdunk for that much now that those are on sale), you won’t regret it all. They’re one of my favorite shoes in years.

Grade Breakout //

designed by: Leo Chang

best for: all positions

colorway tested: Black / Metallic Gold

worn by: Blake Griffin

key tech: two-layer bonded upper with Kevlar Flywire strands throughout, sizable real carbon fiber heel counter and midfoot shank, heel and forefoot Zoom Air units, Pro Combat tongue, anatomical sockliner with grip nubs, Kevlar laces

pros: The best combination of fit / support / cushioning / traction and total performance in years.

cons: price

improvements: I seriously can’t think of any.

sizing: true to size

buying advice: The Hyperdunk Elite is my favorite shoe in years. Right out of the box, everything about them is amazing. The fit and feel, cushioning and ride, and support and traction are all industry leading. All in all it’s a monster of a sneaker that I’d recommend to everyone. That is, if you’re ok with the monster price tag.

Available Now: Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 Elite

Interview // Leo Chang Details The Hyperdunk 2011

Interview // Leo Chang Details The Hyperdunk 2011

words & sneaker photography // Nick DePaula
portraits // Zac Dubasik

Ever since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Nike Basketball has clearly been on a tear with their direction towards sleeker silhouettes championing lightweight containment.

The Hyperdunk 2011 hopes to carry on that legacy of high performance that we’ve come to expect from the series. As Nike Basketball Design Director Leo Chang explains in our in-depth conversation, he set out to bring literaly every aspect of the shoe closer to the foot. Whether that meant countless trips to Asia to come up with new three-layer upper composites on the spot, or moving the Hyperdunk series to an entirely new last to finally put an end to the complaints of “too much volume,” he was up for the task.

I recently talked it up with both Leo Chang and Nike Senior Product Development Manager Tom Wray to hear all about every last detail built into the shoe. Wray, who has spent a considerable amount of time on the Kobe Bryant signature line and some of the brand’s biggest models, helped Chang to get after perfecting the geometry of the shoe’s sizable midfoot shank and tune the shoe’s Flywire package just right. Enjoy an in-depth look at the Hyperdunk 2011 ahead, as well as several exclusive pullover and early round samples.

Nick DePaula: This is the third Hyperdunk of the series that you’ve done now. Can you talk about some of the things you wanted to improve upon from the last one, and where this year’s version takes us?

Leo Chang: Going into the Hyperdunk 2010, I think we went somewhere pretty cool. Especially in the tooling, where we went with Zoom / Zoom, and I think that was something that a lot of ballers really appreciated. You included.

NDP: Oh yeah. Never a Lunar guy for hoops. [laughs]

LC: The other thing was that we definitely evolved from the original Flywire package, which was a thicker TPU-based and kind of a plasticky package, to more of a Skinwire that was evolved from the Zoom Kobe V. We felt like that could give you a better conformable fit where it went over the toe, but we still felt like we could do better than that. We also wanted to improve just generally, the fit and volume inside of the shoe.

That actually started with the Hyperfuse and the Kobes. Both of those shoes are built on a specific last, and having literally a third of the NBA wearing the Hyperfuse last season at some point was pretty cool. If people were liking the way that played, and maybe it was still a little narrow because of the stiffer Hyperfuse package — but we were on a good path. With Flywire, it’s a little bit more conformable, so we wanted to look at using that last to improve that one-to-one fit. That was the main goal going into this year’s upper. How do we learn from that? The past shoes have been on a wider last.

NDP: Was there anything in particular that inspired some details of the shoe?

LC: Some of the inspiration I got was from looking at the Kobe VI upper package, and how they used layers well. Design wise, I liked how on the LeBron 8 V/2, the whole upper was a combination of mesh and Flywire. I wanted to almost merge those together a bit, and also look to improve on the breathability too. One of the things that we saw on the Kobe VI was they actually perforated in between the Flywire, and gave it some added breathability in between the hot melts. Better fit. Breathability. Midfoot shank rigidity. Those were the goals.

NDP: Yeah, the shank is much more sizable than year’s past.

LC: Definitely, and we went away from the shank that we had in the 2010 for a number of reasons. The shank gave pretty much everyone great support, but it was a bit flat and still bending when we didn’t want it to. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen, and the shank really evolved both in size and geometry.

Tom Wray: Early on, there was a big push to follow the Kobe VI too, in terms of Kurim applications. Here, we can take the best parts of that package and evolve it. On the Kobe, with the scales, that part of the shoe got pretty overworked and played a big role in the look. They had eight or nine colorways for each season, and there was a lot of Kurim out there [laughs], so we wanted to use the same package, but give it a different covering application and top layer.

