Nike officially unveiled a basketball version of its power-lacing sneaker Tuesday, making the once fantastical technology seen in the 1989 film “Back to the Future Part II” a viable option for those who pound the parquet for their paycheck — and the general sneaker-buying public.
The Nike Adapt BB isn’t the first self-lacing shoe to be offered by the Beaverton, Ore., company. (That distinction goes to the HyperAdapt 1.0 multipurpose shoe that dropped in October 2017.) However, the Nike Adapt BB is the first designed specifically for the performance needs of the professional basketball player. And, with a price tag of $350 vs. the HyperAdapt’s $720, the new shoe seems designed with more consumers’ wallets in mind.
“We picked basketball as the first sport for Nike Adapt intentionally because of the demands that athletes put on their shoes,” said Nike director of innovation Eric Avar in announcing the sneaker. “During a normal basketball game, the athlete’s foot changes. And the ability to quickly change your fit by loosening your shoe to increase blood flow and then tighten again for performance is a key element that we believe will improve the athlete’s experience.”
According to Nike’s website, the debut shoe consists of a black Flyknit upper over an inner shell of quadaxial mesh paired with a Cushlon foam midsole.
Instead of employing physical laces, the shoe tightens around the foot by way of a motor and gear train Nike is calling a “lace engine” (which, in our opinion, would be a great name for a band) that can be adjusted either manually by the touch of a button or through a smartphone app that can be used to dial in different settings. (Nike uses the example of setting a different tightness for warmups vs. games or using the app to loosen the lacing during a timeout and then tighten up when entering the game.)
One of the NBA players tapped by Nike during the Adapt BB’s development process was the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, who is expected to give the shoes their NBA in-game debut during Boston’s Wednesday home game against the Toronto Raptors.