Reebok Kamikaze II Mid (2013 Reissue) - All-Star/Fish Market

The Reebok Kamikaze II Mid (2013 Reissue)

Introduction

Reebok Basketball took a major hit with the defection of John Wall to Adidas.  Looked to be the successor to Allen Iverson, Wall and his latest signature shoe, the ZigEscape, were abandoned mid season after a lukewarm reception.  Even with the bleak outlook for the Basketball wing, the Classics section continues to flourish with a strong 2013 line up.  During the 1990s-early 2000s, the heyday of Reebok Basketball saw many superstars carry the brand to prominence.  One of those stars came like a bolt of lighting straight out of high school, carrying the Seattle Supersonics to an NBA Finals appearance in the 1995-1996 season.  Shawn Kemp dazzled the league, flying through the air with thunderous dunks and his athletic play.  For the Finals season, one of the most iconic basketball sneakers hit the court.  Taking a journey back to 1996, we rain down on the court in the Reebok Kamikaze II Mid for this Performance Review.

Originally worn by Shawn Kemp during the 1995-1996 NBA Season, the Kamikaze II Mid is just the latest Reebok Classic to be reissued.  The features include the following:

  • Multi-layered leather upper
  • Non-marking rubber outsole with multi-direction pattern
  • Cushioning provided by Hexalite in the forefoot and Ultra Hexalite in the heel
  • EVA midsole with zig-zag design
  • 2013 Reissue (New 2013 All-Star Edition)

Aesthetics and Styling

The 1990s were a time where all the top brands pushed the limits with style and design.  Most of the eccentric looks during those years would look like concept shoes today, and for those who like a little flash on the court will be at home with the Kamikaze II.  Layers of leather cover the upper, with a lightning/zigzag design bringing the signature look.  The shoe no doubt is bold, with personality.  For performance, two versions of the Hexalite cushioning are used in the forefoot and heel (the heel having the thicker Ultra Hexalite).  For this first batch of reissues released earlier this year, Reebok went with a black/white/green color scheme to represent the main team for Shawn Kemp – the Seattle Supersonics.  The NBA All-Star game brought a slew of new color schemes which includes the choice for this Performance Review.  Taking the theme of the world famous Fish Market in the city of Seattle is this bright red and silver color scheme.

Reebok Kamikaze II Mid (2013 Reissue) - All-Star/Fish Market

Seattle's world famous Fish Market is the theme for this special Kamikaze

Looking like a mountain range, the wavy theme runs from the top of the collar, to the upper leather layers, down to the foam midsole.  The shoe has sharp lines with a somewhat bulky build, and has an overall bold touch to the design.  Staring below, the outsole is broken into two rubber portions.  At the forefoot, the translucent rubber has a wavy traction pattern.  A toe cap is formed up front, with a line of stitching, while the lateral side sees a small piece of the outsole creeping up.  Moving back to the bottom of the forefoot, a deep, wavy, horizontal flex groove cuts deep through the center of the forefoot, while the lateral side has two shark tooth slits.  A Reebok vector logo lies on the medial side with a diamond inset in the center revealing the Hexalite cushioning.  At the mid foot, the foam midsole has deep contours leading to a large cut out at the heel – this time revealing the Ultra Hexalite.  To finish off the outsole is the rubber section rounding the heel.  The translucent rubber rises up the heel and on the sides to a point.  Supporting the minimal rubber sole is a textured, wavy midsole.  The two toned midsole continues the zigzag pattern running around the base.

For this special Fish Market color scheme, nubuck is overlaid on scaled metallic silver leather.  The toe box has the red nubuck covering a large portion of the area.  On the lateral side, the silver scaled leather, just like the skin of a fish, has a black vector logo stitched on.  Completing the toe box, which creeps up as the first lace holder at the throat line, are a rounded row of perforation holes. For the sides of the shoe, the wavy pattern is stitched onto the metallic silver, scaled base layer.  The wavy design is done with the nubuck material and follows the pattern all the way to the midsole.

A diamond shaped nubuck patch is stitched on the metallic silver leather on the heel.  The patch has a black vector logo and a hang tab for easy entry on top.  With the Achilles running high, the collar does not have a rise – only peaking to follow the wavy pattern.  Padding is soft, but not too thick and the lining is a textured synthetic.

Seven eyelets house standard flat laces.  The eyelets run straight up the shoe, with three punctured through the nubuck portions of the upper.  Below the laces the mesh tongue has a plush overall feel.  The tongue has the textured synthetic lining, and on the top, the mesh has a small nubuck lace holder below the top silver patch.  Just like the upper, the silver patch on top has a nubuck patch with a hang tab and Reebok logo stitched on.  Topping off the Kamikaze is a very special foam insole.  The insole has a plush feel and has an all over fish graphic printed from top to bottom.

