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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Converse Wade 1.3

The Wade 1.3 was Dwayne Wade’s second signature shoe from Converse. The shoe was built on the same platform as the first Wade signature shoe, but has a totally redesigned upper. The overall design of the 1.3 is more simple and sleek than its predecessor. You can see the shoe is built tough and features double and triple stitching on the uppers for extra reinforcement. D-Wade wore this shoe for the first half of the 06-07 NBA season before debuting the Wade 2.0 at the All-Star break.

In my opinion Converse took a step back in the comfort and fit department when they made the Wade 2.0. The wade 1.3 is far more comfortable and cushy than the wade 2.0. The Wade 1.3 incorporates a full length inner bootie with some beefy padding to it giving a great pillow type feel along the lateral and medial sides of the foot. The shoe features a thick EVA sockliner with PORON inserts at the forefoot and heel for extra cushioning. PORON is cellular urethane foam that is used for energy absorption. The cushioning system on the Wade 1.3 is excellent and knocks out some of its competitors which are at a higher price point.

In addition to great cushioning, the Wade 1.3 also provides great support and stability. It has a two part mid foot shank plate for the stability. The area around the ankle is probably one of this shoe’s best qualities. Your foot is surrounded by plush padding all the way around including the tongue. This provides great support to the ankle and feels great! The tongue is cut a bit higher than most other shoes on the market these days, but it is not bothersome. The Wade 1.3 has a basic lacing system that is sufficient and provides a good fit. Many had a problem with the sizing of the first Wade signature shoe having to go down by half to even a full size. For me, the 1.3 fit true to size even though it is built on the same platform as the first Wade. I think the reason for this is all the extra padding within the shoe which the last one lacked.

The Wade 1.3 has a pretty basic tread pattern. I did find that the shoe provides more traction in the forefoot than it does at the heel. If you look at the tread on the soles of the shoes there is only a bar like pattern at the heel while the rest of the sole has a wavy design. The shoe provides far better traction on indoor courts rather than outdoor. Also, the tread pattern is not cut very deep into the sole so the tread will wear down quicker if you use them as an outdoor hoops shoe. There is minimal heel to toe sliding within the shoe, but I found that this only occurs during quick start/stop situations. If the shoes are tied tight enough this is not a huge problem. One other problem with the shoe was breathability. I tested both, the red Christmas days edition and the White/Black/Red colorway, and neither one of them offers much ventilation through the shoe. The only source for any air to get into the shoe is through the tongue, but because of the beefed up padded tongue not much air gets through.

Overall, I think that the Wade 1.3’s are the ideal shoes for an active point guard. They provide excellent stability and support for quick players and the shoe’s cut is just right to where it does not feel restrictive. The comfort level of this shoe is off the charts! For the price, these shoes are an excellent value!!! They retailed for $100, but can be found at a number of mall based retailers in the $40-$70 range. Also, try your luck at your local Marshall’s store because I’ve spotted the Wade 1.3 at select stores for $29.99 in a variety of different colorways. The Wade 1.3 was released in five different colorways. Here’s a list of them:

*Navy/White/Yellow (Marquette)
*Red/White (Christmas Day)

Colorways Tested: Black/White/Red and Red/White
Tested on: Hardwood & Asphalt

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

Friday, October 19, 2007

Starbury Team Review

Stephon Marbury debuted the Starbury Team last season after the NBA All-Star game. He wore the Team and the Starbury II for the second half of the 07 NBA season. The Starbury team has a very plain yet sleek design to it. It reminds me of a lot of some previous And 1 designs. My first reaction to the shoe was that it looked like a shoe that would perform well on the court. I initially had no intention of doing a write up on these, but on a recent trip to Steve & Barry’s I decided to pick up a pair of these just to see how they perform in comparison to the Starbury 1 or 2.

When you first look and feel the materials on the Starbury Team, you can tell it is definitely built better than the Starbury 1 and 2. It feels like it has added padding and uses better leathers than other shoes in the line. I would advise that you go down a half size on these. I tried on my usual 9.5 and I found them to be a bit roomy and too wide in the forefoot area. I ended up going with a size 9 and it worked out a lot better. The Team features added foam padding around the forefoot area that feels great. The shoe has a traditional lacing system. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. You get a pretty good lock down fit which keeps side to side movement within the shoe to a minimal. I did find that there was a lot of heel to toe sliding movement within the shoe on quick starts and stops. Other than that, the overall fit is great for a shoe that costs the same price as a CD.

The cut of the Starbury Team is almost perfect. I have heard complaints about the Starbury 1 being too high and giving a restrictive feeling. Others complain that the Starbury 2 is cut far too low to truly deliver any kind of ankle support. It seems to me like they got it just right with the Team. Also, the Team does an excellent job of keeping your feet dry. The tongue is made up of perforated leather which does a pretty good job of providing good breathability. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, the Starbury shoes can have as much cushioning as you desire. You just have to shell out the extra cash for a better insole. The stock insole that comes with the Starbury Team is sufficient, but the cushioning could be better.

