Monday December 15th, 2014

Chris Paul’s latest assist has landed not in the hands of Lob City, but at your feet.

Now eight iterations in, the Clippers guard’s signature Jordan shoe continues its innovation, in line with his personal specifications. Paul has been more active than most stars in tinkering with the development of his footwear, and the CP3.VIII mirrors his game in a sense, with a combination of function and form with toned-down flash. 

Don’t misconstrue that statement, it’s a great-looking shoe, but there’s a definite emphasis on performance, with subtle touches adding the individuality. A family tree hides on the inside of the tongue, and the Chevron logo, which has appeared on each of Paul’s sneakers to date, paying homage to his grandfather, a gas-station worker. Unfortunately, the notably omitted Cliff Paul wasn’t available for comment. 

A midsole color gradient adds a hint of flair, but this isn’t a shoe that screams “Look at me!” -- it’s something for opponents to notice while the wearer drops dimes and floaters all around them. Paul, known both as one of the NBA’s most competitive players and noted sneakerheads, wouldn’t have it any other way.

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“I take designing the shoe very seriously. I like the testing process, refining the details and pushing the limits on performance,” said Paul in a Jordan release. “From the cushioning and Flight Web lockdown system to the rubberized outsole that helps me stop on a dime, I know what these shoes can do for me, and when my opponent sees them, they know too.”

Contrary to popular belief, the CP3 is not, in fact, a low-top -- Jordan Brand calls it a 5/8 mid-cut, and as a lifelong high-top loyalist, any concerns I had lacing them up were fully assuaged. The shoe offers a stable ride with strong ankle support and lockdown. Make sure and lace up to the top eyelet if you’re hooping in them to maximize the effects. I was also advised that the shoe tends to run a bit small, and a half-size up worked just fine for me. A couple runs in, the safety of my ankles was the last thing on my mind. Though the bottom of the shoe required the occasional wipe-down to maintain ideal traction, the herringbone pattern on the outsole coupled with strategically-placed pods was mostly effective and allowed for quick changes of directions, starts and stops.

Courtesy of Nike

Those pods also provide terrific cushioning in the forefoot, and the sole itself makes for a smooth heel-toe transition. Due partially to a flatter mid-foot region, the CP3 rides noticeably less bouncy in the balls of the feet than Jordan’s XX9 and Super.Fly 3. In another unique design choice, the shoe deploys a combination of Zoom and Lunarlon cushioning, which Paul prefers over the more recently developed FlightPlate technology. For guards, or guys with a low-to-the-ground style of play (that’s my self-descriptor of choice, putting it kindly), the slipper fits.

One issue the construction of the shoe provided was ventilation -- I always appreciate breathability, and the air flow wasn’t ideal -- but by no means was that a deal-breaker across multiple test drives. 

Altogether, the CP3.VIII is an exceptionally comfortable, durable shoe. Added cushioning in the heel, a more molded, Hyperfuse-like sidewall and tough toe cap should allow for a lot of wear. Out of the shoes I’ve tested, the Flight Web lacing system was most effective in the VIII, and the compression was especially impressive in such a structured upper. 

The CP3.VIII is available now and retails at $130.

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