Low-cut basketball shoes are considered taboo on court. I saw a kid who came to practice one day in a pair of KD VI‘s get reprimanded by a coach because he thought that low cut shoes were only for ‘style’. This is nonsense. Read on to find out why.
Why am I reviewing a three year old shoe? Because it is the cheapest low cut hoop shoe I could find. It may be three years old, but you can still find it with a little bit of searching at Nike Factory outlets. That being said, it doesn’t mean this shoe doesn’t come with tech. A full HyperFuse upper and a forefoot Zoom Unit make this an amazing performance set up, in a lovely colorway – Blackened Blue/Hyper Blue with Bright Citrus accents, great if you are a Knicks fan.
HyperFuse is an upper made of three synthetic layers fused together by heat and pressure, resulting in a nearly seamless construction that is far more durable than traditional materials. The first layer acts as the skeleton, providing stability, the next is a layer of mesh for breathability and the last is a hard outer shell that is much more durable than leather. These fit true to size. I can say that these are the best fitting shoes I have ever owned. Initially, these can be uncomfortable as the upper needs some break-in time, but after a week the shoe molds to your feet and you won’t even know they’re there as they weigh only about 300 grams. Getting into them can be a pain at the outset, as the laces need to be loosened quite a bit. Once you are laced up, these fit like the suit from Crysis, and I can guarantee that these will hold shape over time.
The midsole is Phylon, the forefoot Zoom unit works great and due to the anatomic fit, heel to toe transitions are blazing quick. This helps you get a fast first step, something essential to any basketball player. I think this is a great shoe for quicker guards. If it works for Rondo, Harden and 30% of the NBA, I’m sure we need not say more. The lack of a heel mounted Zoom Unit is lamentable, but I guess we can’t have everything at this price point. That also places this shoe a rung below the HyperDunk. Heel lockdown is great with no slippage, even though I didn’t need to use the last eyelet, which would lock down the top of your feet should you use it (My feet are weird). The heel counter is very stiff and this is something I love because it brings with it a sense of security. You will not roll your ankle in these. Nope. From the get go, the HyperFuse feels, and very obviously so, aggressive and responsive. Lateral movements are unrestricted, which is great for defensive players like me. There isn’t a lot of flex, as you can see in the image, but this does not hinder movement at all.
Traction, traction everywhere. Full length herringbone is the best and the deep cut grooves on this shoe can help you go quick and stop on a dime. The pattern is more aggressive in the heel and forefoot and this along with the great fit, help you really dig in to the ground while taking off from a stop. The pattern also extends into the medial side, making curving around screens and spin moves a cinch. The deeply contoured medial side and a TPU shank provide excellent arch support.
As you guys know, I love socks and not just the usual colorful printed ones but performance socks get love too! Socks are imperative to sports performance as they can provide that extra bit of cushioning that you need inside the shoe. Some, like the examples here from Mustang Socks, incorporate Thermolite, which wicks away sweat while keeping your feet warm without being bulky. Perfect for training on cold Bangalore mornings.
To sum up, the HyperFuse 2012 is an excellent all round basketball shoe. It may not be for bigger players however. But at this price point, a Fuse upper and forefoot Zoom is a great deal, if you can find it. Low weight keeps away foot fatigue. And this will be the shoe that converted me to low tops for hooping. When Kobe asked for a low cut design on the Kobe IV back in 2008, he wasn’t messing around. Football, a game that exclusively involves usage of the feet, probably has players doing more ankle movements than any other sport, and is played in low cut shoes. So why can’t this work for basketball? With an ankle that isn’t mobile enough, stress goes to the knees, which leads to problems like ACL tears. However, for real ankle support, train for ankle mobility and strengthen your knees. As far as shoes go, lower, lighter and faster is the way to go. Try them out and see for yourself. Meanwhile I’m saving up for the Kobe X.
HyperFuse 2012 from Nike
Socks from Mustang Socks
Photos by Roshan Chikodi