by Zac Dubasik
The Super.Fly 2 was a major achievement for Jordan Brand in multiple ways. For one, it represented a team-based Jordan that had some legitimate interest. It was well-deserved too. For one, the shoe was headlined by Blake Griffin, whose game had made genuine progress and beginning to match the stature of his hype. Jordan Brand also actually marketed the shoe with its memorable Dr. Drain ad campaign. But, the most important statement made by the Super.Fly 2 was that it featured the brand’s marquee technology - FlightPlate.
FlightPlate, quite simply, changed the cushioning game when it was introduced in 2012. For those new to the technology, it’s really quite simple. It’s still Zoom Air, but it now employs a holistic system of cored out foam, and a moderator plate. Rather than placing the pressure on a single point, the plate spreads the pressure more evenly across the unit, offering a greater energy return. It seems like such a small change, but it makes a very perceivable difference in responsiveness. Plain Zoom Air just doesn’t seem as good anymore.
But as great as Flight Plate is, the first generation shoes to utilize it had some durability issues. I went through multiple pairs of Air Jordan XX8s, due to the sole blowing out in the cored-out groove of the outsole. The thin layer of rubber aided in the supreme cushioning, however it just wasn’t holding up. The rubber has been beefed up this time, and I’ve had no durability issues with the second round of Flight Plate equipped shoes.
The downside? The wow factor of the cushioning just isn’t quite what it was on the originals. It’s still the top cushioning out there by far. If I had to pick between the Super.Fly 2 and 3 based solely on cushioning, with no regard to longevity, I’d go with the 2. But the Super.Fly 3 still has the best cushioning money can buy on a new model, at the most affordable price point available at $140 (as opposed to the M11 at $160, and AJ XX9 at $225).
Based purely on cushioning, the SF3 is the best value of the year. The combo of Flight Plate in the forefoot, with a foam heel, is my current favorite.
Unfortunately, a very small step back in cushioning isn't the only place the 3 trails the 2. The upper of the 2 offered fantastic comfort in an extremely thin package, with perfectly placed relief and flex points. The upper of the 3 is much more robust; It’s still a fused synthetic, but this time around it’s thicker and a bit unforgiving.
On the bright side, Jordan Brand has also added the new support system introduced in the XX9: Flight Web. Unlike the way shoes utilizing Dynamic Flywire typically lace through standard eyelets in performance models, the laces in the Super.Fly 3 actually lace directly through the loops of Flight Web, which engages support. It makes for a secure and ensuring fit, but on the downside, when combined with the stiff upper, comfort suffers. It's more supportive than the 2, especially when combined with the TPU counter found on the lateral side of the rear quarter, but support wasn't an issue that needed addressing. If you're a bigger player who may have felt the Super.Fly 2 was too minimal though, this may be a welcome change. And thanks to the mid cut, the shoe feels exceptionally mobile even with the increased support.
Thanks the the upper's rigidity, I felt some pressure points at the edges of the tongue, inside the shoe. It wasn't a major issue, but added to the fact that the comfort didn't compare favorably with last year's model.
Traction however, was excellent. You'll need to swipe the soles semi-regularly, but cuts are rock solid when clean.
Despite some issues, I really enjoyed playing in the Super.Fly 3. It didn’t love it the way I loved the 2, but at least some of the changes were necessary to ensure a reasonable level of durability. Still, the shoe is an easy recommendation for players looking for the best cushioning available that should suit the needs of most positions.
It's supportive enough for the post, yet mobile enough for guards. It’s commendable that Jordan Brand is elevating a team model with top-tier performance innovations.
best for: Players of all sizes, who like a mid cut
key tech: Flight Plate, Fused upper, Flight Web
pros: cushioning, range of motion, stability
cons: not as comfortable as the previous version
improvements: softer and more flexible upper material, like the Super.Fly 2.
buying advice: For the money, the Super.Fly 3 is hard to beat. (That is, unless you can find some Super.Fly 2s on sale.) This year’s model took a small step back in comfort, however it did become more stable and durable. From a cushioning standpoint, the Super.Fly series offers the most affordable way into a FlightPlate equipped shoe, which is a big deal. For $140, you can get the same cushioning system found in the $225 Air Jordan XX9. It’s not a perfect shoe, but the 3rd edition of the Super.Fly is easily one of the season’s best values.