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Shifting Gears: The Brilliance of the Nike Kyrie 2

Nike Kyrie 2 Black and Gold

The Brilliance of the Nike Kyrie 2

Injury prevention, Newtonian physics, and arguably the best cross-over the NBA has ever seen. If you want to break down the Nike Kyrie 2 design process, those three are key factors.

Of course, the reality of this effort would show a slightly different picture. The Nike Kyrie 2 men’s shoe is, in more ways than one, designed to be a world-class basketball shoe that sells as an instant hit.

One of the important things to understand about this shoe involves an understanding of Nike Basketball as a brand.

Nike Kyrie 2

Nike Kyrie Irving 2 Background

A few years before the Kyrie signature series made its debut, the global performance shoe market was looking at a downturn. This did not leave the Swoosh unaffected.

Nike’s flagship basketball sneakers were sitting on store shelves. The Kyrie 2 is more than just the solution to this specific problem.

It’s also a response to a very particular sneaker release that more or less rocks the basketball world. Back in 2014, Under Armour signs Stephen Curry to a lucrative endorsement deal.

Towards the end of the year, the first Kyrie signature model releases to much fanfare. Not long after the Kyrie signature line begins its journey, UA announces that Steph will be getting his first shoe in 2015.

In fact, the Under Armour Curry 1 debuts during All-Star Weekend. The shoe goes on to blaze its way through the league and storefronts.

The superstar guard defies all of the sport’s limitations and it leads to the massive numbers that UA boasts for that fiscal year. Remember, this is the year when Under Armour catching up to the likes of adidas and Nike is a lot less crazy.

Nike Kyrie 2 Inferno, via Nike

Response Tactic

So, naturally, Nike faces quite the challenge at this point. As we get closer to the holiday season of 2015, UA carries some momentum over to the upcoming Curry 2 and Nike needs to deliver on their next Kyrie installment. What does the Swoosh do?

Of course, they get right back to what they’re best at. That December, the brand gets together with the design team behind the first Kyrie signature.

The first model’s success is an inspiration, but not in the way you might think. The crew at Nike needed to put together a shoe that didn’t just replicate what the original was.

Kyrie’s place in Nike’s catalog is, after all, replacing Kobe Bryant’s. This is an important factor to note because the signature Kyrie line needs to show a sense of experimentation.

As such, the Kyrie 2 has to be something different. The eventual design concept shows as much, with some pretty significant changes throughout.

The actual form of the shoe is completely different. The Kyrie 1 is in a low-cut build whereas the Kyrie 2 takes on a higher silhouette. In fact, these shoes don’t look anything alike.

Some of the core principles of the signature line are still in place – low to the ground, great traction, etc. – but the eyes see something brand new. Other features include a remarkable midsole that takes on a curve shape.

Nike Kyrie 2 Effect Multicolor
Nike Kyrie 2 Effect Multicolor

The Man Himself

All of this tech and design inspiration comes from a deep analysis of the man himself. Kyrie Irving is one of the shiftiest players in basketball and his massive collection of highlights shows as much.

Irving’s moves are innumerable. It always seems like there is a counter to everything he does, constantly adjusting and keeping his defender on edge.

As such, the demands on the superstar guard’s body can be quite extravagant. His crossover, for example, takes quite the toll on his joints and tendons.

Nike observes early on in the design process that Kyrie moves laterally at really low angles. Basketball has plenty of examples of shifty, low-to-the-ground guards throughout its history.

But, Irving is just a tad bit different. He slides around at ridiculously sharp angles, so much so that the actual sides of his shoes are touching the court.

This isn’t even the most shocking element. Sure, the human ankle should probably avoid being parallel with the floor when playing basketball (we assume) but this is without considering the tremendous force that Irving exerts on those joints.

Every shift of direction and change of pace comes with a powerful exertion to the court at the expense of Kyrie’s body.

A breakdown of the tech, via Nike

Fit for a Crossover King

As such, the Kyrie 2 boasts a design that emphasizes lockdown and support. The strap is a logical addition because of this consideration.

Even more fascinating is that the strap is a direct response to a physical requirement that is uniquely Kyrie’s. The Kyrie 2’s midfoot strap is a good way to keep your foot from flying off the footbed and completely out of your shoes. Why would you need that, you ask?

Well, there may not be another NBA player as capable of stopping short and changing gears as Irving. Because he’s a gifted athlete, his sudden stops also use more force and power, pushing his body forward – when he wants to stop and pull a jump shot – in a more powerful way.

