Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2k4 (2012 Reissue) - Lakers Home

The Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2k4 (2012 Reissue)

Introduction

Last season, the first Kobe Bryant signature Adidas shoe, renamed the Crazy 8, was reissued in time for March Madness.  Our Performance Review revealed one best basketball performers ever made.  This season, another Kobe Bryant related shoe has been reissued, this time by Nike.  The first unofficial signature shoe for Kobe came a couple years after his release from Adidas in 2003.  Sporting a myriad of Nike and Jordan Brand sneakers after his run with Adidas, Kobe would settle into the Huarache 2k4 (and subsequently the 2k5), before the Zoom Kobe line was introduced.  This Performance Review evaluates the 2012 reissue of the Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2k4.

One of the best performers in the Nike Basketball catalog during the mid 2000‘s, the Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2k4 was made famous by Kobe Bryant.  The features include the following:

Synthetic leather upper

  • Phylon midsole
  • Rubber outsole with herringbone traction pattern and mid foot stability plate
  • High velcro strap for ankle support and stability
  • Inner bootie created with the tongue down to the forefoot
  • 2012 Reissue

Aesthetics and Styling

Reissued a number of times, the Zoom Huarache 2k4 was one of the highest performing models during the time it was released.  Before the extreme push for light weight sneakers, models were simply pushed with the signature athlete in mind.  And with Kobe Bryant attached to the shoe, although not in name, the Huarache 2k4 would be the quintessential guard shoe for Nike Basketball.  Aesthetically, time has not rendered the look outdated.  The simple, yet sleek and flowing lines can fit right in with any of the performers of this time, and in fact the shoe still does have a “futuristic” look.  As the basis and forerunner to the Zoom Kobe line, the 2k4 definetly does look like a “Kobe” shoe.  Fittingly, the white and purple Lakers “Home” color is the choice for this Performance Review.

Sleek lines and a flowing look have not been outdated

A side profile of the Huarache 2k4 reveals a streamlined look and a seamlessly flowing upper all the way up to the collar.  The now signature velcro collar strap is met with circular nylon openings on each side, while a thick Phylon midsole wraps the foundation.  Beginning our look on the underside, a flat rubber outsole is separated into two main segments.  The traction patterned portions are surrounded by smooth rubber, which outlines the entire sole.  From the lateral forefoot down to the heel, the large herringbone section makes up the majority of the outsole.  A deep curving vertical flex groove cuts through the forefoot, where the rubber forms a toe cap up front and a flaring outrigger on the lateral side.  The medial traction pattern here comes in the form of deep cut triangles.  Moving to the mid foot, the sole has a slight dip where a small sculpted plate resides, seen through a Nike swoosh logo.  Cutting along the center of the heel is a sharp & deep vertical groove, protected by a plastic piece on top with the “ZOOM AIR” logo seen through.  For support, a stacked Phylon midsole wraps from the medial mid foot to the lateral toe cap.  The top of the midsole is made with a small white foam strip, while the bulk of the midsole, the purple area, is molded with vertical slits.  Finally, at the heel, a plastic reinforcement strip stems up from the heel flex groove.

Simple and seamless, the synthetic leather upper is smooth.  The toe box is on the long side and is reinforced with a thick strip of leather running from forefoot to forefoot.  This stitched reinforcement is embroidered with a small Nike swoosh logo on the medial side.  Vertical corrugations within the leather serve as the main aesthetic aspect of the upper, and on the medial,  oval shaped perforations are lined up from the eyelets down.   The lateral side is more simply done, showcasing the ray like lines underneath a large embroidered Nike swoosh.

At the rear, a stiff heel counter sits as a solid foundation along the contoured back end.  The heel counter runs along the sides, with a Huarache logo found on the lateral side.  Above the counter is a brushed synthetic portion, with a vertical plastic strip in the center.  Thin and contoured, the Achilles area flows into a thin collar, which angles upward.  The collar is constructed from the synthetic leather upper, with nylon circular openings on each side.  Padding is non-existent and lining comes in the form of a felt-like synthetic.  With the “HUARACHE 2K4” logo present in the center, the adjustable velcro strap is engaged on the medial side.

Oval laces come standard with the Huarache 2k4, running through six eyelets.  A plastic “NIKE” portion at the throat line, the eyelets are simply punctured into the upper, and two final hoops finish off the lacing system which are present on the inside of the shoe.  An inner bootie is created with the smooth synthetic tongue.  Marked with perforation holes throughout, the tongue is connected on the inside all the way down to the forefoot and is lined with a silky like synthetic.  Capping off the Huarache 2k4 is a thin and contoured insole, which has the Huarache logo printed on the heel.

