We’ve seen it at Oak Hill Academy, Syracuse, Denver, at Madison Square Garden — Carmelo Anthony jab steps, executes quick pull-up jumpers and drives, and sneakily cuts to the rim. That’s his game.
I kept those tendencies in mind when I unboxed the Jordan Melo M10 for a First Impression. After all, this is Melo’s newest signature shoe, tuned by Tinker Hatfield himself to handle and accentuate everything number 7 can do on the floor. And most basketball players this side of Andrew Bynum want to play like Melo can play, so my high expectations of an accordingly engineered ride from the M10 were emboldened by Tinker’s statement that the M10 is “probably one of the best-performing basketball shoes that’s ever been designed.”
So, what of the M10 then? For starters, the upper has a really formed shape overall, particularly in the midfoot. That statement can sound obtuse but it’s not — the molded shape is really the most important aspect of the M10. First, the comfort it provides is key, and comfort is confidence. You won’t play elite level in a shoe that isn’t comfortable. Second, the honed shape going to help on those jab steps, full-court sprints, lateral defensive slides because it’s staying with you each second. Dynamic Fit system hugs the foot just enough to allow the one-pull lacing to adjust the rest of the fit to your personal liking. There’s strategically placed padding atop the foot that allows lock-in without applying an uncomfortable pressure. These subtle inclusions aren’t glamorous but are probably what makes the M10 a great shoe.
Upper is full-grain nubuck but seems to be markedly more resilient than the nubuck you might be used to on retros. Don’t count on it losing shape or stretching away from your foot for a sloppy fit over the course of a game or long-term. That’s good for jab steps and for the juke-drive-pull up jumper Melo is famous for.
Another plus in this area is that Flywire hasn’t been invited when it very easily could have been. I like Flywire, just not on every shoe, particularly because it has tended to take the lion’s share of the aesthetic spotlight of whatever shoe employs it. The M10′s keep it simple attitude is appropriate.
Tooling is directly from the crazy successful Air Jordan XX8 and XX8 SE that players like Russell Westbrook, Ray Allen, and Victor Oladipo have been all about. If you read Bryan Hinkle’s XX8 performance review and Best of 2013 post, you’ll understand that it just works. The cushioning is well placed, traction is clingy, and the Flight Plate is the most effective shank in the history of shankdom. No hyperbole there. Go pick up the Melo M10, XX8 SE, XX8 or Super.Fly 2, and then run and jump in them a little bit. The stability and energy return is as real as it gets. If Flight Plate performance can get any more real, Michael Jordan needs to suit up for the Charlotte Hornets next season just to play a shoe with it. Come to think, I dare Jordan Brand to retrofit Air Jordan XI, XII, XIII and XIV with Flight Plate. Just putting that into circulation.
Inside the M10, a cool feature I noticed right away when trying them on is the pair of cushioning pillows that sit just around either side of your Achilles. You can install the biggest honking external heel counter on a shoe (M10 has a really good one of those) but unless the uneven dimensions of the ankle and heel area are catered to, you haven’t solved fit. The pillow pair in the M10 is a great step to that comprehensive approach and I’d like to see Jordan Brand continue to explore how effective it can be in future shoes.
When checking out the M10 for the first time months and months ago, my first impression then was that Tinker had simply tweaked the XX8/XX8 SE, and that the tweak simply became a new shoe. Some truth there, if for no other reason than the fact that this shoe looks and feels very much like those shoes.
But let’s remember Jordans V through VIII for a minute. You see their midsole flare, midcut height, the expressive colorways, all built on a platform of reliable fit and cushioning. Instead of getting radical each time out to feed ego, Tinker shifted where opportunities to improve performance presented themselves or the muse of Michael Jordan provided inspiration. He set a precedent that continuity done right is more valuable than conceptualizing for the sake of conceptualizing. That’s how you do it, and he hewed to that idea with M10.
Those early ’90s Air Jordans are still way ahead of their time aesthetically, and given top shelf materials would function as high performance shoes in perpetuity. That’s true of most of the Air Jordan line and it’s true of the XX8/XX8 SE/Melo M10 class.
I’ll plug here that you might want to consider going down at least half a size for the M10 to really shrink up fit just north of your toes. Wide feets shouldn’t have a problem but the rest of us would do well to make this adjustment.
That’s my First Impression of the Jordan Melo M10. Figured it would be more helpful than my other column idea of just saying, “The Melo M10 is awesome, leave work or class and buy it however quickly you can get to your local Jordan retailer.”