Nike’s experience with the Kyrie line of signature basketball sneakers has been hit and miss. As in, a whole lot of hits, and the occasional surprising miss. It was strange to see the ascendance of Kyrie as a signature athlete coincide with Kobe’s step back from the brand’s line of marquee on-court releases. When the Mamba retired, Irving was the man who’d take his place on Nike’s Mount Rushmore of signees. In a turn that no doubt surprised a lot of us, he’s been absolutely excelling, and Nike is loving it.

With all of that being said, there are some concerns to be gleaned from the three models that have been released thus far. In fact, there are actually tons of concerns involving this shoe’s design and build (most of which, because I’m a sneakerhead, are fairly petty). But, here are three things the upcoming Nike Kyrie 4 needs to continue its stellar track record.

Actual Cushioning

The Nike Kyrie line has been incredibly successful for a number of reasons; from the shoe itself, to the marketing/pricing aspect. But, it’s been especially popular in the context of modern basketball players thanks to (among other things) the emphasis on court feel. That technical aspect in a performer’s design is one of the many reasons why the Kobe line was so popular among hoopers. It just so happens that the Kyrie signatures excel at it as well, through a simple concept: minimalism.

Unfortunately, part of that approach involved eliminating all but the least noticeable hints of impact protection. Outside of isolated Zoom pods that were practically coin-sized, all wearers get is a relatively dense foam. Impact protection is important folks. Nike’s clearly figured out how to make full-length Zoom operate close to the ground. Why not throw that design muscle onto the Kyrie 4?

Imaginative Materials

I don’t even need some new, shiny material either. The problem with how the Kyrie has been approached in terms of its upper has been a lack in creativity. The mostly mesh build is fine for what the price is. But, a low price point can’t mean a complete lack of creativity. The KD 7 is the example I go to for this instance. Mesh from the forefoot to the midfoot and Posite on the back end towards the heel. It’s weird but effective. Most importantly, it shows some creativity!

The Kyrie can easily take on some Flyknit or even an Engineered Mesh, similar to the standard Kobe 11 model. Whatever the designers go with, it would be nice to see a final product that doesn’t remind me of basketball sneakers from the “advanced” days of the early 2000’s.

Stay the Course

Okay, so this one is a bit annoying. But bear with me.

So, the Nike Kyrie line does have a few design details that could use an improvement or two. But, that doesn’t mean that Nike should be looking for a complete revamp, or even a huge change. Minor changes like playing with the materials slightly and throwing on some cushion - without sacrificing court-feel - would more than suffice at this point.

Yes, I have my criticisms, but the shoe is too good at its low price point to risk changing much at all. For what it’s worth, early leaks show that the brand is going to at least stick to their main design ethos.

Let us know what you’d like to see on the upcoming Kyrie 4!