Comfort and Fit

Through a narrow opening, the foot slides comfortably into the inner sleeve.  As the tongue is held neatly in place, lacing up tight with the velcro strap engaged brings a close and snug fit around the foot.  Fit is about a half size long length wise, with pressure felt down the middle of the foot.  Because of the thin collar system, it feels as though the shoe is low cut, with a light weight ankle support, and an all around light weight feel.  The toe box has room height and length wise, but may be a bit narrow for some.  At the rear, the best aspect of the fit is observed.  Ankle support is great, in a light weight context, with the strap allowing for the player to adjust the amount of pressure desired.  Although there is little padding for overall protection, the flexibility gained is perfect for players who value agility over extreme ankle stability.  Heel lock down is superb, and the contoured back end holds the Achilles in place.  Lock down simply does not get any better than this.  Below, cushioning is on the stiff side, and the customary bouncy feel of the Nike Zoom Air is not overtly apparent.  With Zoom units in the forefoot and heel, the thick Phylon foam, from the toes down, takes precedent over a bouncy feel.  The foot sits flat with slight arch support, and the sole definitely has a more heavy feel than the thin upper.  Overall, the Air Zoom Huarache 2k4 has a snug and close fit, with good light weight ankle support.

Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2k4 (2012 Reissue) - Lakers Home

Snug around the foot, the inner bootie holds the foot close with the collar providing good ankle support

Performance

Getting on to the hardwood, the thick sole of the 2k4 brings a somewhat high court profile.  The cushioning set up is thick and stiff.  When running, it is clear that a short break in period may be necessary for the sole to get worked in.  With this, running is solid, and heel to toe transitions are aided by the overall flexibility of the synthetic leather upper, which is also thin and comfortable.  For performance, the shoe favors slashers and those who generally are offensive players, but also shows versatility for the quick defensive minded player.  Guards and small forwards who play with controlled aggression will find many aspects favorable.  In general, the shoe plays on the light and fast side, and can be considered a low cut shoe with ample ankle support.  Slashing hard, working in the paint, and turning the corner are performed quickly.  The Zoom and Phylon set up is on the responsive side, and works best when pushed hard.  Getting around the court is made easier with the light weight collar.  Trading in comfort for agility, the collar allows for more fluid play and is definitely evident when moving laterally.  The slight outrigger and responsiveness of the sole providing a good base, lateral movement on offense or defense is a bright spot, allowing the player to stay with the quickest of opponents.  Taking off to a finish, jumps are, in general, on the quick side.  There is a bit of a weight disparity between the upper and sole, but getting up in the context of a sprint or straight leap upward feels fluid.  Landings may be a bit hard and unbalanced, but does feel inline with the overall performance of the shoe.  A good performer for the somewhat aggressive player, the Huarache 2k4 is fast and responsive.

For stability, the shoe fares well for a shooting guard.  First, ankle support leans towards the more agile player.  There is just enough support to hold the ankles without being too cumbersome and restrictive, giving the player an almost full range of movement.  The highlight of stability is found around the foot.  The inner bootie does a good job of keeping the foot in place, and during intense play, there is not much sliding of the foot.  Below, the sole is rock solid, from the stiff plate to the thick midsole.  Players who put a pounding on the soles of their shoes will find the 2k4 a perfect fit.  For the upper, the flexibility of the synthetic leather may feel unstable at times, but up front, the reinforced toe cap is welcomed for those times when an inadvertent foot stomp is taken.

Traction performance for the 2k4 is very good.  A simple observation of the outsole, and it is no surprise that the herringbone section residing on the lateral side provides the bulk of the grip.  With the rubber is on the hard side, the aggressive guard can play both defense and offense pushing the shoe very hard.  Charging hard to the hole or taking a shoulder on defense, the shoe holds the court well, keeping the player close to the court.  What also is an advantage is the smooth outline that surrounds the sole.  This allows for the player to break step for step, especially moving side to side.  In a few words, traction is great for the active court player who likes to get up and down, and side to side with quickness.  Moving to ventilation, few problems are encountered with the shoe.  Nylon openings, perforations on the medial side, and the overall light & thin upper keep the foot comfortable in terms of heat and sweat.

Conclusion

When a performance shoe is reissued it is both exciting and intriguing.  Reissues give those who missed out the first time an opportunity to revisit the landscape and technology of yesteryear.  The intrigue comes from the comparisons to see if time has rendered the shoes outdated.  With the backing of Kobe Bryant (leading eventually to the Zoom Kobe series), the Huarache 2k4 was the main basketball performer in 2003-2004 for Nike Basketball.  And as a precursor to the light weight movement, a reissue was certainly warranted.  Still viable today for the guard or active swingman, the Air Zoom Huarache 2k4 is a fast, responsive performer that many can find comfort playing in.  In comparison to what Nike is focusing on at the moment (mainly with the Hyper series), there have definitely been advancements in not only weight, but refined performance.  With that said, the 2k4 can hang with what Nike produces today, and in fact would fit in without a problem with their 2011-2012 basketball catalog.  Reissued earlier this month, the Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2k4 is available now in various color schemes at the Official Nike Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011
Nike Zoom Hyperfuse 2011
Nike Zoom Hyperfuse (2010)