Nike KD 5 Performance Review

They got it right on the money this time. Leo Chang deserves a round of applause for this one.

Traction – While these perform great on clean courts – as most shoes do – they were surprisingly good on dusty floors as well even with the story telling pattern. Luckily they went with a much more pliable rubber compound with the KD V versus the KD 11 so you have plenty of friction between your foot and the hardwood. As a fast paced PG… I thought these were fantastic.

Cushion – Give them time to break-in and you’ll eventually fall in love with them. I personally would have liked to have fallen in love with them right from the start but impressing me each and every time I finished running in them was actually something I enjoyed as well.

The 10mm forefoot Zoom unit was a nice change of pace – usually the KD signature has a much thinner Zoom unit – and the heel Air unit was a nice addition as well. What I thought was most important was their choice in foam as that can make or break almost any cushion source since it rest directly under foot. This foam breaks in nicely and feels better with each and every wear… not something I experienced with the KD IV.

Material – Fuse is placed along the upper – a very thin layer by the way – and feels great as it wraps around the foot nicely. It still retains its shape better than any other material that we’ve seen placed on a performance sneaker and can withstand heavy beatings. You really can’t go wrong with Nike’s modern Fuse base… it’s probably one of the best synthetics around for performance footwear.

Fit – You like wearing socks right? That’s how these feel on your feet. Like I noted above, the upper wraps your foot up perfectly and once the break-in period is complete you have a sneaker that will last and feel great on foot. I personal feel going ½ size down was appropriate but try them on yourself if possible just to be sure you get the correct size.

Lockdown isn’t an issue in any area of the shoe. Midfoot lockdown is perfect, there is zero dead space at the forefoot and the heel fits perfectly and keeps you secured in place. I didn’t even have to use all the eyelets in order to achieve perfect lockdown so it felt as if I was wearing a low top even though these are mids/ highs.

Ventilation – There isn’t much ventilation but with the materials used and the superb fit, their performance isn’t hindered one bit. Basically, if you feel your ‘feet get too hot’ when playing, you either should look at something else entirely or take care of that athletes foot.

Support – Because the fit and lockdown are so great, the support is awesome. Keeping you secure in the shoe without movement provides you with all the support one would need without adding extra material. Having a lateral outrigger and stable base just improve the support by giving you some additional stability.

Overall – This is one hell of a shoes . Talk about bang for your buck too… at $115 these are a steal. Just make sure you can handle the break-in process and you will love these the way you do your favorite pair of jeans.  

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Nike KD 6 Performance Review

The KD V is available but so is the KD VI… decisions…

Traction – It isn’t horrible but it’s not as good as last years. While I was editing the video review I noticed that the pattern featured on both the KD V & KD VI are nearly identical but executed differently. The KD V‘s pattern was made so that the outline of the pattern was cut away and removed from the outsole, this provided an aggressive pattern which worked well. Meanwhile, the KD VI did the opposite and left the outline of the pattern in place and removed the inner portions which made for a slick surface when dust is involved. Next time… I hope they go the KD 11 route because it was much more efficient on-court.

Just a tip, wipe the outsole at every dead ball and you will be good to go with traction… allow the dust to pile up under your foot and you’ll be ice skating.

Cushion – The cushion is the same exact setup as the KD V but this time around they just feel much better right when you first walk out onto the court. These feel the way the KD V‘s feel after they’ve been broken-in… without needing to be broken-in. Awesome!

These wiped the floor with the Zoom Soldier VII’s (I have been alternating between the two) in terms of comfort which is a surprise because I would have guess it to be the other way around prior to wearing them both. Bottom line… the KD VI won’t disappoint.

Material – The Fuse is thin, pliable and requires nearly zero break-in time. Unfortunately, I do feel as if it isn’t quite as nice as the KD V’s and feels almost cheap in comparison. Why so many direct comparisons to the KD V you ask? Simple… they are sitting on shelves as we speak… right next to the KD VI… only one is priced at $115 while the other is $130. You do the math.

Luckily, I don’t feel as if the materials feel warrants a bad score – it just ‘feels’ cheaper than the KD V’s more rugged upper that I love so much. It’ll still support you while remaining durable so there isn’t much to complain about… unless you have a weird infatuation with the KD V… like I do.

