Court-Critic is dedicated to bringing you detailed reviews, information, and pictures of basketball sneakers of the past and prestent. Court-Critic will also update readers on sales and deals on the latest and greatest basketball footwear and apparel.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Head 2 Head Review: Starbury 1 vs. Starbury 2

Stephon Marbury shocked the world last year when he announced that he will wear and endorse a signature basketball shoe that retails for an unbelievable $14.98. Marbury’s line, Starbury, is sold exclusively at Steve and Barry’s stores across the nation. The Starbury 1 was released in September 2006 and flew off shelves as soon as stores opened their doors for business. With the success of the Starbury 1, Marbury launched the Starbury 2 in April of 2007 and wore the shoe through the end of the regular NBA season. I know many have wondered how a shoe that costs just $14.98 would hold up on the basketball court. I decided it would be fun to not just review the shoes, but put them up against each other and do a head to head comparison of the Starbury 1 and 2.

The Starbury 1 and 2 are both pretty comfortable to wear right out of the box. The Starbury 1 definitely lacks the cushioning of the Starbury 2. To my knowledge neither of these sneakers uses any kind of cushioning technology. All the cushioning comes solely from the insole. The Starbury 1’s insole is very thin with an extra foam pad at the heel while the Starbury 2’s insole is much thicker and provides a much better feel. Right off the bat, I knew that the cushioning of the Starbury 1 was not going to cut it so I did replace the insole with a $10 performance insole that I purchased at Foot Action. I did this to make it a fair fight. In my honest opinion both of these shoes can have about as much cushioning as you want. As I mentioned before, there is no cushioning technology incorporated into the midsole so you can buy a $10 insole or a $40 insole and put as much cushioning into the shoe as you want. I definitely do not recommend playing in the stock insole of the Starbury 1. The Starbury 2’s cushioning, however, could be compared to almost any lower tier Nike, Adidas or Reebok basketball shoe.

The Starbury 1 definitely offers far better support than the Starbury 2. The 1 is obviously cut higher than the 2. The Starbury 2 almost feels like you are playing in a low top basketball shoe. It offers very little ankle support and the shoe does not offer a very good overall fit. It seems like you can tie the shoe as tight as you want, but you cannot lock down the forefoot area and keep your foot from sliding from side to side in the front of the shoe. During play, my heel was locked down and didn’t move, but there was a lot side to side movement in the forefoot area of the shoe. This got to be very bothersome during long periods of play. I guess this wouldn’t bother players with wider feet; as a matter of fact it might even be more reason for a player with wide feet to try out the Starbury 2. I found the Starbury 1 to be the total opposite of the Starbury 2. It offers great ankle support because of the higher cut and although the fit can’t be compared to those of other higher end shoes, it’s not bad for $14.98. It provides a great fit and there is very little sliding within the shoe. One complaint I had about the Starbury 1 in comparison to the 2 is that the material used for the inside lining around the ankle is very rough and caused my ankles to itch a lot which got to be very irritating. I recommend higher cut socks for the Starbury 1 just for that reason. Neither the Starbury 1 nor 2 offer any kind of arch support. To many players this isn’t a very big issue, but for me it is. There’s not much you can do about this except maybe buy a new insole that does offer a reasonable amount of arch support.

Both, the Starbury 1 and 2, held up great outdoors and indoors. They both have excellent tread patterns that provide great traction on hardwood and on asphalt. The Starbury 1 has a very generic, basic tread pattern while the Starbury 2’s is a bit more complex. Neither one outperforms the other in terms of traction. I guess it was just a design effect on the Starbury 2. I did find that the tread on the Starbury 1 does wear down a lot faster than any other shoe I have ever played in before. After my first wear, I could already see a substantial amount of the tread had already started to wear down. If you are playing indoors, this shouldn’t be too big of an issue.

