shifting perspectives, one pair at a time
editorial: the warm-up
Basketball. footwear. performance. culture. the warm up
Co-Founder / Editor in Chief Duane Watson Co-Founder - Jason Tiangco Associate Editor - Ray Bala Photo Editor - Jalani Morgan Creative Design - Joelle Tso Web Master - Angelo Manalili Copy Editor - Ryan Gonzalez Contributors Sean Francois, Colin Garraway, Rey Roncesvalles, Hektor Yee, Michael Baillie, Will Strickland, Alan Johnson, Charlie Lindsay, Craig White, Evan Murphy, Montreal Marc Griffin, Dr. Joel Kerr and Ashlei Sutton
Cover photo by: Charlie Lindsay.
Dear Summer, A year ago, we launched SoleShift.com as a platform for our passion of basketball, footwear, and performance. Just as you began to cool off, we were getting started, knocking out performance reviews, editorial, analysis and sharing our love for the game. From the Chuck Taylor to the Jordan XX9, there has been constant evolution, and the same applies to Sole Shift, as we move from a blog/ site to a quarterly digital magazine. With that being said, nothing is going to change, and I can’t say how proud I am of the Sole Shift family for their hard work and patience through this transition.
S e pt emb er 2 0 1 5, No. 1 Sole Shift is published four times a year. @SOLESHIFT
But back to you, the sun and your heat allowed us to take our game outdoors and play wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. The summer months gave our game a different flair, with a creative and free feel, as outdoor ball is unequivocally different from that of the other seasons. We did our best to highlight why it’s so special in our first issue, so here’s to you. We’re warmed up!
Duane “Sweets” Watson
con ten ts
WANTS & NEEDS
review: nike kd8
Air Jordan VII: A Retrospecti ve
Playerâ€™s Profile Natalie Achonwa
Footwork By Will Strickland
review: under armour curry One low
syracuse summer camp
summer is serious
the and 1 mixtape era
Baseline Health Tips By Dr. J
Review: adidas Crazylight Boost Primeknit
Colin Garraway, Contributor
R ay Bala, Associate Editor
Favourite Basketball Shoe: Air Jordan III
Favourite Basketball Shoe: Nike Air Flight Huar ache
Colin is a former high school and college basketball player turned weekend warrior, who keeps his hoop dreams alive on the cour ts of Toronto. With a business background and a career in adver tising, the day one Sole Shift contributor, enjoys discussing business strategy used in the shoe game. You can find him on Twitter voicing his opinion on hoops or his guilty pleasures: reality television and professional wrestling.
Ray is a basketball aficionado with a penchant for Canadian hoops. He’s been a freelance writer from Toronto who’s work has been seen in places like SLAM Magazine, Hoop Magazine and The Globe and Mail. He’s currently a contributor to Nor thpoleHoops. com and Canada Basketball. When not babysitting his 2 year old he’s working on his spotty jumper, searching for vintage basketball gear or explaining why he doesn’t dig on most Air Jordan IIIs or XIs.
Charlie Lindsay, Photographer/ Videographer Favourite Basketball Shoe: Air Jordan 11 (Bred colourway) Charlie Lindsay is a freelance photographer living in downtown Toronto. After graduating from the University of Windsor’s Communications & Film program, he began to take his new found hobby of taking pictures more seriously. Since then he has done photography work for Nike, The Toronto Raptors, NBA TV and OVO. Charlie also star ted JustGoHoop as a medium to build up basketball and to show his love for the game.
Dr. Joel Kerr, Columnist Favourite Basketball Shoe: Air Jordan 11 (Carolina colourway)
Dr. Joel Kerr, Doctor of Chiropractic, Medical Acupuncture, is a big advocate for exercise to be used as medicine. He is the owner and creator of The Health Institute, suppor ting athletes and weekend warriors, and a health & fitness consultant for multiple competitive spor ts teams. These professional experiences, combined with formal education in healthcare, set the method that to effectively manage acute or chronic injuries that his patients sustain at work or play.
WANTS & NEEDS
WANTS & NEEDS
Undercrown Street Legend Pillow $35.00
Got To Give The People What They Want By Jalen Rose $28
Blast Basketball App $149.95
Hyper Ice Knee Wrap $115
Leather Headâ€™s Vintage Basketball $180
r o o d t ou s l a i t n e ess P h o t o s by Ja
hoes s t s e b e h oors. ft d o t e u m o o t s a t e he gr ooks a t l o t t f i n i h S e e r Sol to ventu
Nike Air Darwin By Alan Johnson Dennis Rodman wore the Nike Air Darwin in the mid-‘90’s, during his stint with the San Antonio Spurs. The shoe featured a visible air sole unit in the heel, padding around the ankles and amazingly thick DRC (Durable Rubber Compound) rubber outsole designed for use on rough and abrasive surfaces, (perfect for streetball). In many ways, the shoe was designed more like a boot than a basketball sneaker. The Air Darwin stood out particularly due to one unique design cue, as it was one of only two known models to have the reverse Nike logo. The shoe’s rough and tough build was a precursor to the Ndestrukt line, and one that left you confident getting you through countless summer runs on your neighbourhood outdoor court.
Reebok Answer IV By Hektor Yee Arguably the most comfortable and most classic edition from the entire Reebok Question line. Such legendary praise stems from the shoes DMX-cushioning and the unique Foam-Shock pads that were used on the insoles. What makes these an ideal streetball shoe? They were designed with Allen Iverson’s game in mind. Built to support the lightning quick guard, Iverson crossed up and obliterated the competition en route to winning the regular season and All-Star game MVP while rocking the 4th edition of his signature shoe. Lest we forget he also marched the 76ers to the NBA Finals and in Game 1 and infamously, crossed, dropped and stepped over Tyronn Lue, leaving him for dead right in front of the Lakers bench. No one went harder than AI in games and if these kicks could support that kind of action, the concrete was not a problem.
And 1 Tai Chi By Alan Johnson The scene was the 2000 NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest and second year guard Vince Carter was putting on the most spectacular display of aerial artistry people had even seen. Also on display that evening was Carter’s choice of shoe - The And 1 Tai Chi. And 1’s claim to fame prior to that point, was their series of streetball mixtapes and t-shirts screen-printed with just about every trash-talking phrase ever uttered on a basketball court.The Tai Chi was the company’s first foray into the performance shoe market, with a simplistic yet eye catching design featuring a ying/yang colour blocking, that really stood out on outdoor courts. Not just aesthetically pleasing, the shoe was also ultra comfortable with the combination of a breathable mesh tongue, ultra plush suede and leather upper materials that provide both support and durability and an EVA midsole that ensured soft landings on the hardcourt.