Fit – I went up 1/2 size and it worked perfectly fine for me. You will still want to try them on in-store if possible and if it isn’t possible then I hope you’ve owned the KD IV as that is the one shoe that you can kind of compare it to.

Lockdown though… incredible. Who knew such a low shoe would be so secure. I didn’t have one issue with them once laced up… not one. I haven’t worn a soccer cleat since I was 7 so I cant tell you if they have similar attributes in terms of fit and lockdown but since they look so much like one… its safe to assume that its pretty darn close. These are the best fitting low top basketball shoes since the Kobe V… that is all.

Ventilation – Its better than the KD V but still nothing to write home about. I’m just glad the fit/ lockdown was near perfect so I didn’t wind up walking away with more blisters on my feet.

Support – Most of the support comes from the fit and lockdown and those of you that wish to have plenty of torsional support along with arch support… you may be disappointed. The Air Jordan X was the last time a lack of arch support was apparent while in-game and these have a similar feel. I was able to feel my arch and the shoe separate slightly when in motion – typically after playing for 2+ hours – so if you have arch support insoles… take them with you.

Overall – These are really fun to play in. The only thing that truly bothered me personally was the traction but again, wipe the outsole at every dead ball and you’ll be good to go. Comfort and lockdown are definitely their highlights so if those two areas are high on your list of personal on-court needs then you should be very please.

Its rare that the previous model is still on shelves by the time the next version releases so with that… I’d go with the KD Shoes still as an overall package is concerned – including price. Don’t get me wrong, the KD VI is awesome but the KD V just feels like you get a little more while paying a little bit less… and they haven’t even hit outlets yet.  

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Air Jordan XVII (17) Retro Performance Review

Jazz it up....

Traction – This is how you pull off a storytelling traction surface. The entire design is based on MJ’s love for Golf and instead of using some random pattern they went with herringbone – which worked really well. They used contrasting colors to add additional effects without sacrificing coverage. Now, I will say that the traction wasn’t perfect but it was pretty damn close. Only time I had an issue was during certain movements where the shoe flexed at a point where the traction wasn’t in contact with the floor so I had slight slippage but that didn’t happen often so it was nothing crazy… very minor and its the only thing I experienced that I could nit-pick on.

Cushion – This air jordan 17 shoes was built for an aging MJ that required quite a bit of support in order for his knees to hold up on-court. There was a blow molded Air unit in place at the heel – I still don’t know the difference between blow molded Air units vs a regular one – which was housed within a giant TPU (plastic) cage. The entire heel area reminded me a lot of caged Zoom Air but firmer. Was it incredibly uncomfortable? No, but it wasn’t what I’ve been used to with previous Air setups. However, forefoot cushion was fantastic. Zoom Air is placed at the forefoot and the entire forefoot section of the shoe is built traditionally with a Phylon footbed which happens to be double lasted. Its a really interesting way to construct a shoe where you have incredible support with adequate cushion.

Material – I love the materials used on this 2008 CDP version and especially the originals which featured buttery leather uppers. This pair utilizes a nice nubuck at the heel and forefoot. This has its strong points and weak points. Its strength is its fit and feel along with the minimal break-in time required. As for the weakness… its just not as durable as leather overall but again… that’s me nitpicking since the materials are really nice in general. There is a section of woven material – identical to what was used on the LeBron 9’s support wings – at the midfoot that offers great fit and its the most durable section of the upper. My favorite material used is located at the collar… the Neoprene lining is so comfortable it makes all other collars seem inferior.

Fit – They fit true to size and lockdown for me was near perfect. Only gripe is that I had to lace them all the way to the top eyelet and I usually leave one or two free so I have better range of motion for my ankles. I couldn’t do that with these since every time I tried my heel would flop in and out of the shoe a bit but once laced them up the way they were intended then they were perfectly fine. The midfoot lockdown was fantastic and you even have additional lacing options if you wish with the Shroud’s ‘eyelet’ system for a more snug fit. We also have a squared toe again so that area of the shoe is very comfortable while stoping and changing direction without jamming any toes.

