2015 All-Star Weekend

Training like the Pros: Recapping a month-long Nike Basketball workout experience

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NEW YORK — Being a professional basketball player goes well beyond attending team-mandated practices and workouts. For the best of the best, it also involves going through hardcore training sessions designed to finely hone their skill set, both from a physical as well as from a basketball perspective.

Nike Basketball gave a group of media members the chance to see just what this was like, by putting us through a month-long training experience designed to mimic what the professionals go through in every way possible.

We met once a week for 8AM workouts, except during All-Star week where there were a few additional responsibilities. Car service was provided to and from the facilities, as was all of the clothing and footwear necessary to go through the complete training experience. And, a meal prepared by Chef Max — the personal chef of Amar’e Stoudemire — was waiting for us after each session was finished.

It was set up so that the only thing you had to focus on was giving your all during each workout session, just like the professionals. And the trainers that were enlisted to put us through the paces were demanding enough to ensure they got the most from all of us.

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The first week coincided with the launch of the Kobe X, so it only made sense that Kobe Bryant’s (and Michael Jordan’s) personal trainer, Tim Grover, ran our initial workout. The drills were a combination of conditioning and basketball, with little time to rest in between at any point during the 45-minute session. There were core exercises mixed in with plenty of cardio and leg-strengthening drills, and we held a basketball during all of them, because Bryant does during his workouts — as Grover said, “Kobe likes to feel the ball in his hands.”

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Week 2 was a slight departure from the full training experience, but there was still plenty to keep us busy. As part of the All-Star festivities, our group participated in Nike’s Zoom City Classic, which was a six-team basketball tournament that also featured actors and entertainers like Common, Stalley, Eddie Huang and Ansel Elgort, as well as semi-professional players like Brian Kortovich, who lit it up from everywhere and walked away with MVP honors. The tournament was played at Nike’s Zoom City arena that was specifically constructed to host All-Star week activities, and featured an insane LED court that provided a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

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The day before the tournament, we were put through a series of tests modeled after the NBA’s Draft Combine, where BAM testing-like measurements were taken in order to create even teams. Players like Kortovich added to the mix made that somewhat impossible, but the games were mostly competitive nonetheless, and a couple ended with some very intense buzzer-beating finishes.

Weeks 3 and 4 were more like the first, with early-morning workouts run by the game’s elite trainers. Jerry Powell has worked with the likes of Paul George, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and his drills had us focused primarily on honing our fundamental basketball skills, while teaching us ways to improve upon them at the very same time.

The last workout was run by Idan Ravin, who boasts a similarly impressive client list and is known in the industry as being somewhat secretive about his practices. He authored a book called The Hoops Whisperer, and his workout was the most intense of the bunch, as the drills involved the targeting of specific muscle groups to support the moves most commonly made on the court by the game’s top athletes. There was non-stop cardio training in between, and the combination of that and the knowledge that was imparted made for an extremely enlightening (and completely exhausting) final session.

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The month-long journey was a perfect way to experience just how much hard work goes into training at an elite level. While it’s true that the vast majority of those in the NBA have genetic gifts that most of us could only dream of, to those who consistently seek to outperform their peers or hope to emerge as one of the game’s greats, the additional training sessions aren’t merely an occasional luxury — they’re an absolute necessity.

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THE SHOES

A recap of all the footwear that was tested during the month-long Nike Basketball training experience, along with a brief performance review of each.

WEEK 1

KOBE X

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The tenth signature model for Kobe Bryant has been improved over its predecessor in two significant ways. The cushioning system is now a hybrid of multiple technologies, which makes for a much bouncier feel and a solid and comfortable ride from forefoot to heel. The traction is brand new, and uses nodules that grip the court similar to those that appear on performance race car tires. The fit is comfortable from the moment you put these on, with zero break-in required. These lived up to expectations, with the overall performance ranking right up there with any basketball shoes currently on the market.