LC: Early on, we started out with quite a few different meshes too. I don’t know why we hung onto all this stuff, but I knew you guys would appreciate it. [laughs]

NDP:  Well yeah, we always do. [laughs]

Below: The very first pullover sample for the Hyperdunk 2011.

Above: An early round upper sample of the Hyperdunk 2011, that actually incorporates the 2010’s tongue, and the Hyperfuse’s tooling.

NDP: As you got to designing the upper, how did that all come together?

Leo Chang: We looked at things like sublimating the Swoosh into the pattern even, but we ended up feeling like it wasn’t as rich as we’d want. Really, for this whole shoe, it started out with me not actually having a real design on paper, but I knew what I wanted from material combinations. I had the factory take the Hyperdunk 2010 and try new upper packages, and then I began to draw what the upper silhouette and lines could look like. I knew we needed protection in the toe and in the heel, and then I went back after weartesting and looked at covering up even more areas, like the eyestay holes to make sure they didn’t tear. The Flywire pattern definitely evolved along the way.

NDP: So there wasn’t actually as much of a direction in terms of the exact design when you first started out?

LC: I definitely wanted to stay within the Hyperdunk language, but I was more driven by the concept of the composites and what the layering system could do. I wanted to let that guide the design, and there’s definitely still a lot of the same language. You still have the exaggerated collar and the high to low feel. I just really wanted to worry first about this super lightweight upper that fit great. The first sample we got, I put it on, and it was like, “Finally!” It was the upper that really achieves what the original Flywire upper set out to achieve. It had a great one-to-one fit, there weren’t any pressure points when you had it and it flexed well. I think that was one complaint that we got on the 2010.

NDP: Yeah, I thought the same thing. And it varied by color. The team colors were fine for me, but on the USA version though, that white synthetic had a *pop* to it when you flexed.

LC: Yeah, and those are the little things that we want to get better at. We weren’t happy with that, so we just were looking at making the fit and flex even better.

NDP:  Each year, the Hyperdunk gets lighter. Was that the case again here?

TW: We’re still really looking to push lightweight performance. The Kobe V and VI had come out in the 10.5 and up zone, and Leo was looking to have us get the Hyperdunk in that zone. By starting minimal and adding support just where you need it.

NDP: Where’d it end up?

LC: Actually, we got a few samples back that were in the 10.5 ounce zone, but we felt like — and it wasn’t that it was too light — but we just wanted to make sure that we got the fit, support and durability down right. When you start taking away more, people think it’s not going to be as durable and it’s not going to be as stable. We actually started out with an internal counter to get a bit lighter, but then we added on an external counter to get a better 3D molded heel shape and lockdown. We felt like adding things that were a benefit would be better than getting it lighter at an expense. Now, it’s around 11.5 ounces, and we basically are around the same weight as the 2010. It’s micro-fractions of an ounce lighter than last year, but the upper fit, the shank and the heel counter are all so much better, in my opinion. People are going to love it.

NDP: Can you talk about the outsole design? One thing that you notice right away is how both the heel and forefoot Zoom units are visible through a window.

LC: That was something that we just wanted people to know that it was Zoom / Zoom. Last year, there were still some questions about the cushioning set-up, so I just wanted people to be able to know right away this year when they turn the shoe over.

TW: It’s a great call out, and Zoom is our best technology, but people often just have to trust that it’s in there. Rarely do you see it.

NDP: Is it 14mm in the heel and 8mm in the forefoot?

LC: Yeah, exactly. And also, having the window and cut-away in the heel gives it a nice deflection back there. On the outsole, we also have the same dynamic herringbone and outrigger for traction and support. Actually, we were looking at the 2010 and even on some Kobes, and we were seeing some blowouts right above the outrigger on the harshest of cuts. Extreme cuts. When you dip too low with the rubber on the midsole, sometimes that skinwire can peel out. We wanted to creep that up this time around for more durability. I actually got a letter from a couple of kids that said the upper peeled out there. So the first thing I thought was, “Well, how do we solve that?” We added more rubber up around the outrigger to really protect that zone.

NDP: Is the stance a bit different than before? They seem to have a bit more toe spring than last year.

LC: Well, since the last is different, you naturally just have a little more toe spring here. If you look at the Kobe V and VI, they have a bit more of a kick in the toe, and that’s because of the last.

TW: Pretty different fit than the QF-8 last.

NDP: Yeah, and I’ve always heard the QF-8 described as just a more generally accommodating last.

LC: The general man’s last.

