SI.com staff put the CP3.IX to work this week at Jordan Brand’s launch event at New York’s Terminal 23. And while our own Tim Newcomb broke down the shoe’s technical aspects and concept this week, and chatted with Chris Paul himself, we thought a quick wear-test review, based on the first few hours of play, wouldn’t hurt.
The IX, true to billing, is very much a guard shoe, and from a performance aspect, players who rely on quick cuts and change-of-direction will appreciate that. To me, the most intriguing element of the shoe’s design is the use of a “nine-chamber” Zoom Air unit in the forefoot area. From my experience, Jordan’s performance releases over the past year or so have been heavily affected by the deployment of the “unlocked” zoom, which essentially takes the longtime Nike cushioning tech and places it on the exterior of the sole. When you wear the shoe, the Zoom creates an emphasis on the corresponding section of the foot when put to use.
So, the IX’s unique Zoom usage puts a heavy emphasis on the forefoot and the plant when your foot strikes the court. The alignment of the pods gives a multi-directional feel that differs from last year’s model, which offered a bit more of a balanced ride (and used a Zoom pod in the heel, which the IX does not). It’s a low-to-the-ground experience, which Paul prefers.
The shoe’s synthetic upper does a good job of cutting weight, and the IX is slightly narrower in the bridge than the XIII and felt a little bit lighter. The heel counter is back, providing helpful cushioning. Jordan’s popular web-style lacing remains effective in terms of creating lockdown, although I had some issues getting the knots to stay put early on in the run. The mesh-style toe can make for a tight fit when wearing thick socks, especially for people with wide feet, so it’s probably worth considering going a half-size up.
Full disclosure, two Sports Illustrated employees suffered left ankle injuries during the open run and one of them may have been me. After going up for a rebound and bumping bodies in mid-air, I landed awkwardly and felt my ankle roll. However, I didn’t feel the shoe was necessarily to blame—it actually responded pretty well and bounced back before things could get worse. I was able to play through it, though 12 hours later, it didn’t feel quite as great. If you’re already a fan of low-to-mid top shoes I wouldn’t worry, but if you play more in the post or around the basket, the Super.Fly line might have more appeal.
The CP3.IX is in stores now, retailing at $130.