Adidas Pro Model (circa 1997) By Alan Johnson The adidas Pro Model has been an iconic silhouette in basketball since its inception in the early 1970’s. Over the years, there have been numerous modifications to keep in line with the times, and still to this day remains a solid go-to both on and off the court. A particular performance focus was implemented in 1997, with upgraded materials to increase support and decrease overall weight. Nevertheless, much of what made the Pro Model great was kept, to stay true to its lineage. Quite simply, it’s a great outdoor shoe because of it’s tried-testedand-true herringbone grip being on point, the modernized rubber shell toe providing durability for the front of the shoe that was imperative when playing street ball (insert toe drag here), patent leather versions remained extra durable for outdoor use, a vented sockliner and outsole for breathability and as previously mentioned it was a modernized version of the iconic original Pro Model silhouette. History reinvented is what comes to mind with the Adidas Pro Model.
Converse Aero Jam By Hektor Yee Larry Johnson was the first overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. He was also Converse’s top pick as he and “Grand Mama” were destined to be the future of the brand. Converse shot, but never aired, a commercial of the elder Cons spokesmen, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, passing the torch to Grand Mama, anointing their first and last names respectively. The shoes themselves were hot, especially in this era using teal accents throughout, and also featured Converse’s revolutionary React Juice cushioning technology loaded into the shoe at key points to protect the ankles and support the heel from impact forces. Basically, Larry Johnson was the man (and Grand Mama the woman), and nobody could mess with him/her or you’d get the work put on you...all the while wearing a floral print dress.
Nike Air Raid By Hektor Yee It’s damn near impossible to mention the term “Streetball Kicks” without Nike’s legendary Air Raid entering the arena, or as Tinker designed them for, “the frickin’ cage.” Basically an outdoor version of the Air Jordan 8, with cross strapping over the laces, it’s almost as if these shoes were subconsciously telling you to cross someone up “something nasty.” Aside from being an instant classic, Spike Lee took some time to unite ballers in his Urban Jungle Gym for a marketing campaign that allowed Tim Hardaway to drop his classic phrase, “I Got Skeeeelz.” Laced up, strapped in (with Velcro!) and ready for the concrete jungle, the hard outsole imprinted with the words “for outdoor use only” dictated that asphalt abuse would not be an issue.
Nike Air Max 2 Strong By Alan Johnson Originally released in 1995 and made famous by David Robinson, the Nike Air Max 2 Strong was a versatile basketball sneaker. With both big and smaller players in mind, the Air Max 2 Strong was made available in both high and mid cut models and could be found on NBA players at every position from center to point guard. The high cut version featured an Air Max unit in the heel, multi-layered leather uppers, a high cut inner bootie with “anti-inversion” velcro straps for supreme lockdown. It also had a tough rubber outsole with finger print modified outsole design cues, that offered great traction on concrete and asphalt courts. Remarkably, this shoe closely matched the playing style of “The Admiral” blending power and grace into one.
performance review: under armour curry one low
by colin garraway / Photos by Jalani Morgan
Under Armour Curry One Low
Under Armour Curry One Low
Check out the video review youtube.com/soleshift
This past June was a coronation of sorts for Stephen Curry, the new king of the NBA. Armed with his first signature shoe, The Under Armour Curry One, he led the Golden State Warriors to the NBA championship defeating the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals. The basketball court has not been the only place Curry has been winning however as the initial reviews for his shoes have been overwhelmingly positive and the demand has been substantial. Due to this success it was only a matter of time before Under Armour released a Curry One Low to appeal to players who crave the extra mobility a low cut shoe provides. TRACTION The traction system features the same multi direction herringbone outsole that is used in the original Curry One which was also similar to the one used in the Under Armour Clutchfit Drive. Specifically, the shoe features multiple direction patterns on nearly every section of the shoe ensuring there is not a single spot that causes a slip. The traction pattern keeps you grounded whether making quick cuts or big power moves on the court. As expected the outsole performed best on a pristine indoor court but it performs well on a multitude of surfaces.
One of the most popular features of the original Curry One was the synergy between the new Charged cushioning system and the Micro G upper that Under Armour is known for. The low version of the shoe does not feature Micro G so our wear testers were anxious to see if the shoe still performed up to snuff. The low model relies on an AnaFoam upper which is composed of foam and mesh that is fused together strategically to provide cushioning to high impact areas of the shoe. The AnaFoam did an excellent job protecting our weartesters feet when making quick strikes and it provided a soft cushion for the feet when landing from strides and jumps. The Charged system is incorporated in the heel and is designed to convert high impact into responsive bursts. While testing the shoe our weartesters did not experience any sort of bursts however the charged system does an excellent job absorbing impact and reducing the amount of damage that is done to the foot.
CUSHIONING: 9.5 FIT & LOCKDOWN A key lockdown component was once again the AnaFoam upper. Under Armour studied a pressure map of the foot to better understand where to provide support to the foot. Once they understood this, they molded foam and mesh together to create the AnaFoam upper. With a better understanding of the anatomy of a foot Under Armour was able to create an upper that molds anatomically to the athlete’s foot which makes the shoe a better fit as a result. Under Armour also makes use of a heel
counter that’s designed to eliminate sliding and a mid-foot TPU shank for stability which were effective during our weartests.
FIT AND LOCKDOWN: 9 FINAL THOUGHTS When news first broke that Under Armour was releasing the Curry One Low, it raised three questions: 1) How effective would the AnaFoam be on a low cut shoe? The AnaFoam was very effective. It provided great cushioning and a great fit without being too heavy or restrictive. 2) Is the added mobility of a low-cut shoe worth sacrificing the popular Micro G upper? The added mobility of this low-cut shoe is worth sacrificing the Micro G upper if you are an athlete that relies on quickness. The shoe allows movement without slippage but adequate cushioning to support aggressive moves on or off the court. 3) How does the Curry One Low compare to their UA brethren (specifically the Curry One Mid and the ClutchFit Drive Low)? The Curry One Low definitely stacks up to it’s predecessors. While they do not have Micro G like the Curry One and ClutchFit Drive, the AnaFoam technology arguably works better with a less restrictive, low cut shoe. At a price of $140 CAD and with the selection of multiple unique colourways this shoe, like its endorser, can’t miss.
su m m er i s ser i o u s
SUMMER IS SERIOUS Sole Shift takes you across the globe for the best summer leagues and tournaments
Quai 54 (Paris, France) By Colin Garraway / Photo by Nike For 12 years the French outdoor tournament has redefined exactly how serious the summer season is. Located at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, Quai 54 (pronounced K-54) plays host to 16 of the best teams in the world, from America, Asia, and throughout Europe, including, current champs YARD La Relève from France who won this past June. In addition to the games, the dunk contest draws in the top name athletes from around the world. Guy Dupuy, Jordan Kilganon, Justin ‘Jus Fly’ Darlington, and 2015 champion Rafael Lipinski are just a few of the names who have soared in Paris. NBA stars such as Ray Allen, Tony Parker, Scottie Pippen and Carmelo Anthony have made appearances at the Parisian event to watch the tournament and judge the dunk contest. Quai 54 is about more than high quality basketball though as the event has grown into a festival that marries the fashion, hip-hop, and basketball cultures together as one. As they say in Paris, “Bring your game, not your name.”
