words & images_Nick DePaula

Shoe: Nike Hyperdunk 2010

Size: 13

Wearings: 1

This week has been pretty damn fun. After getting a detailed walkthrough yesterday of the upcoming sneakers pegged for this summer's World Basketball Festival, today we got to actually put them to use. When Nike Basketball knows it has a winner, they'll roll out pairs for each member of the media on hand and send us straight to the courts.

The last shoe I got to test during a "product experience" session was the original Hyperdunk during the 2008 Olympic Media Summit. We played for around an hour at the Bo Jackson Building on Nike's Beaverton campus, and right away I was convinced that the Hyperdunk was a pretty serious shoe. This time around, the Hyperdunk 2010 was on full performance display, and the location of the day was none other than the legendary Rucker Park, home of the world's greatest streetball players.

After entirely mailing it in through a series of shooting and dribbling drills, which lasted all of about 2 minutes each, we got a short rest to learn all about the history of Rucker Park and its annual Entertainers Basketball Classic tournament, straight from in-game announcer Boobie Smooth and Greg Marius, the man who founded the tournament some 29 years ago.

After the history lesson, it was time to get into it. While the level of play wasn't exactly comparable to the games that will be kicking off Monday when this year's EBC tournament gets started, we did get the chance to play four games of 5-on-5 half court ball. DIME Magazine's Aron Phillips and I weren't quite feeling our first squad, so we jumped on with Trey Kirby from Ball Don't Lie and Will Brinson from FanHouse, a formidable four. The team of five was rounded out with the rebounding, passing and toughness of a journalist from Israel. Anything less than a title run would be uncivilized.

The entire media group was fairly split in footwear, with half receiving the Hyperfuse to play in, and the other half getting the Hyperdunk 2010. Luckily, the Hyperdunk 2010 unveiled itself as I unzipped my pre-packed duffle bag, and here's some notes and performance thoughts I jotted down in my phone on the bus ride back to the hotel, after getting about 40 minutes of run in.

* In terms of fit, last year's Hyperize and the original Hyperdunk both ran a bit on the long side. The Hyperdunk 2010 appears to be the same length, and there's a bit of wiggle room in the toe box, without being overly voluminous.

* The Hyperdunk 2010 incorporates a nearly identical inner fit sleeve that we saw in the original Hyperdunk.

* More refined tongue construction lays nicely against foot, doesn't slide around during play and is well placed and sized. The tongue gets thinner along the sides and wraps nicely around your foot when laced up.

* One thing often mentioned with the Hyperdunk was problems people faced with lace pressure. The HD2010 features flat laces -- the original Hyperdunk had athletic rounds -- and Nike Basketball appears to have carried over the pressure problem solving lace style that we also saw last year with the Hyperize.

* Support and stability were outstanding thanks to the noticeably protruding outrigger, which is in or around the same zone as the Zoom Kobe V.

* Forefoot embedded Zoom Air is instantly more responsive than Lunar Foam from the past 2 years. I've been pretty outspoken about my hatred for Lunar Foam, in both my Kobe IV and Hyperdunk reviews, and finally they made the right call with the switch to Zoom Air. It's a full-width bag, as compared to the "met" bag seen in the Zoom Kobe V, and I believe it's 6mm thick, but I'll have to check back on that to make sure.

* One immediate negative is the odd flex of the toe, as the synthetic used along the Skinwire upper has a plastic feel throughout. Whereas the Hyperdunk and Hyperize featured leather along the toe and through the shoe's major flex zones, the Hyperdunk 2010's upper is entirely comprised of synthetic Skinwire where it matters, and there's an initially less than natural feeling flex and feel to it.

* Return of the hidden ghilley eyelet was a much needed move. Lack of one in the Hyperize made the shoe fit sloppy and loose.

* Traction was great. Similar micro-herringbone pattern from Hyperize/ Hypermax models, but more rubber contact and no exposed Foam or flex grooves.

* Heel-to-toe transition was real smooth. Because of the halfcourt setting, I didn't quite get up and down in transition, but initially they felt very smooth, propelling and quick.

* Heel counter is precisely located. Collar height is money, and ability to lace up to the 3rd eyelet is a great option if you want even more lockdown. I played with the laces through the ghilley and through two eyelets, and had great fit through the midfoot and lockdown.

* The claim is that the HD2010, at 12.5 ounces, are a full ounce lighter than the Hyperdunk, which in its lightest weight versions actually clocked in at 13.0. There's no perceivable difference in weight with the 2010. They're still one of the lightest shoes out, but there were no drastic changes here in the weight department.

* Much like the original Hyperdunk, the shoe's Phylon midsole immediately wrinkles and creases. Have to live with that.

* The shoe didn't feel particularly breathable, and surely everyone playing in the Hyperfuse today experienced better airflow.

Overall, I left feeling very impressed with the new Hyperdunk 2010. The shoe appears to solve the fit and sloppiness issues that I had with the Hyperize, opting for the hidden ghilley eyelet and also offering better midfoot fit and lockdown. The original Hyperdunk's two biggest problems, the lack of dependable traction because of its recessed groove pattern that quickly picked up dust, and the shoe's terribly unresilient Lunar Foam, have both been improved upon with the Hyperdunk 2010. The 2010's heel and forefoot Zoom Air should offer more long-lasting cushioning and responsiveness, and the full-length herringbone traction pattern should also provide better traction on dusty courts.

I walked away excited to get some more runs in the Hyperdunk 2010, and you can definitely be on the lookout for a more detailed and extensive performance review in the near future. After hitting the game-winning 3 at the buzzer to win the 5-on-5 Rucker WBF Media Tournament, an entirely arbitrary matchup of teams that certainly didn't include a bracket of any kind, there was a good chance I was going to be feeling pretty good about the shoe that came through in the clutch.