Support – As mentioned earlier, this shoe was designed for an aging MJ that needed more support than his past models provided. The TPU heel, lacing system and Carbon Fiber plate running throughout the entire outsole provided some of the best support I’ve had in any Air Jordan 1 to date… almost topping the XX8. Only reason why I’d personally choose the XX8 over these is due to the fact that they offer support that wont restrict my movement at all while these are a bit more restrictive overall.

Overall – This was probably the one shoe – besides the kd 11 – that I was looking forward to wearing the least. I don’t know why… I’ve just never been entirely enthusiastic about the model in general. After playing in them they’ve actually surpassed my initial impression and are among the top performance models featured within the Air Jordan Legacy. This is definitely one model that I’d love to see get the Retro treatment as they are 100% playable even by today’s standards. Truly an innovative sneaker that was ahead of its time.


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Nike KD 8 Performance Review

Traction – How do you top the KD7’s traction? Simply put… this is how. It’s a modified herringbone pattern that looks as if it’s been digitized. Suffice to say, they played really great on every floor I played on. Only when the local 24 Hour Super Sport showed they desperately needed to clean the floor did I get any slippage, but even with the debris it was more reliable than other traction patterns I’ve used. Only reason why I won’t give them a Hall of Fame badge is because the rubber used is soft and is already fraying after a solid week of use. So, the down side is their potential durability, but while they last you’ll have some awesome grip.

Cushion – A new full length articulated Zoom Air unit was created for the KD 8, and it looks extremely similar to one I designed way back when I reviewed the Nike LeBron 15 . How does the full length Zoom feel? Well…you can’t really feel it most of the time. The main section under the ball of the foot feels amazing – super springy and explosive – but the rest is braced by additional rubber or plastic to keep the bag from compressing and becoming unstable. So while you receive some nice full length cushion that flexes better than previously used full length Air units, I think it could have been implemented a bit better. Personally, I would have encapsulated the cushion while retaining its flex grooves. Basically make it so that the cushion isn’t visible–the same way the Air Jordan 12 did. It’d still flex and move, but it’d be set directly under foot so you could feel the cushion and responsiveness without risking any instability. Either way, you don’t come across full length cushion like this, from Nike, at this price point anymore…and that’s saying something since these things are pretty damn expensive.

Materials – They’ve renamed it Flyweave, but it’s basically the performance woven material that made it’s debut in the air Jordan xx9. It’s awesome. Period. You used to have to pay $225 if you wanted to try out Jordan Brand’s performance woven upper, but now you can try it out for less ($180). Yes, you can currently find the Air Jordan xx9 for under retail, but they don’t come with full length cushion and a performance woven upper like these do. Yeah, +1 for the KD8. The only drawback to a woven upper is durability. So if you’re worried about the potential longevity of your shoes then staying away from softer upper materials would be best. If you grab a shoe with mesh, woven etc. along the upper then don’t complain if they eventually tear… It’s to be expected at some point.

Fit – Their fit is a little tricky. I went up half a size. And I usually never do that so I’d recommend trying them on. They reminded me a lot of the KD5 at first because the tongue is attached to the upper and your foot can definitely feel that upon putting them on. The difference though, these use a woven upper instead of plastic so they break-in in no time. Lockdown is solid as well. The forefoot is pretty snug to ensure that secure fit, while Flywire is in place to help reinforce the area upon lateral movements. Having the Flywire in this specific location might actually alleviate some of the pressure the woven will face while being played in, so it may help it last a bit longer. In the heel there is an internal heel counter that works great, and the interior padding is really nicely sculpted to help keep things secure. Those saber tooth phylon pieces don’t really do any of the supporting though; they’re too thin and are basically there for storytelling purposes only.

Support – Similar to the Zoom Soldier 9, there are support features all over the KD 11. The first, and most obvious, is their form fitting upper. The more natural your foot and the shoe adhere to one another the better the support will be. Then there’s the huge platform the shoe is built on. The Zoom unit is flat and wide, instability is pretty much a non issue here. Any potential instability would have come from the exposed zoom air unit, but like I described in the cushion section, there are support piece in place to ensure the bag won’t fold or collapse when you’re playing so you’re covered from every angle. If you wanted to see the support pieces I’m talking about then check the video, it’s a little hard to write and describe each area without putting you to sleep… if you’re even awake at this point anyway.