Chi-League (Chicago, Illinois, USA): By Sean Francois Building on the rich tradition of basketball in the Windy City, the Chi-League was formed in 2013 and has featured the next generation of talent like Jabari Parker and Anthony Davis. Chi-League is made up of three programs: the Chi-League Pro-Am, Chi-League Parks, and the Chi-League School. The Chi-League Pro-Am is a competitive basketball league that was designed specifically for semi-professional players; Chi-League Parks are a series of free basketball skills clinics in citywide parks, giving Chicago’s children a safe, healthy place to play; and the Chi-League School is an intensive basketball and life skills development program for high school student-athletes who want to improve their skills but do not have the oppor tunity to get invited to premier off-season leagues. In addition to bringing education, skill development, and competition in an organized, safe, and health oriented basketball forum to the city of Chicago, the programs also create jobs for community members through the ten weeks it runs each summer.
Drew League (Los Angeles, California, USA): By Sean Fr ancois / Photo By Drew League South Central Los Angeles has historically been a tough place for the youth to grow up with the presence of gangs and crimes. In 1973, Alvin Wills came up with an idea to help remedy that: The Drew League. Wills established the league with the hope that the young men and women in South Central LA would learn life skills and build relationships with peers & elders in and outside of the community through the game of basketball. The Drew League star ted with six teams at Charles Drew Junior High School on the corner of Compton Avenue and Firestone Boulevard. By 1985 the league had grown from six teams to ten. Today the league matches up 28 “invitation-only” teams to compete and bring their best to the cour t. For just over 40 years the Drew League has showcased Southern California’s basketball best – both talent & competition, including streetball legends, college athletes, and many NBA stars. The league became more popular and was a place where many of Los Angeles’ finest perfected their craft in the summer. The Drew League was and still is home to Los Angeles born collegiate and high school talent as well as NBA stars such as Baron Davis, Nick Young, Paul Pierce, DeMar DeRozan, and James Harden. The abundance of talent naturally attracted players outside of LA who were eager to compete in the league. Players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Laker lifer Kobe Br yant have all made cameos at the Drew. One of the most explosive Drew League showdowns came when Kobe Br yant narrowly topped James Harden in scoring (45-44 respectively) by hitting the game winner over the 2015 MVP runner up.
summer is serious
Rucker Park (Harlem, NY, USA): By Sean Francois New York City is known by many as the Mecca of Basketball and this legendar y basketball cour t is just one of the reasons why. The cour t is named after Holcombe Rucker, who was a local teacher, and also a playground director for the New York City Depar tment of Parks and Recreation from 1948 to 1964. Highlighting education in tandem with recreation, the Holcombe Rucker League Tournament has always been held in high standing in the basketball community. The illustrious Rucker Park cour t has featured and displayed the skills of MANY street basketball legends and professional elite players alike, such as Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigaut, Pee Wee Kirkland, Larr y “Bone Collector” Williams, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe, Julius ‘Dr. J’ Er ving, Kobe Br yant, and Kevin Durant. Celebrating it’s 30th anniversar y, the Enter tainer’s Basketball Classic (EBC) Rucker Park League, features both a high school and Pro-Am tournament, and is the most star-studded league and tournament played at Rucker Park. Various NBA players can be found par ticipating in the EBC each summer. On August 1st, 2011 Kevin Durant was absolutely on fire from 3-point range, and dropped a legendar y 66 points in front of an electric crowd, who was feeding off of KD’s now historic performance.
The George Goodman League (Washington D.C, USA): By Colin Garraway / Photo by Ashlei Sutton In 1975 Er vin Brady, Carlton Reed and Mor ty Hammonds established the Barr y Farms Community Basketball League in Washington D.C. which would later be renamed after community leader George Goodman. Since then the Goodman League has grown in popularity and now is one of the leaders of the summer basketball scene. The league plays host to both local high school and college talent and is also home to NBA talent during league play (June to August). The Goodman maintains an inclusive, communal feeling, and it’s not uncommon to see local DJ’s pushing mixtapes during timeouts, or to smell the aroma of a cookout in the back where the indoor games are being played. While NBA players waited for a resolution to the 2011 lockout, the Goodman league put together a team to face off against the Drew League. The two teams had a combined 16 NBA players with the likes of John Wall, Rudy Gay, and Kevin Durant representing the Goodman League. The games between these two were the closest thing to a sanctioned NBA game at the time, and they didn’t disappoint fans one bit. Goodman won the first meeting 135-134 and the Drew League took the second meeting 151-144.
summer is serious
Crown League (Toronto, Ontario, Canada): By Ray Bala / Photo by Charlie Lindsay The historic Jar vis Collegiate in downtown Toronto was the site for the inaugural season of this Nike summer pro-am league, and featured six teams filled with the best basketball talent the city had to offer. Veteran pro ballers like Denham Brown, former Olympian Kyle Johnson and Toronto legend Kevin Shand mixed with young bucks like Daniel Mullings, Devoe Joseph and Olu Ashaolu to make The Crown the premier summer basketball league in Canada. Because of the heavy talent present fans witnessed not only NBA sightings on the sidelines with Tristan Thompson and recently signed Raptor Cor y Joseph present, but also on the cour t as Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson par ticipated in some pretty incredible games. Though poster dunks and slight of hand passes have become the norm at the Crown, it was the first week shooting performance of long distance gunner Brady Heslip that has been the league highlight, when he dropped 44 points mostly from behind the arc under pressure. This rookie league has definitely created some big time buzz for the hotbed of hoops in Canada and looks to be a fixture for years to come. Toronto has been a world-class city with world-class basketball talent and now the Crown League has a place for this talent to play ever y summer.
