Eastbay Photo of the Week: Nike Zoom Kobe V

Sneaker Watch: The Suns Hold Court at Home

words_Nick Engvall

Amare Stoudemire had one of the biggest playoff games in his career  Sunday as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. Stoudemire finished with 42 points and 11 rebounds, while getting to the free throw line 18 times. Stoudemire and Steve Nash, who had both been noticeably unlike themselves in the first two games, played like the fans expect  on Sunday. Nash, despite finishing with a broken nose, also finished with 17 points and 15 assists.

For the Lakers, Kobe had to do it all to keep his team close. Bryant finished with 36 points and 11 assists and 9 rebounds. Pau Gasol added 23 points, and Derek Fisher scored 18 points in the 118-109 loss to Phoenix.

The Suns will host the Lakers once again on Tuesday night for game 4 of the best of seven series.

Kobe Bryant in the Nike Zoom Kobe V Playoff Edition.

Steve Nash in the Nike Cradle Rock drives past Jordan Farmar in the adidas TS Cut Creator PE.

Amare Stoudemire in the Nike KD II shoots over Pau Gasol in the Nike Hyperize PE.

Lamar Odom in the Nike Zoom Kobe V is blocked by Amare Stoudemire in the Nike KD II.

Kobe Bryant in the Nike Zoom Kobe V shoots over Amare Stoudemire in the Nike KD II.

Grant Hill in shoots a jumper in the Nike Hyperize PE.

Robin Lozez dunks in the adidas TS Commander PE.

Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown, both wearing the Nike Zoom Kobe V.

via Yahoo

Eastbay Photo of the Week: Nike Zoom Kobe V

Available Now: Nike Zoom Kobe V Draft Day

words_Nick Engvall

In the summer of 1996, the NBA Draft took place in East Rutherford New Jersey. On that day, one of the greatest selections of basketball players ever made the move into professional basketball. Although at the time, it was Allen Iverson that landed at the top of the list, today as the now Hornets organization can tell you, Kobe Bryant stands alone at the top of that list. Back then, Kobe was chosen as the 13th pick in the NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, and then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe’s accomplishments with the Lakers are immeasurable and seem to have no end in sight, but what if he hadn’t been traded by the Hornets?

Nike Basketball has an idea, and now they’ve made it available to you with the Zoom Kobe V Draft Day Hornets colorway. Kobe’s abilities and competitiveness on the court would have likely landed him on top of the NBA even if he hadn’t been traded. With this colorway, Nike applies the Orion Blue and Varsity Purple of what might have been, onto the latest version of signature Kobe shoes.

Available now: Nike Zoom Kobe V Draft Day Hornets

Nike Zoom Kobe V Draft Day Hornets

Eastbay Photo of the Week: Nike Zoom Kobe V

Nike Zoom Kobe V Playoff Edition

words_Nick Engvall

Kobe Bryant has been donning a new colorway of the Nike Zoom Kobe V throughout the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Although Kobe and the Lakers seemed to have been off in games three and four of their first round playoff series against the Thunder, for game five they were back to their dominant ways. Tonight the Lakers will head back to the Ford Center in Oklahoma City to try and finish off the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kobe (and likely some of his teammates) will be wearing the Nike Zoom Kobe V in this playoff edition colorway in hopes that they can break the Thunder’s unbeaten home record in the playoffs.

Be sure to check out an in depth performance review of the Zoom Kobe V to see how the latest version of Kobe’s signature shoe plays on the hardwood.

Available now: Nike Zoom Kobe V Playoff

Nike Zoom Kobe V PlayoffNike Zoom Kobe V PlayoffNike Zoom Kobe V PlayoffNike Zoom Kobe V PlayoffNike Zoom Kobe V PlayoffNike Zoom Kobe V Playoff

Performance Review: Nike Zoom Kobe V

Performance Review: Nike Zoom Kobe V

words_Nick DePaula
images_Zac Dubasik
A Sole Collector Performance Review

Light and Low. The goals for the newest Zoom Kobe signature sneaker haven’t changed at all since the last time Innovation Kitchen Senior Designer Eric Avar and the Los Angeles Lakers superstar teamed up. What has changed, in just a year’s time mind you, is the League-wide preference of playing in low-top basketball shoes. The Zoom Kobe IV literally shifted common thinking amongst basketball players. Not just any basketball players either, but pros who have been wearing a familiar cut of sneaker, in practically every case, for at least a decade straight of intense practices and games played at the highest level.

