BEAVERTON, Ore. -- While labor negotiations between the NBA's owners and players were crash-landing in New York City, Jordan Brand was busy kicking off its latest flight-inspired, superstar-driven collection of footwear on Tuesday.
At an exclusive presentation in the Tiger Woods building at Nike World Headquarters in the Portland suburbs, designers of the latest signature shoes for New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade met with members of the media to show off their work and explain the design process.
The theme of this year's collection is "flight," an obvious tribute to the brand's founder, Michael Jordan, but with a three-pronged twist. Tying in the on-court skillsets of Paul, Anthony and Wade, the "flight" concept was split into three distinct concepts: flying around (Paul), flying through (Anthony) and flying over (Wade).
Chris Paul: Fly Around
Available: January 11, 2012, with later releases in February and March | MSRP: $120
Chris Paul Says: "This being my fifth shoe, we continue to push the envelope. It's all about getting lower to the ground and improving quickness. I wanted it to feel like the shoe is hugging your foot, like you don't have a shoe on."
Notes from the designer: The shoe has a special rubber design in the front that allows an extra push off with your toe, something inspired by Paul, who uses his toe when cutting. The CP3.V sports "podulon" technology, a special, lighter cushioning that is said to provide more responsiveness. Paul personally endorsed the Achilles pad at the back of the shoe to provide added cushioning for the heel.
Carmelo Anthony: Fly Through
Available: October 12, 2011, with later releases in November and December | MSRP: $135
Carmelo Anthony Says: "With the M8, my biggest thing is to see how light we could go and still be able to perform at the top. Any game situation, I want to explode, I just want to do this, I want to do that, that's where I get the most fun."
Notes from the designer: The sole of the shoe features a traction zone that has been centered somewhat to allow for better gripping when Anthony jabs and explodes from a standstill isolation. The tongue of the shoe reads "Brn in Bklyn, Mfd in Bmre, Model # 7," a nod to Anthony's birthplace of Brooklyn, hometown of Baltimore and New York Knicks jersey number.
Dwyane Wade: Fly Over
Fly Wade 2
Available: December 7, 2011, with later releases in January and March | MSRP: $140
For Dwyane Wade, the goal was Jordanesque verticality, and his shoe features an ultra-lightweight "lunarlon" midsole to enable maximum leaping ability. The shoe also features multiple cushioning elements -- in the heel and around the ankle -- to make reentry less painful.
Dwyane Wade says: "Jordan's style was so graceful in the air, and I wanted that grace in my game. As they say, like a ballerina. The first thing is that I need my shoe to be light. I need to be light on my feet before I can be in the air."
Notes from the designer: The shoe has a molded sock liner that hugs the foot tight, a feature that Wade told a designer was "great plus." The various colorways of the shoe were meant to be simple and clean; something you could see and instantly recognize from a mile away without any "jumbling blocking."
The shoe also sports a new Wade logo, pictured below, which is meant to be a "W" for Wade and a "3" for his jersey number. It's also an "M" for Miami if you turn it upside down.