OVO Bounce: A Celebration of Toronto Hoops
By Rey Roncesvalles / Photo by OVOBounce
ovo b o u nc e The Civic Long Weekend in Toronto, affectionately known as Caribana Weekend, is associated by many as a time filled with bright colours and positive energy. The city is alive with culture, with events such as the VELD Music Festival, numerous Caribana par ties, not to mention the parade itself, as well as the OVOFest, a hiphop music festival founded by homegrown music magnate Drake. While most people are aware of the two-day concer t por tion that is OVOFest, only those that are in-theknow are aware of the weeklong basketball tournament ramping up to the long weekend, OVO Bounce. The OVO Bounce Tournament is the brainchild of OVO (October’s Ver y Own, Drake’s brand) and Tony McIntyre, coach of CIA Bounce (a Toronto-based basketball development program which has produced notable NBA talents such as Andrew Wiggins and Tristan Thompson). It began in 2013, a time when basketball fever in Toronto was ascending. The advancements made by the Toronto Raptors and their immense popularity; the blossoming talent of the Canadian Senior Men’s Basketball Program spearheaded by Steve Nash; the surprise 1st overall selection of Anthony Bennett and the unprecedented buzz of Andrew Wiggins; the OVO Bounce Tournament entered the game in what can be regarded as the golden age of Canadian basketball. The pro-am tournament features players from various levels of competition, with rosters that include athletes from the NBA, NBDL, NBL in Canada, amateur men’s leagues, and Euro pro leagues. It gives local players an exciting oppor tunity to compete against professional athletes, and gives the younger players a chance to play with guys they grew up with. Some notable NBA names that have par ticipated in OVO Bounce include Demar Derozan, Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson, and Noah Vonleh, as well as premier Canadian talents such as Brady Heslip, Kyle Johnson, and Morgan Lewis. OVO Bounce boasts some of the best talent on the cour t, but also draws superstars on the sidelines as well. Drake, along with his OVO family can usually be found behind the bench of their team, 6Man. Kevin Durant has recently been spotted there, along with several OKC Thunder teammates. The city of Toronto is so abuzz with Caribana, it’s hard to rule out anyone from showing up if they were seen around town. One of the most remarkable achievements of the OVO Bounce Tournament is its sole reliance on social media for marketing and promotion. It’s difficult to determine whether the crowds of people who come to watch ever y year are hardcore basketball junkies or just hardcore Drake fans hoping to experience anything OVO related, but what is for cer tain is that these suppor ters are definitely in-the-know, a designation that is growing bigger ever y year.
Baseline Health Tips By Dr. J The Tape By Dr. Joel Kerr / Illustration by Craig White
Kinesio Taping(R) , KT Tape(R), SpiderTech(R), Rock Tape(R), or Kinesiology Tape(R) no matter what you call it or what your therapist uses, this product has become more mainstream as more high profile athletes are using it. The parent of a young athlete mentioned to me that two star players were using ‘the tape’ during the NBA Playoffs. So what exactly is “the tape?” What does it really do? What do the respective companies claim their product does? And lastly, what does the science say? I will refer to all of the products as tape to remain impar tial and unbiased to one product. Tape is described as a latex free elastic tape that is water resistant and is used for prevention of injur y, as well as to help heal injuries that involve muscles, tendons and joints to enhance healing and recover y time. This description is loaded with claims and requires evidenced based research to suppor t it. The manufacturers of tape claim the following:
4.Increased Lymphatic Drainage (To Reduce Swelling) 5.Pain Relief
7.Increased Range Of Motion
baseline health tips by dr. j : the tape
All of these claims have not been suppor ted by definitive research. Preliminar y findings suggest that tape may be effective in the management of pain relief and performance. I will highlight these two claims. In 2008 at the 4th Kuala Lumpur International Conference on Biomedical Engineering Chen et al. showed positive initial results in the reduction of pain and an improvement of the ratio of Vastus Medialis Obliqus (inner quadriceps muscle) and Vastus Lateralis (outer quadriceps muscle) for the mechanism of patellar stability. Later that year, in the Journal of Or thopaedics & Spor ts Physical Therapy, Thalen et al. investigated The Clincial Efficacy of Kinesio Tape (KT) for Shoulder Pain. Their findings were: when applied to a young, active patient population with a clinical diagnosis of rotator cuff tendonitis/impingement, KT may assist clinicians to obtain immediate improvement in pain-free shoulder abduction ROM. However, over time, KT appears to be no more efficacious than sham taping at decreasing shoulder pain intensity or disability. With apologies to the aforementioned parent, who referred to NBA superstars John Wall and James Harden, although this research was done seven years ago, NO STUDY has been done since then to prove with definitive science that ‘the tape’ works. So if you are asking “Why do the pros, Olympic athletes and youth players who aspire to be those athletes, continue to have joints and muscle covered in ‘the tape?’ ” One possible answer is the psychotherapeutic effects. My colleague Dr. Jeff Cubos so eloquently explained in a blog post he wrote after attending a SpiderTech seminar in December 2009.“it may work via psychol-
ogical mechanisms through an increased conscious awareness and increased perception of stability, a decreased fear of activity may subsequently result.” Dr. Cubos continues to say, “For those of you who work with elite-level athletes, you will know that psychology plays an impor tant role in high performance and thus, if an increased perception of joint stability results in increased confidence, then yes, SpiderTech may also enhance performance through psychological means.” I strongly agree with Dr. Cubos and the sentiment that “it’s all in your head,” should not have a stigma to it. Our brain, the way we think and what we believe has a tremendous impact on performance on and off the cour t. I referenced the parent in the beginning of this piece, to highlight a growing concern regarding this product and it’s use. You can now purchase ‘the tape’ at your local Walmar t or Shoppers Drug Mar t. This is a problem, as it will become a product that will be overused and misunderstood leading to possible misdiagnosis of far more serious conditions. Again drawing from my colleague Dr. Cubos, “To put it bluntly, I believe some companies are shooting themselves in the foot (in the long term) by making their product available over the counter. This is not to say that these products should be regulated much like pharmaceuticals (as their side effects are likely minimal). They should simply be applied correctly and for the right reasons. From a medical standpoint, I believe the credibility of this product may soon decline if it has yet to do so already. Simply put, if not applied properly, its beneficial effects will be minimal. And as a result, will result in negative publicity and/or an image of just being placebo.” By having tape available almost anywhere, it increases increases the chance that people are using it it incorrectly, and when it doesn’t have the
baseline health tips by dr. j : the tape
intended effect, it will only ser ve to damage the product’s image. The verdict on tape? A mistrial. However, it can be a useful tool a health care practitioner can use ONCE a complete physical examination is conducted to determine if an injur y has occurred to a joint, tendon, ligament or muscle. There is promising research that requires fur ther investigation on the efficacy of tape on pain reduction. KT manufactures claim it enhances performance, increases blood flow and range of motion, while reducing swelling, pain and muscle fatigue. It’s theorized that the reduction of pain is done by the lifting of the skin which relieves pressure on the pain receptors under the skin that are compressed at the site of injur y (Mostafavifar et al., 2012). It’s also theorized that through the same skin lifting mechanism, which causes an increased in blood flow, the tape relieves pressure between skin and tissue which allows for better fluid circulation (Morris et al., 2013). Due to the increase in fluid circulation it allows for improved reduction in swelling and more flood flow to muscles to allow for more oxygen to the muscles therefore possibly increasing muscular endurance (Stedge et al., 2012). I will close with a quote from Japanese Chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase who was one of the pioneers of tape, and played an instrumental role introducing the concept to Nor th America in the 80’s. “The success of the Kinesio Taping Method is dependent upon two factors. One, proper evaluation of the patient’s condition to allow for application of Kinesio Tex Tape on the proper tissue. Two, proper application of the Kinesio Taping Technique.” So while James Harden and John Wall’s use of tape might give them a psychological boost, tape is only really effective when the need for its application to a joint is identified, and is applied correctly.
