SC Hyper Header2words_Nick DePaula photography_Steve Mullholand As published in Sole Collector's Issue 26 : Available HERE Just as Eric Avar was beginning to put the final touches on the Zoom Kobe III, he had already begun working on the Nike Hyperdunk, a shoe that would not only hope to clock in at the lightest weight yet for a Nike Basketball shoe, but that also would provide more support and stability when compared to shoes of the past. Once again, Avar and his team of designers and developers tapped into Kobe Bryant and his explosive and active style of play as they began to build a shoe that would debut two of Nike's newest technologies: Lunar Foam and Flywire. "We had presented some of the early concepts to him in terms of what we were doing and what we were thinking with Flywire," explains Avar. "Of course he was very interested and liked the notion of new performance." After getting some initial feedback from Kobe and beginning the design process, the team aimed for the shoe to be worn on quite the global platform during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. "It was never specifically meant to be Kobe's signature shoe, but it was designed definitely with him in mind," says Avar. "It starts with an athlete and a close relationship with a designer and a couple of innovators." SC HyperKobeFor Nike Basketball, the Hyperdunk looked to reintroduce some familiar ideas from previous shoes and also go where no shoe from the category had gone before. The shoe's upper was entirely new to the sport, incorporating a large, clear panel of Nike's Flywire construction that proved to not only reduce weight, but also provide great lockdown and support for the game's most active players. With the help of Lunar Foam cushioning in the forefoot and an otherwise minimally constructed upper, the shoe was able to clock in several ounces lighter than previous shoes in the Zoom Kobe line, which are always considered to be the lightest basketball shoe for every season. Once the Summer Olympics rolled around, the shoe was validated quite well on court, as players of all sizes and positions relied on the sneaker during the world's most important basketball tournament. From guards like Kobe Bryant to active big men like Yi Jianlian, the Hyperdunk was able to provide protection and containment for an array of players and at the same time provide the lightweight cushioned ride that all ballers dream of. Even before it was widely released, the shoe took on a life of its own thanks to one of Nike's most extensive viral campaigns yet. Whether it was the creation of a fictitious Hyperdunk Recovery Center for victims of a posterizing dunk, or the series of viral videos that showed Kobe Bryant jumping over anything from a speeding Aston Martin to a pool of snakes, the Hyperdunk was given top billing from Nike on all fronts, and it looked to define a new era of design and performance going forward. "We've talked internally quite a bit about the Hyperdunk being a catalyst," reveals Avar. "We've been doing a lot of great product in basketball, but I think the market, too, is somewhat turning, and I don't know if it's going to go back to the craziness from the '90s, but in terms of new and honest innovations and a return to classic elements, I definitely feel like we're seeing that shift. The Hyperdunk was a good catalyst to start and repoint the arrow for where basketball and product in general can go." With the Hyperdunk serving as the signal of change in the direction of basketball shoes going to more minimal and simplistic uppers with protection and support where needed, Nike had made a statement that Flywire was here to stay. For ballers worldwide, the technology was a welcomed change, as it's able to reduce the weight of a shoe without compromising its stability. "I think we knew after we made that one there - we were like, 'Oh, shit, this could be something,'" says Jay Meschter, Innovation Director of Nike's Innovation Kitchen. "This is the real deal, and we were pretty confident about that internally. To hold your tongue for four years about something you know that's going to be impactful, that's the hard part." After the success that the Hyperdunk experienced on a global scale, Nike Basketball now had a new direction for the category, as the shoe's lightweight and soft cushioning properties proved to work for people of all sizes and playing styles. SC Hyper Header [Be sure to click on the image below for a Wallpaper version!] Huarache2k5