The Nike Kyrie 2 takes this midfoot strap and a bold traction pattern to make sure that Irving’s feet – and yours – have something keeping them in place, keeping them from losing control.

To round off the functional qualities, Nike hooks us up with some solid cushioning and a synthetic mesh construction on the upper.

Kyrie 2 Now with Different Looks

There’s something else they bring with the Nike Kyrie 2 as well: tons of fresh colorways. Early on, the Kyrie signature line makes its intentions clear. Not only will it be wearable on the court, it’s looking to be a style icon.

Nike Kyrie 2 Inferno

Nike Kyrie 2 inferno
Another look at the Inferno colorway, via Nike

The Nike Kyrie 2 Inferno is just about the best way the brand could’ve started the year for Kyrie. This iteration literally releases on the first day of 2016, following a stellar initial debut in the previous December.

The brash colors are nothing new for the line, but the shoe’s new and unique construction makes it really stand out. This is one of the early examples of the visual flexibility of that midfoot strap. It’s also a good sign of the sort of iterations to come in the future.

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Nike Kyrie 2 Black/ Gold

Kyrie 2 Black/ Gold, via Nike

With so many outstanding colorways, it’s really hard to organize them into a list of the best ever. Yet, there won’t be many versions of the Kyrie 2 that outrank the Black/ Gold “Finals” iteration that release shortly after the Cleveland Cavaliers win a miracle NBA Finals series.

All seven games served as part of a historic basketball spectacle, and these shoes would prove to be at the center of it. When Kyrie Irving hit the biggest shot of the series – and of his career – his feet gleamed with the Gold strap and Black upper combination.

It’s the reason why anyone who watches hoops at all has a vague recognition of this model.

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Nike Kyrie 2 Triple Black

All Black for the Kyrie 2, via Nike

For basketball sneakers, the all-Black scheme is about an ideal a colorway as you’ll find. Because of this, painting the Kyrie 2 Black was kind of a no-brainer.

The shoe itself is a regular on outdoor courts all over the world. With fans of all ages getting caught up in the Kyrie hype, this shoe takes quite the beating.

That’s just another reason why the colorway on the Black Kyrie 2 is such an easy go-to. For what it’s worth, this is also an iteration that sees no imaginative work done on the strap – a rare feature.

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Kyrie 2 Krispy Kreme

A unique drop partnering with Krispy Kreme, via Nike

This one seems to have just been for fun. The Kyrie 2 Krispy Kreme is a combination of cultural heavyweights, bringing their marketing clout together for a pretty special release.

The shoe itself is remarkable for its gorgeous use of the Krispy Kreme brand colors. Perhaps even more memorable is the photography that accompanies its release, including plenty of tasty imagery.

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Kyrie 2 Battle Grey

A clean Battle Grey look, via Nike

Seeing designers at Nike paint the Kyrie 2 White makes me wonder if this shoe was ever going to see the light of an outdoor court. But, the combination of White and Grey really makes for a gorgeous iteration.

The smooth details jump out at you even against the backdrop of what feels like a tonal color scheme. The icy translucent midsole on these Kyrie 2s looks to be the perfect finisher to this solid colorway as well.

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Nike Kyrie 2 USA

Nike Kyrie 2 USA

The Nike Kyrie 2 USA was released to celebrate the 2016 Summer Olympics. Featuring a White mesh upper with University Red on the tongue.

The red Swoosh appears on the midsole and Deep Royal Blue on the strap.

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Nike Kyrie 2 Grade School Team Red

nike kyrie 2 grade school team red

Even the youngsters have their chances to get their feet on some Kyrie 2 shoes. The Nike Kyrie 2 Grade School (here seen in this amazing Team Red colorway) is the ultimate basketball shoe for all young people.

As fast as a pair of Kyries can be and featuring the necessary midfoot strap for a total foot lockdown.

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Nike Kyrie Irving 2 Shoes: Looking Forward

The Nike Kyrie 2 is a symbol of Nike’s brilliance in performance design efforts. The shoe itself stands as a solid addition to just about any signature line.

But, in the Kyrie signature series, it’s a model that’s worth looking back at once the dust settles and Irving decides to hang them up. At that point, when we’re all prematurely mourning the retirement of one of the best to ever play, we’ll likely wonder about his crazy shoes as well.

If we’re smart, we’ll look back to the Kyrie 2 for some insight on the design story. If nothing else, the bevy of color options will make for a fascinating line-up of future retros. It’s hard not to look forward to that!

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