Performance Review: Nike KD8 by Jason Tiangco / Photos by Jalani Morgan
Performance Review: Nike KD8
Performance Review: Nike KD8
The KD8 marked a shoe that introduced two new technological breakthrough’s from Nike: 1. Flyweave textile upper and 2. Ar ticulated Full-length Air Zoom unit. TRACTION:
The KD8 utilizes a stylized cubed rubber outsole that provided excellent traction on both indoor & outdoor cour t surfaces during our testings. Durability may be the only concern, but its high scores in the traction depar tment make it a no brainer for those looking to stop and go on a dime.
The KD8 marks the first time a Nike basketball shoe has utilized an ar ticulated full-length zoom air unit. The ar ticulated zoom air unit was designed to provide great cour t feel, and responsive cushioning that intuitively moved & flexed naturally throughout the athlete’s regular stride. The cushioning felt slightly thin & stiff upon heel strike but there was good rebound under the balls of your feet. Our wear testers expected a more responsive feel from a zoom air unit model, yet the KD8 still did the job in protecting the athlete upon impact, and spring upon jump off.
TRACTION INDOOR COURT: 9.5 OUTDOOR/DUSTY INDOOR COURT: 9
CUSHIONING: 7.5 FIT & LOCKDOWN:
The introduction of Flyweave is a new textile woven upper for Nike that felt great. Thinner than the woven upper in the AJ XX9, this reduced version hugged the foot securely and required just a shor t break-in period. Coupled with Flywire in the forefoot, our wear testers felt locked in above the footbed. n integrated TPU heel counter in conjunction with a well sculpted heel design kept our testers’ ankle secured, minimizing rollover. Suppor t scored well as the shoe utilized a widebased platform complete with a lateral outrigger and a secure fitting upper throughout. It should be noted that the KD8’s fit true to size (but a bit upon the snug side, so tr y them out first to get the proper size).
Check out the video review youtube.com/soleshift
should be noted that the KD8’s fit true to size (but a bit upon the snug side, so tr y em out first before you buy to get the proper size). My one issue: The lacing system could’ve been improved as the eyelets don’t always work in unison with one another when lacing up.
FIT & LOCKDOWN: 9 FINAL THOUGHTS:
One of the better models to come out of KD’s line, the KD8 is lightweight, provides amazing traction and great stability with a soft upper that fits like a glove and locks you in One of the better models to come out of KD’s line, the KD8 is a lightweight model that provides amazing traction, great stability, with a soft upper that fits like a glove, but locks you in at the same time. If your looking for a supercushioned shoe this isn’t for you. But if you want a low cut model that locks you in to move as quickly as you do, give the KD8 a serious look. KEY HIGHLIGHTS: - Amazing traction - Underwhelming but decent cushioning with the ARTICULATED Full-Length Zoom Air Unit - Flyweave Upper felt light and was form-fitting. Coupled with forefoot Flywire you feel locked in. Overall, good for quick players for mobility with a locked in feel and great traction.
syracuse summer camp by Montreal Marc Griffin
I tried to move out of the way. Billy Owens, all 6’8” 220 pounds of him, was running at me like a freight train. I put my hands over my face, seated cour tside, and was barreled over by the 3rd pick in the NBA Draft. Owens got up, checked on my friend and I, and continued with his evening pickup game. This was life at Syracuse Big Orange Basketball in the early 90s, rubbing shoulders with the best, and having the battle scars that remain.
I was raised on the nor thern edge of New York State, an area best known for farming, hockey, and prison breaks. Yet basketball always had a home there. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle grew up a town away, and former Raptors coach Kevin O’Neill is from nearby too. Another local great, Jerr y Welsh, led Division III Potsdam State to two National Titles and an unthinkable 60 game winning streak. Moreover, Coach Welsh created an atmosphere of competitive, fun basketball camps in the summer ; it was our lifeblood in such a sparse community. My game grew as I was a teenager, and I knew I had to climb higher mountains to get better. So I headed to the true basketball mecca of our region: The Carrier Dome. Nor thern New Yorkers intuitively had a deep connection with the Orangemen. There were no professional spor ts teams in the region. NBA pioneer Dolph Schayes and The Nationals had long moved away to become the Philadelphia 76ers.
Names like Dave Bing. Earl The Pearl. Derrick Coleman. Lawrence Moten. Carmelo Anthony. Gerr y McNamara. Sherman Douglas. Ronny Seikaly. I wanted to be par t of that. The vanilla roof of the Carrier Dome looms large over campus like a beacon. You walk the hallways and feel athletic histor y at your feet. I entered the Dome for the first time, to the drumming sound of hundreds of leather basketballs. As many cour ts as the eye can see, squeaking with talent from around the globe. Once a day, Jim Boeheim and his staff, would hold practical sessions for the entire camp to see. It was an oppor tunity to rest, and sit around that beautiful Orangemen cour t. He’d bring out a few of his players show us his infamous 2-3 defense, post moves, and how to run the fast break in the Big East. Coach Boeheim would stop and tell anecdotes. Once he pointed up into the rafters, where a solitar y dark figure
syracuse summer camp
was running the stairs. He said, “That’s Adrian Autr y, our point guard. He doesn’t need to be here, but that’s’ what he does in the summer to get better.” Of course, moments away from camp were just as impor tant to my growth. One day, rambling around campus I bumped into Otis Hill, the towering Syracuse center. I’ve always had a gift to connect with people from all walks of life. I introduced myself and had a long chat with the giant in the sweltering heat. We par ted ways with him engulfing my hand with his giant paw. It was a harbinger of things to come. Twenty years later, it helps me ever y time I enter an NBA locker-room for an inter view. Syracuse gave me that confidence to connect. But my greatest memories were on the cour t. I was a middle of the pack player at camp, but I always found my game as the week progressed. I enjoyed being amongst the trees down low. I remember receiving the ball on the right block. I had a sense that my teammate was cutting the hoop on the opposite wing. I threw a no-look, behind the back, bounce pass for a wide-open layup. The silence running back up the cour t was golden. Yet my biggest moment at Big Orange Camp had to be on the grandest stage. Camp Playoffs took place on that glorious orange and blue cour t. It was an honor for only the best of
the best. Scouts were there. Boeheim was there. Syracuse players and alumni sat cour tside. Ever yone was fatigued. Aches and pains. Sprained ankles. Gatorade bottles were empty. My team found ourselves in a dogfight, down by 3 in the semi finals with less than a minute to play. I hadn’t taken a shot all game. I hadn’t been open, and was focusing on all the little things to keep us in the game. Suddenly I got the ball in the right corner, took a breath, and calmly rattled home a three. We ended up losing the game. But I’ll always have that shot to remember. Last year, I ran into Adrian Autr y, the jogger coach Boeheim pointed up to in the rafters. These days he’s an assistant on Syracuse’s staff. He always kept those legs moving. We reminisced about those summers two decades ago at the Dome. He smiled a big smile and said, “You’re making me feel old.” Basketball is by no means an old man’s game. It’s best saved for the summers of our youth. I was a small town kid with big town dreams. And I found beauty on my favorite cour t.
