by Sandy Dover

One of the most intriguing aspects of sports is the training. The training for whatever activity you do gives dimension and another level of importance to your goals in competition and/or your personal well-being. Basketball is no different, and the innovations behind what can bNike Zoom TRe done away from the hardwood seem almost endless. A great thing about basketball is that it is one of the most versatile sports to prepare for, because so much of your body is necessary to really take part in the action, and that’s why shoes are so important.

A shoe I always admired and loved was the Nike Zoom TR, which was originally released as a new Nike cross-trainer in 2007. Though promoted mainly through NFL star running back LaDainian Tomlinson (formerly of the San Diego Chargers), it was built similarly to another new-level Zoom sport series shoe–the Nike Zoom BB (and the Zoom BB II), a basketball-specific sneaker, that was worn by Steve Nash, Brandon Roy, OJ Mayo and other various NBA players. I had recently found the Zoom BB at a department store surprisingly, tried on the shoe, loved it, and then regretted I didn’t have any money on me to buy it; then I remembered how much I loved the trainer version of it in the Zoom TR, and I went about my quest to find the shoe.

After finding the Zoom TR, I waited a few days before my wear tests, because I was admiring them so much. The design is so wonderfully simple and minimalistic, yet impactful. There are virtually no overlays, save for the lateral and medial toe bridge strap (a classic Nike Trainer characteristic), and the leather is full-grain and of a premium variety on my burgundy/red clay-bright cactus pair; most of the body of the shoe is premium leather, actually (save for the strap, heel and toe). It’s so low-profile and a really impressive shoe altogether.

Early into my wear tests, I found the comparison between the Zoom TR and the Zoom BB series to be very comparable. The fit is nearly identical, as both shoes utilize a super low-profile stance and internal Phylon midsole for ground feel; even better is that the inner Phylon is bordered and housed within a very Zoom BB-like thermoplastic Nike Zoom TRshell, which seems to protect the integrity of the shoe as a casing–the Zoom Air units in the forefoot and rearfoot only maximized the steps I took and was extremely comfortable. The outrigger gave some solid lateral support and though the strap on the Zoom TR isn’t the hook-and-loop traditional kind, it does provide a “just right” fit for better hug on the foot. The inner lining is great and the heel portion is lined in a rubber-like leather, which fit like a glove around the heel and Achilles area. The outsole is very solid, but diced up into small, pug-like rubber dots for a unique ground grip and feel that seems to only play up the Zoom Air cushioning; they cover most of the bottom heel and two-thirds of the forefoot. (By the way, between the removable sockliner, the footprint of the shoe is sewn down with a top layer of fabric-covered foam, which adds to the luxurious feel of the Zoom TR, something unusually great for a cross-trainer.)

Literally, the Zoom TR does not play around, and though the limited quantities of the shoe keep it from being wholly accessible, training in these should definitely be easy. It’s built to last, thanks to the high-quality foxing of the shoe and the midsole/outsole materials, but also because Zoom Air is long-lasting, the wear will be considerably slowed; being able to renew the shoe with insoles will make this a workout favorite. I felt empowered in my wearing of the shoe to literally do just about anything an elite athlete might want to do (I’m guessing that’s why it was favored by LDT).

The only other downsides other than current availability are petty, but notable. One, it’s not great for people with high arches, but custom insoles will do the trick for that. Also, even though those premium materials were used to craft the Zoom TR and make it into a beautiful shoe in the TrNike Zoom TRainer series, those very materials make you not want to even train in the shoe, because it’s so well-made.

Hopefully, Nike will revive the Zoom TR as a companion shoe to the Nike Zoom BB, because they both feel great, and it is possibly the best Nike Trainer released, even better than the new Trainers which have employed the impressive Free, Flywire and DiamondFLX technologies.

Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist and fitness enthusiast, as well as an unrepentant Prince fan (for real). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Facebook, Associated Content and Twitter.