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Chris Paul’s 5 Essentials For the Perfect Basketball Shoe

With 13 years in the league and 11 signature shoes to his name, it’s safe to say Chris Paul knows his stuff. “I’ve been doing this for a number of years now, and after learning about all of the tech and as I’ve gotten older, I now want my shoe to get lower and to be wearable right out of the box,” says Chris Paul. “Now, everything is about speed and traction.”

As one of Jordan Brand’s most involved athletes in the design and testing process, Paul is dialed in on exactly how he wants to refine his signature shoe to deliver on enabling what his current game is all about: aggressive quickness, agile stop-and-go cuts and intelligent drives.

With the debut of the new CP3.XI, here are Paul’s five essential elements for creating his perfect basketball shoe.

LOCKDOWN HE CAN TRUST (AND ADJUST)

Growing up, Paul and his brother had the same favorite shoe: the Nike Adjust Force, which had a removable strap. “I was in the sixth grade and my brother was in the eighth grade, and we only had enough money to buy one pair, so my brother wore the right one and I wore the left one,” recalls Paul. “Then in high school, I used to play in the Nikes Steve Nash wore [the Nike Air Jet Flight, which also had a strap].” Because of that, Paul incorporated a midfoot strap to enhance lockdown on the CP3.XI. Together, these features reduce movement inside the shoe to enable explosiveness from lateral cuts. “I expect to really see the benefit from this in the Playoffs, where the intensity of the game revs up just a little bit,” he says.

TRACTION THAT GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND

His new team's offense is a change for Paul. Now, he can create his own shot more, whereas his last two seasons he was focused on creating shots for other players. This allows him to be freer in his movements. “The biggest thing for me — because of the moves I like to do and the stop-and-go — will always be to make sure that the traction runs up by my toe — it’s the first thing I look at when I grab a shoe,” he says. The solid rubber outsole features a modified herringbone traction pattern that extends up the medial forefoot.

more cushion for his comfort

“I probably don’t jump as high as I once did, but when I do jump the cushioning is always nice to have for the landing,” he says. Zoom Air bags in the forefoot and heel provide cushioning that also allows him to do more running.

a responsive platform that lets him do his thing

Paul wouldn’t say he’s the fastest player in the league, but he is one of the quickest. “If you’re fast, I’m not going to get as close to you because I know you’ll just go faster than me. So instead of being fast, I try to use a change of pace,” he explains. “If somebody is constantly coming at you, you don’t know when to stop them or when they will change direction, so it’s more important to me to be able to change pace than to just be one speed.” A TPU plate under the lateral forefoot creates a responsive platform to enable hard lateral cuts and stopping on a dime, while the lockdown keeps the foot secure.

and of course, a little cp flair

“I’m a sneakerhead, and listening to MJ growing up and buying Jordans — or trying to buy Jordans — and getting to know MJ personally and hear some of the stories, like with the Jordan 15s where the tongue goes out and it’s supposed to be him sticking his tongue out, the 14s and the car that he drove… I think the story is what makes the shoe,” he explains. “The different things that happen in my life tell my stories, like art.” For the XI, that comes through in exploded branding (his logo takes up the entire heel of the shoe), “hidden” nods to his family (for example chevrons, the logo that represents his late grandfather and has appeared on the shoe since his first model, can be seen under the tongue and when the feet are together, and themes that celebrate his move to Houston.

The CP3.XI will be available in April on jordan.com and at select retail stores.