After reading many mixed reviews about the Nike Flight Windmill, I needed to find out for myself whether these shoes were as bad (or as good) as people claim. These beauties …
Consumer complaints are aplenty: no ankle support, laces are too short, lace eyelets rip apart from the shoes, velcro strap doesn’t stay on, and the list goes on. When I first put them on, I noticed right away that these don’t have as much cushioning around the top of the foot as most other shoes. They feel kind of like an average And1 shoe, which usually have very thin uppers. I compensated by lacing the shoes very tightly… a mistake that will be realized later in the evening. The laces, in fact, are quite terrible; not only are they much too short, but they are stiff, round laces that are prone to coming loose even when double-knotted. I opted to play in the stock laces, but a quick and easy lace swap will solve this problem.
As I started shooting around, my previous concerns went away as I felt the Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot cushioning every step and jump. There was some ankle support, but it wasn’t spectacular due to the lack of cushioning in the upper. The shoe’s weight falls in the very light category in the company of shoes like the Huarache 08 and 2K4.
I found the foot lockdown to be quite good during play, as I never noticed any foot slippage. The stiff panels that form a triangle on the sides of the shoe provide a lot of lateral support; the shoes don’t seem to warp much during quick cuts and lateral movements, and I’m sure the black perforated patent leather contributed to this as well. Traction was never a problem with the Windmills during play. For a while, I actually felt that these shoes had become one with my feet, in the way that a Z-rated low-profile tire performs on an 18″ rim. It’s a very quick and nimble shoe.
However, after a few games and about 1.5 hours of play, I began noticing some pain in both pinky toes, as if the sides of the shoes were rubbing my feet raw. Sure enough, that was indeed the case; a big chunk skin was missing from each pinky toe. I’m not sure if I laced them up too tightly or if the shoe’s profile is slimmer than average, but I had to switch back to my trusty 2K3’s for the rest of the night. People suggest doubling up on socks whenever this kind of problem presents itself (as I’ve read with the Jordan XX3), but I haven’t had the opportunity to try it. For reference, I always wear Nike quarter socks during testing.
I didn’t experience any problems with the velcro strap and ripping lace eyelets, but consumers seemed to make these complaints after several outings; I was only able to play in these for a couple of hours. Judging by the flimsiness of the straps, cheap velcro that doesn’t have as much “grip” as normal velcro, and eyelets that are merely sewn onto the shoe (instead of holes in the upper), I can definitely see durability becoming a problem in the long run.
The paper-thin straps are already beginning to warp
The Bottom Line: The Flight Windmill is a terrific looking shoe that immediately turns heads on the basketball court. It comes in great colorways, and the PE versions are simply amazing. There are a few shortcomings such as terrible laces, sub-par cushioning in the upper, and lockdown so good it’ll rub your feet raw, but its great performance makes up for it. Long-term durability is definitely an issue. It’s a good shoe for a quick game (or a dunk contest), but if you’re looking for the one-and-only, play-all-day shoe, you may want to look elsewhere.
Collection of Windmills (front to back) – black/light blue, Shawn Marion PE (Suns), Rashard Lewis PE (Magic), black/white/purple