Growing up, I was huge fan of Penny Hardaway, especially his signature sneakers , however their price tag put them out of my reach as a youth. By the time I reached the age of making my own money, I was relegated to scrounging eBay to find them, as the retro phenomenon had not exploded on the sneaker scene. I was glad when the call was made to resurrect the line, giving me the chance to play in new shoes from what I feel is the second most popular and influential signature line (we all know who the first one is) Nike has ever produced.
There are no issues with the inner that would cause discomfort. As is becoming the norm on nearly all athletic footwear, there is a smooth,satin-esque material that lines the inner and there are no raised seams to cause any issues.
The fit of the Penny V is very good. The shoe has an inner bootie that really does it jobs as it helps the shoe keep the foot held down in place. The best way to describe this aspect of the fit is wearing a very comfortable midfoot sock. The bootie works well with the upper and the lacing system( for the most part) to eliminate the possibility of internal foot movement. My only issue with the lacing system was the width at which it was set. The shoe itself runs narrow and the lacing system doesn’t do much to help this issue. The combination is not a truly synergistic one and it causes some what of a clumsy mid foot fit. Securely lacing the shoes across the midfoot did not provide the level of fit at that part of my foot. It seemed as if I was fighting the upper in attempting to secure a better fit there. So if you have a wide foot I would definitely advise you to thoroughly try these on before you buy.
The upper consists of synthetic leather with a foamposite overlay. (I need to also say that the midsole on the lateral side wraps up on the midfoot to form a miniature support wing and that does help with stability on the lateral side.) Because of how the foamposite material is utilized, it is able to add a level of support to the upper without adding a great deal of weight. Additionally, it does not make the upper overly stiff which meant that the break in time for the Penny V was very short, inside of a couple of games.
The cushioning responsibilities are handled by a phylon midsole with a 180 Max Air unit in the heel and a forefoot Zoom Air unit. The overall feel was very good right out of the box, which was something I did not actually expect, but I liked it. At the heel, the 180 bag provided not only great impact protection but also a soft feeling ride. It does all this and still manages to maintain stability, which sometimes can be problematic with this cushioning. The forefoot Zoom Air was not a let down in terms of doing its job, I just couldn’t feel it as much as I would have liked, or that I have in other shoes. The combination of the thickness of the insole, coupled with that of the midsole, somewhat nullified the total feeling of the responsiveness of the Zoom. However, with that being said, that is more of a personal preference for me than an indictment of the cushioning ability of the Penny V, so if you like to feel the “feel” of your Zoom Air, be mindful of that if you decide to get in this shoe.
Moving down to the Penny V’s outsole, on the colorway I played in, it was of the translucent red variety. Contained within the translucent outsole are sections of herringbone at the forefoot, midsole and heel. The rubber ,while somewhat stiff , is still flexible enough to allow it to grip the floor. I found the rubber outsole initially to be a dust magnet, I expected this , and this did not adversely affect the traction too greatly, but as the rubber wore down a bit this went away and the traction did improve. It was not what I would call great traction, but it was very good.
The outsole also has a lateral outrigger that aids in stability and even with the heel Max Air unit, the Air Penny V is an overall stable shoe. I only had once incident of the shoe rolling over when I was chasing a loose ball, and realizing I would not get to it, I went to plant to turn and get back on defense, the shoe rolled all the way over and that lead to a rather painful ankle injury that I am still dealing with weeks later. I do not think that this rollover was was due to a design or material flaw within the shoe, because I had no instances of instability or rollover tendency before or since, but rather than just an unfortunate byproduct of playing the game of basketball.
The Air Penny V is a solid re-entry ,from a performance standpoint, for the Penny line. The fit,cushioning, traction and support are at a high enough level to make these a solid game shoe for guards and forwards that play an active game. Those with an obsession with Zoom Air or with very wide feet may want to try these on throughly before considering these.
Colorway Reviewed: Atomic Red/Black-White
Weight: 14.1 oz ( in a size 11)
Overall: 84/100 ( B )
Pros: Offers good cushioning, traction in a comfortable and fairly light package.
Cons: Narrow fit through the midfoot can make fit in that area less than optimal and may disqualify from consideration for those with wide feet. Players who crave a high degree of court feel may also want to look elsewhere.