Something I personally disliked was the large exaggerated heel. It sticks out way too far and while it never obstructed transition like I initially thought it might, instead it just made it really easy for someone to step on me and take my shoe completely off. Getting flat-tired in a game usually doesn’t happen, but in these it happened more than it should have.

Overall – I really enjoyed the shoe on-court. They have some beastly traction and full coverage cushion. The woven upper is something that I personally love, and I hope others enjoy it as much as I do. As long as you get your the size that’ll fit you properly, support will be amazing. The KD 8 is right up there with the KD 5 and 7 in terms of on-court performance – all three are really awesome 0n-court. Hopefully they continue to get better each year…KD deserves a great performance shoe, and so do those that buy his kicks.  

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Better Air Jordan 4: “Bred” or “Lightning”

In 2019, Jordan Brand will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Air Jordan 4. For the occasion there will be plenty of original as well as new colorways releasing.

One of the pairs that will be making its debut is the iconic “Bred” colorway that was worn by Michael Jordan during “The Shot” in the 1989 NBA Playoffs.

While many of the OG colorways are considered the models best releases, one pair that’s often overlooked due to the shoe only being released once is the “Lightning” iteration. This pair originally made its debut in 2006 and has yet to have a retro release.

The Air Jordan 4 ‘Bred’ is one of a handful of releases taking place during 2019 that will help celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Air Jordan 4.

We have seen the ‘Bred’ Air Jordan 4 aka ‘Black Cement’ release a handful of times. First in 1989 followed by a retro release in 1999, both featured Nike Air branding. We also saw another release in 2008 which is part of the Countdown Pack. The last time we saw a release was in 2012 and featured the Jumpman logo on the heel.

This Air Jordan 4 comes dressed in the original color theme which consists of Black, Cement Grey and Fire Red. In addition this remastered edition which have Nike Air branding on the heel.

The Air Jordan 4 ‘Lightning’ first released in 2006 and rumors are spreading that this pair will once again return during the Holiday 2018 season.

As of now, images have yet to leak of this shoe but we should receive a first look in the next couple of months. This Air Jordan 4 is expected to look like the original release while featuring Tour Yellow nubuck across the uppers along with Grey and Black accents. Finishing the look is White across the midsole.

Now the question is, if you could only have either the “Bred” or Lightning” colorway return in 2019 for its 30th Anniversary, which would it be? Cast your vote below and leave your thoughts in the comments section.  

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Better Air Jordan 13: “He Got Game” or “Bred”

Two original releases of the Air Jordan 13, which are considered two of the fan favorites, are the “He Got Game” and “Bred” colorways.

Dressed in a White, Black and Red color scheme that received its nickname “He Got Game” thanks to its appearance in Spike Lee’s classic basketball film. It’s safe to say that no Air Jordan Collection is completed without this colorway.

The “Bred” version is one of the original Air Jordan 13 colorways that was worn by Michael Jordan in the 1998 Playoffs along with the other Black-based colorway dubbed, “Playoffs.”

The Jordan 13 Bred dropped in 2013 but ditched the reflective 3M upper that made it such a standout release when it debuted back in 1998. Luckily the nylon uppers return paired with Varsity Red suede on the heel and mudguard for a traditional Chicago Bulls-inspire colorway,. All of the original tooling remains including that Chicago Bulls-inspired colorway with Varsity Red suede on the heel and mudguard while that holographic panther-inspired Jumpman branding returns in an iridescent green. Premium leather toe caps add a remastered finish.

The air jordan 13 He Got Game made iconic by Spike Lee’s classic 1998 film of the same name. 20 years after first being brought to market, the shoe is re-releasing with all its original details intact, from the white/black tumbled leather upper to the rich suede on the bottom half of the upper to the classic red/white/black podular outsole and holographic bubble. the “He Got Game” 13 features a white tumbled leather upper with accents provided by a black tumbled leather toebox, tongue, and throat. Black suede arrives on the lateral and medial side of the shoe, as well as the heel collar and midsole, and the outsole features a classic red/white/black design. The shoe’s instantly recognizable look is rounded off by the Jordan 13’s classic multi-layered 3D hologram bubble

It’s defiantly a hard choice to pick one or the other, but if you had to choose, which is the better Air Jordan 13? Cast your vote below and leave your reasoning on why in the comments section.

