When It’s Tough To Walk The Walk
Like his team, Steve Nash’s Trash Talk kicks have their struggles on the court.
On the tail end of the most disappointing season Steve Nash has been a part of in nine years, the two-time MVP and long-time Phoenix Suns point guard finds himself at a crossroads in his career.
Splitting his season under coaches Terry Porter and Alvin Gentry this year, Nash’s 16 points and 10 assists per were under what he’d produced under Mike D’Antoni in the past three years. The Suns missed the playoffs this year for the first time since Nash joined the club in ’04–05 and the future of the team is in limbo, as impending 2010 free agency will likely work hand-in-hand with that lack of wins to scatter the team’s roster in hopes of rebuilding or immediate contention. With this Suns team, the former is more likely but the glimmer of possibility in the latter lingers like the “MVP” chants that Nash used to hear at the free-throw line not too long ago.
With the League’s best teams battling for legacy and Captain Canada reduced to mere mortal status, watching the games from his couch like the rest of us, how fitting is it that the shoes he has on his feet (and coffee table) are themed around what will likely affect the Suns next season?
The Zoom Trash Talk MVP has taken its second incarnation in stride with Earth Day, which passed on April 22. While the world talks (or is supposed to at least think) about reducing, reusing and recycling, the Trash Talk is the embodiment of just that. Spearheading Nike’s Considered program, the shoes are essentially pulled off of Nike’s cutting room floor. As Nike explains:
• The upper is stitched together from leather and synthetic leather waste from the manufacturing process.
• The outsole uses environmentally-preferred rubber that reduces toxics and incorporates Nike Grind (Nike collects and recycles material from the footwear making process to use it in the outsoles of future Nike shoes) material from footwear outsole manufacturing waste.
• Environmentally preferred materials are also used. For example, the shoe laces are made from 100 percent recycled polyester and sock liners use recycled Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (Nike’s recycling of midsole foam from other shoes that becomes future sock liners and midsoles for other shoes).
• The shoe will be packaged in a corrugated shoe box made from 100 percent recycled fiber, using 30 percent less material compared to the previous design.
When these shoes made their debut last year, I wondered if the product was as inspired as the concept behind it. Some sneakers start out with the best of intentions, but can end as disasters on your feet (hi, Zoom Kobe II—you still hurt my Achilles and my heart).
Always a fan of lightweight shoes, the feathery nature of the Trash Talk MVP was the first thing I noticed about it. That and the Air Max 90-inspired lacing system on the lower half of the shoe’s eyelets. So far so good, right?
I had issues the first time I laced up the shoes. Running about five minutes late for an hour-long, full-court open gym session at my local Y, I didn’t make it out of the change room before I felt the stiffness of the ankles of the shoe digging in to me. True ballers come prepared for every situation, though. I ran back to my locker, threw on the neoprene ankle sleeves that I carry with me (thanks, Melo M4!) and was back on the court, having missed out on the first run. While I didn’t notice ankle irritation the rest of the day, an unprotected/thin-socked ankle would have been bloodied up pretty good after an hour of full court run.
Another comfort issue came with how the shoe was laced. I felt a stretching pain in the arches of my feet when I wore the shoes and had to readjust my lacing on the first two wearings of the shoes. Generally this is a pain I feel when I’m wearing a shoe that’s too big for me, but I had the Nash’s in my proper size. I fidgeted with the laces, leaving them looser than I normally play in them and was fine the rest of the way with the shoes. If you’re one of those people who play with their shoes barely laced up, you probably won’t have to deal with this at all.
On the pro side, the shoe held up perfectly on the court once I got past the initial issues of the first two wearings, having held up to everything I’ve thrown at it in terms of its stability, responsiveness and performance. I play on a court that seems ridiculously dusty some days but didn’t have any slippage or traction issues. Standard to a Steve Nash shoe, the Trash Talk MVP is a mid-cut on the lower side. It’s higher than the Kobe IV around the ankles, but could still leave the ankle-injury-obsessed stressed.
It’s strange to say this, but the biggest draw of this shoe is its cultural timeliness. Performance-wise, the shoe isn’t loaded with the bells and whistles that Nike puts into its other signature joints. While there’s nothing really wrong with the Trash Talk MVP, it’s not going to overwhelm you in terms of what it does on the court, once you get past those break-in issues. The notion behind the shoe is a good one: We should all be trying to find ways to do what we do by using less. It’s a concept that Nash might find himself putting into practice on the court if Shaq and/or Amar’e Stoudemire are gone from Phoenix when training camp rolls around in October.
If nothing else, the shoe has opened up windows for announcers like Mark Jackson to say things like, “Steve Nash may wear garbage on his feet, but there’s nothing that’s trash about his game.” And I’m all for that.
Nash’s Trash Talk MVP is available in limited quantities at the House of Hoops in New York, LA and Chicago for $92.