TW: It was the go-to last forever. All of the Jordan game shoes were done on the QF-8 forever.

LC: What we were finding was that it works great with leathers and synthetic leathers, but once you start getting to this zone where you have a really thin composite package, it creates a lot more volume within the shoe.

NDP: Interesting; the platform can then feel wider.

LC: Exactly, it feels more wide and sloppy inside, and you really need a sleeker, more form-fitting last here, like the Kobe last, to really get the fit and stability that you want.

NDP: One thing that’s different too is how the triangular window is gone along the collar, and now it’s hinted to with the layering you did.

LC: Sure, and it’s a nod to it. I kind of felt like a broken record again if I were to make the hole just over and over, and I wanted to try something different. The rest of the upper was so meshy feeling, that maybe filling that in made sense.

NDP: Something that Zac and I really liked from the KD line was the notch that you guys added into the collar, which you added here for the first time in the Hyperdunk.

LC: It’s not that expensive to put in there, and the lobes are one of those things that just give you that much more support and extra lockdown.

NDP: From the looks of it, there’s two versions of the Hyperdunk. There’s the first version with the full mesh upper, and the second that you guys are calling “Supreme” that has the beefed up Kurim toe?

LC: The Supreme version was the result of treating the “supreme” version of our shoes as something more than just cooler colorways with new materials and aesthetic treatments. If it’s going to be called Supreme, we should be amping up the performance too. The Kurim stuff is expensive and we couldn’t afford to do it at the pricepoint of the regular version, so the Supreme version gave us this opportunity to do it. The point of the Kurim was to make the toe drag and lateral support areas of the foot even more rugged and supportive. Erick Goto [Nike Basketball Graphic Designer] and I traded the design back and forth to each other and we painstakingly adjusted every bevel angle on the Kurim part! The Kurim design continued the more angular, sharp and fractal design language I had going on in the heel counter. It’s kind of funny looking at some of the older samples and seeing how big the ass was in the tooling early on too. [laughs]

NDP: A little chunky. But not quite 2K5 status!

LC: Yeah, so we scaled that back a little. [laughs] Another thing we changed along the way was the shank not being visible on the lateral side.

TW: A lot of that came from our long-term weartesting and just the shank wear that we could see. We wanted to protect it there. We went right to the end and maybe even a bit past our end deadline to make sure that we had all of the durability checkmarks that we wanted. When you get to a fine line between “super light” vs. “durable enough,” you can’t sacrifice anything.

LC: In terms of the overall design, I really wanted to keep the midsole line language similar to the original Hyperdunk and have a wedge there for support. I had considered having a more built-up wedge even for just super over-the-top midfoot support, but it was a little overkill and it was actually splaying out and compressing down on real hard strides and landings. That was causing the shank, when we had it originally exposed on the lateral side, to get some minor hairline fractures. The shoe was performing great and the shank was great too, but it was just one of those loading fractures, even though it wouldn’t bend. We didn’t want any returns based on that, and even though I loved how it looked with the shank coming out a bit on the lateral side, I really wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to crack at all, so we added some more rubber over the top of it for protection. And actually, the one Blake Griffin wore in the All-Star Game was something we made just for him, and at that point we still had the exposed shank on the lateral side.

Below: An earlier sample of the Hyperdunk 2011, with the….ahem…..more “chunky ass.”

Above: Tom Wray, Nike Senior Product Development Manager

NDP: You mentioned Blake of course, and how was it decided that he was going to be the guy wearing it? Were you aware of that decision while you were working on any of the earlier samples, and did that affect how you were designing it?

LC: He wasn’t involved or discussed really during any of the early samples, but it was just one of those things where we thought it could be a moment, and we wanted him to wear it in the Dunk Contest. For a few reasons, it didn’t end up happening for the contest. He really liked the shoe though, so he wore it the next day for the All-Star Game. It was one of those things where Chuck Terrell, our Sports Marketing contact with the players, was telling me how Blake had been describing his ideal kind of shoe a long time ago, and he told him, “This is what I’ve been talking about! This is what I wanted!” That was really cool, and he likes a lightweight, thinner upper. He really liked the 2K4 back in the day, and he references that a bit.

TW: It’s just crazy to think that a guy who is that big can really be supported and love a shoe like this. When he was at Oklahoma, he wore the first Blue Chip.

NDP: Would you say the biggest challenge along the way was in getting the right material package for the upper?

