Following up any sort of success is difficult, but the weight is even greater when trying to top an industry benchmark. Tomorrow, adidas looks to outdo themselves with the release of the adiZero Crazy Light 2. We caught up with adidas Global Basketball Vice President?Lawrence Norman?and adidas Basketball Category Designer?Robbie Fuller?to hear how they made the summer sequel lighter and stronger than the heralded original.
Nice Kicks: What makes the Crazy Light 2 better than the Crazy Light 1?
Robbie Fuller: It weighs less! It?s lighter, it?s stronger, and it?s smarter than the first one.
Nice Kicks: The last two decades have seen basketball shoes segmented by position. What type of player is the Crazy Light 2 targeted towards?
Robbie Fuller:?With the Crazy Light 1, we knew we had made a great shoe in that speed players would be able to optimize it the best. When we were building this shoe and really looking at putting in more support, we realized that everybody could wear them. You saw in March Madness, from the 1 to the 5, people were gravitating towards wearing this shoe.
Lawrence Norman:?If you watch Cody Zeller from Indiana play in the Crazy Light 2, he?s close to seven feet tall and he?s running like a guard. Thomas Robinson from Kansas is a beast and he can do it all. Perry Jones from Baylor is the same way. Players are able to do more these days. Whether you?re big or small, you?re able to play multiple positions and have different skill sets. So, I feel like the shoe really needs to be able to be worn by a point guard and a center. The first shoe, which is in my opinion is the most important shoe we?ve launched in decades in basketball, changed the industry. It changed the way we design and it changed the way we build shoes. It was great, but we wanted to see how we could improve that. This one is not only lighter but it?s stronger and it?s built for everybody.
Nice Kicks: When working on the Crazy Light line, how do you balance the risk of innovation with the trust of familiarity?
Lawrence Norman: The testing process for us was incredibly extensive and long for the Crazy Light 1. The idea started in 2007, so it took four years to bring it to life. We learned a lot from the Crazy Light 1 when we built the Crazy Light 2, but still, the ultimate validation is from players. When we gave the Crazy Light 2 to the McDonald?s All Americans we had a back up plan. We gave the shoes to them but we really had two or three other models they could’ve worn. We had 24 pairs for boys and 24 pairs for girls; the best players in the country from centers to guards and we had no idea what would happen. Would players really want to make this big of departure the day before playing in the national spotlight in Chicago on TV? I got a text an hour before the game and all it said was ?48 out of 48.? I got chills and I new that we had something really special. I knew we had a shoe that was built for the toughest centers to the quickest point guards. Everybody wants to be faster anyways, so it?s good for everybody.
Nice Kicks: Why launch such a high profile shoe at the prep level?
Lawrence Norman: We wanted to focus on that 14 to 19 year old kid and we figured that the McDonald?s All-American Game would be a great statement to really launch this, and also the NCAA Tournament. In business you need to be good, but it?s almost more important to be lucky. We had seven out of 16 teams in the Sweet 16, more than any other brand. We had a great opportunity so why not help those athletes be a little quicker on court.