The Adidas D Howard Light – Black Lotus Performance Reviews
The 2012-2013 season looked to be the start of something special for Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers. Team injuries and a coaching change have not boded well for the team as they scrap for a playoff position. With Howard coming off back surgery, the Summer Olympic Games did not showcase the adiPower Howard 3, and when the season started, Howard was spotted with a new signature shoe. Whether or not this was his latest signature shoe was up in the air due to the fact that it did look similar to Adidas releases this season (namely the Pro Model Zero 2.0 and Crazy Shadow). Nonetheless, All-Star Weekend brought an official introduction for the second half shoe. In our latest Performance Review, we go into the low post with the Adidas D Howard Light.
A low profile release, the Adidas D Howard Light has been the main signature shoe for Dwight Howard this season. The features include the following:
- Synthetic leather upper with molded perforated panels for support, stability, and ventilation
- Cushioning provided by EVA midsole with dual-density forefoot
- Mid foot TORSION® SYSTEM stability plate
- Non-marking rubber outsole with wavebone traction pattern
- Adidas miCoach compatible
Aesthetics and Styling
When Dwight Howard laced up the Howard Light on opening night, the sneaker community was left wondering what the mysterious shoe was. After missing the Summer Olympic Games, the adiPower Howard 3 would be the expected choice for Superman in his debut with the Lakers. An initial glance at the Howard Light sees a design that meshes the Crazy Shadow, Ghost 2.0, and Pro Model Zero II into one shoe. It could be argued that this is the least aggressive look for a Dwight shoe since the adiPower 1. And to go along with the subdued style, there are no surprises in technological features for the shoe – Sprintweb/leather based upper, TORSION® SYSTEM for support, and S-shaped outsole. As a first time Western Conference All-Star, the red camouflage color scheme is the choice for this Performance Review.
A simple mid cut shape is the look given from a side shot of the Howard Light. The Sprintweb based middle portion sees the familiar cut outs, while the collar and toe box have a solid look with the synthetic leather. The foundation of the shoe is virtually identical to the Crazy Shadow/Ghost 2.0/Pro Model Zero 2.0. The S- shaped sole has the wavebone traction pattern, deep flex grooves, and miCoach housing unit, while the thick EVA midsole brings excellent support and responsiveness.
Synthetic leather adds support all around the upper to make the shoe fit for a big man. At the toe box, the camouflage print is on full display. The leather is stitched from forefoot to forefoot and comes to a square point at the throat line where “1” and “2” of Howard are incased in a Superman shaped pentagon. Like most of the Adidas performers this season, the design of the toe box has triangular shapes with small perforation holes punctured within. The stiff sides have a symmetrical design, with the reflective Adidas stripes stitched in the center of the quarter panels. Small nylon openings cut in between each stripe with the closed areas covered in a smooth synthetic film. The “SPRINT WEB” branding is observed on the forefoot of each side. The finals aspect of the sides is the stitched leather panel which runs along the base above the midsole. Adding support on each side, this leather section extends all the way to the top of the heel.
Stability is the keyword when observing the large and shiny stiff heel counter. The solid counter has the Adidas logo in the center and is backed by the leather coming up from the sides. Up the heel is a stiff leather hang tab which has “D III IGHT” logo stitched on. The hang tab connects to the padded Achilles notch. This notch contrasts the smooth leather with a soft, brushed material. The collar rises at a slight angle which gives the shoe the simple looks. On the sides, the synthetic leather has the triangular design similar to the toe box with a large raised portion for comfort. A mock Howard signature is seen on the lateral raised potion. For the lining, a textured synthetic is used, while padding is thick and plush.
Oval laces run through a total of seven eyelets, two on the collar. The eyelets run straight up, punctured through the stiff sides. A mesh tongue with slight padding rests underneath the laces with a leather lace holder placed below the holographic patch on top. The holographic patch has the “dh” logo and on the back of the patch another mock Howard signature is stitched in white on the textured lining. To round out the Howard Light, high quality PU insoles are inserted above the EVA midsole. Without any overt signature markings on the shoe (besides the tongue), there is some fun had as the face of Howard is printed on the heels of one of the insoles.
