After 2008's pre-Olympic Nike Hyperdunk premiere
, it's safe to say that more than a few people on these shores alienated by the era's Nike Basketball output (many great shoes, but most were difficult to wear with jeans) were lured back in by Flywire. The Hyperdunk was a perfect example of what we always thought shoes would look like in the 21st century, but those similarities to the Air Mag were notable too (as we discussed with Tinker Hatfield back in September of last year, perhaps his 1989 vision of the future inadvertently wrote the future). Since then, Nike Basketball's been on fire, even if the Lunarlon application is a difficult technology to take to the courts. Now, with a tweaked foam compound that will even take LeBron's weight (which means it can pretty much withstand any player) for an Olympic amount of extremely important games, the Nike Lunar Hyperdunk+ 2012 is a serious prospect and the most notable court breakthrough since the Zoom Hyperfuse. Despite the light weight, everything that was tactile and aesthetically appealing about the original Hyperdunk is amplified here, including the beefed-up Flywire strands (which we believe were originally going to be called Mag Wire) that were first spotted on a LeBron sample a while back.
In the office we're debating which colours are the best (from a personal point-of-view, the Team USA makeup is the killer), but late last week we were introduced to a Tier Zero colourway, with those Miami-esque shades that seem to have the internet going nuts. The downside is that the Nike+ enabled version of this shoe doesn't come cheap (we're heading for a realm where £200 will become a new norm), but the new iteration of Nike+ goes way beyond splattering social media with your running times and brings some extra interaction to the digital sports experience by making physical activity into one big gem — hence the catchy #gameonworld hashtag. Extra sensors measure height of jumps and the speed of contact with the ground, but it's the video 'Showcase' mode for dunks, with 30 seconds to shine that's the most impressive element. It's a credit to lead designer Eric Avar, Aaron Cooper and the digital-minded boffins that the shoe is still grounded enough for everyday wear. Last Friday's LA launch of the #gameonworld initiative let a global group of characters loose with the new Nike+ technology after some LA Live action outside the Staple Center and in the nearby Nike Vault space.
After a performance from Schoolboy Q, a handful of finalists dunked for our entertainment to a DJ Skee soundtrack, resulting in the aerobic 42.3" Jus Fly effort that you might have spotted going viral earlier this week. It was pretty much a big budget Nike ad played out in real-life by a skilled amateur. We also learned that Kenny Smith is one of the most entertaining former pro-sportsman presenters at a Nike event since Carl Lewis smoothed it out with every female athlete on stage at the Innovation Summit earlier in the year. Funnily enough, once we got to make like Jus Fly (on a lowered hoop just to make us feel like athletes for an hour) in a genuinely staggering setup atop the Montalbán Theatre, complete with a light up display that erupted dependant on the force of a dunk, we didn't quite blow minds like he did. Still, we can testify that Nike+ is funny as f*ck and that no matter how cool guy a "cool guy" thinks he is, he looks a dick when he's doing 80 foot fires or attempting to skip in the facilities downstairs at the Montalbán.
When Nike+ debuted in 2006, we were keen to see where it went — the 2012 variation really exploits those possibilities and has the scope to keep you fit and
turn the real world into one big Wii game. We recommend trying Nike+ ESP before you buy when the Hyperdunk+ 2012 goes on sale this Saturday (we believe the Training shoes that are Nike+ enabled too) and hit NIKEiD too. We also saw a special box (see the top image) for the Hyperdunk that acts as a console that charges the iPhone, includes an iPod Touch aided sound system, illuminates goals and Nike+ metrics and pings data by bluetooth between the shoes and relevant devices. It's very fancy indeed, but is confined to a handful of promo editions. While it's not quite as lavish as that, the retail packaging itself is no joke either.
We're guessing that the impending World Basketball Festival celebrations in South London will feature their own fair share of emphasis on these shoes too. Fun footwear with some serious looks. Nike aren't playing when it comes to digital, but they seem keen to encourage us to have some fun with it...as our powerful 22" dunk testifies. It's a big year for fans of big shoes.