TW: Yeah, for the upper, definitely. For the tooling, being able to get the shank right and have it give the midfoot rigidity and support that we wanted, but not enter into that fine line where we had too much geometry and too high a sidewall. Getting the upper package to where it was providing the support and durability that we wanted was great too. On the factory side, they get nervous sometimes when we get into these new upper packages and they can often want to reinforce and layer everything. But we got to a really good place on support, and we had to, because this will eventually be a team bank product.

LC: Early on, we had a radiant film Swoosh, but it was one of those things where we kept ignoring the feedback that it wasn’t bonding well. [laughs] Because we all thought it looked cool! It’s one of those things that you can do on a Promo level, and when a friend of mine from Nike Training saw it, he took it and did it on the PlayStation Huarache Trainer they did. It worked out great there, but it might not hold up like a team shoe needs to.

NDP: What are the actual strands made of now? I know originally they were tested with Kevlar, and then Vectran was used in the Hyperdunk. Now are they just nylon?

LC: Yeah, it’s a nylon thread. For us, we wanted to help make it more pliable around the foot and have it flex better, and we finally got there. When the Hyperdunk 2010 launched, I wished I would’ve went back then to have a more sleek last. It was a huge volume shoe for us and we did around a million pairs, and when one option is using a general man’s last to fit that many people, we got cautious about using a last that was too tight like the one the Hyperfuse and Kobe are on. But, we looked at the amount of people wearing the Kobe and Hyperfuses, and we figured it was time to jump in there for the Hyperdunk 2011.

NDP: That’s great to hear. I didn’t like the Hyperize at all. I thought it was just way too sloppy and had a ton of volume. I liked last year’s Hyperdunk, but it could still be better.

LC: Yeah, the Hyperize had too much volume, and we made changes with the upper for the 2010 Hyperdunk. Now, we’re going even further with the last.

NDP: The other thing I’m happy you changed too is just dropping the Lunar Foam and going to a forefoot Zoom Air bag. That makes such a difference to me.

LC: Good, and that’s consistent with the feedback we’ve gotten from a lot of other people too. Another thing we’ve really worked on with the Nike Sport Research Lab, just from looking at slow-motion video, is that we can really better tune the Flywire cables so that they’re working to harness you in right over where your foot is moving during a cut and those motions. We got a chance to check this shoe on a high speed video, and it really holds you in nicely. Another thing that makes a big difference too is just looking really closely and refining the radiuses of the perimeter and the outrigger.

NDP: You mentioned that this Hyperdunk is a bit over the 11 ounce zone and doesn’t make a big leap from last year’s version. Is there an end goal with the Hyperdunk now to get to a certain weight? I’m sure you’ve heard, but other brands have gotten to 9.8 ounces.

LC: Yeah, we heard. [laughs] We’re always going to be lighter than where we’ve been. That’s really the plan, but we’re going to make sure that we’re not compromising anything else too. We want to make sure that the kid can always get that nice premium Zoom feel with the Hyperdunk here, and we’re not compromising on cushioning, support or durability.

I feel like in the past, based on some feedback I’ve heard from consumers, they wanted things a little bit more durable here and there. Those are the things that I want to make sure we have in the shoes first, and then we’ll start to look at how light we can get. There’s definitely going to be moments ahead where we’re going to push it, and you’ll see the Hyperdunks get lighter as well, but for now we like where we’re at.

TW: With our team bank product, we just really feel like we owe the average high school athlete a shoe that they can expect to get a season out of. For elite D1 and NBA guys, durability might not be as big of an issue for them. But for a high school kid that goes out and lays down $125 from his parent’s wallet or his own, they should get the better part of a season out of these and we know those are the guys we need to be keeping happy.

LC: People write me letters and emails all the time, and they’ll say, “Hey, I paid a lot of money for these, and I want it to last.” We might’ve had delam problems on a few shoes where people had to return them, and they want them to last instead. We strive all the time to make our products more and more durable, and that’s always the goal — to have a great balance of lightweight stability, durability and comfort. I want to push how light we can go for sure, but there are some realities of what people need the shoes for too. I’ve had kids tell me, “Lightweight is cool, but it’s already pretty light.” So let’s just make sure that everything they need is there. With all composites along the upper that we do, it’s definitely a science project to make sure that each layer bonds right to eachother. We went through rounds and rounds of different materials to get it right.

Available Now: Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011

Below: A look at the top and bottom sides of the Hyperdunk 2011’s 3D molded midfoot shank.

Below: Additional looks at Flywire packages, early samples and the all black launch colorway of the Hyperdunk 2011.

