Moving from the Kyrie 1 to the Kryie 2, the shoe made a huge transformation from a well-rounded shoe to a shoe made specifically for Kyrie Irving — or players who play like him such as grounded guards or athletes who stay grounded like liberos. In fact, few changes have been made except for the movement of the Zoom unit and a curved outsole. But does it change how the shoes perform? Let’s find out!
The traction pattern on these is an aggressive multidirectional pattern. The rubber used is quite thick and pliable, yet sturdy enough to withstand hard cuts. There is also a huge pivot point in the middle of the forefoot that allows for easier spin moves while keeping you grounded on the floor without slipping. The rubber outsole extends to the medial and lateral sides of the forefoot for added traction allowing players to stop on a dime when making hard cuts. The traction, without a doubt, is awesome. It works on multiple court conditions i.e. hardwood, sport court, and composite, and whether they were maintained or not, traction was great. For volleyball players like liberos, having great traction is necessary for lateral and side-to-side movements. Shuffling to balls and changes in direction are quite easy to make.
As for basketball, they will definitely get the job done. I wiped every now and then (just habit) but dust collection was minimal at most. The traction on the Kyrie 1 was pretty good, with an aggressive herringbone pattern, but the grooves on that shoe were too tight, which created inconsistency — people either loved it or hated it. With the Kyrie 2s, the traction pattern is thicker and spaced out a bit which provides greater traction, and although dust and dirt may get into the grooves the traction doesn’t let up.
There is no cushion whatsoever except for a Zoom unit in the heel (which you may or not feel). I can feel the Zoom although some people claim to not feel it, if you know how Zoom feels you can try to feel it out. The midsole is made of a dense Phylon and there is a Poron foam in the forefoot for some added cushion — but that’s about it. The 1s had a Phylon midsole with a Zoom unit in the forefoot. That was a set up that lots of people are used to and was easier for different people to play in.
I am not a fan of this cushion set up but I can see how Kyrie would like to play in it. The firm forefoot allows for great court feel. The cushion set up allows players to play fast and make the exact movement they would want to. I dreaded the first time playing basketball in them. I’m so used to playing in well-cushioned shoes that it was like playing in some Chuck Taylors; only after some time I did get used to it. The more I wore them the more my play changed. I went from making cuts and jumping at the rim for lay ups and rebounds to staying on the ground making hard crossovers and sticking to jump shots.
For volleyball, I never dared to jump in them, as I knew that my knees would have to pay for the impact that they would be taking. So, I stayed grounded and played defense most of the time in them. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to jump in them you can, just be prepared to have sore legs at the end of the day. If you really need cushioning you can go ahead and added a well-cushioned insole and you should be fine.
Fit & Support:
These fit better than the 1s. The 1s had me re-lacing the shoes over and over. With the 2s, lace them up and that’s it. The composite mesh is comfortable around the heel and the ankle. The padded tongue is also nice to have, especially with the newly added strap. However, the forefoot area feels a bit disconnected from the back half of the shoe but it feels fine when playing in it. Hands down these fit better than the 1s.
The support is nice. The rounded outsole is awkward as first but you get used to it. There is usually an outrigger on most shoes but the Kyrie 2’s forefoot is much wider than your foot so rolling over isn’t something to worry about. The composite mesh in the heel feels plush on your foot and allows for extra mobility. The newly added strap (I think it’s a thing with signature models for Nike, second model let’s add a strap) keeps your foot on the heel bed. I wasn’t falling out of the shoe and there was no way of removing the shoe with the strap on.
There’s composite mesh in the heel, Fuse in the forefoot, and a mesh tongue. The Kyrie 1 had a neoprene bootie that was nice. The materials on these are nice as well. I think the composite mesh is pretty great; it’s comfy and lots of designs can come out of it. The Fuse in the forefoot is your typical Fuse (although it looks like a woven type of material). It isn’t too hard and after some break-in time it’s nothing you’ll notice.
The $130 price point for the Nike Kyrie 2 isn’t awesome, but the materials perform. That’s all I asked for.
Simply put, these shoes are made for Kyrie. Fast and grounded, like him. When relating these to volleyball, all I can think of are liberos. If you like court feel there are great. If you like traction there are superb. If you don’t need cushioning then these are perfect.
At first I hated these, but I find myself wearing these more and more because it’s a sensation that I rarely feel in other shoes I wear. I find that it’s good to try out and it made me expand my game in both basketball and volleyball. If you’re not open to change then it will be difficult for you to try these out. If you can get past the lack of cushion, the shoe excels in all the other areas. The price increase isn’t all that great for a shoe that barely changed and that’s a huge bummer. It’s a shoe that sneaks in and out of my rotation like a breath of fresh air. If you would like to pick up a pair you can find them here.