In conclusion, I think both of these shoes are worth the $14.98 price tag. Even if you have to go out and buy an insole for the shoe, you are looking at spending a total of $25-$35 for a well put together shoe that will last you a reasonable amount of time. I am a big supporter of the Starbury line and what Marbury set out to accomplish when he started it. I feel that a lot of people have shunned away from the shoe and laughed it off simply because of the price tag. I would definitely recommend the shoe to people who don’t want to or can’t afford to pay the big bucks to get a decent pair of shoes to play ball in. It’s not a bad shoe for the price. One thing I do feel that Marbury needs to stop doing is claiming that the shoe uses “state of the art technology” and is the equivalent of other higher end shoes because it is not. The Starbury sneakers are available at any Steve and Barry’s location. Most of the time stock is plentiful, but there have been times when I walked into a store and had a hard time finding my size in a particular style or color. Unfortunately, Steve and Barry’s does not have an online shop, but you can find almost all the styles on ebay for a few bucks over retail. The Starbury 2 is still being released in new colorways, but here is a compiled list of the Starbury 1 and 2 that are available now:

Starbury 1
*White/Sky Blue
*White/Navy Blue

Starbury 2
*White/Red/Black (Big Ben Colorway)
*White/Pink (Womens)

Colorway Tested:
-White/Blue/Orange (Starbury 1)
-Blue/Orange/White (Starbury 2)
Tested on: Hardwood & Asphalt

Final Analysis:
Starbury 1
Comfort & Cushioning: C
Support: A
Traction: A
Breathability: B
Overall: B-

Starbury 2
Comfort & Cushioning: B+
Support: C
Traction: A
Breathability: B
Overall: C+

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nike Air Zoom Huarache 64 Review

The Nike Air Zoom Huarache 64 made its debut 2 NBA seasons ago just in time for the playoffs. A number of players wore the shoe, including Ben Gordon, Larry Hughes, Boris Diaw, and Smush Parker. Some of the players definitely took to these shoes well seeing as how they are still wearing them today. Even though the Huarache 64 was released about 2 years ago, I only recently had the opportunity to take them out for a “spin” on the court.

The 64 definitely requires some initial “breaking-in” time. I wore the shoe around casually about 4 or 5 times before I decided to test it out on the court. During my first few casual wearings, I felt that the shoe didn’t offer very good cushioning and was very stiff. The more I wore the shoe, the better I started to feel about wearing it on the court. One bad thing about the shoe that did not get better with time is the rear heel tab. I’m not sure if I just got a bad pair with rough stitching on the edges, but the tab can scratch up the back of your ankle pretty badly if you wear the shoe for a long period of time. I recommend a high cut sock when wearing these. The floor of the shoe felt very hard when I first wore them. It was the first time I wore a shoe with Zoom Air in it and couldn’t feel it right away. After the shoe was broken into, the cushioning felt great. There’s not really much to complain about when you have Zoom Air to cushion your feet.
Nike’s Zoom Huarache 64 provides great support even though it is cut a little bit lower than a lot basketball shoes on the market today. The shoe is not cut low enough to make it a low top, but is lower cut in comparison to the Zoom Huarache 2k4, 2k5, and Lebron IV. The huarache technology provides a great fit. I’ve always been a fan of having an “inner bootie” on any basketball shoe. It does a great job of minimizing sliding within the shoe and provides a really good fit. One element I think the Huarache 64 lacks is arch support. Personally, I do require a shoe good arch support or I can’t play for very long periods of time. The 64 is very flat and doesn’t provide much of a place for your arches to rest on.

The shoe provides great traction especially in quick start/stop situations. There is some sliding within the shoe at the forefoot area, but not enough to bother you while playing. I tested the shoe both outdoors and indoors and I definitely felt the shoe performs better on the hardwood. Although the overall performance of the shoe is still great outdoors. The tread pattern and depth of the Huarache 64 would definitely not last you very long if you plan to wear the shoe for outdoor play. The depth in the grooves of the tread pattern is not very deep and the shoe would wear down very quickly. The shoe breathes very well and huarache technology provides great ventilation through out the shoe.
Overall the Nike Air Zoom Huarache 64 is a very well put together shoe, but there are a few things to consider before buying it. Do you require a lot of arch support? Do you feel comfortable buying a shoe that requires a good amount of breaking in time? Are you planning to use them for indoor or outdoor use? These are all good questions to consider before committing to buying the 64. The Nike Zoom Huarache 64 was available at almost every major sporting good store a few years ago. Due to poor sales, most stores shipped them back to Nike and they ended up at factory outlet stores across the nation. Check your local Nike Factory store to see if you can find a pair. At most locations they are marked down to $30.00. There were far too many colorways released of this shoe for us to list. They were also available on Nike iD for a short period of time. Unlike almost any other shoe these days, I do not recall hearing or seeing any fakes produced of this particular style so you can try hunting for a pair on e bay. Good Luck!!!

Colorway Tested: White/Black/Royal/Purple
Tested on: Hardwood & Asphalt

Final Analysis:
Comfort & Cushioning: B+
Support: A
Traction: B-
Breathability: A+
Overall: B+

Foot Locker Friends & Family Sale!!!