syracuse summer camp
the and1 mixtape era
the and 1 mixtape era
by Ray Bala / illustration by HVW8
The year was 2000 and I was doing a lot of things in my life. I was still in university, making some new friends and busy not having a job for the first time since I was 14. One of these new friends would introduce me to other new friends and we would play ball together twice a week at a high school down from my house. After a few months of ballin’ and hangin’ one of these new friends brought over something before our Tuesday night run. His only words to me were “We need to see this right now.” So we did. What he brought was the Skip to My Lou And 1 Mixtape. What he did was open up a whole new wondrous basketball world. That first grainy VHS tape (yes it was in analog) would become the foundation of what eventually became the streetball phenomenon. Before the digital age of the Internet, YouTube and Ball is Life/Hoop Mixtape clips, you came to find out about things by either what you read or what you heard. This would then be what you know and ver y rarely would you get to see what you heard or read about if it wasn’t something mainstream. I had read about Rafer Alston, aka Skip to My Lou. I had heard that he was a playground legend in New York City. I had read stories of people who said they saw him do things with the ball in games that were mind blowing. That first And 1 Mixtape had me seeing what I’d heard and read about. And this is where I found basketball fun to watch again. This was basketball reinvented. During the pre-streetball/mixtape era, basketball was what you saw in person or on TV. Remember that in this time there was not a whole lot of basketball in Canadian cable programming and the NBA was in its infancy in the Nor th with the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies only about five years old. To be honest, basketball at the time to me was boring. I had for the most par t stopped watching NBA hoops unless there was no college basketball on. The college season is much shor ter than the NBA so my options got really limited after early April. The NBA lockout of 1998-99 just pushed fans like myself into other directions and when the League was running in Januar y of ’99 I was in no rush to welcome it back. Enter the And 1 Mixtape. Here was something new and exciting. The playground game that you’ve always heard about from a friend’s cousin’s uncle was now in your face. These And 1 guys were playing on cour ts you could be playing on. These were guys that you could be playing with. Those were some things you may have tried to do in the basement or with buddies just goofing around. They were instantly relatable to me and my friends. And that one, choppy VHS tape star ted a revolution. And 1, which always had an affinity to the street culture the mixtape was born from (remember those smack talk t-shir ts with the faceless dude?), managed to create an alternative to the
“establishment’s” indoor game. The demand for the initial mixtape videos was so high that the company put out another. And another. And another. And another. Streetball got big. Really big. The streetball phenomenon that And 1 created (and don’t get it twisted they did create it) got so big that not only was there a Mixtape tour that would eventually become international but there was a 30 minute show ever y week for the summer months on ESPN (which aired on TSN in Canada). The playground game had made it to center stage. What was once considered a sideshow was now the main event. The Harlem Globetrotters were choreographed routines while the And 1 games were spontaneous making them real. Each game was nothing but highlight reel dunks, defender destroying dribbling and incredibly creative no-look passes in traffic and no two games or plays were exactly alike. Next thing you know kids were talking about becoming streetball legends. Not NBA legends, STREETBALL legends. They want to be on the next And 1 Mixtape. They want to be seen by millions crossing up some dude in the playground. They wanted to make up their own legend nickname. Kids were really working on their handles more than their jumpers just so they could break a guy’s ankles. But this couldn’t last forever. Unlike hip-hop when it was thrust into the mainstream, streetball just wasn’t able to evolve. Streetball was just what it was - basketball. You can’t morph the ankle breaking crossover, the alley-oop dunk or the no look pass into something different. They are what they are. There are only so many ways that you could do any of those things and I think the novelty of the style of game had worn off. I can say that this happened to myself. I grew tired of it. I grew tired of watching the streetball mixtapes, the streetball shows and guys I’m playing against tr y to do some ridiculous dribble move on me. Basketball in its pure form is from the playgrounds. I grew tired of the spectacle of streetball, the almighty And 1 Mixtape streetball, and what I wanted to see was basketball. I don’t want to say I grew up because I still love the game but rather I want to say I grew out. I grew out of a time when I thought basketball needed reinventing because it didn’t. I just needed some perspective and I think the And 1 Mixtape era gave me that. The perspective is that the game is still exciting, always has been. And always will be. I just needed some fool with a nickname with a super tight handle, a spotty jump shot wearing a 3XL outfit on a medium sized body for a few years to remind me.
the and 1 mixtape era
Remembering The Notic During the streetball renaissance, there was a Canadian crew that created a buzz of their own. They were called The Notic. A group of high schoolers out of Vancouver that star ted as a student film project, The Notic consisted of nine members – Andrew Lew, Dauphan Ngongo, David Mubanda, Jamal Parker, John Mubanda, Mohammed Wenn, Ror y Grace and Joey Haywood – doing what most kids in the parks were doing. In 2003, the videos star ted showing up on YouTube displaying deft ball handling, highlight reel alley oops and the requisite embarrassment of would-be defenders. Had social media existed as it does today, these videos would have been trending all summer. At their height, The Notic were making noise on the west coast and a couple of them, Lew, dubbed “Fingaz” for his dribbling exploits and because he had a sixth finger on each hand, and Haywood, aptly named “King Handlez” for his master y of the ball - were both featured in SLAM Magazine. Alas, as streetball moved from the foreground to the background, so did The Notic. The only one of the crew to really make something outside of the asphalt was Haywood who attended Saint Mar y’s University in Halifax. He would become a two-time All CIS selection, and played professionally in Europe and the NBL Canada.
Performance Review: adidas 2015 Crazylight Boost Primeknit
Performance Review: adidas 2015 Crazylight Boost Primeknit by Jason Tiangco / Photos by Jalani Morgan
Could this be the coming out par ty for adidas?
