The Spalding Threat

Introduction

Spalding returned to the basketball footwear industry last season with the Slash.  Backed by rookie Jimmer Fredette the Slash featured the D30® cushioning technology.  The shoe was characterized by light weight performance, but fell short of being a top performer.  This season, the company continues on their quest to return to prominence with a new model.  Named the Threat, the latest effort from the company known for basketballs/equipment definitely looks the part.  With a bold name we see if the Spalding Threat can stand up with big boys in our latest Performance Review.

A follow up to the Slash, the Threat is the latest offering from Spalding.  The features include the following:

  • Light weight synthetic upper
  • Cushioning provided by EVA midsole with D30® technology
  • Heel to mid foot TPU stability plate
  • Rubber outsole with herringbone traction pattern
  • Second Spalding release for Jimmer Fredette

Aesthetics and Styling

Out of nowhere, Spalding returned to the industry, signing both Jimmer Fredette and Mario Chalmers.  The Slash represented the one flagship model for the brand, fitting in with the light weight trend.  In the Threat, the designers have taken a more bold approach.  A more sleek shape than the Slash, the Threat has an aggressive look with a shiny upper.  Performance features include a stability plate rounding the heel and the very impressive D30® cushioning.  Released with 5 total color schemes (4 being predominantly black), the choice for this Performance Review is all purple, representing the Sacramento Kings.

Spalding Threat

A more bold approach than the Slash, the Threat fits the name aesthetically

Rising high and sharp, the collar for the Threat brings an aggressive look from the side.  The synthetic material shines through with gill like cut outs cutting along the side, while the heel area looks thick & stable.  Our look begins below with the flat rubber outsole.  Just like the Slash, the rubber is separated into two rounded areas.  The mid foot area has a slight dip with a rock textured pattern molded into the rubber.  Herringbone is molded on the sides of the forefoot, with horizontal flex groove slits running along the outline.  A toe cap is formed up front, with a stiff plastic piece above for added support.  Finishing off the forefoot is the purple middle strip.  This strip has a semi-circle traction pattern which is more fine than the herringbone surrounding it.  At the heel, herringbone makes up both the black and purple sections, with flex groove slits on the lateral side.  A circular inset sits in the middle with a plastic Spalding “S” covering the orange D30® cushioning.  Above the outsole sits the EVA midsole.  Contoured all around the shoe, the heel area has openings which, again, reveal the orange D30®.  The heel also has a stiff stability plate running to the mid foot which has the “D30®” logo etched on the lateral side.

Just like the Nike Hyperfuse technology, the upper is constructed of layers of synthetic material.  The synthetic is smooth and shiny, prevalent at the toe box.  Down the middle, the synthetic is layered thicker than the side strips where the chain-mail like mesh is observed pressing through.  Two thick strips add support on the forefoot of each side.  On the sides, the layers of material continue.  First, from the top of the collar down to the toe box is the lightest layer of the shiny synthetic.  Boomerang shaped cut outs create a nice design effect, with another plastic Spalding logo on the lateral side.  The black middle strip is simply made of mesh.  Finally, a woven section sits raised above the synthetic towards the heel.

Shiny synthetic covers the heel counter.  Placed in the center is the “SPALDING” branding, leading up to a woven section on the pointy Achilles notch.  On the inside of the collar, another interesting pattern is found.  The soft synthetic material has a checkerboard design, giving it a textured feel.  Padding is thick and plush from the ankles down the heel.

Purple oval laces run through eight eyelets.  The eyelets are punctured through the upper with the final one cut through the padding on the collar.  Maximum layers of synthetic reinforce the eyelets from the top down.  Mesh material makes up the tongue.  Another plastic Spalding “S” is pasted on the top of the tongue, which is has two sides stripes connecting the tongue on the inside heel.  The checkerboard synthetic adds consistent texture on the back side of the tongue.  Rounding out the Threat is a foam insole.  Firm but not rock solid, the insole is pasted right on the D30®, with the “SPALDING” branding at the heel.