As predicted by Tinker Hatfield in last year’s Issue 26, players throughout the NBA, athletes at the collegiate and high school level and players at any gym in the country have since changed their stance on lows. Changed because Kobe changed his stance, going from a taller height in the Zoom Huarache 2K series, the first three Zoom Kobe shoes and even the Hyperdunk, to a targeted low-top collar. Pretty impressive, no?

As Kobe Bryant, Eric Avar, Innovation Kitchen Innovator Tom Luedecke and Kitchen Developer Jeff Spanks proved, it’s not at all the height of a basketball shoe that makes for great levels of support and playability, but rather the reluctance to roll (thanks to an outrigger), the heel and midfoot lockdown (thanks to a more exacting fit), and the unparalleled levels of assurance resulting from a no-frills traction pattern. In just a year, the Zoom Kobe line has emerged as a shifter of thought, a high-performance look that can transcend position, and a signature shoe that warranted a full year’s wearing during the sport’s most heated battles.

This season, the goals of light and low surely remained, but with a different focus, as the Zoom Kobe V became less about a monumental shift in basketball footwear and more about refining what works. Part of that refinement came via a few specific requests from Kobe Bryant, like the re-emergence of Zoom Air into the shoe’s forefoot, and an even thinner upper construction that helped to shave off a full ounce of the shoe’s overall weight, taking the shoe from 12.0 ounces in a size 9 Zoom Kobe IV to an absurdly light 10.5 ounces this season. As I came to find throughout the course of several weeks of wearing the “Chaos” Zoom Kobe V, this shoe is damn near perfect.

If you happened to read my literary slurping of the Zoom Kobe IV last year, you’d know how much I was already impressed with the new direction and stance of the shoe. It was striking, explosive and the most slasher-friendly shoe I had ever worn. Sharp and precise when cutting, yet soft and responsive when landing. What was an exact balance of comfort, fit and support could only be improved, I felt, with a change in forefoot cushioning. Going from the pillowy soft, yet hardly resilient and soon-to-bottom-out Lunar Foam to the hyper-responsive and industry benchmark Zoom Air was all I was asking for. As I’d find in the Zoom Kobe V, the shoe takes one step forward, and unfortunately a half step backwards. It’s near perfect.

PERFORM, IT DOES
I think I’m hitting a weird stage of my basketball playing career. I’m nearly 25 years old, and when thinking of ways to improve my game or things to correct, it recently dawned on me that’s it’s been 10 years since my favorite high school coach, Coach Fong, was yelling at me about turnovers and forced pull-up three pointers. Ten years! Even after the hundreds of hours I’ve spent on a basketball court, luckily, I still feel like a kid every time I break out a new pair of shoes, so the excitement I felt when lacing up the “Chaos” Zoom Kobe V for the first was a feeling I’ve come to know well over the years. I liked the Zoom Kobe IV fine enough from an aesthetic point of view, but it was a bit safe in looks, and the more glossy, all-synthetic upper of the Zoom Kobe V makes for a more bold and brash look this time around. While hoops and shoes can sometimes become a blur or grind if you’re not truly passionate about them, the Zoom Kobe V is one of those rare expertly crafted sneakers that you can stare and marvel at. And it is an even greater joy once they’re on your feet.

Once on, the shoe fits amazingly well, feeling as though it’s bespoked just for you. [And not $850!] You can thank Nike’s evolved Flywire upper for that, as the shoe achieves the “one-to-one fit” goal that the Innovation Kitchen team set out to construct. With a thinner upper that is made of exactly one synthetic layer with bonded overlays atop it and a full-length mesh inner sleeve underneath, there’s absolutely no irritation to be found in the shoe. A trait we’ve seen on Avar’s shoes for years now is individualized and uniquely sloped medial and lateral sides of the shoe, and once again the Zoom Kobe excels at offering a more firm upper that holds laterally, yet is comfortable against the foot and snugs up nicely on the medial side. Much of that great fit can be attributed to the shoe’s uniquely aligned Flywire strands, found in a crossing pattern on the lateral side in groups of two, and found on the medial side in more linear groups of four.