Interview: Leo Chang Details The Hyperdunk 2010

Interview: Leo Chang Details The Hyperdunk 2010

words, interview & images_Nick DePaula of Sole Collector Magazine

Nike Basketball has been experiencing quite a noticeable resurgence in recent years, and you can point to a single model as the catalyst for the category’s suddenly accepted sleekened and faster design language: The Hyperdunk, designed by Eric Avar. Marketing glory aside, whether it was Kobe Bryant leaping an Aston Martin DB9 or an incredibly sexy “McFly” colorway that set eBay on fire, the Hyperdunk was quickly the hardwood standard because of its feathery weight, exceptional performance and ability to meet its seemingly lofty expectations.

Even though it was seen on the feet of the world’s greatest players at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and on nearly every prominent Nike Basketball athlete during the following NBA season, which certainly helped, the Hyperdunk marked a new era in basketball footwear because of its ability to reignite possibility in a market that had conceded that everything had already been done. It was simple innovation in a world of none. As the retro-laden lull of briefed-in toe caps and jean-friendly silhouettes had run their course and suddenly began to disappear from Nike Basketball’s line plans, the shift towards a technical performance look season after season had became widely accepted. To most industry analysts and casual fans alike, it was largely a surprise. The days of “performance as casual” were thought to be long over. Led by Eric Avar and the “performance is everything” on-court validation of Kobe Bryant, the structured geometry of Flywire, overly pronounced outrigger placement and awkward-yet-functional collar height worked, and the hyper-everything approach was here to stay. The flagship Hyperdunk grew overnight into an anticipated series that is now in its third year.

Nike Basketball Senior Designer Leo Chang has worked to craft the latest edition, and the Hyperdunk 2010 will be following up on both the original Hyperdunk and last year’s Hyperize, once again with lofty expectations in store. We caught up with Chang early this past summer to break down every last detail of the Hyperdunk 2010, and you can check out our in-depth interview in its entirety below.Nike Hyperdunk 2010

Nick DePaula: You designed the Hyperize, and once you started the Hyperdunk 2010, what were some of the things you were hoping to improve on and get after?
Leo Chang: I started the Hyperdunk 2010 when I was on the tail end of the Hyperize, and we had gone through a bunch of testing and then I think that shoe had just started hitting.

For the Hyperdunk, there’s always an issue of weight reduction. That’s our primary concern. The first Hyperdunk was around 13.5 ounces. The Hyperize was just over 12.5, and we’re currently with the Hyperdunk 2010 just over 11.5 ounces.

NDP: Damn!
LC: I think it’s hovering right around 12. One of the major innovations with the Hyperdunk series is definitely Flywire. On the Kobe V, they introduced the new Flywire 2.0 basically, what we call Skinwire. The benefit of that is that it’s lighter, and it’s more conformable to the foot. The material itself actually has a mesh lining base and it’s still a five layer Flywire process. There’s a hot melt in the middle, mesh where the embroidery is, another hot melt and then the outer skin. That creates a composite, whereas in the past, Flywire has been a TPU piece on the top and backside, and it was also a five layer process. The TPU on the original Hyperdunk was .52 mm thick on both the inside and outside panel, and now the new Skinwire panel is .42 mm thick on the inside and .52 mm on the outside. We went to a lighter mesh on the inside, and everything that we looked at we wanted to make lighter. This Skinwire could roughly save an ounce out of the shoe. That’s a huge weight savings there. So really, the Hyperdunk 2010 takes a lot of the learnings from the Kobe V in using that Skinwire application.

The biggest thing you’ll notice too is that you can take away the synthetic leather element that you saw in the Hyperdunk and the Hyperize, and use Skinwire in the toe. We couldn’t really bring the original Flywire into the toe of the first two models, because it was just plastic. This new version of Flywire just flexes better, so you can actually bring it over the toe.

Weight was definitely still a big target for us to reduce and bring down, and for me, I love hearing good and bad feedback on shoes. There’s tons of people wearing the Hyperize right now, and some people love it and some people hate it. I learned a ton from that, and it was all good things that I could learn from when I was hearing negative feedback. One of the things was just that some people thought there was just overall too much space in the toe area. The Hyperize is a little sloppy in the toe, and a little long. I think if you sized down, it probably fits right.

NDP: Needed to do that — but didn’t. They definitely felt too roomy in the toe for me.
LC: Exactly. All of those things all helped make the Hyperdunk 2010 better. Also, just the rigidity of the midfoot area. On the Hyperize, it was a little bit too flexible through the midfoot for some people, so going back and adding in more contour to the shank to give it a little more structure there helped too. The primary things we wanted to fix were just fit in the forefoot, overall lightness of the shoe, updating the Flywire and some of the stability elements of just more rigidity in the midfoot.

