I’ll be honest, I thought BG was way overrated when he started getting all this hype, especially for dunking over a car. However, as the years have gone by, I’ve been impressed by his improvement year over year. His jumper looks remarkably better and his domination in the Clippers Rockets series really gained my respect (until he disappeared but that’s another story).
His shoes have underwhelmed me for the most part and after reading Bryan Hinkle’s (duke) review on sneaker debut, I was intrigued. Since the Clippers made history the wrong way, the Sf3 PO is already on sale for $99 on Finishline so I picked up a pair. They will drop some more in price and will hit outlets as all BG shoes do but I had to check these out bc they sounded right up my alley.
I don’t mind translucent outsoles bc their stickiness tend to work in their favor of the court isn’t overly dusty (although I do hate the yellowing).
This traction pattern is almost identical to the XX9 and it works great. I hardly wiped at all with these despite playing on dusty floors. Just as good as the air jordan 34 IMO if not better.
Same set up as the XX9 on paper but these feel more muted at the forefoot and more cushioned/thicker all the way around. I could feel the unlocked Zoom but it doesn’t have that same sensation as the XX8 just like the XX9. Like I said in my XX9 review, the unlocked Zoom in more recessed than in the XX8 so I believe that’s why you can’t feel it quite as much (foam and Zoom is contacting floor more closely together now whereas the XX8 the Zoom hit the floor much earlier (thus popping too).
The rest of the cushioning is cored out foam and it feels remarkably good for foam. It has a nice bounce to it to and feels better than a lot of crappy Zoom set ups. Don’t know how long that feeling will last though in the long term.
Overall I found the cushioning set up great, especially for the price although I still miss Zoom in the heel since I’m a heavy heel striker. If Nike plans to do Zoom only in the forefoot setups I hope they make all foams feel like the SF3. It felt thicker and a bit higher off the ground in the ground than the XX9 but only by a millimeter or two.
I went true to size with my normal sz 11 and these fit me perfectly. The upper is made of a mesh upper that has some structure and strength to it due to glue and these little hexagon structures. The design really adds strength to the upper while keeping weight down and keeping flexibility.
I felt a little popping upon trying them on but it went away within ten minutes. The upper doesn’t conform to the foot like a sock like the XX9 but it is still wraps the foot nicely since it is flexible. To compare it to the XX9 or BB JC2 upper is unfair so I’d say a better comparison would be a beefier Kobe 8 upper. Hard to find a direct comparison since it is unique to this shoe. FWIW I did not try the Non PO version but when I checked them out at the store, the old upper felt like the Kobe VII which I didn’t mind but didn’t love either.
Below: a shot of the forefoot and the fuse overlay
Okay enough about the upper. The ankle collar is plush compared to today’s lightweight shoes and really locked my heel in place due to the extra padding and the dog bone padding. All shoes IMO should use the dog bone.
Overall the fit was nearly perfect with a tiny bit of dead space over my forefoot.
Support and Stability
One of my main gripes of the XX9, aside from the price, was the lack of the support with a minimal upper like Flightweave. I could push my foot out and feel it push out since the upper was so thin. Since the SF3 was created more or less for Blake Griffin, Jordan Brand addressed these issues by
- beefing up the upper with a thicker material
- Thickening the ankle collar padding
- Stiffer external heel counter
- Reshaping the heel, making it flatter
Thankfully all the changes really helped. Since I already covered the first two in the fit section, I’ll just go over the last two.
The stiffer external heel counter gives the ankle and foot something firm to lean ln when it is turned or leaning one way or another. Think of it like leaning on a concrete (well not that hard) pillar versus a pillar made of pillows. If you don’t have a supportive structure to lean on you’ll just fall over but if it is stiff enough that fall can keep you from falling or at least slow you down.
The clear blue portion reminds me a lot of the fit frame on the Rose 5 since they basically run alongside the entire foot.
Below: the line segments the fit frame from the midsole and rides alongside the entire shoe/foot
It doesn’t run under the foot like sprint frame but it runs around the foot to help keep the foot in place like a safety rail. Love this small change.
The change to a flattened heel area and me traditional sole (not decoupled) really makes the shoe a lot more stable on transition and at the heel vs the XX9 single tendril
These passed my heel test with flying colors and never felt like I’d turn my ankles in these.
Another weak point of the XX9 was its containment on hard cuts and change of direction. Since Flightweave is a woven upper, the only containment was its plastic foot stay at the forefoot. I think JB tried to address this on the SF3 and it improved overall but could it could be better in the forefoot. (the rest of the shoe was good though). I could feel my foot slide between the insole and upper on hard cuts. Most people won’t even notice the feeling but since I’ve play in shoes that don’t give it all in the forefoot, I know the SF3 can do better.
Fuse and a foot stay is used to keep the forefoot in place on cuts ( the white part isn’t another layer on top of the silver layer, just a different color) . If the foot stay was higher and or stiffer containment would be perfect.
So close to being perfectly perfect for me. Great fit, traction, cushioning, excellent support and stability at a great price. If containment was a little better this would be my goto but making my top ten is an accomplishment all in itself lol. Since I’m not a big upper materials guy, the lebron 17 easily outperforms the XX9 in every aspect and for a retail price point of $140 vs $225 it’s no contest. Id recommend these for guys like me who need the extra support and containment while not feeling restricted. I could see this shoe replacing my Soldier VI if the containment was better and that says a lot.