Above: Developer Jeff Spanks details how the Kobe V’s Flywire strands are uniquely aligned on the medial and lateral sides for better fit.

There’s really nothing at all to complain about in the upper of the shoe. The eyelets are targeted and well scaled by size. The external heel counter locks you perfectly in place and puts you in precise control of your every movement. The more breathable foam mesh tongue lets air out easier, and though there’s some slight lace pressure when the laces are tied tightly, the shoe’s breathability and lockdown through the midfoot and heel make up for it. Since the shoe’s upper is thinner, the weight lighter, and the construction incorporates less materials, you’d think the result would be less support and a more loosely fitting shoe, but the Zoom Kobe V is just as sharp as last year’s model, carrying over everything that worked to make the comfort and fit such a standout in the Zoom Kobe IV. The more reinforced bonded overlay along the tip of the toe is also a great touch, withstanding scuffs and drags during play.

With reliable fit up top, the shoe’s commendable support can also be a credit to the shoe’s targeted lateral outrigger, which is slightly more pronounced, but still in the same zone as the Kobe IV. There’s more sculpting through the midsole, as the Phylon foam features grooves to help ease the shoe’s inevitable creasing, and the heel molding allows for softer landings and a smoother transition. Embedded within the midsole is once again a healthy heel Zoom Air unit, and thankfully a return to forefoot Zoom Air. I’ve been pretty outspoken in my reviews of both the Hyperdunk and the Zoom Kobe IV that I strongly feel Lunar Foam simply bottoms out too soon to be a serious cushioning unit for basketball, and luckily the Kitchen heard that same feedback from Bryant and countless basketball players who’d given Lunar Foam an honest try.


Above: A look at the tooling of the Zoom Kobe V, which features both heel and forefoot Zoom Air.

REACHING PERFECT
As I alluded to earlier, this shoe certainly takes a step forward in the usage of forefoot Zoom Air, but it’s still not quite perfect. The unit is only what’s deemed a “met bag,” meaning it covers only the medial half of the shoe, underneath where the foot’s metatarsal bone is. While the return to Zoom, if only in half of the forefoot, is still preferred, here’s to hoping that the Zoom Kobe VI features a fully reaching Zoom Air unit, covering the entire width of the forefoot and offering more generous responsiveness and cushioning. At the end of the day, the heel and partial forefoot Zoom Air cushioning system is still far superior to most shoes on the market, but there still is room for improvement, and the shoe is a change away from being arrogantly good. The combination of low-profile Zoom Air, a credit card-sized glass-fiber midfoot support shank and the shoe’s precisely sculpted Phylon midsole make it one of the best-shaped and most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. It’s crazy to think that it could be even better, but as we’ve seen so often in Kobe Bryant’s game and his approach to basketball, near perfect is never enough, and improvement is always demanded.

Another change that I felt could be made in the shoe was rather surprising, and marks the half step backwards I mentioned earlier. The Kobe IV’s traction was a definite bright spot, as the full-length herringbone pattern offered not only reliable traction across all surfaces, but also biting grip on even less-than-stellar courts, which is where the average consumer (like you and me) lives. Unfortunately in the Zoom Kobe V, the design team got perhaps caught up in story telling over performance, and while the heartbeat pattern makes for a nice detail and touch towards Kobe’s obsession with basketball, a simple traditional herringbone pattern would’ve been better suited for true performance. The traction of the V isn’t bad by any means, and cuts and stops are still reliable, but there’s no added squeak element, and there’s a noticeable drop-off from last year’s perfect traction alignment and rubber durometer.

Above: The Kobe V’s traction could still use some improvement.