CU SH IO NING:
This past season, it was Under Armour’s coming out par ty, who took the reigns as a major player in the basketball performance game with a meteoric rise in recent months. So to say that adidas may do the same is actually a GOOD thing!
One of the major drawbacks from the previous CLB was it’s cushioning, specifically it’s forefoot cushioning. The previous model literally had none. To our liking the latest CLB was outfitted with an even bigger Boost heel cushioning unit. It was responsive, super plush, and provided a spring like feel underfoot that felt great when running up and down cour t. To our disappointment the Boost cushioning runs only from heel to just under the midfoot area; never theless, to complete the cushioning package + aid in transition, the midfoot and forefoot were equipped with a much thicker EVA midsole than it’s predecessor resulting in decent cushioning upon toe-off, smooth transition and allowing for above average court feel. Looks like adidas may be keeping their full length Boost models to those that carry higher price points or signature player models.
Last season adidas introduced their highly-respected Boost cushioning technology in the Crazylight Boost and DRose 5 models. As solid as those two shoes performed on-cour t, there was definitely room for improvement and to make a statement. Enter the adidas 2015 Crazylight Boost Primeknit. The three stripes seem truly focused on making basketball shoes that are super lightweight, with fit and comfor t as their main priorities. They needed to make improvements from the first Crazylight Boost model and it looks like as if they star ted from the ground up.
FIT & LO CKD OWN:
Gone is the stylized traction pattern in the previous CLB, and replaced with a “minimal” traditional herringbone pattern that takes shape within the solid rubber outsole. Traction on a clean indoor court was solid on stop-and-go movements on cuts/stops, lateral movements were all on point, giving our wear testers the confidence to move where, when & how they wanted. Traction on a dusty or outdoor cour t was a bit more inconsistent, gripping one moment and slipping the next. Lastly, the rubber outsole is on the softer side so durability may be an issue when used on an outdoor cour t.
The CLB Primeknit, is built upon a standard D width last, but provides ample room in the toe box. Our wear testers suggest moving down half-a-size, or double sock if you’re the type of player looking for a snug fit.
8.5/10 on a clean indoor court 7/10 on a dirty indoor, outdoor court
Performance review: adidas 2015 Crazylight Boost Primeknit
Even with the woven upper, midfoot lockdown scored high through our tests. The tightly woven areas coupled with adidas’ dynamic integrated lacing system and gusseted tongue provided reinforcement and suppor t where needed. This mid-cut version included a Techfit ankle collar and integrated suppor t strap to provide a snug fit and proprioceptive suppor t while providing the mobility of a low cut shoe. Stability was solid as adidas utilized their Stableframe within the midsole to provide dynamic suppor t through the athlete’s stride, and a TPU Torsion plate located just under the midfoot to help maintain torsional rigidity. The moulded external heel counter was exceptional limiting ankle movement and minimizing rollover.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Is the CLB Primeknit Mid better than last year’s version? Yes The CLB Primeknit isn’t the epitome of what a basketball shoe should be, but adidas is definitely keeping itself in the “shoe rotation for the season” conversation with this model. If you’re an agile type of player that is looking for a shoe with zero break in time, that’s lightweight, provides solid cushioning, decent traction and increased mobility, that feels like you’re in a running shoe? The adidas 2015 Crazylight Boost Primeknit should definitely be on your radar. So could this be the coming out par ty for adidas this season? The jur y is still out, but we’re thinking yes.
FIT & LOCKDOWN RATING: 8.5/10
The new feature on this model is the inclusion of the brands latest upper material and technology, Primeknit. As the name suggests, Primeknit is a seamless knitted upper comprised of yarn spun through a flat-knitting process sewn with var ying tensions throughout, specific to the differing areas of the foot. The result is a true-knit upper that is super soft and comfor table upon entr y, providing the sensation of a suppor tive sock upon the foot once on. The var ying tensions allow for a perfect combination of unmatched breathability, comfor t and malleable suppor t where needed in an upper.
Check out the video review youtube.com/soleshift
Air Jordan VII: A Retrospective
23rd Anniversary of the Air Jordan VII: A Retrospective by: Michael Baillie / Photos by Jalani Morgan
23 years since its original release, the Air Jordan VII’s are still as red-hot today, as they were in 1992. With the recent release of the Jordan VII Bordeaux, both new and old generations found a commonality amongst themselves. As the kids of 1992 and 2015 trekked to their nearest sneaker store in search of the latest Jordan VII’s. Although I wasn’t born when they originally dropped, I still find myself scrambling with the masses in hopes of acquiring a pair. Michael Jordan’s impact to basketball, and mainstream sneaker culture remains significant. Simply put, ever ybody wants to be “Like Mike.” It’s not hard to see why, when you star t to break down the background of this iconic sneaker.
Air Jordan VII: A Retrospective
In 1992, the Air Jordan VII’s released in five original styles: Bordeaux, Hare, Charcoal, Olympic and Cardinal. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the VII was the first model since the Air Jordan II without a common visible air unit. It was also Jordan’s first signature shoe that didn’t contain or feature any Nike Air logos. Riding off the success of Nike’s Huarache line, Hatfield incorporated a neoprene technology within shoe’s inner boot. Heavily inspired by West African tribal culture, that influence is displayed with patterns of versatile shapes and colour schemes on the sole and tongue.
Hare Jordan alias resulted in the colourway Bugs wore in the commercial to be named the “Hare” VII’s. With its over-the-top animated violence and hijinks, the ad saw massive success with Bugs Bunny coming back for more, culminating into the classic 1996 feature length film “Space Jam.”