The Starbury Team’s greatest strength is the traction it delivers on the court. Weather outdoors on dusty courts or indoors on clean hardwood, I felt like I had glue or tape on the bottom of my shoes. The shoe has a basic tread pattern which provides outstanding traction!! One complaint I had with these shoes and all the shoes in the Starbury line is that the soles wear down very easily and quickly. I try not to complain about it too much seeing as how they only cost $15, but I can definitely see this as being a problem for the brand down the road. The Team also offers great arch support. The shoe has the same full-width shank as the Starbury 2, but is far more supportive.

My final thought is that the Starbury Team is definitely worth the $15 price tag, maybe even a little more. Without a doubt it performs better than the Starbury 1 and 2. From a design standpoint the shoe is plain and to some it might be a little boring, but it functions well on the court and does what it was made to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Mr. Marbury rocking these more than the 2’s this year. I know I definitely would. The Starbury Team is available in a total of 5 colorways and like all other Starbury merchandise; it is exclusive to Steve & Barry’s. Here’s is a list of all the colorways that are currently available:

*White/Baby Blue
*White/Navy Blue
*Navy Blue/Orange

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

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

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Air Jordan XX2 Review

My first thought when I saw the Jordan XX2 for the first time was “is that it?” My first impression was that the shoe is just too boring and “safe” to be a part of the numbered Jordan series. I thought that it was just too plain and could easily be passed off for a Jordan brand “team” shoe rather than be the next shoe in the Air Jordan series. Overtime, the simplicity and sleekness of the design just grew on me and I started to appreciate XX2 more and more. There was not a doubt in my mind that the Jordan XX2 would perform well on the court just as almost all of its predecessors have. The $175 price tag is what kept making me put off reviewing this shoe until now.

On my first test wearing the XX2 felt a bit stiff especially in the ankle area. After a few test drives, the shoe started to feel better as I broke it in more. The inner lining is very soft and feels great against the ankle unlike some other shoes that can give you a scratchy rough feeling against the ankle. No problem wearing no show socks with these! The Jordan XX2 continues to use an IPS (Independent Pod System) cushioning system as did the last two shoes in the Air Jordan line. Unlike the last two shoes, the XX2 doesn’t use round pods, but rather diamond like shapes. Personally I think it feels better this way because the diamonds cover more area than the circular pods did. The XX2 also has a removable pod at the heel which can be changed to allow the wearer to choose if they want to use Air cushioning or double stacked Zoom. I went with the Zoom as I feel Zoom provides far better cushioning than just regular encapsulated Air. I would prefer if Jordan moved away from the changeable pod. The pod only provides cushioning to the dead center of the heel. You really don’t feel any kind of cushioning around the outer parts of your heel. The overall cushioning feels great, but the changeable pods stick up a slight bit giving the feeling that your foot is sitting in the shoe at a slant which after a while can start to feel quite bothersome. One of the key technical features of the XX2 is the incorporation of a titanium coated shank plate rather than a carbon fiber shank plate. I did not feel a difference between the two. I cannot honestly say that one is better than the other.

The XX2’s lacing system provides an excellent lock down comfortable fit. I was a bit skeptical about the never before seen lace lock. Although the lace lock is a bit difficult to use and get used to, it functions great. If you chose to tighten the laces and then put the lace lock at the very top of the shoe instead of tying them, it would hold the laces in place and keep the laces tight. I did feel very minimal sliding of my foot within the shoe from front to back, but none from side to side. I think slant of the interchangeable pods has something to do with this. The perforated tongue and side gills provide excellent ventilation through out the shoe keeping your feet dry.

The tread pattern of the XX2 is very unique and different from previous shoes in the Air Jordan line. The pattern was inspired by military sergeant stripes which are used on the IPS pods. This pattern should be utilized on basketball shoes more often because it provides excellent traction outdoors and indoors. The groves in the outsole are cut deep and would last for a good while even if they were primarily used on outdoor courts. The shoe is very responsive in quick start/stop situations and is also very stable on quick cuts to the hoop.

