From the summer up to the end of the year, we have seen the basketball performance race include heavyweights Nike and Adidas, as well as Under Armour, Reebok, Converse, and Jordan Brand putting out their best for the start of the 2011-2012 season.  Nike has continued their successful Hyper line with 2012 versions of the Hyperdunk and Hyperfuse, and the ever present popular signature models always take the spotlight (Lebron 9, Amar’e Stoudemire Air Max Sweep Thru, KD IV).  Adidas has moved in the light weight direction, with their performers based around the Sprint Web technology, as well as a newly designed outsole.  But the bread and butter of the Adidas line for the near future will lie in the Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard signature models.  The biggest surprise for the start of the new year is Under Armour.  In only their second year, the solid all around quality and performance of their Micro G® based shoes may see the company hanging around for the long run.  Rounding out, Reebok is fully pushing their Zig line backed by John Wall, while Converse is looks to bring back the glory days of the past.  In our Time Walk special, we look back at the top 9 performers from July 2011 to the December 2011.

Before we begin our countdown, here are a few performers who just missed the cut: Nike Zoom KD IV, Converse Defcon, Reebok Wall Season 2: Zig Encore, Reebok Thermal Vibe

Nike Lebron 9 - Miami Nights

The Nike Lebron 9 - Miami Nights

9 – Nike Lebron 9

This year, the Lebron series went full steam ahead, incorporating a slew of Nike signature technologies to go along with the wing based design.  On the court, the Lebron 9 brought versatility in a comfortable package.  Performance Highlights – Comfortable and sung fit, great ankle support and flexibility, lower profile forefoot Zoom and thick heel Max Air unit.

Adidas adiZero™ Ghost

The Adidas adiZero™ Ghost

8 – Adidas adiZero™ Ghost

The first Adidas performer on our list is the adiZero™ Ghost.  Taking a page from the adiZero™ Crazy Light, the Ghost brings a bit more stability while keeping with the light weight trend.  A Sprint Web and leather upper, combined with the solid and responsive outsole makes the Ghost one of the top performers of the year.  Performance Highlights – Light weight and stable, very responsive and fluid.

Under Armour Micro G® Supersonic

The Under Armour Micro G® Supersonic

7 – Under Armour Micro G® Supersonic

Coming in at the number seven spot is the first Under Armour performer on our list – the Supersonic.  Similar to the Black Ice from last season, the Supersonic features an asymmetric collar along with a patent leather toe box.  Versatile and comfortable, the Supersonic is just one of the reasons why Under Armour is making a big statement this season.  Performance Highlights – Great comfort and versatile performance.

Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 - Blake Griffin

The Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 - Blake Griffin

6 – Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011

One of the most popular models for Nike over the past couple of years started the light weight trend in the basketball sneaker industry.  The third iteration of the Hyperdunk makes our list at number 6, continuing the exceptional performance of the series.  A nylon base and Flywire upper combined with Zoom units in the forefoot and heel make for a solid all around performer.  Performance Highlights – Light weight, great stability and traction, responsive Zoom unit set up.

Adidas Pro Model 0

The Adidas Pro Model 0

5 – Adidas Pro Model 0

Another revamp of an Adidas classic checks in at the number 5 spot.  An excellent performer, the Pro Model 0 enters into the light weight arena with a Kurim toe box, while keeping true to the line with a leather upper.  Consistent and solid performance for any playing style is why this version of the Pro Model ranks high.  Performance Highlights – Stable, comfortable, and versatile, with exceptional responsiveness.

Adidas adiPower Howard

The Adidas adiPower Howard

4 – Adidas adiPower Howard

During All-Star weekend 2011, Adidas unveiled the second official Dwight Howard signature shoe entitled the Superbeast.  Drawing upon that platform is the adiPower Howard, which makes it to the number 4 spot.  With very few shoes made specifically for the big man, the adiPower Howard is a breath of fresh air combining the support and stability needed for post play, while keep the overall weight of the shoe down.  Performance Highlights – Great stability and support all around, responsive outsole for post play, versatile enough for non-big man playing styles.

Adidas adiZero™ Rose 2 - L-Train

The Adidas adiZero™ Rose 2 - L-Train

3 – Adidas adiZero™ Rose 2

Last year, the Adidas adiZero™ Rose line was the highest performing shoe (both the 1 and 1.5) on both of our lists.  With lofty expectations, the adiZero™ Rose 2 delivers again on performance and lands in our top 3.  The first Derrick Rose low cut shoe, a unique band system provides ankle support and protection, while a newly designed Sprint Frame solidifies the performance.  Performance Highlights – Best combination of a light weight and stable performer on the market today, made for aggressive play, very responsive, great fit, fluid and versatile performance.

Under Armour Micro G® Bloodline

The Under Armour Micro G® Bloodline - Rome

2 – Under Armour Micro G® Bloodline

Under Armour star athlete Brandon Jennings slides in at the number 2 spot on our list with his second signature model – the Bloodline.  A low cut performer, the Bloodline is brings fast and fluid play on the court.  To boot, the Micro G® foundation brings comfort and responsiveness, while the leather upper, with midfoot strap, keep the shoe stable.  As mentioned in our Performance Review, the Bloodline may go down as one of the best low cut basketball shoes ever made.  Performance Highlights – Responsive and fast, great support and stability as it does not play like a traditional low cut shoe, comfortable Micro G® cushioning.

Under Armour Micro G® Juke

The Under Armour Micro G® Juke

1- Under Armour Micro G® Juke

Taking the top spot on our list is yet another Under Armour performer – the Micro G® Juke.  Just like the Adidas adiZero™ Rose 2, the Juke is essentially a low cut shoe with an alternative ankle support system to keep weight at a minimum.  The CompFit sleeve fits just right, and on court performance is fast, fluid, and responsive.  Performance Highlights – Light weight, great integration of ankle support and protection, fast and fluid performance, versatility for many playing styles.

So there you have it.  A few surprises were observed this year with exceptional performance of the Under Armour line, which went head to head with a solid Adidas line up.  Again, our list is solely based on court performance of each shoe.  Let us know what your thoughts are in our comments section.  For all of our supporters and readers, the Black Lotus staff sends out a sincere Thank You for continuing to come to our site.  Follow us on the Official Black Lotus 9 Twitter Page, and make sure to Like Us on the Official Black Lotus Facebook Page.  Next year, the Performance Reviews will continue, which will include the Jordan Fly Wade 2, Jordan CP3.V, Air Jordan 2012, Nike Zoom Kobe VII Supreme System, Adidas adiZero™ Rose Dominate, among others.  We hope you continue to support our site and we Thank You again!  For all of our supporters and readers, we wish you a great 2012!