Comfort and Fit
Very stiff and structured around the sides, a generous loosening of the laces is needed to get into the Howard Light. The sides of the shoe hold true and laced all the way up, fit is true to size. Lace pressure is felt down the center, and although the sides of the shoe are not form fitting, it does grip close. For those with wide feet, the wide lacing system may help, as well as the toe box, which also fits close. The toe box area is on the flat with not too much crowding. Unlike most shoes on the market, the synthetic leather gives a rough and stiff feel, but is not uncomfortable. The Sprintweb for the Howard is combined with thicker, stiffer leather for a more secure feel over a sock-like feel from other performers in the Adidas catalog that are equipped with the Sprintweb. Moving up, the collar and tongue give a nice padded feel with excellent coverage all around. The ankles and Achilles have padding as the feel is more for coverage than for a tight grip around the ankles. For heel support, the molded shiny counter fits great with comfort. The heels fit in place without any tightness or movement – very comfortable. Next, the EVA midsole has a very dense feel. A balance between comfort, thickness, and responsiveness feels perfect for a big men. Arch support is apply provided by the S-shaped sole and grip on the sides. Stiff, secure, and responsive is what the D Howard Light brings in terms of comfort and fit.
With all the light weight, soft and comfortable shoes on the market, the Howard Light brings a throwback touch. The synthetic leather upper is stiff and tight, so a couple of good hard runs would be best to break the upper in. Running up and down the court is responsive and tight. The S-shaped sole bring excellent heel to toe transitions with a natural feel. For performance, the shoe is no surprise. The secure feel of the upper goes hand in hand with the responsive base tailor made for the power player. Backing in, holding ground, spinning, are the standard moves that feel solid all around. Agile steps where the player needs to be nimble are performed naturally as the S-shaped sole is made for these movements. On the perimeter, the Light plays like a hybrid swingman/guard shoe. Those who tend to be on the aggressive side will find the responsiveness of the shoe favorable. This is especially evident moving laterally, as the shoe does show some quickness. Moving forward, the rough feel of the shoe gives a good sense of security, allowing the player to make those quick side steps or cuts with peace of mind. For jumping, the shoe is comfortable. Even though the name says “Light,” the shoe is not the fleetest. Pushing off the EVA base is responsive and can be explosive for certain players. However, the shoe does not have a bouncy/airy feel, opting more towards balance. The balance is evident as the player lands, where the foundation disperses impact evenly and comfortably. Responsive and solid, the Howard Light is great for the big men, but has some advantages for the perimeter player.
Stability performance is excellent. The leather based upper has a stiff and secure feeling, which is the first aspect of stability. Unlike the synthetic uppers of the light weight performers on the market today, leather based uppers have a more solid and stable feel. Players who need support all around and like to push a shoe very hard will find the upper exceptional. Giving up flexibility in return for a more stable build lets the player feel at ease for all those harsh stops, awkward landings, and deep lateral bends. The next positive aspect with stability is the TORSION® SYSTEM plate and stiff heel counter. Keeping the mid foot true is what the TORSION® SYSTEM does best. Because the shoe naturally plays towards the big man, the TORSION® plate does a good job of not letting the shoe and foot collapse. At the back end, the stiff heel counter holds the heels in place and is large enough to take bumps along the way. In the end, the Howard Light delivers when stability performance is evaluated.
No surprises are found when traction is evaluated. Much like the Crazy Shadow, Ghost 2.0, and Pro Model Zero II, performance is based on natural movement over extreme grip. In this context, the S-shaped sole keeps the player balanced in the post on defense or offense. Traction comes from the amount of pressure that the player puts on the foundation, which goes right along with the responsiveness of the shoe. The wavebone pattern does bring balanced grip and fluid movement, and when the player plays hard on the sole, the thickness of the foundation helps to bring a consistent feel, which is great on the knees. All in all, those looking for a more natural traction feel will benefit from this set up. Ventilation performance is satisfactory. The openings on the quarter panel bring relief to keep hot air vented and moisture in control. But, because of the tight fit and leather all over the upper, some may find heat build up during long game sessions. These are not set backs that would adversely affect the overall performance, however.
Big men shoes these days are a hybrid between support and stability with light weight performance. The adiPower 3 pushed the limits of a light weight big man shoe, bordering on being a guard shoe. But the Howard Light brings the line back to what it should be. A shoe that has quickness, agility, and excellent responsiveness but has the secure and stable feel, this shoe is no doubt the best big man shoe on the market for the Spring. A big summer is coming up for Dwight Howard, which could mean big things. Does the 2012-2013 season end on a sour note leading Howard to leave Los Angeles? Or does Howard stay in the City of Angels and start a new era for his signature line. Adidas has a great opportunity to push the Howard line right up there with the Rose signature line and fans can only hope for the best. The D Howard Light is available now at the Official Adidas Online Store.
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