WEEK 2

NIKE ZOOM HYPERCROSS TRAINER

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The first time I got a chance to try these was at the LeBron 12 launch in Portland back in September, and I’ve been a fan ever since. The hex zoom pods on the sole are excellent for multi-directional training workouts, like those we were put through as part of our NBA Combine experience. The shoe features a snug and lightweight fit, and the cushioning is there wherever you need it, thanks to the pods passing you seamlessly from one to the next as your foot changes positions throughout your training session.

NIKE HYPERCHASE

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The Hyperchase is a new model, designed for playmakers like James Harden who was the inspiration for the way this one performs. The stylings are more interesting than most, thanks to an asymmetrical design and the angular position of the Swoosh, which was placed that way intentionally so that “it would read accurately when an athlete, like Harden, is on his toes – a position that’s common for quick, dynamic athletes.” These ones fit nicely, with little-to-no noticeable slippage once you’re locked in. The shoes feature above-average traction, and plenty of forefoot cushioning, which helps immensely when attempting to make that explosive first step.

WEEK 3

NIKE ZOOM HYPERREV 2015

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These are surprisingly good basketball shoes, and maybe even the best of the bunch. The cushioning and lockdown are both very impressive, the latter made possible by a foam collar construction that provides a snug and comfortable fit. Traction and breathability are well above average, too, and I’ve found myself reaching for these time and again when heading to subsequent workouts. I recommend a half-size up from what you normally wear due to the way these fit, and while I don’t want to oversell these too hard, they really provide an extremely solid level of overall performance.

WEEK 4

KOBE X ELITE

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This was a very cool surprise.

It’s not often you can shock members of the basketball sneaker media with something unexpected, but when we were told we’d be getting to play in the Kobe X Elite the day of our final training session — a shoe that hadn’t yet been announced, and wasn’t even on anyone’s radar considering the Elite series usually doesn’t drop until near the end of the regular season — there was a palpable sense of excitement.

The Kobe X Elite goes with the highest of high-top silhouettes, much like its predecessor, the Kobe 9. The cushioning system is improved over the previous year’s model, and is the same that’s found in the Kobe X low version we demo’d the first week. The Flyknit upper makes for a more sturdy and locked-in feel that stops just short of being rigid, and players who value ankle support will certainly appreciate it. If you liked the high-top 9s, then you’ll like these, too — they take a significant step forward in that particular design’s evolutionary process.

Nike’s Zoom City arena features an LED basketball court that’s completely insane (VIDEO)

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All-Star week has wrapped, and as part of the festivities, we had a series of posts that were intended to give you an inside look at what was going down on the streets of NYC. This time: A look at the insane LED court Nike installed at its Zoom City Arena.

NEW YORK — Nike Basketball had a lot going on during All-Star weekend in NYC in terms of places for fans to interact and engage with the company’s latest lines of sneakers, and one of the cooler experiences was the Zoom City Arena which featured an LED basketball court.

From the official release:

“The regulation-size court incorporates a fully programmable LED screen to run content and interactive training programs. Consumers are invited to witness and work out with the best Nike athletes and Nike Master Trainers through virtual training programs and the signature move sequences of some of the best in the game.”

Fans were able to RSVP for appointments to come try out the newest in Nike footwear, and go through workouts and pickup games in what was a truly unique and fantastical setting. There were player appearances, too, where the likes of Anthony Davis and James Harden rolled through at times to check things out.

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For more looks at what the LED court was capable of, search the #ZoomCity hashtag on Instagram and check out the many videos of the weekend’s action that exist.

MORE: Check out Nike’s SNKRS app and pop-up shop at All-Star weekend in NYC

Inside the adidas suite at All-Star weekend in NYC (PHOTOS)

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NEW YORK — All-Star week is upon us, and as part of the festivities, we’ll have a series of posts that are intended to give you an inside look at what’s going down on the streets of NYC. This time: a look inside the adidas VIP suite.

adidas hosted athletes, celebrities and media at its VIP suite this weekend, as part of the brand’s NBA All-Star presence in NYC.

The location featured all of the latest sneaker designs, and while the basketball models were of course prominently displayed, so were plenty of others — from running, to lifestyle, to retros, adidas had it covered.

