The Jordan Melo M9 – Black Lotus Performance Reviews
Carmelo Anthony is in the midst of an exceptional individual season, resulting in another starting nod in the 2013 NBA All-Star game. Playing the best in his career, the New York Knicks are poised for a deep playoff run. Consistency has kept Anthony as one of the elite players in the league – which is also a trademark of his signature line. This year, Jordan Brand brings the ninth signature Melo shoe to the table. Not since the Air Jordan has the brand had a line that has run this long. For the M9, the shoe stays true to the essence of past season with a leather upper and Nike signature patents for cushioning in the forefoot & heel. With the CP3.VI setting the table for Jordan Brand earlier this season, how will the M9 fare? In our latest Performance Review, the Jordan Melo M9 looks to impress on the hardwood.
Continuing the longest signature line for Jordan Brand, the Melo M9 looks to bring consistent and versatile performance. The features include the following:
- Upper constructed of leather, synthetic leather, and Flywire cables
- Cushioning provided by a Phylon midsole with Nike Zoom units in the forefoot and heel
- Padded inner sleeve for comfort and support
- Rubber outsole with herringbone traction pattern
- Stability plate at the mid foot and on the lateral side
Aesthetics and Styling
Out of all the signature shoes in the Nike Basketball/Jordan Brand catalog for the past 10 years, the Melo line has not followed any trends in terms of aesthetics. The designers have come up with a shoe that does not follow any trends and the result is always a unique offering each season. Cut outs and exposed Flywire cables makes the M9 no exception. Most basketball shoes these days come with light weight uppers and sleek shapes. The Melo line has never fully embraced this path. Combinations of leather make up the body of the shoe, which has a pretty standard look. The eccentricity in the design comes with the openings throughout the leather, as the Flywire bands cross through. This gives the shoe a subtle flashiness to it. On the technological side, the customary heel Max Air unit has been replaced by a Zoom unit for more comfort, but still has the clear bubble to give the Max Air look. And like all Jordan Brand signature performance models, the quality in the construction is top notch. For our Performance Review, the Metallic Silver color scheme that Anthony wore against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day is the choice.
A side shot of the M9 reveals a bulky, mid cut basketball performer. The shoe has a more stable and supportive look over sleek and swooping lines. Crossing Flywire bands give a unique touch, as the 3M upper shimmers in light. Beginning with the underside, the rubber outsole has a herringbone pattern molded from top to bottom. The rubber is broken into two pieces – one that outlines the forefoot and runs to the mid foot, and other extending from the heel up to a raised portion on the forefoot. Around the forefoot, the toe cap has a number “7” molded in with the herringbone portions running on one half of the toe cap to the medial side. The lateral side has a sharp outrigger portion. At the middle of the forefoot area lies a raised portion. The translucent rubber has more of the herringbone and speckles for style. Moving along to the mid foot, a rectangular area creates a deep divot where the stability plate is visible. A mock Anthony signature is molded on this clear strip which is outlined by the forefoot rubber portion. Completing the outsole is the heel section. The herringbone climbs up the back end for added traction, and diagonal flex grooves surround a clear triangular bubble where the Zoom unit is observed. Supporting the outsole is a contoured Phylon midsole. The stacked look comes to a point all around the base of the shoe. At the heel, the foam is cut out to show off the Zoom unit. Finally, stability is added above the midsole on the lateral side in the form of a rock textured, pointy, plate.
Multiple layers of materials begin at the toe box. Stitched from forefoot to forefoot, the 3M is rounded and smooth. Around the sides, three cut outs are present on each side. The cut outs make room for the Flywire bands which are stitched to the inner bootie. The high quality leather is made special with a discreet elephant design – no surprise to Jordan Brand fans.
The busy look from the side is tamed at the heel. A stitched patch lies in the center with an embroidered jumpman logo on the lateral side. Continuing up, a hang tab is stitched onto the Achilles lobe, extending from the inner sleeve. The collar rises slightly then flattens out at the top. A thin portion of the collar is amply padded and lined with a smooth synthetic.
Unconventional design for the M9 comes with the Flywire bands running through the upper. Providing two lace hoops on each side, the Flywire cables work with three other lace hoops from the synthetic leather and a single eyelet on the collar to hold the oval laces. One of the main performance features is found under the laces with the inner sleeve. Extending from the forefoot to the heel, the sleeve is stitched on tightly. Around the ankles and heels the sleeve has plush, but light padding and the smooth lining from the collar. The tongue also has the smooth lining with mesh on the top side. At the top of the tongue is a pointy 3M patch. The patch has two padded pieces and is backed with smooth leather – finished off with the MELO logo on the front. Rounding out this special color scheme is a festive insole. The thin and firm insole has a white, red, and green all over pattern to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
Comfort and Fit
With the lace hoop system, manipulating the oval laces is a simple task and slipping through the bootie system is smooth. Tightening the laces brings pressure where the exposed Flywire bands wrap around the midfoot. Fitting is a tight true to size, but is not uncomfortable. The bootie holds the foot in place, while the Flywire bands can be felt clamping down. Up front, the toe box has a rounded feel. In terms of width, the lateral side flare is tight, which can cause some crowding for those with wide feet, but the shoe would not be considered narrow. At the rear, heel lock down is provided by the padded bootie. The balance between comfort and lock down is very evident. For ankle support and protection, the collar and tongue provide a nice wrap. Surprisingly, the stiff tongue does not bring any discomfort and the collar has more of an agile feel than a tight, supportive grip around the ankles. Moving on, cushioning is solid. Both Zoom units are felt through the thick Phylon midsole. The balance between the density and softness of the foam can be felt as there are few dips on the footbed. One aspect that can be felt is the raised portion on the outsole. Although slight, this gives the shoe a bouncy feel off the forefoot. For arch support, the contours of the shoe are minimal, but the inner bootie and Flywire bands do a great job of keeping the mid foot locked down. A tight and balanced fit with a thick & cushioned based, the Melo M9 brings a balance of a comfortable feel with an aggressive touch.
