words_Terence Tang With the playoffs in full swing (my favorite part of the year), I can't help but have that nagging thought in the back of my head that the offseason is fast-approaching. As a hardcore basketball fan and not a true fan of any other sports (ok, maybe tennis), the summer months are the most dreaded part of the year for me sports-wise. As soon as an NBA team is crowned champion, basketball withdrawal starts. I get the shakes. I find myself turning on the TV hoping for the sweet relief of Ernie, Kenny and Charles, but I know they won't be there. Instead, I'm left hopelessly flipping channels for something to fill the void. But I digress. Being so close to the end of the season, I've had a chance to play in many of this season's top performing shoes. A few of these shoes would earn spots in my top 10, edging out classics like the Huarache 2k5 and Zoom BB II.� Without further ado, here are my picks for this season's year end performance awards. MVP -- Nike Zoom Kobe V Undoubtedly the most widely-used elite performer of the season, there's absolutely no chance of watching a basketball game without seeing a pair of Zoom Kobe V's on someone's feet. No other shoe this season is lighter, more nimble, or more instinctive and natural feeling than this gem designed by the great Eric Avar. The wide forefoot and heel base (complete with outriggers in both areas) combined with an amazing low-to-the ground feel, make this shoe the Porsche 911 of basketball shoes. The reasonable $130 price tag also won't require you to take out a loan for high performance. Best for quick-footed guards and forwards. Who's worn it: Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, Andre Iguodala, JR Smith, DeMar DeRozan, Channing Frye Most Improved Player -- Adidas TS Supernatural Commander Last year's Adidas TS Commander was nothing to brag about. The heel lockdown was sloppy, midsole cushioning was arguably nonexistent, the shoe was very stiff and clunky, and it simply felt horrible on your feet. I'm happy to say that the new Supernatural Commander is a complete 180. It needs virtually no break-in period, has great midsole cushioning, great lockdown throughout the foot, good ankle support, a luxuriously plush interior and ear-piercing traction. This is the first time I've been excited about an Adidas basketball shoe. A great shoe for forwards and centers. Who's worn it: Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Michael Beasley, Kevin Garnett, Josh Smith Rookie of the Year -- Li-Ning BD Doom I honestly haven't had a chance to play in the BD Dooms, but L-Ning has emerged onto the scene with gusto. They opened their first retail store outside of Asia earlier this year, and they did it in Portland - in Nike's and Adidas' backyards. A ballsy move like that really shows that Li-Ning Basketball is only going to grow its presence in the hoops community, especially with the recent trend of players signing deals with Chinese shoe companies (Baron Davis and Jose Calderon with Li-Ning; Jason Kidd, Jason Richardson, Ron Artest, Shane Battier, Carl Landry, Kevin Love and others with Peak). And for what it's worth, the Beardman logo was an instant hit among collectors. 6th Man -- Nike Zoom KD II At $85, this shoe is an absolute bargain for the level of performance it brings. With a great fit, forefoot Zoom Air, and superb traction, this shoe will satisfy all foot types and playing styles and definitely deserves a spot in everyone's sneaker rotation. Let me put it this way - Amare Stoudemire abandoned his Hyperize PE's mid-season in favor of the KD II - and he's currently still wearing them during the Suns' playoff run. Who's worn it: Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook, Amar'e Stoudemire, and all of the other Thunder players Co-Coach of the Year -- Tinker Hatfield & Mark Smith This was a really tough decision. Eric Avar broke barriers with the Zoom Kobe V, Jason Petrie made a huge splash with his beautiful LeBron VII design, and strong argument could be made for Leo Chang's work on the KD II. But at the end of the day, every great designer should always look to re-invent themselves and take risks. The Air Jordan 2010 design, like all great designs, was immediately loved and hated at the same time. Using a "back to basics" approach, Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith set out to create the perfect basketball shoe, stressing performance over aesthetics. And as far as I'm concerned, they came pretty damn close. Though the clear "window" pushes the threshold of acceptable design, the performance is simply undeniable. Bottom-loaded full-length Zoom Air, amazing fit and lockdown throughout, an extra-wide forefoot base for exceptional stability and terrific traction make the Air Jordan 2010 a serious hoops shoe. Bravo.
Terence's Year End Basketball Performance Awards
Read along for Terence's take on the year's best hoops shoes.