The language coming from Nike to describe the new Kyrie 2 signature shoe sounds more like a story about a racecar than a sneaker. Such is the case, though, when designing shoes for quick-moving guard Kyrie Irving.
The new performance sneaker, the second signature for the Cleveland guard, has a new “outsole banking system” with advanced traction, all designed by Nike’s Leo Chang based on the physics of banking around corners.
Nike says that using a bit of physics to monitor Kyrie’s moves shows that he pushes off the court with 770 pounds of force at a 40-degree angle during his crossover move, enough acceleration to experience four g’s. To handle all the power of movement put on the edges of Irving’s footwear, Chang curved the edges of the sneaker at the heel and near the front of the foot so that Kyrie can redistribute his weight more easily.
“It’s almost as if your body weight is bouncing off a ball,” Chang says of the rounded sides. With the curved edges, Chang created larger webbing on the herringbone traction pattern for extra grip laterally. A large “pivot circle” on the forefoot was designed for traction during a change of direction.
“You always want to have second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth moves [so] that the defender just gets tired and doesn’t want to guard you anymore,” Irving says.
The shoe features a midfoot strap over the top of the foot. “Think of the strap like a seatbelt for your foot,” Chang says. “It sucks your heel back into the shoe and keeps it secure, whether you’re accelerating or decelerating.”
The Zoom Air cushioning in the heel pairs with cushioning in the midsole and Hyperfuse construction to round out the technical aspects.
The Effect colorway releases Dec. 15 and the brightly colored Inferno (as seen here) launches Jan. 1.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.