If you haven’t read my Above The Rim apparel line review, you probably don’t know about my fondness for the brand. When the line began, its success skyrocketed due to the “trash talking” t-shirts (soon perfected by AND1) and the “You can talk the game, but can you play the game” shirts worn by Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill after beating Michigan and the Fab Five in November 1992. What started out as a small apparel company in 1989 soon grew to the point of Reebok purchasing the name and logo, and eventually shortening the name to ATR. Shoes bearing the ATR name soon began production. With the slide of Reebok basketball in the early ’00s, the name soon died and was forgotten. Not until a group of investors led by NBA players Will Bynum and Martell Webster purchased the name and branding a couple of years ago did we see the ATR logo rise from the ashes. But are the days of glory in the past or will the brand rise up? To the courts we go with the ATR Elevate…
First thing I noticed when I put them on was the smooth inner lining in the ankle and under the tongue. Almost spandex-like in texture and feel, the shoe felt good from heel to toe. I wear no-show socks most of the time and there was no discomfort anywhere. Part of this is due to the generous fit. I tested a 10.5 in these, which is my normal size in most shoes, and simply put, these felt a full size big. I double-socked for the actual playing to combat some of this issue, but the width caused a buckling at the forefoot. I was able to pull them tight enough through the midfoot and ankle that I minimized movement inside but the forefoot was still wide and allowed side-to-side movement on harsh cuts and plants. The patent overlays do help hold the foot down into the footbed which, coupled with a generous outrigger, keep any foot rollover down to a minimum.
Since we jumped to the outrigger, let’s spread love for the outsole. This is the shining moment of the shoe. Almost full-coverage herringbone made of a semi-sticky rubber. I didn’t slip indoor or outdoor. To be honest, I used these outdoors at least four times compared to twice indoors, and there is very little to no sign of wear at all, and the outdoor court I play on is rough concrete. It squeaked nice and stopped when I needed with no second thoughts. Another small innovation I have noticed more lately is the flex grooves cut through the outsole. During transitions these grooves let my foot roll through steps and cuts with no resistance. But I found my main concern in the outsole – the “carbon” plate. To defend the brand, nowhere was it said the midfoot support was carbon fiber, but from pictures and appearances it appeared to be. So when I saw the price tag of $65 I was immediately curious how this brand could add that technology and still stay at this price point. Well, it isn’t carbon. It isn’t even stiff. It is a printed overlay on top of the EVA midsole. The shoe still has plenty of support but the addition of “fake” print really was disappointing. They could have left those segments red or even cut them out completely to slice weight and it would have made more sense.
Support and cushioning are exactly what you would expect at this price point, which is not a bad thing. The heel overlay, printed with the ATR letters, runs down to the forefoot and contributes greatly to holding the foot up and tying the heel in. There is no real heel counter to be found but the heel sits down inside the EVA rising on the sides and acts as a counter. I would much prefer a solid counter like the Crazy Light or Kobe series, but this works. Cushioning is provided by an EVA midsole that is dense and thick but once broken in responds well to impact. There is a consistency to the full-length system and the more I wore the shoe the more comfortable it got. The court feel is very good as the shoe sits low, especially based on the midsole make-up. ￼
I was extremely, EXTREMELY excited last year when I was asked about ATR clothing because, like I said, the brand and I have a long history together. I love seeing the ATR logo again, I love the background of the line coming back, and I love seeing first efforts like this come to fruition. While I wouldn’t recommend this shoe over, say, a Rose shoe, Super.Fly or most of the UA line, if you are looking in the $50-$70 price range, this shoe deserves a hard look. The quality of materials, comfort, and performance are easily on par with the budget lines from adidas and Nike. I would love to see ATR come into the $100 price point and see what improvements the brand could bring. I honestly see this brand coming back hard and going above, and beyond, the rim.