As the Zoom Kobe V enjoyed its widely anticipated launch during the month of January, the success of the Zoom Kobe IV brought on a similar quandary that the Hyperdunk and Hyperize experienced last August, as the past shoe had been so well received that it was still on store shelves when its predecessor launched. At $10 more, it’s fair to wonder why the Zoom Kobe V deserves your attention over the IV, but with its lighter weight, thinner yet equally supportive upper, and forefoot Zoom Air cushioning, the Zoom Kobe V makes for a softer total package offering with better overall comfort. On a side note, Nike also happened to get hit by a tax technicality as well with the Zoom Kobe V, which is made entirely of synthetic materials. When importing a shoe to the United States after it’s been made on the overseas production lines, a shoe made of leathers is only taxed at an 8 percent clip, while a shoe featuring synthetics costs Nike a 20 percent tax. Quite a difference, and one of those rare fine print details you’d absolutely never hear about at your local sneaker store.

Though higher priced, and a step backwards in biting traction, the Zoom Kobe V is still an evolved and refined version of the Zoom Kobe IV. With absolutely no pressure points, underside irritation or heel slip thanks to the shoe’s one-to-one fitting Flywire upper as well as the on-the-money collar foam package and heel counter duo, it’s one of the most comfortable shoes I can remember playing in and a dream shoe for any active guards or slashing forwards. The return of Zoom Air in the forefoot is happily welcomed, and as a result of the more resilient cushioning and more sturdy upper materials and construction, you should also get far more use out of the Zoom Kobe V than last year’s model. If you’re a big man used to highs, or a player looking for more collar proprioception, get with the times! Look no further than an NBA court, as gone are the times that lows can be deemed unsafe for basketball. This shoe’s internals, pronounced outrigger and defined fit make it a great option as your next hoops shoe. Just like I did last year with the IV, I’ll have a hard time getting out of the V and into the next several shoes on deck for review, as once again it’s the comfort and fit that’s so impressive. If Avar and Luedecke decide to elongate the forefoot Zoom Air unit and bring back full-length herringbone in the Zoom Kobe VI, they might just reach perfection. For now, the Zoom Kobe V clearly earns its due praise.

Who’s worn it? Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers), Derek Fisher (Los Angeles Lakers), Shannon Brown (Los Angeles Lakers), Patrick Christopher (University of California)

Available Now: Nike Zoom Kobe V


REACHING PERFECT
As I alluded to earlier, this shoe certainly takes a step forward in the usage of forefoot Zoom Air, but it’s still not quite perfect. The unit is only what’s deemed a “met bag,” meaning it covers only the medial half of the shoe, underneath where the foot’s metatarsal bone is. While the return to Zoom, if only in half of the forefoot, is still preferred, here’s to hoping that the Zoom Kobe VI features a fully reaching Zoom Air unit, covering the entire width of the forefoot and offering more generous responsiveness and cushioning. At the end of the day, the heel and partial forefoot Zoom Air cushioning system is still far superior to most shoes on the market, but there still is room for improvement, and the shoe is a change away from being arrogantly good. The combination of low-profile Zoom Air, a credit card-sized glass-fiber midfoot support shank and the shoe’s precisely sculpted Phylon midsole make it one of the best-shaped and most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. It’s crazy to think that it could be even better, but as we’ve seen so often in Kobe Bryant’s game and his approach to basketball, near perfect is never enough, and improvement is always demanded.

Another change that I felt could be made in the shoe was rather surprising, and marks the half step backwards I mentioned earlier. The Kobe IV’s traction was a definite bright spot, as the full-length herringbone pattern offered not only reliable traction across all surfaces, but also biting grip on even less-than-stellar courts, which is where the average consumer (like you and me) lives. Unfortunately in the Zoom Kobe V, the design team got perhaps caught up in story telling over performance, and while the heartbeat pattern makes for a nice detail and touch towards Kobe’s obsession with basketball, a simple traditional herringbone pattern would’ve been better suited for true performance. The traction of the V isn’t bad by any means, and cuts and stops are still reliable, but there’s no added squeak element, and there’s a noticeable drop-off from last year’s perfect traction alignment and rubber durometer.