What's buzzing:

Ball Don't Lie

Here’s the Air Jordan XX8, which is not a rain shoe

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

View gallery


The just-launched Air Jordan XX8 in its neon and black glory (via @solecollector).

Since Michael Jordan signed with Nike at the beginning of his illustrious career, his signature Air Jordan shoes have redefined the world of athletic footwear. Signature sneakers are now a major part of an athlete's global brand, and they also help change the course of casual fashion. Every release of a new version of the Jordans is a basketball event.

On Monday afternoon, Nike and Jordan Brand released their latest incarnation, the Jordan XX8 (aka 28, for those of you don't recognize both Roman and Arabic numerals in the same construction) at an event in New York City. As you can see in the photo above (via @solecollector), it's a bold design that's already generating controversy. From the outside, the sneaker looks something like a black rain overshoe, with a zipper that encloses the entire inside. Underneath, however, the dominant color is a distinct neon green.

The shoes, devised by legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield over the course of two years, retail for a cool $250 and will make their NBA debut on Tuesday night when Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder plays against the Nets in Brooklyn. After the jump, check out more photos from the scene, along with some thoughts on the look.

View gallery


Spike Lee introduces the Jordan XX8 (via @solecollector).

At a very basic level, this shoe could be the ugliest thing ever — some might say it is — and still be valuable as a great product for basketball players. By all hands-on accounts, the shoe is startlingly light,  which is good news for athletes from the heights of the NBA to random Wednesday night pickup games. If it proves to be a great performance shoe, then people will wear them. Heck, the simple fact that they're Air Jordans might even be enough for people to buy them.

[Also: LeBron James reclaims most popular NBA jersey crown]

Nevertheless, the style is a key part of this product. As Hatfield mentioned at the launch event, he conceives of the shoe as "objects of art and design that happen to be used for basketball." With that in mind, the shoe is quite puzzling. A zip-up upper is a fairly acceptable part of basketball sneaker history, but past uses — most notably with Gary Payton's iconic "The Glove" model from 1998 — have implemented the feature in a more conceptually consistent manner. In the case of the Jordan XX8, the black upper seems to be masking the most interesting parts of the shoe.

View gallery


The unzipped Air Jordan XX8 (via @geokthree).

The wearer can choose to unzip the black casing to expose some of the neon green below — indeed, some design elements seem to indicate that this is an intended method of wearing the shoe. However, that style can look particularly affected, as if the wearer is trying to announce his own casualness in the most blatant way possible. (Never mind that this effect would already be obvious by wearing basketball shoes in a non-basketball context.) The whole point of sprezzatura is that it can't look preconceived, and a shoe that demands to be worn in that manner defeats the whole point of nonchalant style.

So, there are two ways to wear the Jordan XX8: 1) on the court, where it looks like a pretty dull black basketball shoe (or this $73.99 overshoe) and 2) off the court, where it only holds interest if worn in an affected manner. If a piece of forward-thinking clothing ideally mixes form and function so that the two are virtually indistinguishable, then this sneaker seems like a misstep. Perhaps new versions of shoe, teased by Hatfield at the launch event, will improve it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to put on a pair of Zubaz pants. They're back in style!

Related NBA content on Yahoo! Sports:

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Alex Rodriguez's injury reveals fragile state of Yankees' roster
Pat Forde: College football's bowl season a jumbled mess
Matt Brown puts his drug use behind him to rise to prominence in the UFC
Y! Shopping: Best holiday gifts under $20

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Pistons exercise option on F Johnson

      AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons have exercised their team option on forward Stanley Johnson through the 2017-18 season. … More »

      AP - Sports - 44 minutes ago
    • Pistons want to keep progress going after playoff berth

      After returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and being swept in the opening round by the eventual champions, the Detroit Pistons have a pretty obvious challenge ahead. This young team has the potential for more growth in Stan Van … More »

      AP - Sports - 47 minutes ago
    • A look at the NBA coaching changes entering this season

      Coaches changing jobs is an annual rite in the NBA, and one-third of the league's 30 teams have changed coaches since last season ended. Here's a look at the 10 coaches in new jobs: … More »

      AP - Sports - 1 hour 5 minutes ago
    • BDL's 2016-17 Season Previews: Detroit Pistons

      BDL's 2016-17 Season Previews: Detroit Pistons

      In their second season under Stan Van Gundy, the Detroit Pistons improved from a 32-win also-ran to a respectable-as-heck 44-38 squad. With Jackson in his first full year at the controls, Detroit took care of the ball, posting the NBA’s … More »

      Ball Don't Lie - 1 hour 23 minutes ago
    • Heat embracing chance to start over after Wade departure

      A franchise that won three NBA championships with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the last decade is now starting over in many respects. Wade now plays for Chicago. Bosh and the Heat are estranged, with no hope of reconciling. … More »

      AP - Sports - 1 hour 51 minutes ago