There is no doubt that the Air Jordan XX2 is delivers well on the court, but is it worth the $175 price tag? There are many shoes on the market today that deliver the kind of performance that is almost equivalent to the XX2 for a fraction of the price. Off the top of my head I can probably name off 5 shoes that could compete at this level of performance for under $110. The regular mid top version of the Jordan XX2 is available in a total of 4 colorways. In addition to these there is also be a lower cut version called the Jordan XX2 5/8 which is available in a predominantly white and a predominantly black colorway. Also, the XX2 has also been released in 6 special PE versions. The PE versions have a modified upper with two velcro straps. I have not personally tested the shoe, so I am not sure if the straps add any additional support or better the overall fit of the shoe. Since the PE versions just came out they are still being sold for retail ($150) in most stores. You will be happy to know that you can pick up a pair of the original Jordan XX2’s for a price range of $100-$130 at various Champs Sports, Foot Lockers, and Foot Action stores.
Here’s a list of all the available colorways:

Jordan XX2
*White/Red (Omega)

Jordan XX2 5/8
*White/University Blue/Orange

Jordan XX2 PE
*White/University Blue/Yellow (Carmelo Anthony Denver)
*White/Navy/Silver (Josh Howard Dallas)
*White/Red/Silver (Joe Johnson Atlanta)
*White/Royal Blue/Red (Richard Hamilton Detroit)
*White/Green/Yellow (Ray Allen Seattle)
*Black/Silver/Red (Chicago)

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

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Reebok Question Review

Allen Iverson’s first signature shoe has been his most popular and best selling out his entire signature line. When the Reebok Question was first released in 1996 it sold out immediately and set record-breaking sales numbers for Reebok. Iverson wore this shoe for the duration of his unforgettable and history making NBA rookie season. Since then Iverson has worn the shoe sporadically in regular season games, playoff games, and All-Star games. The Question is one of Reebok’s most successful designs in the history of the company. The shoe has been re-released countless times in team colorways (available only on, special editions, and regular general releases. The Question is also considered to be a “classic” amongst many shoe connoisseurs of today.

I have owned several pairs of Questions over the years, but never really utilized them for the reason they were created until now. The shoe is comfortable, but there are other alternatives that are out there that are better. The collar around the ankle area is padded and doesn’t use any hard or rough material so there is no stiffness or scratchy feeling along the ankle when you put the shoe on.
The Question was one of the Reebok’s first shoes to use the Hexalite cushioning system. This system uses a lightweight elastomer shaped in a honeycomb like design which is incorporated into the midsole and is strategically placed in areas where the most impact is likely occur. You can feel the Hexalite immediately when you put the shoe on, but I found that it can only be felt in the heel area. Just by looking at the shoe from the side you notice that the Hexalite is present in the forefoot as well as the heel, but for some reason its presence is not felt in the forefoot. There is definitely some room for improvement in the forefoot cushioning.

The Question is cut higher than most of shoes we have seen in recent times, but the high cut provides a great feel of support. One of the biggest problems with the shoe is the oversized tongue. The extra padded tongue provides a good feel against your ankle, but the size and bulkiness of it makes it hard to tie the shoe up tightly. If the shoe is not tied tight enough it leaves a big open area around the ankle which could make you more susceptible to ankle injuries. Once you get past the battle with the tongue and get the shoe tied, it fits well and provides a good fit. After playing a few games, the laces start to loosen up a bit which affects the stability and fit of the shoe. Also, when the shoe gets looser the tongue shifts from side to side. I found myself untying and retying them after each game just to be safe.

The tread pattern of the Question doesn’t provide much traction. The pattern consists of large curved grooves cut into a completely smooth translucent outsole. The shoe performed well indoors, but not so well in outdoor conditions or dusty courts. It definitely would have helped if Reebok incorporated some more ridged grooves into the midsole rather than leaving it completely smooth. I did not feel a problem with movement within the shoe, but as I stated previously; it all depends upon tying the shoe snug and tight. I have heard people complain about that the Question gives a rather “bulky” feel due to the wide midsole, but I actually felt that it provided more stability and support.

There is no denying that the Question is easily one of the sleekest and most well designed basketball shoes of our generation, but the shoe does lack the performance elements of other shoes on the market today. Keep in mind this shoe was created over 10 years ago so it did not utilize some of the great technological advances that we presently see in basketball footwear. It’s fair to say that even though the shoe could be better from a performance standpoint, it is still sufficient for players of all levels to still be able to wear them today. I previously mentioned that the Question has been re-released countless times so there are far too many colorways to list. The shoe is currently available in a variety of colorways on as well as Finishline. Each of these retailers carries their own exclusive colorways so be sure to check out all your options before purchasing a pair. If you plan on getting some, now is a better time than ever because most colorways have been marked down to prices as low as $49.99! Not bad for a timeless design!!!

Colorway Tested: White/Baby Blue
Tested on: Hardwood & Asphalt

Final Analysis:

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

Monday, October 1, 2007

September Poll Winner - Nike Air Force 25

During the month of September we had a poll up of which shoe our readers would like to see reviewed next. The winner of the poll was the Nike Air Force 25. We will be adding a review of this shoe sometime this month. Don't forget to vote on this month's poll.