Nike Hyperdunk 2010 NDP: What about the alignment of the Flywire? It was more of a floating panel in the Hyperize, and there was less of a linear alignment to the strands. The 2010 seems to have more of an anchored-down look.
LC: The Hyperize was also anchored down, just visually we had an overlay around it and that acted as a frame. The Flywire went all of the way down to the base, and they all anchored to the eyelets as well. It became about, “How do you strip down this shoe to its essence, and have just the Flywire cables on the upper?” Almost a one-piece deal. I didn’t want to have any additional overlays on the shoe, because Flywire can hold the foot over the footbed.

NDP: Because the shoe is nearly a one-piece upper, there aren’t any toe overlays or as many color breaks as other models. Did that lend itself to become more of a graphic and pattern story along a lot of the versions that are coming out?
LC: This new Skinwire top layer lends itself to amazing finishes that you can do. With the Hyperize and the Hyperdunk, it was translucent and you could see the cables of the Flywire. This version, you can see the x-ray of the cables, but it’s more about the finishes. Early on, we had a huge gamut of materials, and when it came down to it, each material and release paper on here actually had an affect on the bond as well. We talked about the Hyperfuse and how those little things can make a difference, and it was a huge undertaking to narrow down the best release papers to get the best bonding. This material [with abstract thin strands throughout] was actually coined “Leo’s Hair” around here, cause it’s got these small fibers in there. [laughs] Just going through the exercise of starting with a hundred different textures, and then narrowing that down to around ten different panels you could use was difficult. With the Kobe V, you had some really cool finishes you could do, and it’s the same thing here.

NDP: Do you think that’s been a response to people seeing Flywire for a couple of seasons, understanding what it is and now you guys can move to a more subtle “x-ray” approach to how you incorporate it?
LC: I think it was just more of a result of the new construction of Flywire. We definitely haven’t given up on showing the Flywire and we’ll continue to do that, but this is just a different take on it.

NDP: Can you talk about the collar height? That’s been an almost iconic thing that’s unique to the Hyperdunk line.
LC: I see it as a best of both worlds, in that it’s high on the top, but it’s low in the back. What it does is it gives you a really nice free range of motion around the ankle, so that nothing in the back is really digging into your Achilles. If you were to take a hard cut with a higher heel, it’d really inhibit your motion. When the height slopes up higher, it feels proprioception wise like you’re protected a little bit more. It’s almost like a hybrid height. It’s super high at the top and then drops really low in the back.

Above: Original sketches and renderings from Leo Chang, depicting the design shift of the Hyperdunk 2010.

NDP: One of the things with the Hyperdunk that I really liked was the hidden ghilley eyelet, and you guys didn’t have one in the Hyperize.
LC: We actually brought that back for the Hyperdunk 2010.

NDP: Sweet! It just felt like it married the first set of eyelets on the eyestay with the collar eyelets and made everything more secure.
LC: For us, it’s a flex notch in there, and some of the common things we were seeing with wear testers was that it was collapsing right there and the panel was bulging out. The eyelet in there does help suck it back in and be more secure. If you like it, you can use it; if you don’t, you don’t need to lace it there.

Nike Hyperdunk 2010 NDP: What were some of the other changes that you guys made?
LC: We went back to a lightweight injected Phylon midsole, and on the Hyperize we had gone to Phylite. For durability reasons, we wanted to just close up the bottom and less foam is exposed than in the Hyperize. We had gone with more exposure on the Hyperize, and we were getting some peel-outs of the rubber in the high contact zones. We just figured we could play it safe and add more rubber to make sure it holds up and doesn’t blow out all over the court.

You can also see that the shank changes too. One of the things that we were noticing with the carbon material was that the shank was flat and with certain movements could actually come into contact with the ground. That was almost grating the fibers on the shank and that wasn’t good. It was the same shank as the Kobe IV and the V, and we were getting some bonding issues between the midsole and outsole. For the 2010, we went to a TPU shank and have this gradient Swoosh application which is pretty cool, just for better durability. We wanted to make sure it held up and wasn’t looking like crap when you wear it on the court. [laughs]

NDP: In terms of heel counters, the Hyperdunk had both an external and internal counter, while the Hyperize had just the external counter. Where did you guys land for the 2010?
LC: The 2010 is an external 3D molded counter.

NDP: The outrigger also appears to be pronounced just a bit more too.
LC: Yeah, this is positioned in our quicker silo for us, and for these guys, we want to really focus on the 60-80 zone of lateral support. [Meaning, the zone of the outsole located in the 60-80% range of the shoe’s profile.] You’ll see the rubber wrap higher there and also an outrigger always.