Comfort and Fit

Getting into the Threat brings a relaxed fit.  There is some room length wise, so for a closer fit, a half size down would be recommended.  Laced tightly, most of the pressure is felt around the mid foot, but the pressure is very comfortable down the center.  The upper has a thin, soft feel around the foot and is not cumbersome.  Up front, the toe box has ample wiggle room in terms of height, but may be a bit narrow for width.  The upper material is flexible as the player can see the toes press through.  Moving to the back end, ankle support is comfortable.  The collar has good padding all around.  Even with the sharp cut, the ankles still have good coverage, as the collar and tongue do a good job of wrapping the top area, and the cut lessening the restriction of movement.  Heel lock down is also very good, as the heels are held comfortably with little movement.  The biggest technological features of the shoe are found at the base.  The D30® cushioning is very dense and stiff.  However, the feeling is not that it is hard, but feels as though the player is standing on molding clay.  The TPU plate rounding the back brings support for the heel, but arch support not the tightest.  Because of the flat foot bed and the lack of contours with the foundation, the foot sits relatively flat.  In the end, the Threat brings a relaxed and flexible upper combined with a solid, flat base.

Spalding Threat

D30® cushioning provides a very dense feel with good comfort

Performance

Any shoe equipped with the D30® cushioning has a paradoxical feel on the hardwood.  It is very dense, tight, and stiff, but is not uncomfortable.  Running shows off the light weight of the shoe and flexibility of the upper.  The upper has a light weight feel, while flexibility is dependent on the foot of the player (the synthetic will have flex points according to how the player pushes the shoe).  For the foundation, the sole is a contrast to the upper.  The sole has a more stiff feel and does not bend as easy.  This is due to the overall stiffness, flat rubber outsole, and the heel TPU plate.  That established, heel to to transitions are a bit tight, but the D30® cushioning brings a responsive and comfortable feel.  For performance, the Threat follows in the footsteps of the Slash, but is tighter in performance.  Highlighting performance again is the D30® which brings comfort, responsiveness, and great impact support.  For the offensive player, the shoe shows off responsiveness in terms of feel.  The D30® does an excellent job of providing a solid base, but having give for comfort.  Pushing off for a drive to the hole or for a catch & shoot jumper has a quick feel.  The D30® does not give the bouncy/mushy feel of some foam cushioning units, but it does bring a good base for raising up.  Another aspect where the Threat performs well is with lateral movement.  Again the D30® brings the responsiveness to be quick and fast, while the shape of the forefoot does not impede the player from moving in the flow of action.  For jumps, the shoe is great.  Explosive bursts or short hops, the shoe responds well.  Landings are not harsh at all, allowing the player to continue running in stride.  Great for the perimeter player that values a responsive and cushioned base, the Threat is a solid upgrade over the Slash.

Stability for the Threat is fit for the perimeter player.  The thin upper is made for more flexibility over extreme hold and protection.  With this, foot stability is very good in terms of slipping.  The basis for this hold begins with the back end support.  For this, the collar hold, TPU plate, and D30® cushioning come into play.  When performing aggressive and abrupt movements or holding ground (lateral bends, cuts, and pushing the shoe on the medial heel when playing post defense), the back end is very stable.  The heels have very little movement when pushing hard because of the TPU plate.  Also, the plate keeps the back end from any awkward collapsing.  For added support, the D30® is able to take a hard pounding.  Although ankle support and protection may be light, what the heel support does is limit foot slippage and helps with hard impacts.

In the area of traction, there are a few problems with the Threat.  Although the outsole is marked with a herringbone traction pattern, there are some issues during long game sessions.  Out of the box, the herringbone pattern does the job of holding for those quick pulls ups, lateral stops, and when pushing off the forefoot.  Where the issues come is when the outsole picks up debris.  There are two aspects that attribute to the lack of traction over time.  First is the fact that the sole is flat.  This means that, for the most part, the sole is always on the court surface.  To get the teeth into the court, the outsole must flex, leading to the next problem – the lack of flex of the D30®.  The D30® is stiff and dense, so getting it to flex takes the full effort of the player.  In summation, the lack of flex of the foundation limits the effectiveness of the herringbone when traction is evaluated.  For ventilation, there are no big issues.  The thin upper does a good job of keeping heat and moisture under control during intense play.

Conclusion

Known as the main equipment supplier for the NBA, some may not remember the heyday of Spalding basketball shoes in the 1990s.  What direction the company is aiming for from a basketball shoe stand point remains to be seen, but with so many choices on the market, the company may be looking more towards team play over high performance and casual wear.  The Threat may not be the highest performing shoe on the market today, but what it does bring, along with light weight performance, is the inclusion of one of the best cushioning technologies.  Very few shoes on the market are equipped with D30® which brings a good balance between comfort, density, responsiveness, and stability.  If there was one reason to give the Threat a shot is would be this.  Available at retailers now is the Spalding Threat.

This shoe is comparable to:

Spalding Slash