Kicksology // Adidas adiZero Rose 2.5 Performance Review

As Derrick Rose's adidas signature line continues to evolve, did the performance in his newest model live up to our elevated expectations?

Adidas adiZero Rose 2.5 Performance Review | Dialing Things In For The Home Stretch

words & images // Nick DePaula

There’s nothing that I hate more in sneakers than signature lines that don’t evolve. In theory, as a series moves from season to season, year to year and model to model, there should be a progression of all that is so expertly crafted into it. Better performance, improved storytelling and in some cases, correcting the missteps of the past are all a must.

Derrick Rose’s adiZero Rose 2.5 is the only signature shoe of this year that I thought accomplished that. While other new models on the market took on convoluted modularity stories at the expense of true performance, got a bit fussy in design or took steps backward in fit and comfort, the Rose 2.5 truly took all of the best attributes and traits of DRose’s start-of-season model, the Rose 2, and improved on everything from the ground up. You could argue that the Rose 2 is a better-looking shoe, and you might be right, but where it counts most – on the hardwood – the Rose 2.5 really begins to dial in all of the performance cues that the Rose 2 fell short on.

The very first thing you’ll notice, both by simply looking at the shoe and by trying it on, is that the collar is exceptionally more plush and built up than the Rose 2. While the luxe-driven elastic gore bands along the collar of the 2 looked pretty damn cool and hinted to the best-kept secret Y-3 line’s Kazuhiri, it certainly didn’t offer exacting lockdown for all shapes, sizes and styles of play. The collar is just one of many areas where there’s a huge jump in performance, and the added comfort right away from the memory foam-like fit around your ankle is a great improvement. I thought the Rose 2 laced up just fine, but the gore bands stretched and frayed after just a few weeks of play. The 2.5 should hold up much longer, and the padding and sheer softness of the collar feels awesome to the foot. If you, like Derrick Rose, also wear an ankle brace, you’ll definitely appreciate the more traditional and accommodating closure here, too.

Coupled with that increase in comfort comes some exceptional lockdown. As designer Robbie Fuller explained it, there’s a subtle nod to the brand’s iconic three stripes in the collar design, and there’re three points of lockdown along the throat that’ll really hold you in. You’ll notice two triangles along the sides of both ankles and another along the tongue, and when laced tightly, you’re firmly locked right into place. The shoe’s modified SPRINTWEB quarter panel through the midfoot allows the body of the upper to cinch up and hug the foot well, and with a bolstered and enlarged SPRINTFRAME chassis seeping further up along the heel, there’s lockdown galore. I’m not exactly quite as fast as Derrick Rose, but on cuts and jabs, I was precisely where I wanted to be for every step.

A lot of times in a basketball shoe, impressive midfoot fit and heel lockdown can be practically worthless if the shoe has poor traction. While the Rose 2 took Derrick’s line to a new space for both on-court appeal and off-court versatility, the shoe’s huge backstory had one huge drawback. The volcano-inspired traction pattern that began along the medial side of the heel and flowed into the lateral side of the forefoot never quite cut it. Gone is the storytelling splatter traction pattern for the Rose 2.5, in favor of a fully grooved rubber outsole. Along with the difference in collar comfort, the upgrade in pure traction is something that’s immediately noticeable. It’s not quite as good as the industry-leading Crazy Light, but it’s right up there at the very top. Because the grooves are a bit more shallow than the Crazy Light, you’ll have to swipe a bit more from time to time, but keep the outsole clean and you’re completely set for sudden stops and changes of direction all night long. One of my main complaints on the Rose 2 was its lack of hold, and I loved the traction here.


What made the Crazy Light such a great shoe was, of course, its feathery weight and all-new modernized design, but there was a distinct difference in the way the shoe was actually constructed that I most appreciated. The shoe went from synthetic upper to SPRINTFRAME plate and straight to tooling, and the lack of a more traditional midsole meant you were sitting directly on a slab of, according to Fuller, what he so often calls “premium-sourced foam.” That subtle difference on the Crazy Light resulted in the best out-of-box comfort ever from adidas Basketball. The Rose 2 didn’t follow that same approach and was more firm to start, and thankfully, the 2.5 goes back to the upper-plate-foam construction that made the Crazy Light such a big hit. It’s something you might never be able to immediately notice just by glancing at a shoe, and it certainly will take a far more sophisticated consumer to be able to gather that this setup offers more cushioning and performance than an oft-duping visible technology like Air Max, but it’s greatly welcomed here in the Rose 2.5

Aside from the shoe’s improved cushioning, collar lockdown and traction, something I didn’t care for on the Rose 2.5 was the slightly roomy toe box. I have a pretty standard-width foot, but there’s some extra volume both above the foot and from side to side. If you lace your shoes a bit tighter, you’ll be fine thanks to some sweet heel and midfoot lockdown, but if you like a relaxed fit through the body of the shoe, you might find your forefoot sliding around a bit on cuts.

Another pretty noticeable issue was how slick the top of the shoe's sockliner was. On top of the added volume in the toe, the insole doesn't exactly keep your foot in place either. One solution I went to after just the third wearing was replacing the Rose 2.5's sockliner with the "Crazy Comfort" insole from the Crazy Light. I felt immediately more secure, but that might not be an option for everyone, of course. The 2.5's volume and slick stock sockliner are the only real issue in the shoe, and a good reason to possibly look into sizing down a half size. Otherwise, I didn't notcie any hot spots or problems areas of note worth pointing out.

All in all, the Rose 2.5 carries on the quickly emerging Derrick Rose signature line with several great and targeted improvements from his first-half shoe. If you play the point guard position or consider yourself an active player, you should definitely like the great traction, lockdown, court feel and transition. If you have a narrow foot, the shoe might be a bit roomy up front and you might want to look at sizing down a half size. At “just” $110, the Rose 2.5 is a great value at the signature level and also a real durable buy. The slight toe rubber wrap and balanced foam cushioning setup will give the shoe a great lifespan over a full season of use, and unlike the fraying and decaying gore bands found on the Rose 2, the 2.5’s upper and collar foam package are definitely in for the long haul. The Rose 2 had some clear flaws that needed addressing, and it’s impressive that within the same NBA season, the Rose 2.5 is exactly the upgraded model I had in mind.

Grade Breakout & Details:

designed by: Robbie Fuller

best for: guards and forwards

colorway tested: Black / White / Scarlet

key tech: full-length premium-sourced EVA foam midsole, SPRINTWEB midfoot panel, SPRINTFRAME full-length chassis, plush memory foam-like collar padding, targeted grooved traction pattern, miCoach cell technology

pros: outstanding lockdown and support, solid traction, lightweight, outstanding court feel and control, real durable

cons: forefoot is a bit roomy and could hold the foot over the footbed better; miCoach compatibility is inconsequential

improvements: Work on fit from midfoot through the forefoot and tighten volume throughout toe.

buying advice: If you’re after court feel, transition, traction and lockdown, the Rose 2.5 is a great option. With improvements on literally every downside of the Rose 2, the 2.5 offers better hold on hardwood, a more comfortable collar and sheds weight in what is the lightest Rose shoe yet.