The Adidas Crazy 97 (2013 Reissue) – Black Lotus Performance Reviews
The years have long past since Kobe Bryant was a 17 year old NBA rookie & the future of Adidas Basketball. After almost 10 years with the company, which saw Bryant win 3 straight Championships in that span, the Black Mamba made the inevitable switch to the Swoosh. What was left was a back catalog of icon & eclectic designs that have a special place among the diehard Kobe fans. Over the years we have seen reissues of the KB 8 (Crazy 8) and Kobe 1 (Crazy 1). And for the Fall, Adidas Basketball goes all the way back to the 1996-1997 season. In his rookie season Kobe quickly became a fan favorite and started his legendary career with an unforgettable performance during All-Star weekend. Our latest Performance Review looks at the redubbed Adidas Crazy 97.
Originally named the EQT Elevation, the Crazy 97 is another throwback to the “Feet You Wear”/Kobe era. The features include the following:
- Synthetic leather upper for stability and durability
- Cushioning provided by a molded EVA midsole
- Non-marking rubber outsole with “Feet You Wear” inspired design
- Lenticular logos on the collar and tongue
- 2013 reissue
Aesthetics and Styling
Taken from the “Feet You Wear” era, the Crazy 97 has the unique look. The shoe is just flashy from top to bottom. With the swooping lines to the zig zag sole, it is all topped off by the reflective Adidas stripes (depending on the color scheme) and lenticular 3D logos throughout the design. Like most Adidas basketball performers from this time period, the star of the show was the outsole, which has the “Feet You Wear” pods. Other design features include an almost asymmetrical lacing system and a low cut back end. What made the EQT Elevation/Crazy 97 significant was the fact that Kobe won his first and only Slam Dunk contest in the Lakers inspired Purple/Black color scheme. Adidas has reissued the Crazy 97 in color schemes related to Kobe which applies to the Red/Blue/White for this Performance Review – representing Philadelphia/76ers where Kobe spent his high school years.
From the side profile the Crazy 97 looks bulky, but smooth. The collar has a lengthy curve all the way down to the toe box, while the pointy sole design engulfs the sides. Synthetic leather stripes run diagonally tucked in, while a circular logo round out the flashy side. Flipping the shoe over, the non-marking rubber outsole is spilt into three rounded sections, all molded with a deep herringbone traction pattern. Up first is the forefoot section which creates a toe cap with the Adidas logo molded in the center. This forefoot area has slits on the sides which creates segments for the sole. The deep herringbone pattern runs up the sides of the rubber. At the mid foot, the medial side sees the foam midsole coming through in black, while the lateral side has a blue rubber pod. Like the forefoot area, the rubber pod creeps up the side for added traction. Last is the largest pod at the heel. For this section, the traction pattern is molded very deep, much like an off road tire, running up the back of the heel. Finishing off the foundation is the molded EVA midsole. Without a stability plate, the midsole is left to not only provide comfort, but body to the shoe. In this case, it is expansive and contoured. The white layer holds the rubber sole in place, while the black upper portion adds the support, spiking upward on the lateral side, raised high at the heel (towards the medial side), and ending with proper support on the medial side.
Synthetic leather is stitched all over the upper. The pointy toe box area sees the first signs of stitching. On the medial side, a patch covers the entire area which contrasts the lateral side where the quarter panel extends with the three stripe logo. The lateral side quarter panel has a padded, nylon base. A plethora of materials are found here, starting with the stitched patent leather logo stripes. Next comes the metallic red outline which is stitched above the back portion that is made of a nubuck material. Completing the lateral side is the lenticular logo which switches from “76” (for the Philadelphia 76ers) to the “Adidas Equipment” logo. Unlike the lateral side, the medial side is a bit more subdue. The metallic leather dominates again, but this time with a simple patch on the quarter panel. This patch has horizontal slits and the Adidas three stripes created through the stitching.
Besides the aesthetics, one of the most unique aspects about the Crazy 97 lies at the heel. With the outsole and midsole running high, the heel comes up to two elastic criss crossing bands. The bands hide the very low cut of the Achilles notch. It is almost as if the two sides of the shoe barely come together. If the elastic bands were removed, the shoe would have a backless look. Moving along, the elastic bands cover the nubuck outline which runs along the integrated rounded collar. This rounded collar has very comfortable & plush padding and is lined with a silky synthetic.
High quality, thick flat laces run through four lace hoops and a single collar eyelet. The lace hoops are tucked away on the inside flaps of the shoe. A padded tongue has a single lace hoop in the center. The tongue is connected on the inside of the shoe through elastic bands stitched on the sides. A circular metallic leather patch is stitched on top with another lenticular logo featuring the Kobe “8”. It is completed with a hang tab embroidered with a very small Adidas logo. Finally, a thin but contoured insole covers the “Feet You Wear” inspired sole. Printed on the heel is the final Adidas logo.