Nike Hyperdunk 2010

Above: A sample version of the Hyperdunk 2010, left, featuring added flex grooves though the outsole, and the final version of the Hyperdunk 2010 on the right.

NDP: The outsole design is more in tune with the micro herringbone we’ve been seeing across a lot of the in-line models.
LC: And that’s just our best practices in terms of the angles of the flex grooves. You could see on the Hyperize, we had more foam exposed, but now we’re using a full rubber micro-fractured out herringbone. The idea is that you have a primary anatomical flex groove [horizontal across the toe box], and then a dynamic flex groove [linear through the forefoot]. The anatomical groove will line up with the angle of your met heads, and the dynamic groove can vary in angle, but the idea is that basketball players can cut, run and jump and land in various ways, and this dynamic angle is just to promote stability and a proper toe off. In the heel, you have this kind of crash pad zone too.

NDP: And it just became less deeply sculpted over time?
LC: Yeah, over time, but it still is down to just the thickness of the rubbers. That’s become the best practice that you’ll see across all of our stuff. Sometimes we’ll push newer flex groove patterns, and oftentimes we’ll be in this zone.

NDP: For the cushioning, both the Hyperdunk and Hyperize had heel Zoom Air and forefoot Lunar Foam. For the 2010, you went back to Zoom in the forefoot right?
LC: We did! I think it was one of those things where we were listening to the athlete, and there are guys out there who love Zoom, and for this type of product, they want that nice responsive pop under their forefoot. There’s nothing better for that than Zoom. Some will say it’s a similar set-up to the Kobe V, but it’s actually not, it’s a full-width 6 mm Zoom Air unit.

Nike Hyperdunk 2010 Above: A closer look at the shoe’s Z-Corp 3D model and the Zoom Air placement of the Hyperdunk 2010, seen in orange.

NDP: That’s one of the only complaints I had with the Kobe V, and I guess the traction wasn’t ideal, but I really wish they used a full-width unit and not just a met bag. That’s great you guys are using the fuller bag here.
Zac Dubasik: The traction of the Vs was a deal-breaker for me.
NDP: Once I got into the KD2s, I never went back.
ZD: KD traction is SO GOOD!!
NDP: I gotta have that crazy squeak man!

[everyone laughs]

Nike Hyperdunk 2010 LC: What helps in the geometry of the herringbone is just having a little bit of a flat top on the ridges. You get a little bit more surface as compared to a super sharp knife edge.
Zac: And then there’s the super sharp knife edge of the Air Jordan 2009. It felt like you were getting paper cuts if you ever tried to swipe the outsole with your hand.

[everyone laughs]

NDP: And the heel is a standard 14mm Zoom Air unit?
LC: Yup. It’s 14mm in the heel and 6mm in the forefoot. It’s the same as the Hyperfuse in the forefoot, and then that nice big heel Zoom Air bag.

NDP: The price point is $125 again. Did going from Lunar to Zoom have an affect on the costing of the shoe?
LC: Lunar is actually more expensive than most people think because of the formulation of the foam. It’s super expensive, and I worked on the Lunar Trainer, and that thing was way expensive because it’s just a huge piece of foam inside of an even bigger piece of foam. It’s not cheap stuff, it just so happens that the current formulation may not be appropriate for this type of product. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t stopped working on making it better.

NDP: That’s what I was gonna ask, are you guys working to improve and maybe re-introduce it in basketball?
LC: There’s no set date for when something like that will hit, but we definitely haven’t given up on it.

NDP: It won’t be in the line this Fall, for the first time since it was introduced, because the Kobe VI will also have Zoom in the forefoot.
Yeah, you’re right.

NDP: What were some of the biggest changes design-wise during the development process?
LC: Surprisingly, even though it doesn’t look like it’s changed, there’s little things like Flywire being taken out and then put back into certain zones of the upper. Even though the Kobe V was already out in production, we had to go back and re-test a lot of the Skinwire alignments on the 2010, because the Kobe V had more toe overlays and panels, and in the Hyperdunk 2010 it was almost a one-piece upper. Little things that you might not see, we had to go back over. It was more on the development that we saw most of the changes and improvements. Our shoes always have to pass our D1 testing [for elite collegiate athletes] and that’s the most critical beating that we put our shoes through, and then we made improvements and changes along the way.

Nike Hyperdunk 2010 NDP: I know the Hyperdunk had the eight dots throughout for the year and start date of the Olympics. Are there are small details or subtle touches that people might not catch at first glance?

