The Adidas AdiZero Crazy Lights, which will make their debut on the feet of professional basketballers during next week's playoffs, each weigh just 278g, making them the lightest basketball shoes ever made. They may or may not have helped prevent me from embarrassing myself in terrifying pick-up game earlier today.
The AdiZero Crazy Lights are, indeed, crazy light - when you pick one up, it's hard to believe that it's a professional-quality basketball shoe, something that the world's best players will rely on in some of their seasons' most important games. But they will! Thanks to some disciplined, scrap-what-we-have-and-start-from-square-one design, the shoes apparently offer all the comfort and support needed for play at the highest levels while still doing the least work of any shoe ever to keep players anchored down to terra firma.
That crucial support comes largely from the asymmetrical Sprintframe that wraps around the heel and extends into the middle of the shoe. It's shaped differently on each side of the foot, reaching farther on the outside to keep the ankle sturdy while tapering off more sharply on the inside, allowing for a greater range of movement inward, which apparently is important when you're crossing people over at prodigious speeds. Extra bulk was shaved off at every turn, but one of the greatest breakthroughs, explained the Adidas engineers on hand at today's unveiling, was the SprintWeb, a nylon textile mesh that covers much of the front of the foot. You can kinda see through it, like an Aquasock, which seems a little bit weird, but, hey, they are very light after all! And it kinda keeps your feet feeling fresh, like your toes are sitting in a screened in patio instead of cooking in a glass-windowed sunroom. The bottom of the shoe has three distinct treads, one under the ball of the foot designed to facilitate a smooth pivot and the others set narrowly together to prevent accumulation of dust. OK! Sure. I just thought it looked cool.
But really how light are they? Almost two full ounces lighter than the next competitor, which, when you're talking about shoes that weigh single digit ounces to begin with, is pretty significant. They might not feel positively cloudlike if you're used to wearing hipster slippers around all day like I am, but if you strap on basketball shoes with any regularity, the Crazy Lights will feel appreciably lighter.
So the TRUE TEST came after the press conference when they let us all play pick-up basketball in some nice midtown gym. It was me, a bunch of sports journalists who seemed to know eachother, an older guy who apparently played for the Knicks in the '80s, and an Adidas-affiliated streetball legend from New York whose name I didn't catch. They were all pretty good at basketball! Some were very good! I could only take solace in my secret weapon: the lightest basketball shoes known to man. OK, actually we all had them on, so I couldn't really take solace in anything. But the shoes did make me feel like a real basketball player, and while I couldn't tell if they were magically increasing my vertical leap, they did make that satisfying, you're-doing-it-right squeaking sound when I ran up and down the court.
I managed to make it through two games without any major embarrassments, which is my measure of success in most public engagements; I played good defence, made some slightly above-average passes, and blocked a kid's shot pretty intimidatingly, something I'd take over sinking a shot pretty much any day. But the real highlight of the day came after I scored a bucket, when one of the really good older guys patted me on my butt, just like you see the pros do. Between that and the shoes, I was feeling pretty good.
The Crazy Lights will be available to non-professional basketball players in four colourways on June 3, retailing for $US130.