This weekend Foot Locker and Foot Action stores will be having their Friends & Family Sale. During this sale you can take advantage of the employee discount and save 30% off on almost everything. All you have to do is print out the coupon and take it into the store with you when you make your purchase. Happy Shopping!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Savings Alert: Zoom Kobe II Ultimates

Just a heads up that the Lakers and Black/Yellow colorways of the Zoom Kobe II Ultimates have been marked down to $91.00! Head over to to purchase your pair now. We will have a review of these shoes posted very soon. Stay tuned!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nike Zoom Lebron IV Review

Lebron James’s fifth signature shoe is arguably one of the best Nike basketball shoes ever created. From a style standpoint, the IV delivers a sleek look with its large and smooth curves. The overall design is simple yet calls for attention. Not only does it look great, it has some great technology incorporated into it. These sneakers have some great moments in Lebron’s career tied to it. Lebron had on the Zoom Lebron IV in his famous dunk on Tim Duncan at the start of the 06-07 NBA season. If you haven’t seen this dunk (or have a poster of it hanging up on your wall), be sure to youtube Lebron’s all time top 10 dunks and you’re guaranteed to see it. Lebron also wore this shoe during an unforgettable season, which led to a playoff berth and ended with the Cavs seeing their first ever NBA Finals appearance.

Let me start by saying that if you are planning to purchase a pair of these shoes, try them on first. I have heard several complaints from owners about how big they run. Others have felt like it fits true to size. I made the mistake of walking into my local Foot Locker store and purchasing my regular size 9.5 without even trying it on. “The lazy work twice as hard” – I ended up making a second trip to the mall to exchange the shoe for a size 9. For me (and many others), the shoe definitely runs a half size or maybe even a whole size bigger than past shoes in the Lebron line. Once you get your correct size, you are ready to go. No breaking in required! This shoe feels absolutely great from the get go. It really feels like you are walking with two pillows tied to the bottom of your feet. The shoe is equipped with a thick full length Zoom insole which sits atop a full length glass fiber plate. The cushioning system on the Lebron IV is like no other that I have ever felt before.

Nike’s Foamposite technology provides excellent support and stability on the court. Most will tell you that Foamposite technology’s only flaw is that it does not breathe very well. The mesh lined vents cut into the medial and lateral sides of the shoe and mesh tongue do a great job of eliminating this problem. The ankle strap of Zoom Lebron IV provides additional ankle support making the shoe one of the most stable shoes I have ever played in. There is one con that may not affect all players; the metal "LBJ 23" emblem on the front of the strap could start to bother the front part of you ankle after wearing the shoe for a long period of time. This just depends on the movement and style of play of the person wearing them. I was not able to test the shoe on an outdoor court, but the traction was great indoors. The shoe delivers great traction on the cuts to the basketball and in quick start/stop situations. The lacing system is great. The straps on top of the laces are more of a style element rather than a functional part of the shoe. Also, the straps do make it difficult for some to lace the shoe as tightly as they would like. But it’s a small stepping stone to cross to get a great fit!

The number one complaint everyone has with the Zoom Lebron IV, including the man himself, is that it is too heavy. I do agree with this to an extent. The shoe weighs in at 20.7 ounces. This might not sound like a lot of weight, but keep in mind that most hoops shoes these days weigh in at the range of 15 to 18 ounces. To me, the weight did not make a difference unless I was playing for an extremely long period of time (more than 2 hours straight). I am not the “speed” player I once was, but I can definitely see how the weight of this shoe could affect a player that relies on speed and quickness to make himself effective on the court. The shoe might even be a bit on the “clunky” side for a quick point guard type of player. I honestly don’t see the weight being a problem for a bigger forward or post player. I don’t even think the weight was too much of a problem for Lebron. Let’s keep in mind that he didn’t really comment on the weight issue until it was playoff time when he debuted the Zoom Soldier. I think it was just good marketing on his behalf.