Comfort and Fit

Without any impediments, getting into the Kamikaze II brings a tight, true to size fit.  From the outset, the shoe has a very supportive and protective feel from the toes to the ankles.  Laced tightly, pressure is felt down the center, but the plush tongue (especially on top) helps to keep the fit comfortable.  For the toe box, there is slight room from side to side, top to bottom without a bunched up feel.  Depending on the foot of the player, width may be a bit close around the small toe.  Moving to the ankles, the wavy cut collar does a good job of giving coverage while still providing some room for the ankles to rotate.  A padded, high wrap is what is felt by the collar & ankles bringing great overall support and protection.  On the back end, the shoe runs high.  There is plenty of comfort for the Achilles and down below, heel lock down is very good.  All in all, the back end feels very secure with great comfort.  Equipped with the Hexalite technology, cushioning is on the stiff and responsive side.  Luckily, the plush insole adds a soft bed for the foot as it pushes down onto the Hexalite.  The forefoot area has a low court profile, while the Ultra Hexalite in the heel gives a bit of a raise.  Solidifying the base is the midsole, which has a solid feel, but is not uncomfortable.  On to arch support, the sides of the shoe hold the foot well.  The wavy over layer acts as another support barrier on the sides which helps to keep arch support tight.  The Kamkiaze II does not sacrifice much in terms of comfort and fit as it is secure, protective, and comfortable with a solid base.

Reebok Kamikaze II Mid (2013 Reissue) - All-Star/Fish Market

An outstanding performer, the Kamikaze II Mid stands the test of time

Performance

The secure and protective feel of the Kamikaze comes with great court feel.  Court profile of the shoe is close to the court, especially at the forefoot, with the plush insole providing a soft base over the stiff foundation.  Getting into a groove may take a small break in period.  The leather/nubuck upper is a bit rigid out of the box, but once it conforms and flexes to the foot of the player, only comfort is felt.  That said, heel to toe transitions feel low to the court.  The forefoot area feels right at home when running, and the thick heel, with the rubber sidewalls, make for responsive and solid movements.  The weight of the shoe is surprisingly deceptive.  It does play more light and fleet than heavy although it would not be considered a light weight or nimble shoe.  Flexibility is very good when running because of the high placement of the throat line, as well as the large forefoot flex groove.  All in all, running is low to the court and responsive, with a bit of comfort.  For performance, the Kamikaze is just versatile.  The shoe seems best for a very active player.  Guards and swingmen will find the balance of the comfortable upper and responsive set up great for just moving around the court.  Ground movements forward or laterally have a natural flow on the court.  Because the shoe gives a great sense of security, the push for aggressive and abrupt movements are handled very well.  The low profile and responsive base is great for drives, jabs, and lateral cuts, while the upper gives comfortable hold.  Power players will find the shoe to be very comfortable and fluid.  Playing down low in any context is aided, again, by the responsive set up, while the upper just feels right at home when pushed hard.  When you get down to it, the Kamikaze feels like a cohesive and consistent basketball shoe.  For jumps, the Hexalite cushioning gets the player up fast.  Off the forefoot, the player can rise quickly and explosively, while the Ultra Hexalite in the heel is great for taking landings and backing down in the post.  With a comfortable upper and great court feel, the Kamikaze proves it is worthy of being reissued.

In the area of stability, comfort, security, and protection are observed.  Starting with the upper, the shoe has a plush feel.  The leather and nubuck overlay grip the foot tight and comfortably, but without a bulky feel.  It gives the player the feeling that it is flexible and the mindset to play freely and openly on the court.  When pushed hard (ex. sudden cuts and stops), the upper holds the foot well.  At times, the player can feel the wavy overlay flexing and holding the foot with a great sense of security.  The other aspect of stability comes with the thick foundation.  Because the rubber outsole is minimal, the midsole takes the majority of the impact.  Whether it is a bump from another player or the midsole being slammed to the court on the side, the foundation is just stable.  Those who put a lot of pressure on their soles will be delighted.  For stability, a balance of security and comfort is what the shoe brings to the table.

Traction performance brings a fluid and responsive feel.  Because the rubber sole is minimal and the traction pattern is not molded deep, court feel plays a big factor in performance.  Those looking for a shoe that has sticky grip all around may not find this set up ideal.  On the court, the shoe can stop a player comfortably from high speeds or when stoping abruptly.  The feeling is more comfortable than jerky, and because court feel is excellent, moving after the player has planted feels naturally fast.  One aspect of the shoe that is interesting are the rubber sidewalls on the heel.  This gives added traction for those lateral slides and gives the post player some grip when spinning low.  Because the sidewalls create a more square (over rounded) shape, spin moves and playing off the heel have a precise feel.  In the end, traction shows the overall balance and versatility of the shoe.  Ventilation performance is satisfactory.  One would expect a leather based shoe, with only a few perforation holes, to perform poorly when ventilation is concerned.  However, the Kamikaze does not have any outstanding heat or moisture issues, and it is all dependent on the player.

Conclusion

Reissues like the Kamikaze II Mid help to remind fans of how shoes were built in years past and also gives a chance for younger generations to experience a performer from a different era.  From the distinct style of the shoe to the construction and overall feel, the shoe is simply a breath of fresh air compared to all the light weight, minimal performers that dominate the market.  Just a solid and well rounded performer, the Kamikaze brings exceptional responsiveness in a very stable package that all players can like.  Reebok Basketball, on the whole, has been puzzling for the past few seasons.  The John Wall line never gained any real traction, while the other yearly performance models were not high publicized.  Luckily, the Classics line seems to be keeping Reebok Basketball relevant in the market and later this year, fans can look forward to reissues of first signature shoes for Shaquille O’Neal.  In any case, those looking for a high performing reissue can look no further than the Shawn Kemp Kamikaze II Mid, available now at the Official Reebok Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Reebook Answer IV (2012 Reissue)
Reebok Question Mid (2012 Reissue)