The M9 feels exactly how it looks – a secure basketball shoe with a thick cushioning base. Court feel is good, as the shoe does not sit too high or too low to the court surface. Out of the box, the shoe does feel stiff, from the upper to the forefoot Zoom unit, so a break in period is needed to get the best out of the shoe. Once broken in, the shoe shows versatility all around. Running is cushioned, with a slight bounce. The raised area on the outsole and forefoot Zoom unit give the cushion up front, while the heel unit gives consistent heel to toe transitions. The flexibility of the upper is very good all around because the openings placed throughout the shoe keep the upper from holding extremely stiff. One aspect that can be noted is the flexing of the Flywire bands. The bands are stiff so they may flex awkwardly when the upper bends harshly. With all this established, the M9 is suited for those looking for a shoe that is well rounded and balanced. The shoe does not fall in the light weight category, but the balance in performance is impressive. First off, the responsiveness of the shoe is excellent. In this case, the shoe shows a balance between comfort and the ability to move. Lateral movements, whether in the context of a quick cut or side stepping while defending, have few hinderances. The shoe does not feel bulky at all despite the thick base, pushing the player sideways with ease. Comfort comes with the give of the Zoom, while the outrigger and Phylon keep bring the responsiveness. In a few words, moving laterally is where the balance of the shoe is best felt. For aggressive players, the M9 is a pleasure to play in. Again, the versatility of tho shoe is shown as it plays just as well on the perimeter as it does playing in the post. On the outside, the Zoom and raised portion of the sole are perfect for playing off the forefoot. With the back to the basket, the inclusion of the Zoom over the Max Air unit adds a softer feel. The player can play aggressive with a first burst step on the outside or a quick spin move in the post and it just feels great. For jumps, the responsiveness of the shoe shines. The forefoot Zoom works great with the raised portion of the outsole for consistent jumps. Landings are handled with comfort through the thick base. All in all, the M9 brings comfortable and balanced performance that works well for various playing styles.
Stability performance for the M9 is outstanding. Again, the balance between flexibility, comfort, and support is shown. Foot support comes with the inner bootie holding the foot from the heel to the mid foot. The Flywire bands act as semi-straps holding the foot in place. In the heat of a game session, foot stability is an after thought. The player can make abrupt cuts and harsh movements without the feeling that the upper is at a failure point. And although the collar does not grip the ankles tight, the fact that the foot is held in place so well (especially with the Achilles and heel support), the ankles are not compromised. For the foundation of the shoe, the heel Zoom unit shows versatility. Added for more comfort over a Max Air unit, the Zoom unit does a great job of bringing a blend of comfort and support. Using a set up similar to the Max Air with a semi-exposed unit, the Zoom and Phylon shell serve as a light weight bumper. Landings and harsh heel strikes are cushioned and supported well. In the end, stability is an aspect where the shoe shines.
The theme of performance for the M9 is balance, which is what is observed with traction. Marked with a herringbone pattern, the rubber sole does the expected job of providing great grip all around. Because the pattern is not deep, traction allows for more fluid transitions than grip that halts a player on a dime. Balance is aided with the traction pattern running up the heel and medial forefoot, for post ups and lateral cuts respectively. Also helping to keep movement fluid is the raised portion. This breaks up the sole from being flat and lets the player use the raised area as a pod to push off of. And because the herringbone pattern is molded into the raised section, traction is not lost. Good ventilation finishes off the M9. The lining of the inner sleeve do a good job of controlling moisture, while the openings all around the upper give outlets for air to vent.
Jordan Brand has put the spotlight on both Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony with the departure of Dywane Wade. The Melo line is the longest running Jordan signature shoe and each year aims to bring versatile performance. With a player like Anthony having perhaps the most varied game in the NBA (aside from Lebron James), designing a shoe that can do it all is not an east task. The M9 is a very impressive performer that shines with balance and versatility. Whether the player is aggressive, active, quick, or plays hard & heavy, the shoe has something for everyone. The M9 sits alongside the CP3.VI as two very impressive performers from Jordan Brand, both excelling with balance and versatility. Overshadowed by Jordan retro releases and the Nike signature line (Kobe, Lebron, Durant), both performance models this year should not be overlooked by any player looking for high performance. Available now at the Official Nike Online Store, the Jordan Melo M9 comes in multiple color schemes.
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