Nike turned trash into the best-looking basketball shoe it has made in years

And its most sustainable.

After nearly a week of Anthony Davis playing in it, Nike has officially unveiled its latest basketball sneaker, the "Cosmic Unity." The ambitiously named sneaker is Nike's first performance shoe under the Move to Zero initiative, which seeks to reach zero waste and carbon emissions for the company's output. It's made of "at least" 25 percent recycled materials by weight, including a Crater Foam midsole made of 10 percent Nike Grind rubber.

More sustainable sourcing features throughout the shoe, with a partially recycled sockliner, laces, and even the Swoosh. The upper comes from recycled cable yarn, and the "direct fiber placement" in the cabling system helps to reduce waste. No binding materials were used to secure the full-length Zoom Air Strobel unit, which is is placed directly in the upper for more direct contact and has been used in Paul George's signature sneakers.

Sustainability is cool and, of course, necessary — but what really intrigues us is just how good the Cosmic Unity looks, particularly for a basketball sneaker.


Can it have crossover appeal? — If you follow the business side of sneakers, you likely know that sales for basketball have been down, down, down. The category made up 14 percent of all sneaker sales as recently as 2014, and in 2020 that figure dropped to just 3 percent. Basketball kicks used to be the driving force in sneaker culture, but contemporary on-court footwear just doesn't have the same appeal for every day life anymore.

I've learned my lesson in trying to predict any sort of comeback — even on an individual level, the Air Zoom BB didn't cross over like I'd expected — but I can say that the Cosmic Unity has a better chance at lifestyle appeal than any other recent basketball sneakers we've seen.

The bulbous midsole, which carries well up the heel and has been cratered to reduce weight, is immediately eye-catching and reminiscent of the Yeezy 500 and the Adidas BYB series upon which it was based. It contrasts well with the wavy knit upper with subtle coloring underneath, and the marbled Swoosh serves as a great visual anchor between the two components. I'd wear the Cosmic Unity in everyday life, and I'm hoping others would, too.


The price is right — The Cosmic Unity is set for launch February 26 for $150, which puts it in the middle tier of Nike's basketball prices. Up first is the "Green Glow" color scheme, pictured throughout this story and the best of the lot. A blue, aqua, and orange "Amalgram" version will follow March 7, and a third variant inspired by the "Space Hippie" series will drop March 12.

Basketball kicks have a long way to go in order to regain prominence within sneaker culture, but here's hoping the Cosmic Unity is one small step.