Without question, the legendary USA Olympic Dream Team was the greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet. For the first time, pro players from the NBA were eligible to par take and represent the U.S. at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Although hesitant at first, Jordan eventually decided to commit and honour Many fail to realize, but most Jordan VII tongues his national duties. Exceeding all expectations, vary with each individual pair, providing a unique The Dream Team dominated the Summer and individualized aspect to the shoe. If the Games, bringing home the gold medal. Shor tly tongues on your VII’s don’t have the right pattern thereafter, the Air Jordan VII was released in a or colour tone, it can make or break the sneaker’s special colourway to commemorate his Olympic performance. This edition of the Air Jordan VII overall style and presentation. Always make sure sneaker featured the #9 on the back heel, his your tongue game is correct! It’s fascinating how jersey number for the Olympics, in replacing the the Air Jordan VII allows consumers to purchase traditional #23. The colourway consisted of a the exact same shoe, yet own a pair unlike white and metallic-silver upper, solid navy tongue, anybody else’s. midnight navy inser ts at the ankles, along with true Mars Blackmon was a Spike Lee character that red and gold accents. Officially hitting its Jordan originally appeared in his 1986 film “She’s Gotta number in years, this timeless release impacted Have It,” and had been in several Nike ads since the global growth of basketball and shifted sneaker the Air Jordan III’s. He was replaced by Bugs Bunny culture worldwide. Whether it was on the cour t as the new pitchman upon the release of the or throughout pop culture, the Air Jordan VII VII’s, Branded as “Hare Jordan”, the collaboration resonated with all. between Bugs and Jordan helped the Looney Tunes find a new light and brought a different flavour to the Jordan staple. It was a collaborative marketing campaign like no other. The notable
Player’s Perspective with Natalie Achonwa as told to Ray Bala Current Indiana Fever rookie forward and Senior Women’s National Team player Natalie Achonwa talks us through her injury and recovery here As soon as I fell to the ground (in the game) I knew I hur t my ACL. My teammate Jewell (Loyd) was encouraging me to get up but I couldn’t. The trainer and my teammates got me into the locker room and they confirmed that I tore my ACL. I just wanted to get back onto the cour t … I knew there was nothing I could do about it. I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason so for me to make it internal and make it about myself made no sense to me. No matter what, I’m still par t of a team. I wanted to do ever ything I could to keep my team focused and tr ying to help as much as I could from the bench. After being invited to the WNBA Draft I was debating whether I should go because of the chance I was not going to get drafted. It was a huge shock when I heard my name (but also) a huge relief and a blessing. The Fever took a huge chance on me. Going through an injur y like that or recover y like that you never know how a player is going to come back. My whole year off, my mindset was about tr ying to repay them to show them that it was wor th the wait of a year and gamble a 9th pick. I wanted to prove to them that it was wor th the wait.
There was nothing I could do about it. At that point it was about “what can I control?” I can’t get my year back; I can’t get my ACL back so why dwell on it. I was on that high of get better ever yday … There were a lot of people that helped me get to where I am today. It wasn’t me by myself in the gym. Notre Dame took care of all my surgeries and my braces up until I switched over to the Fever. Notre Dame didn’t have to do that but they did. I came to Indianapolis in Februar y and me and (Fever) trainer Todd Champlin had some serious bonding moments because we were doing two-a-days for about a month before players star ted coming back. This was before I was even allowed to do much on the cour t. We were going at 6 o’clock in the morning, doing sprints on turf, to weight training, to anything and ever ything. We (St. Vincent Spor ts Performance) were going twice a day, ever yday. I was itching for some competition after all those two-a-days with just me and Todd. When that time came it was like relief, like I had lifted the world off my shoulders. But it wasn’t pretty. It was ugly for while. I can say I’m back to doing what I love and I can say it was wor th it.
Player’s Perspective with Natalie Achonwa
footwork by will strickland
Footwork by Will “Wall $t” Strickland Illustration by Craig White
We have Planned Our Work... It’s now time to Work Our Plan. As Sole Shift morphs into its new iteration, I am fortunate enough to have been made a new member of the squad, here to help build more great editorial content from the ground up. Foundation. The obligation to deliver the goods on the fashion and function of the newest-latest kicks is paramount. It is a core tenet of Sole Shift’s existence. I’m here to enhance that in my own unique way... to bring My Fresh to the proceedings. Sole Shift’s foundation rests in its aim to “change the perception of shoes and their relationship with sport and athletic performance.” Footwork is the ground zero basis for success and ultimate glory... in basketball. On offense... On defense... In Life... It’s doesn’t matter: good footwork is a necessity. I once thought my first REAL pair of non-canvas kicks would help me play better, jump higher and score more points. That is until My Dear Ol’ Dad (Rest The Dead), reminded me that Wilton Norman Chamberlain once scored 100 points in a pro game wearing Chuck Taylors. I was in Fresh Purgatory then. Chucks were cool then and are now a fashion staple today, even if the function was basic at best. But a small company from a far away land cal led Beaverton, was just starting to break out with their signature basketball shoe named after a team near them in the city of Portland. I wanted those shoes... the ones I stared at all day after rip-
ping pages out of a Sports Illustrated when I was at the doctor’s office for a check-up one day. No... I had to have them! No more Chucks. No more Pro-Keds. No more shoes you could buy next to Brill-o Pads and dish others that I jacked some of their socks, so I could play out all of my early Hoop Dreams mostly in my heart and mind at the time, because the big kids wouldn’t let me play... yet. Day after day, sitting on the sideline, old Voit basketball in hand that felt like it was made out of linoleum, I waited. I listened to the music in the park that the older guys were calling “rap” while I styled in my kinda new sneaks, a couple sizes too big for me, looking to flex my Fresh and longing for the chance to play. And then it happened. The big kids need my rock to play. But they didn’t want to let me on the court. I made my stand. I thought I was gonna get jumped. Instead, I got to run around, free, hopeful and clueless, though I never once got the ball passed to me... MY BALL! I didn’t care. I was in... finally in... Little did I realize then that this confluence of new music, the game I loved but wasn’t yet skilled enough to play just yet and the kicks would be the Genesis of my Fresh and a huge part of my adult life. Everyday after that, I would watch, run, listen, style and clean to maintain my Fresh. I’d become fully invested on not wanting to lose that feeling. And when I told my Father about this, he asked me “Do you know what’s most important to the physical part of your game?” Naturally, I had no answer. I was 9. “Your base, Son. Your feet. Can’t play if you can’t run, jump, pivot and move your feet on offense and defense!” Footwork.
It would never be the same again. A kid looking to balance the serious with the silly and sublime at 9 was a wild sight on which to reflect. These stories make us. That fresh out the box smell each one of the seemingly hundreds of times I opened not the Nike Blazers, but my “Kiki Vandeweghes”, the Nike Bruin, my first new leather shoe. I can still feel the smile on my face from thinking about what how good I’d look at school or who I might have to fight because they’d try to play “stepsies” with my new hotness! The vain attempts to avoid creasing. The trusty toothbrush and bathroom cleaner spray in my backpack to keep my kicks as close to immaculate as possible. These experiences are the foundation on which I stand each and every day. Every pair I wear, on x off the court, says something about me... my heart... my story... my Fresh. As I get older, the music that hits my ears doesn’t feel the same and I don’t play basketball as much as I once did. But the passion still burns, the style will never leave me and the kick quiver will always remain at Heat Index Threat Level Red. As I share tales of Love Found, Love Lost x Love Unrequited, my relationship with sneakers, basketball and hip hop culture may have you in stitches, in thought or in tears... But they’ll have you... As they do me. Forever. Until the next time we cross paths and peek to observe the flame broiled goodness that is affixed to our feet in quiet, mutual admiration... Walk Good
Basketball. Footwear. Performance. Culture.