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KO Classic : AND1 Spree Mid

review_spreemid

The And 1 Spree Mid is Latrell Sprewell's first true signature shoe and the first shoe from And 1 to feature a visible version of the company's Harmonix cushioning system. It also happens to be the best hoops shoe that And 1 has produced to date.

by Professor K, posted March 8, 2002

Okay, let's cut to the chase. For those And 1 fans out there who want to know if the And 1 Spree Mid is the shoe for you, here's the lowdown. The And 1 Spree Mid is very much a cross between the And 1 Silky Smooth and And 1 Mad Game. If you liked the Mad Game, but wished that it was a wider at the forefoot, you'll love the Spree Mid. If you liked the Silky Smooth, but wished that it provided better cushioning-feel, you'll love the Spree Mid. The shoe blends the best of all that came before it and the end result is the best hoops shoe that And 1 has produced to date. For those unfamiliar with And 1's other products the rest of this review is for you.

The first thing that most people will notice when looking at a pair of the And 1 Spree Mids is the large, visible Harmonix units at the heel. They look a lot like Nike's Max Air-Sole units and, in concept, the visible Harmonix cushioning system is similar to Nike's regionalized Max Air system as employed in shoes like the Nike Air Max Duncan and Nike Air Pippen IV.

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figure 1. Visible here is the solid rubber outsole of the And 1 Spree Mid, which provides excellent traction. Details abound on the shoe and several can be found on the outsole. Just visible above is the acronym "ABS" at the forefoot area of the outsole. Those familiar with Latrell Sprewell will know that he has a passion for cars. In the car world "ABS" stands for Anti-Lock Brakes," but on the Spree Mid it stands for "Ankle Breaking System." A nice, and humorous, touch.

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In the case of regionalized Max Air, the Air-Sole unit is inflated at a lower pressure directly under the heel to provide a soft ride, and at a higher pressure around the edge of the heel to provide firm cushioning that maximizes stability. In the And 1 Spree Mid, the company's Springz Geometry midsole design provides soft cushioning directly under the heel, while the visible Harmonix air bags provide firm cushioning along both sides, cradling the heel to maximize stability.

The key difference between Nike's regionalized Max Air and And 1's visible Harmonix cushioning system is Springz Geometry. Whereas Nike uses Air underneath the heel to absorb impact forces, And 1 uses the design of the midsole itself. On heel strike the dome shaped heel of the And 1 Spree Mid (see figure 2) deforms to absorb the force of impact. It then quickly returns to its original shape, giving the shoe a springy, responsive feel -- something that Nike's Max Air-based shoes generally lack. A critical element in making this all work is something And 1 calls Duraspring II.

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figure 2. In this detail of the heel area of the And 1 Spree Mid it's possible to see the curved design of the heel. This curvature is the Springz Geometry component of the shoe's cushioning system.

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Duraspring II is the polyurethane foam that the visible Harmonix air bags are encapsulated within. The important thing here is the use of polyurethane, which is very dense, resilient, and durable. Not only does this contribute to the Spree Mid's responsive cushioning feel, it also means that the shoe will retain its cushioning properties far longer than shoes with traditional EVA-based midsoles.

In my testing I found that the And 1 Spree Mid does provide more responsive cushioning feel at the heel than regionalized Max Air shoes from Nike, but it's a bit difficult to tell how much of this is due to the visible Harmonix system vs. the thick sockliner that's glued into the Spree Mid. A quick note on the sockliner, it has a resilient urethane material called Poron integrated into the forefoot and heel areas, giving it a very springy feel (I actually felt that it was just a bit too soft, but I tend to prefer firm cushioning). But, whatever the specifics of which technology is responsible for what effect, the bottom line is that the And 1 Spree Mid provides excellent cushioning that is very responsive and maximizes impact protection without sacrificing stability. Add-in the fact that the cushioning system should also prove quite durable and you have a winning combination.

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figure 3. Here the support structures that run the length of the And 1 Spree Mid along both the top and midsole of the shoe are clearly visible. The structures provide lateral support, but also add visual appeal. When seen from above the structures seem to form the number 8, which happens to be Spree's number.

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The only downside to And 1's new cushioning system is weight. Because it is so dense, polyurethane is heavier than EVA foam. The weight of the midsole accounts for much of the Spree Mid's relatively heavy weight of 20 ounces at a U.S. men's size 11. But it's the density of polyurethane that makes it so durable. Players will have to decide which factor is more critical, long-term durability or weight. The And 1 Spree Mid wins on the former, but loses on the latter.

On the topic of durability, the full-grain leather upper of the Spree Mid should also hold up well over time, both indoors and out. Helping matters is that the shoe is constructed extremely well. The build quality of the pair that I tested was stellar, with super precise stitching and no visible glue residue to be found anywhere. This level of attention to detail in the construction of a shoe generally bodes well for its long-term durability.