Comfort and Fit
Slipping through a very low cut back end through the elastic bands is a breeze. The silky synthetic only makes it easier. Fit is a very comfortable true to size once laced tight. The upper and collar have a plush & comfortable feel, with the tongue holding the foot close through the elastic bands on the sides. Up front, the toe box has a pointy, but wide shape. There are no real issues with width, as the toes have ample room and are not bunched up. The outsole pods here are very prominent, felt on the forefoot sides. For ankle support and protection, the collar and tongue have excellent coverage. Because of the open back end, it does not feel locked in place or restrictive. Support can be felt, but protection would be best described as relaxed. But, because of the bulky padding, it does not feel completely free and unprotected. For lockdown, the low cut heel design does not provide extreme tightness. Instead, the elastic bands allow for more articulation. Highlighting the fit is the “Feet Your Wear” inspired foundation. With the EVA midsole, cushioning is a bit stiff but the outsole pods bring a natural, low court feel. And because of the contoured, pod design, there is plenty of side support. Arch support does not have that floating feel, but the foot definitely does not sit flat. Comfortable & plush, with a natural court feel, the Crazy 97 is ready to be active up and down the hardwood.
Great court feel is brought by the “Feet You Wear” pod set up. Each pod has separation but feels as one on the court to give the player the natural feel. Especially on the sides and the heel, the pods make the foot feel right on the court surface. With no break in time needed, the Crazy 97 pushes for easy heel to toe transitions. The sole works to bring controlled and balanced movement while the upper has very good flexibility. With the flexibility comes a light weight feel. Although the shoe is almost 20 years old, it fits right in with the light weight movement seen over the last 5 years. Like most Adidas shoes from this time period, performance is versatile and fit for the very active player. The sole is set up for natural movement with the pods and stiff, contoured design. Responsiveness is very good through the EVA midsole and hard rubber sole. This combination of responsiveness and a natural feel makes the shoe great for balanced movement all around the court floor. Whether the player is cutting, changing directions, or planting, there is always balance and responsiveness. Forward charging players will find that the forefoot and mid foot pods keep the player from swiveling uncontrollably side to side. This makes it easy for those off balance fadeaways and finishes. Complimenting the sole is the light weight feel of the upper. In this context, the synthetic leather and plush padding add an element of both comfort and light weight performance. The open back end allows the ankles not to be restricted letting the player to be a little more quicker. Also, the lacing system has the lace hoops tucked which in turn helps the upper bend naturally down the middle. All of this plays into the balance and light weight performance of the shoe. For jumps, the stiff set up is made for better responsiveness. The player can easily transition into a jump of the dribble or on the run. Landings may be a bit hard, but the contours of the pods helps to lessen the shock felt. Balance, responsive, and versatile performance, the Crazy 97 is simply a great basketball performer.
The Crazy 97 brings light weight stability. With a unique collar set up, ankle support and protection is satisfactory. Since the shoe is geared more towards the active player than the power player, the collar and tongue do not bring a restrictive feel. The coverage and comfort the shoe does bring is excellent, but with the back end so open, this may not be the best option for those with ankles issues. That said, the stability of the shoe lies with the fit and the synthetic leather upper. First off, the fit of the shoe is based on the inside lacing system and tongue. The lacing system is tucked in and allows for the sides of the shoe to clamp down on the foot comfortably. The tongue is almost a sleeve with the elastic bands on the sides. For all intensive purposes, it is locked in place. All of this limits sliding of the foot during play. For the upper, the synthetic leather brings both comfort and hold. Comfort comes with the fact that the material does not flex awkwardly. And there is not more supportive material in a basketball shoe than leather. For the 97, the leather is more thin than bulky, even though the looks may suggest otherwise. It brings hold for all those lateral slides and deep bends without the feeling of failure or that is about to come apart. All in all, stability for the Crazy 97 favors the active player.
Traction performance is no surprise – favoring balance and movement over sticky grip. With the focus on natural balance and movement, the pods of the shoe work seamlessly to keep the player upright. The herringbone pattern is great for stop and starts, but does not have the stop in your tracks grip that players may be accustomed to. Again, the focus of traction performance is balance and movement, and for the Crazy 97 it is just outstanding. The light weight feel allows the player to play off the forefoot pod easily on both offense or defense. Lateral movement has a fluid feel and only on dusty courts will traction be adversely affected. The rear and side pods also help with traction, mainly due to their placement and shape. They almost act as bumpers when stopping and planting, allowing the player to push in any direction after a stop. In summation, balance and movement are the prevalent features that make traction performance great. Moving to ventilation, the shoe is satisfactory. There are few outlets for air flow (aside from the back end opening) around the upper. The synthetic leather material and plush padding are not the most ideal for keeping heat down, so ventilation performance will all depend on the player.
Any release from the “Feet You Wear” era is a treat for all basketball sneaker fans. It was a time of unmatched performance and just happens to coincide with the years that Kobe Bryant spent under the three strip banner. The significance of the Crazy 97/EQT Elevation was planted in history during the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest – remembered by the most loyal of Kobe fans. Just as all Feet You Wear based performers the Crazy 97 brings amazing court feel and responsiveness. The light weight performance can stand up with the best today and is by no means outdated. Guards, swingmen, and active power forwards looking for a versatile performer with exceptional court feel and comfort will find the Crazy 97 a more than worthy everyday option. Released this Fall, the Crazy 97 is available in multiple color schemes now at the Official Adidas Online Store.
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