Monday January 12th, 2015

Carmelo Anthony’s latest signature shoe is quite a sight on-foot. Equally beautiful: the fact you don’t have to watch the Knicks at all to enjoy them.

Though Anthony has been on and off the court with injury and New York hasn't played well as of late, the eleventh iteration of Jordan Brand’s Melo line, the Jordan Melo M11, holds up honorably. The M11 continues the longest-running signature series of any Jordan athlete not named Michael (not talking about Kidd-Gilchrist), and keeps right up with the Brand’s recent run of quality performance offerings.

Before getting into on-court feel, let me say this -- aesthetically, the M11 is my personal favorite of this season’s non-retro Jordans, narrowly edging the XX9. My inner sneakerhead had me slightly hesitant to even take the Christmas Day colorway, inspired by MJ’s famous “Cardinal” VII’s, for a spin at risk of scuffing them up. The Christmas model deploys a full-grain leather upper with a gold speckle throughout, and the little details, with the gold motif all over the shoe and a 24-7-365 subtly placed on the instep, make you appreciate the craft. The four other colorways released each pay homage to a different aspect of Melo's career, and the shoe gets bonus points for thought process and execution. The simplicity, variety of textures and subtle flash make the M11 viable away from the court.

Courtesy of Nike, Inc.

That said, you’ll still want to ball in these after putting them on. They’re extremely comfortable, utilizing unlocked Zoom technology in the forefoot in combination with everyone’s favorite FlightPlate -- in similar fashion to the XX9. What stood out most was the M11’s balanced feel -- where both the XX9 and Super.Fly 3 emphasize bounce on the balls of the foot, the Melo distributes that from heel to toe, using a simple, cored-out foam in the heel. If you prefer that type of smoother ride, this is your shoe. Though it doesn’t feel quite as fast as the other Jordans, the M11 is shockingly light, weighing slightly less than the XX9. Offering plenty of ankle support without over-compressing, the fit is extremely versatile and would play well for both guards and bigs.

MORE NBA: Inside what went wrong in New York -- Is it time to trade Melo?

The Flight Web lacing system worked well with the leather upper, and after a couple runs my feet were locked in. If it seems like I’m harping on the real leather, it’s because I am (it’s important to note that the non-Christmas colorways use a synthetic instead) -- there’s nothing like the fit it offers as it gets used to your foot. It’s one of those rare shoes where the inevitable creasing just looks cool and well-loved. The shoe got a little hot in the forefoot area, where the fit is a little snug, possibly as a result of the materials. Still, I felt ventilation was adequate enough when combined with the comfort level.

You’re looking at a terrific all-around shoe, if you can get past the whole Melo-still-plays-for-the-Knicks thing. I recommend the Christmas version, if you can get it. The Jordan Melo M11 is available now and retails at $160.

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