by Sandy Dover / @San_Dova

Many big man shoes are typically lumbering in feel, clunky, hefty, weighty and have lots of protection, but not a great feel of flexibility. It’s the reason why signature shoes for power players are rare in the current era of the sneaker business… which makes Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard’s new shoe, the adidas adiPower Howard 2, so magnificent.

It’s nearly the exact opposite of the big man shoe stereotype that I described above. What follows is adidas’ brief product description and additional specifications concerning the new model:

The steam engine power of Dwight Howard needs a basketball shoe that can keep up. These adiPower Howard 2.0 shoes by adidas are the big man’s guide to the paint with an ultralight yet protective SPRINTSKIN upper, TORSION® midfoot support and Alive cushion.

- Ultralight SPRINTSKIN upper gives incredible protection and support without the need for thick, heavy padding
– Mesh window for breathability

- Comfortable textile lining
- TORSION® provides adaptive midfoot support
– Alive cushioning technology for comfort

- PU insole for durable comfort
- Injected EVA midsole for long-term, lightweight cushioning
– miCoach compatible

- Non-marking rubber outsole

For me, there were two huge aspects of the adiPower Howard 2 that stood out, among a host of many really good attributes; the first thing I loved about the shoe was that it was so nimble when I played in it—it’s the most nimble of Howard’s signature shoes, in that it plays like a guard’s shoe. It’s unmistakably high and protective, but it plays quick and fast.

As a kind of “body-guard” going 5-10 and 200 pounds, I love shoes that lock me in on the court, but don’t strap me to the ground; literally, I felt more confident in the adiPower Howard 2 than I ever have in an adidas basketball shoe, and it’s not even a shoe geared to my game or body! I jumped however I wanted to with no problem, made cuts with no issues, and had a very good sense of ground feel on penetration and in passive dribble situations. I had total confidence in being able to make any move that I wanted to make on the court, on post-ups and on the perimeter. Brilliant.

The other huge attribute of the adiPower Howard 2 was the cushioning that I experienced in the shoe. Adidas hasn’t played up the use of the ALIVE cushioning in the shoe, but it’s there—it’s just understated, almost like it’s been tuned down, so to speak. Regardless, the shoe felt very bouncy, which compliments the game of Howard personally. The ALIVE unit is not as dynamic as the first adiPower Howard, but it doesn’t even matter.

Part of my adoration for the feel of the adiPower Howard 2 is based in its transition; the TORSION System makes another appearance and is featured right over the EVA foam in the midsole, which I believe transferred a great deal of my shock more equally, making the ride of the shoe incredibly smooth.

What else did I love? Plenty!

The inner fit is very nice, and the shoe features a smooth, dimpled insole, which is made of polyurethane, or PU. Security in the adiPower Howard 2 is unmatched by any current big man shoe that I’ve evaluated, with the three stripes TPU cage (which borrows from classic mid-1990s models of the adidas Equipment Basketball series); that cage locked in my foot upon my lacing the shoe up and synched to my foot like an Air Mag from “Back To The Future.”

Breathability of the adiPower Howard 2 is very decent, and was best through the tongue; adidas’ latest version of SPRINTSKIN is not at all like its original incarnation from the adizero Rose, and this current version on the adiPower Howard 2 is not really breathable, but it is light and protective and prevent the cage from chafing the foot at all. And there’s more good stuff…

Traction? Elite! Grippy, sticky and durable even on the concrete! It can be played in anywhere and by anybody. The eyelets on the adiPower Howard 2 are also sensitive, in a good way, in that they noticeably make for a custom fit to your foot in how it hugs to your foot; and speaking of custom fits, the insole is removable for orthotics and considering my long bout with plantar fascitis, it was a great feature to be able to customize my own fit.

(One other thing that made the adiPower Howard 2 crucially great in its fit was its miCoach setup. Unlike the adizero Rose 2.5—a shoe with virtually no other weaknesses other than its exposed miCoach unit—the adiPower Howard 2 actually fully encloses its own miCoach unit and relieves pressure from the arch. In my case, I felt no trouble from the adiPower Howard 2’s unit at all, which was an instant positive—in fact, the adiPower Howard 2 is maybe a better guard shoe than the adizero Rose 2.5 is, in my own opinion.)

The only problems that I encounter with the adiPower Howard 2 are actually conditional and affected me in a superficial way, making the shoe virtually flawless from my own testing. The first problem is easily preventable—the flex point of the forefoot upper hit the base of my big toe and was instantly felt; I had thin socks on, but with a medium to heavy sock, the flex point didn’t affect my flexion at all and didn’t hurt my feet—problem solved.

The second issue is only an issue for players with wide feet, in that the adiPower Howard 2 is built somewhat narrowly. In that case, the shoe is probably not going to be a great acquisition, but in my humble opinion, adidas has made the superstar center his best signature shoe in the history of his line, and it may currently reside as the best basketball shoe currently in the adidas company…at least until the official release of the adizero Crazy Light 2.

Sandy Dover is a published author, fitness & media consultant, and a SLAM web columnist & print contributor whose work has been featured and published by US News, Robert Atwan’s “America Now”, Yahoo! and ESPN. You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline and contact him via his website at about.me/SandyDover.