To sum things up, the Zoom Lebron IV is by far the most comfortable and offers the most support of all the shoes in the numbered Lebron line. Ken Link really created a masterpiece with this one!!! Personally, I would like to see Nike incorporate Foamposite technology into more of their future releases. It provides an extremely stable and supportive fit when compared to most other shoes on the market these days. The Zoom Lebron IV was released in 7 colorways that were available to the public. Two of these colorways, the gold All-Star and birthday exclusive, were a little bit harder to obtain than the other 5 colorways. The Birthday edition released as a exclusive and was sold with a special bag. The gold All-Stars only released in Las Vegas and a few areas surrounding sin city. They also later became available in the Nike “Members Only” section on In addition to these, there were a number of limited editions released such as the China colorway and NYC graffiti colorway. Also, there are a number of player exclusives including the famous All-Star graffiti colorway, Fruity Pebbles, and Hardwood classics version. Player exclusives were also made for the Ohio State Buckeyes squad and Lebron sponsored high schools such as Christ the King, Fairfax, and St. Vincent St. Mary. Those “in the know” were able to obtain a pair of all these exclusive colorways for a pretty penny. Although the Zoom Lebron IV retailed for $150, it can now be purchased at a reduced price at almost any retailer that carries the shoes. I suggest going and grabbing a pair now before they are all gone! Here’s a list of the general released colorways:

*Neon Royal/White/Orange (B-Day)
*Metallic Gold/White/Red (All-Star)
*White/Metallic Silver
*White/Crimson Red/Navy

Colorway Tested: White/Crimson Red/Navy
Tested on: Hardwood

Final Analysis:
Comfort & Cushioning: A+
Support: A+
Traction: A
Breathability: A-
Overall: A

Monday, September 10, 2007

Savings Alert: Zoom Lebron IV

Almost all colorways of The Zoom Lebrons IV's have been marked down to $89.99 on Take advantage of the coupon code "455478 " and save and additional $15 (Expires 12/31/07).
Also, be on the look out for the Zoom Lebron IV "Playoff-Remix" colorway hitting your local Nike factory store. Sources have confirmed that these have already been spotted at the Nike factory stores at Gurnee, IL and Ontario Mills, CA.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Upcoming Ben Wallace Signature Shoe by Starbury

Court-Critic has been a big supporter of the Starbury line since day one! As most of you may already know Starbury aqcuired "Big Ben" Wallace at the end of the last NBA season and promised him his own signature shoe, The Big Ben, at the beginning of the 07-08 NBA season. Well, here it is!
The shoe will become available at the start of the season and you can bet we will hook you up with a detailed review on these shoes as soon as we can get our hands on a pair.

Converse Wade 2.0 Review

The Converse Wade 2.0 is third “numbered” shoe in Dwayne Wade’s signature line. The shoe made its first appearance in the Skills Challenge during the 2007 NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. Converse and Wade’s plan was to debut the shoe during All-Star weekend and have Wade wear the shoe on court for the remainder of the NBA season and through the playoffs. Unfortunately things didn’t pan out the way they were supposed to. Wade missed much of the second half of the season with a dislocated shoulder and returned for a short playoff series in which the Miami Heat were swept by the Chicago Bulls.

I was hesitant to take this shoe for a second test run after my first wearing. Right out of the box, these shoes were extremely stiff and uncomfortable. If you’re like me and like playing in low cut /no-show socks, this shoe will kill the area around your ankles the first couple of times that you wear them. The leather on the shoe is very stiff and hard around the ankle areas. It took a while to break them in. After getting past the breaking in point, the shoe performed quite well. Converse’s Foot Strike Management cushioning system delivers pretty well for smaller guards and forwards. I didn’t feel like the cushioning would suffice for a bigger, heavier position player. The mesh tongues provide good ventilation and allow for good breathability although it is not the best I have seen.

The embossed side of the wade serves more functional purpose than just being a part of the design of the shoe. The sides are made of a stiffer material which hugs the sides of your ankles and provides great support. This part of the shoe is very stiff during the initial wearings, but gets better as you break the shoe in. The Wade 2.0’s rounded edges at the front and the back of the shoe are great for any guard or speed player. The way the shoe is curved definitely makes you feel faster when you are running or making hard cuts to the basket.

Through 10 testing sessions (5 indoor/5 outdoor), I found that the Wade 2.0 provides much better traction on the hardwood rather than the asphalt. The lacing system provides a pretty good lock down fit, but I did feel a little bit of front to back sliding within the shoe from time to time.

