words // Zac Dubasik

With the midway point of the year 2014 approaching, this week, we’ll be taking a look back at what’s happened so far. But before we rank some of our favorite releases from the year, let’s take a moment to remember what’s happened so far.

One of the biggest sneaker stories of the year, which is actually a carryover from 2013, was LeBron’s choice to wear the Soldier 7 over the LeBron 11. It became even more interesting over the course of the playoffs however, when he also didn’t wear the Elite. And considering the Heat were easily handled by the Spurs, even though there have been leaks, we may never know what was planned as far as a Championship Pack. Could there really have been a shoe released to commemorate a title that was never actually worn? But the Elite edition of the LeBron wasn’t the only Elite signature model absent from the Playoffs. KD regularly opted for the standard version of the KD 6. The Kobe was also missing, thanks in part to his injury and the Lakers missing the playoffs. But the Kobe line has a long history of being worn by other players. That hasn’t been to case too often with the 9 though, compared to years past.

You couldn’t mention 2014 and sneakers without bringing up the Red Octobers. Red October technically fell in February, with an unscheduled, out-out-nowhere launch. A simple tweet announced the release, and those fortunate enough to have seen the news, and quick enough to be able to scoop them up, were treated to a relatively hassle free experience. Sure, plenty of fans were let down, but there were far less complaints than the bot-overtaken planed retro release we’ve become accustomed to. It will be interesting to see if the method is ever utilized again.

And what about the supposed “Kanye effect?” Is the much discussed influence from Ye’s jump to adidas a real thing? Is it too early to even tell? Whats complicating things even more is the product itself. In the past 6 months, adidas has released some great product, including models like the ZX Flux and Pure Boost, and they’ve been met with open arms by sneaker fans – probably more so than many new adidas designs in recent memory. But a great shoe is a great shoe, and it’s hard to say how much, if any, influence Kanye has had over fans willingness to embrace these new adidas deigns. Most importantly though is, regardless of the influence or reasoning, adidas is has had a great first half of the year. And with leaks suggesting Boost will be hitting basketball, as well as a new signature line for John Wall, there’s a lot to look forward to in the second half.

As always, there have been some outstanding retro choices. Jordan Brand has showcased the Air Jordan 6 prominently in the first half of the year, with highly anticipated original colorways like the White/Infrareds returning, as well as the Carmines. There was also the hit of All Star Weekend, in the form of the Infrared 23s. There was also the very first release of the Concord 11 Lows. And the shoe that loaned it’s midsole to the Yeezy 2, the Air Tech Challenge 2, has also had quite a year, releasing in OG colorways, as well as new editions that are actually solid. We’ve also seen the trend of boutique (or even retailers as big as J Crew) collaborations continue, with a new take on a retro model hitting seemingly every week.

What’s your take on 2014? Has the first half of the near been a good on as far as sneakers? What have been the highlights for you? And what are you most anticipating for the rest of the year? Let us know in the comments.