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figure 4. From this view the visible Harmonix units are clearly visible. The placement of the Harmonix air bags along each side of the foot allows them to cradle the heel and encourage it to remain upright, which is a good thing.

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But the highlights of the And 1 Spree Mid aren't limited to its cushioning and durability -- the shoe is also very comfortable. While the Spree Mid doesn't employ anything like an inner-bootie system, stitching in the inner is kept to a minimum and I had no problem with chafing or foot discomfort. The shoe is based on a relatively wide last (seems to be the same width as the And 1 Silky Smooth) and should be able to comfortably accommodate all but the widest of feet. A big part of the overall comfort of the shoe comes from the ankle area, which is cut fairly low and is only minimally padded. This allowed my ankle to flex freely and is a big plus for people who do a lot of running up and down the court. Folks who need a lot of ankle support, however, should look at other options.

That being said, the low cut at the ankle doesn't mean that the And 1 Spree Mid doesn't provide protection for the ankle. The shoe has a very solid internal heel counter that keeps the heel upright, and support structures run the length of the shoe (both along the top and midsole, see figure 3), providing very good lateral support. This, combined with the Harmonix cushioning system, which was designed specifically with stability in mind, meant that I never felt concerned about rolling my ankles, even on hard cuts and big landings.

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figure 5. The clean, simple design of the And 1 Spree Mid is clearly visible in this profile shot. There's not enough detail in this shot to be able to tell, but the build quality of the shoe is top-notch. The stitching on the pair I tested was impeccable and there was no errant glue residue to be seen.

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The one thing about the And 1 Spree Mid that I wish was a little better, though, is its fit. I found that unless I tightened the laces after the first few minutes of wear I would experience some side-to-side movement of my forefoot within the shoe. I thought that I wouldn't have to do this after my first couple of wearings, but this need to adjust the lacing was necessary all the way through my fifth test wear. When the shoe is laced up tightly fit is great, but it takes some adjusting to get to that point.

So, to sum up, the And 1 Spree Mid is a very good all-around hoops shoe for a wide range of players. I note in the "The Breakdown" section that the shoe is primarily for guards and forwards, but even lighter centers will find a lot to like about it. The shoe provides very good cushioning and stability, and comfort is top-notch. Quick guards will like the low-cut of the shoe and everyone will love its excellent traction. While $99.99 is on the high-end of And 1's price spectrum, the shoe is very well built and tough enough to withstand plenty of on-court abuse, both indoors and out. When you add it all up I think it's clear that the And 1 Spree Mid is the best hoops shoe that And 1 has produced to date. Those who might not have considered And 1 in the past should re-consider and take a look at the And 1 Spree Mid. You'll probably be happily surprised by the quality and comfort of the shoe.

Who's Worn It
Rafer Alston (G- Milwaukee Bucks), Darrell Armstrong (G- Orlando Magic), Anthony Carter (G- Miami Heat), Speedy Claxton (G- Philadelphia 76ers), Shawn Marion (F- Phoenix Suns), Donyell Marshall (F- Utah Jazz), Desmond Mason (G/F- Seattle Sonics), Jeff McInnis (G- L.A. Clippers), Ruben Patterson (G/F- Portland Trail Blazers), Latrell Sprewell (G/F - N.Y. Knicks), Bob Sura (G- Golden State Warriors), Ben Wallace (F/C- Detroit Pistons), and more.

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And 1 Spree Mid Review Update
by Professor K, posted April 4, 2002

If you're looking for kicks that will make a statement wherever you hold court, And 1 has a shoe for you -- two in fact. And not only are these two special colorways of the And 1 Spree Mid very distinctive, they're also very limited. Only 3,000 pairs of each will be made, so if you're among the select few who owns a pair, you are guaranteed a good measure of exclusivity.

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figure 6a & b: The limited edition navy/navy/silver and red/red/silver colorways of the And 1 Spree Mid will not be overlooked by anyone within a few hundred yards of whomever's wearing it. Thankfully, And 1 did not sacrifice performance or durability to achieve this distinctive look.

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From a performance perspective these two new colorways are very nearly identical to the white/silver/royal version reviewed above. The only differences in the new shoes are that they're both slightly stiffer and slightly lighter (19 ounces vs. 20 ounces for the shoe reviewed above).

Both of these differences can be attributed to the upper material of the limited edition colorways, which is a synthetic textile instead of leather. The shininess of the material is reminiscent of the Nike Air Hyperflight, but the synthetic material employed on the And 1 Spree Mid is a lot tougher and should hold up well over time, even if used for outdoor hoops. I'm glad that And 1 didn't sacrifice the indoor/outdoor versatility of these new colorways of the Spree Mid for the sake of a more distinctive look.

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