In conclusion, Converse’s Wade 2.0 delivers well for smaller players. From a style standpoint, I definitely feel like the 2.0 is by far the best looking of all the shoes thus far in the Wade signature line. The shoe looks great casually and on the court. The retail price is not nearly as scary as most other signature shoes. The shoe originally retailed for $110, but can now be found marked down at various retailers as low $60-$80. Finsihline is currently offering the Wade 2.0 in a variety of different colors, including some that are exclusive to only Finishline, for $60. Not a bad deal for a signature basketball shoe endorsed by a marquee NBA player. Like its predecessor, the Wade 2.0 is also available in a low top version. Here’s a list of Wade 2.0 mid colorways that were released:

*White/Blue/Red (All-Star)
*Black/White/Gray (Finishline Exclusive)
*Gray/Black/Red (Finishline Exclusive)

Colorway Tested: Black/White/Red
Tested on: Hardwood & Asphalt

Final Analysis:
Comfort & Cushioning: B+
Support: A
Traction: A-
Breathability: A-
Overall: B+

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Nike Zoom Soldier Review

The Nike Zoom Soldier is part of Nike’s Lebron summer line. Lebron debuted the Soldier at the start of the 2007 NBA playoffs, during which Lebron led his Cleveland Cavaliers to an unforgettable playoff run, which led to the NBA Finals. After the playoff run during which Lebron made us all “Witnesses” he continued wearing the Soldier in the FIBA Americas Championship where he led the USA team to a perfect record en-route to a gold medal and a spot to compete in the 2008 Olympics. Even though the shoe released just a few months ago, it already has a lot of history tied to it.

Let’s start by talking about the comfort and fit of the Zoom Soldier. The shoe is comfortable and ready to go right out of the box. Unlike some other shoes it did not require any breaking in time. The two enormous straps are actually functional and provide the best “lock down” fit I have felt since testing the Reebok Answer IX Pump. Unlike the first shoe in Lebron’s summertime line, the Zoom 20-5-5, the Soldier does not feature full length zoom air. Don’t let this scare you away, because the shoe still provides excellent cushioning through extensive running and jumping. The mesh tongue allows for good, but not great breathability. I found that after just an hour of playing, my socks were drenched. But in my opinion breathability is just a small factor in the total package.

In addition to the cushioning, the Soldier also provides great ankle support. Not once did I feel the possibility of rolling my ankle on a hard cut to the basket. The shoe sits very low to the ground which I have always felt is a big factor in providing good ankle support. Also the lock down fit provided by the straps allows for very little to absolutely no sliding and movement within the shoe while playing. Lateral movement within the shoe is a big factor in causing ankle sprains. The Soldier does a great job of eliminating this problem.

The Zoom Soldier was designed for outdoor use, but is also excellent indoors. The shoe was tested both indoors and outdoors and performed excellent in both cases. The Soldier features an interesting tread pattern. The medial side features a waffle-wave tread pattern while the lateral side has a diamond pattern encased in waffle squares. The pattern and the depth of the tread provided excellent support and traction for indoor and outdoor use. Nike had the right idea when the made the tread deep. This should be a factor for anyone who plays mostly outdoors. In recent years, a lot of basketball shoes have not had a very deep tread pattern causing the soles of shoes to wear quickly. Maybe this is a marketing ploy to sell more shoes. Who knows?

Overall the Zoom Soldier is an excellent indoor/outdoor basketball shoe. I would recommend it for players of all size. It's a very light and durable shoe that provides excellent support. I would definitely recommend it to anyone on the hunt for a new pair of kicks to play ball in. The Soldier is reasonably priced at $110 which is not bad considering that most signature models that are released these days retail for $125-$150. The first colorway of the Zoom Soldier released in July. Since then Nike has released 10 additional colorways including four “team based” colorways available only through The Zoom Soldiers are fairly easy to acquire. They are available at most online and mall based retailers. The colorway distribution for mall based retailers is as follows:

*White/Black/Gold – Foot Locker
*White/Navy/Gold – Foot Locker
*Black/Gray/Red – Foot Action
*Navy/White/Red (USA) – Champs Sports
*Gray/White/Mean Green (Dunkman) – Available at most small chain sporting goods stores such as Dicks sporting Goods, Hibbett Sports, Sheikh Shoes and others.
*White/White/Gold – Finishline
*Black/Black/Gold – Finishline
*Red/White/Gold – Eastbay
*Royal/White/Gold – Eastbay
*Black/White/Gold – Eastbay
*Forest/White/Gold (SVSM) – Eastbay

Colorway Tested: Navy/White/Gold
Tested on: Hardwood & Asphalt

Final Analysis:
Comfort & Cushioning: A+
Support: A
Traction: A+
Breathability: B
Overall: A