LC: Hmm, how many do I have there? [laughs] Nope. I was gonna say there are ten perfs in some spots, but there aren’t. [laughs] There’s not really any kind of details like that. You’ll see some things like the year on the tongue, but the bigger subtle story for this shoe is maybe the tongue, where it’s thinner and conforms better, but then has more zonal cushioning and padding. It’s perfed out and articulated on the sides, and there’s a curve and break to help it conform. Initially, we didn’t have that, and it was just flat, and when I put it on, it felt like it was just going to shave the hair off of my leg. [laughs] That wasn’t cool. [laughs] So I just notched it out here and hand-cut the sample, and it bends nicely now. Little things to help perfect it.

NDP: How’d you guys go along doing the treatments to the upper? Was that a materials team effort, or the designers or marketing team?
A little bit of everybody actually. You’ll see a lot of colorways of this shoe, just like you saw a lot of the Hyperdunk and Hyperize, like the special packs for the FIBA games and team stuff obviously, and each one is going to be a little bit different.

NDP: It looks like you guys are sticking with that sweet welded dubret again?
Yeah, the sweet welded dubret is back! [laughs]

NDP: Do you have a favorite colorway?
The white, aqua and red one.

Zac: Nick and I have been talking about how weird it is that the original Hyperdunk already looks dated.
LC: Why do you think that is?
NDP: I think Jason [Petrie] said it really well last year, when we were actually talking about the Flight Club and Fun Police — which I was really excited for, but they both tanked hard. [laughs] I asked him what it was like doing older 90’s styled shoes, and he just said, “Man, the Hyperdunk looks like it was designed by a computer, and these shoes look like they were hand-drawn. They flow.” I always thought that was real cool how he described it, and it’s almost like when you see a tech product or car that is all about a tech story. The design could be cool, but when the tech feels old, then the shoe feels old.
Zac: It’s funny, cause when I first saw the Hyperize, I was like, “Man, that thing is so much cooler than the Hyperdunk.” And now the 2010 looks even more cooler than the Hyperdunk, and I can’t believe I ever thought that looked cool compared to this.
NDP: It just seems like they’re at least five years apart, as compared to two.
LC: For me, the oval laces kind of date them. I started doing a lot more flat laces, and on the Free 3.0, we had a super minimal tongue and with the flat lace, you get no pressure. So for me, I look at a lot of stuff in the late 90’s, and they all had oval laces.

Nike Hyperdunk 2010 NDP: Just more broadly speaking, this is a pretty marquee shoe. What’s it like being the designer of this shoe each year now? Eric Avar started with the Hyperdunk, but can people expect you to be the Hyperdunk designer going forward?

LC: I think so. At least for a little bit of time, until Eric decides I’m screwing up. [laughs] I definitely have been the guy doing it, just like how the LeBron line is Jason Petrie’s thing right now. The Hyperdunk and Hyperfuse has been something that I’ve been leading up, and I definitely enjoy doing that kind of stuff. Pushing how we can get things lighter and lighter, and hopefully we’re getting it light but not taking away any stability or things like that. I’m always somebody who sees my product out there and is super critical of it, and I’m always open to criticisms and seeing what people want to throw out about it.

NDP: So obviously, I’m going to ask you about the Detroit Pistons trainer that banned the Hyperize last season. What was your initial reaction and how did you guys respond as a category. He said they weren’t supportive enough for his players to wear them. You may have heard. [laughs]
LC: At first, I was like, “Well, who’s wearing it on the Pistons?” [laughs] I wasn’t sure who the guys were that were affected by it, but the whole Pistons thing, you know what, we had like 700,000 pairs of that shoe out there, and we had it on such a wide range of people. Some people may not be appropriate for it. There were people that loved it, like Amar’e, he loved it, and he just recently switched out to the KD2. He was saying that he just wanted to switch his style up.

NDP: For a guy that’s practiced in Yeezys — it’s all about the style.

[everyone laughs]

LC: Exactly! There was nothing wrong with the Hyperize though. KD loved wearing the Hyperize too. There were criticisms, and there’s definitely a lot of things I could learn from that. I’m not going to be offended by something like that, but if they’re saying that it’s flexing in different areas, like I met with [Director of Medical Services] Dr. Donnie Strack from the Thunder and he works with KD, and he was just saying that some of the guys were wearing it and it was flexing in weird areas, and I was like, “Ok cool, I can fix that.”

Available now: Hyperdunk 2010, designed by Leo Chang

Below: A pullover sample of the Hyperdunk 2010.

Nike Hyperdunk 2010