As the official outfitter of the NBA, there was an opportunity to get up close and personal with this year’s All-Star gear, which included the special hardwood commemorative box that the players received one their All-Star selection had been announced.

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MORE: Damian Lillard discusses the launch of his first signature shoe from adidas

Inside Jordan Brand’s Pearl Pavilion NBA All-Star experience (VIDEO)

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All-Star week is upon us, and as part of the festivities, we’ll have a series of posts that are intended to give you an inside look at what’s going down on the streets of NYC. This time: A look at Jordan Brand’s tremendous Pearl Pavilion consumer experience.

NEW YORK — As part of the All-Star weekend festivities, Jordan Brand set up a consumer experience across the street from Madison Square Garden that is fully worthy of representing the company as it celebrates its 30th anniversary.

The space honors and pays tribute to the greatest moments of the past 30 years, while also promoting its roster of players that will take things into the future.

Tinker Hatfield, designer of many of Michael Jordan’s most iconic shoes, was present along with brand Vice President Harold “H” White to tell stories that illustrated Jordan’s personality and competitiveness, and also discussed the evolution of his signature line of sneakers, and how it was able to continue its existence once its namesake’s playing days were finished.

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There are an incredible amount of artifacts from historic moments in the personal career of Michael Jordan, which creates a museum of sorts that fans can experience in person — some of which are on display publicly (outside of the Nike headquarters campus) for the very first time.

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There’s also an interactive portion where fans can recreate some of Jordan’s most famous shots — like the one he hit in Utah, for example, that gave the Bulls the 1998 NBA title.

An LED floor becomes the court, and three LED walls become the inside of the arena, with fans reacting differently depending on whether you make or miss your shot.

A photo wouldn’t do it justice, so head on over to Instagram to check out this video from Jordan Zirm to see what that looks like in action.

This is a must-see experience for any fans of Michael Jordan, or the sneaker line he made famous 30 years ago.

Pearl Pavilion will open its doors to the public Feb. 12, from 5 p.m. EST to 10 p.m. EST. In addition, fans will be able to access the space Friday, Feb. 13th – Sunday, Feb. 15th, beginning st 10 a.m. EST.

To learn more about Jordan Brand’s All-Star celebrations, check out the mobile website Jordan.com/ASWNYC.

Nike introduces SNKRS app at pop-up shop during All-Star weekend in NYC

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All-Star week is upon us, and as part of the festivities, we’ll have a series of posts that are intended to give you an inside look at what’s going down on the streets of NYC. This time: A tour of Nike’s new SNKRS app, as well as the special pop-up shop where it was introduced.

NEW YORK — The folks at Nike have a lot going on all around New York for All-Star week in NYC, turning it into Zoom City as part of a celebration for the basketball world descending on the country’s biggest stage.

The SNKRS pop-up shop, located at 348 Bowery and only here for the weekend, might be the brand’s most eye-catching space.

A giant LED display slows traffic and causes pedestrians to stop and whip out their phones for photos and video, and looks like a large shoe box in some of its cooler incarnations.

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The shop is small, and consumers must RSVP in advance for an hour-long window in which they’ll be allowed to shop. The catch is that each window will feature a handful of different sneakers to choose from, with some more limited than others and the shoes coming in a variety of styles — from skateboarding, to lifestyle, to of course Nike Basketball performance footwear, as well as Jordan Brand retros.

The shop was where the company held demonstrations of its new SNKRS mobile app for media members earlier this week, and it should make the shoe-buying experience for fans not only easier, but far more engaging.

The app allows you to “follow” different models, which will then be added to your feed — so you won’t be bombarded with information on every release, only the ones that are truly of interest. You can receive notifications days or weeks out for when something new will drop, and with just a couple of clicks and an authentication, you can quickly buy a pair right within the app itself.

Check out the video below for an overview of all the features. Nike SNKRS will launch later this spring for iOS, with an Android version launching soon afterward. Fans in NYC can get early access to the iOS version by visiting the SNKRS shop this weekend.