Full disclosure: PEAK made a monster — a very inexpensive monster. Allow me to introduce the PEAK Streetball Master.
The Streetball Master is made for just that, streetball. There aren’t many indoor hardwood courts in China, so most ball is played on asphalt or concrete, or worse (kind of makes me griping about 24 Hour Fitness never sweeping kind of irrelevant). Thus, the outsole of the Streetball Master is thick and solid, with a deep traction pattern that will wear nicely outdoors.
Using a hexagon shape for the base, the outsole is flat across the heel and most of the forefoot, except for a large flex groove right under the ball of the forefoot. The medial side is rounded around the middle (like the Kyrie 2) for pushing off naturally while cutting, and the lateral side has an outrigger that runs the full length back to the midfoot.
Outdoors, this is one of the best outsoles on the market; it shows very little signs of wear, other than dirt, after two weeks of playing.
Indoors, guess what? You’re good, as long as you don’t mind wiping every five or six trips down the floor on a semi-dusty court. The sole has a bit of tack to it, so it grabs dust easily, but wipes off with just a quick hand swipe, and goes back to being squeaky (because we know that’s how traction is judged). Honestly, going back and forth from indoor to outdoor, I never needed to worry — the Streetball Master adapted fine on both.
Supposedly, there is only EVA and what PEAK calls the “energy storage system” in that midsole foam. If so, PEAK has found the magic formula. The step-in feel is helped by a blue OrthoLite insole (blue is the open-cell foam, really soft), but that breaks down quickly, and you are left with the midsole.
The first comparison I thought of was Bounce, and I stand by it — it compresses and rebounds quickly, absorbs impact, and pushes right back into shape. The Streetball Master was quick and responsive on every move — drives, defense, rebounds — and it was everywhere when I needed it.
One reason for the added response from just EVA is the way the midsole is sculpted. With the deep lines running around the middle of the foam, the impact is deflected while the shoe is directed back into shape, so we are left not with a responsive foam, but a rebounding design.
The design allows the upper to sink into the grooves and the sole to stay in contact with the floor, meaning no slow down while waiting for the shoe to come back to the game. Don’t get me wrong, the foam does feel good, but the design is better — and it looks freaking cool. Bonus.
The only thing holding the cushioning back from being a Starting 5 ranking is the fact that it is just EVA, which is known to break down quicker under high stress, so longevity may be lacking.
We got a woven here!!! Not sure what PEAK is calling this material, but it feels nice on foot. When pictures first surfaced it was assumed that the Streetball Master would have PEAK Surface like the TP9.4 — but it isn’t. This is a true woven of the Kobe 9/10 era; it isn’t extremely soft but it’s extremely durable.
The weave runs the full length of the shoe with fuse overlays reinforcing the toebox, which, if you play outdoors, you know that that is the quickest wearing area. The overlay also runs back past the toebox on the lateral side, providing some additional containment on the outside that helps keep the foot stable.
As for the weave itself, it is a honeycomb pattern with loose weave in the grey (inside) areas of the comb and a tighter weave in the black areas. The loose weave helps with ventilation and flex, providing softer areas that require no break-in time. The black lines are tighter and hold the shoe around the foot, providing structure and fit.
The ankle area is a thick padded textile that has no stretch, which for this area is perfect. The ankle area is stiffer and forms right around the joint providing lockdown without restricting movement.
PEAK got it right on length, finally. Notorious for shoes fitting about a half size big, the Streetball Master fits perfect length-wise. In my size 11, there is about a finger and a half width from my big toe to the end of the shoe, which is too much. But I wear a 10.5, which would have been dead on.
PEAK has been known to be very wide-footer friendly, and the Master is no exception, but double-socking solved any issues there. If you are a narrow footer go TTS or even a half down. There was a little side-to-side movement, even when double-socked, and I’m not sure that would go away even going true to size due to the materials. The Streetball Master never felt unstable or unsafe, just a little movement that could have been solved with some internal padding or a slightly narrower last.
The lacing system is old-school and perfect for this shoe; it uses nylon straps over the forefoot to pull the fuse overlay into the foot. The rest of the laceholes use metal grommets and all six lacing spots can be used to lace the shoe really tight and solid. There is even a third hole in the ankle for super-customized fit, wrapping the collar around the front and pulling the heel down into the large heel counter. The ankle and tongue are thick and padded and keep any heel slipping far, far away.
Support is easily one of the best features of the Streetball Master. For a woven midtop that feels light and fast on-foot, PEAK managed to make a perfectly balanced, supportive shoe that never feels bulky.
Starting at the front and the fuse fingers, we go lower and back to the outrigger. Sometimes, a large outrigger will make a shoe feel slow, like it doesn’t want to let go of the floor. However, there are no problems here because it doesn’t protrude far enough from the sole to feel grabby, but is angled just enough to help prevent rollovers.
Additionally, the EVA in the forefoot is encased in the rubber from the sole, and this helps in two ways: it keeps the EVA from compressing too much, providing spring-back, and it ties the forefoot into the sole, helping with stability on lateral cuts.
Moving back to the midfoot and heel, the white midsole wraps up the sides of the shoe and over the footbed, keeping the foot from ever sliding off its platform and becoming unstable. This is coupled with the tooling which gives the wearer a solid push-off for added quickness and court feel. Then we get to the heel.
On top of the H-U-G-E external heel counter, with the added PEAK logo, there is a slight internal counter as well. The ankle is cut very low under the ankle bone but rises in the tongue collar and Achilles area, so the heel counter allows the shoe to feel free up top but solid underfoot. Again, the harder EVA in this area is super stable underfoot, even on off landings, and the base is wide and balanced, so there are no issues at all, anywhere, with support or stability.
The PEAK Streetball Master is easily one of my favorite shoes of the year so far. The last two years have offered some serious budget ballers, from the Nike Air Max Infuriate and the Anta KT2 to the adidas Lillard 2. Last year, companies proved that you don’t have to price a shoe like a car to achieve performance. The PEAK Streetball Master combines great materials, traction, and support over a cushioning that feels good from the jump.
Normally price is not discussed in performance reviews, because it has no bearing on the result — if a shoe plays well, it plays well at any price. However, this time, this shoe plays good at an unbelievable $65. Yes, you get a woven upper, translucent outsole, and responsive cushioning for under $100. Don’t get me wrong — even at the $100 price point, this would be a good buy and still one of my top performers.
It is good to finally see PEAK move away from the fused and rubber uppers the Tony Parker and the Lightning lines have rocked the past few years. Yes, they were durable, but they fit a little off and never quite broke in like a good weave or leather/synthetic. The use of PEAK Surface and whatever this upper is called, is a good start to a very productive future.
The PEAK Streetball Master will hold its own against shoes that cost twice as much, and beat most of those head to head. This is a shoe that makes reviews fun.