The Nike Hyperadapt BB Is Laceless, Reasonably Priced, and Sent Here Directly from the Future.

This was a bleak sort of irony: the Hyperadapt is designed to ensure the greatest, most personalized fit in the history of basketball shoes, and they didn’t have my size. We’d trekked across campus to the basketball court in the Bo Jackson Gym (one of two on campus) for a testing session. The shoe can tighten on its own, but its most easily powered by iPhone app, so pairs and their Bluetooth-linked phones sat atop pedestals along the sideline. There was the rub: I wear a 10; sample size is a 9, and the handful of testing pairs lying around had been crafted for the size-12 NBA players who tested them over the summer. So I grabbed a pair of 12s, resigned to not entirely grasping what the shoe was all about.

Imagine my surprise, then, that the sensors and engine and length of fishing line turned a shoe two sizes too big into something I could run, cut, and jump in. I slipped my foot in, my heel triggering the first lacing phase with that high-pitched, two-tone whirr. I cackled. The corresponding app allows the user to tighten each shoe incrementally, or to hit three presets—street (the loosest), warmup (tighter), and game-ready (straightjacket-tight)—and I worked my way through the settings, loosening and cranking for kicks. Surprisingly, even half-tight, I felt locked into place, instead of swimming in shoes two sizes too big. Ratcheting all the way down wasn’t a painful sensation so much as a notable one, and once I started jogging around the court, faded into the background. I put the shoe through its paces—sprinting, stopping short, softly cutting into an old-man Eurostep. The shoe was with me every step of the way.

The Nike Hyperadapt BB Is Laceless Reasonably Priced and Sent Here Directly from the Future.
The Nike Hyperadapt BB Is Laceless Reasonably Priced and Sent Here Directly from the Future.

I should note here that I’m probably incapable of giving an honest performance review of the Hyperadapt for one simple reason: reader, I sank everything. My regular diet of useless 15-footers went down clean, but so did all manner of floaters, fadeaways, turnarounds, and threes. It had to be the shoes.

I joke, but I can’t stop thinking: what if it was? I was struck by how uneventful I found it all. Dragging my finger along the in-app slider to tighten them was a trip, but once they were secure, they were secure. I didn’t have to worry about them. They felt like…nothing, which was a surprise, but the future is never quite what you expect it to be.

Earlier, I’d asked Hatfield if, purely as a designer, he’d miss having laces. His answer came quickly: “I don’t miss them,” he said. “In fact, as we look at other versions of these shoes that will be coming in other guises, we have no qualms about not even making any reference to laces.” The first Hyperadapt, he explained, had its lace-bands to evoke the Back to the Future inspiration. But after that, he was content to leave them be: “Now we are in true Nike performance land, and we don’t need to go to the trouble to link back to a movie.”

On my way out of the room, Hatfield noticed my shoes. This happens a lot at Nike, especially if you’re wearing Adidas. I was wearing something even weirder for Beaverton: a pair of black lace-up boots. “Nice boots,” he said, smiling. “The last time I saw those was at a Marilyn Manson show!”

I don’t think he was serious, but the point was made. I was living in the past. The future would be laceless.

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