It also should be noted that Jordan Brand is bridging back the Air Jordan 13 He Got Game this August 2018.  

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Nike KD 11 Performance Review

The Nike KD 11, with its combination of React and Zoom, had me all up in my feels. But did the shoe live up to the standards of a two-time NBA champ? Let’s find out.

Traction in the KD11 was decent at best. It’s no KD 9 honeycomb traction (which was amazing), and due to the tight grooves, dust collected quickly which caused more frequent wipes. The outsole consistency over the few years of Kevin Durant’s signature line has been quite disappointing — especially coming from previously great models — unless you have access to a pristine college/NBA court.

One redeeming quality of the outsole is that if you use the shoe outdoors, it plays really well. Unfortunately, long-term durability of the outsole outdoors is unlikely.

Cushion was on point in the KD 11, once broken in. The React midsole is placed inside a rubber cupsole while the 7mm thick top-loaded full-length Zoom Air unit sits above the React. The combination provides an awesome amount of impact protection. Upon landing on rebounds and hard first steps I felt ample feedback that launched me right into my next motion. For those who require more cushion (especially those with back and knee problems), this is definitely a plus.

Another year, another Flyknit shoe, which is generally never a bad thing. The uppers of the KD line have been modified over the years to make the shoe feel more sock-like. With some suede backing along the heel counter, TPU at the lateral side, and React and Zoom Air cushion caged by a full rubber cupsole, you’d think you’re paying for a premium shoe.

The combination of the materials used on the KD 11 appears to be geared to Durant’s narrow foot and this shoe should cater to those who want their footwear to feel the same way. We’ll discuss that more in the next section, however, the materials utilized are well-thought out — just not well-executed.

While I do have slightly wide feet, the shoe actually fit me true to size, although people with different foot shapes should try the KD11 on.

Once I got rolling on the court I was not locked in. You don’t feel quite as locked in because, again, the shoe is catered to the way Kevin Durant likes to lace up his shoes (which is slightly loose). I think if Nike strategically knitted areas of the shoe tighter, like at the midfoot, I wouldn’t have felt my foot shifting inside the shoe as I did much while in movement. You might not have this experience (which I hope you don’t), but be forewarned because the knit material does stretch out over time.

NOPE! Just nope! While the fit wasn’t totally a deal breaker, the overall support is. Knowing that the upper material will eventually stretch out, the one thing that kills me is that my foot wouldn’t stay on the footbed of the shoe.

I have no idea how to pull off the cuts Durant makes on his right to left cross-over pull-up move when I don’t feel like my foot is directly in the KD11. If you’re just running up and down the court without making any lateral cuts or movements (which is totally unheard of) then you’d be just some guy or gal running for no apparent reason. The amount of torque and movement I exerted in the shoe — while not feeling locked in — made me second and triple guess every move I made, which no player should have to deal with.

When my feet got pushed forward in the shoe the stretchy knit upper could not keep me contained and thus, the heel counter did not lock me in properly. I would expect a more exaggerated outrigger, and although an outrigger is present, the high ride and stretchy upper had me coming out of the shoe. For others, it could lead to a rolled ankle, or *knock on wood*, something worse. In the KD11 it seems containment was an afterthought.

If Nike had implemented a more tightly knitted midfoot, an exaggerated lateral outrigger, or sat the wearer within the midsole, most of these hazards would have been avoided.

I wanted to love the KD11. While I had bad experiences with the KD9 (Zoom popped) and the KD10 (lacing loops ripped), I didn’t want to give up on the KD signature line. The safety of this shoe is what is keeping me away from it.

While the materials and cushioning used here are nice, I don’t see how this shoe made it through wear-testing. I understand the shoe is catered to Kevin Durant, but we all know KD dislikes changing shoes — especially ones he’s broken in — and not all consumers have narrow feet like KD. Innovation shouldn’t come at a cost, and the KD11 seems to be the prime example of that.

Trust me, I want the shoes to succeed, not only for us kd11sale.com but also for all you consumers out there. Will I be looking forward to the KD12? Possibly, as long as I keep my expectations low, but we all know father-time doesn’t wait for anyone. Until next time…  

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Comparison: Air Jordan 11 Pantone vs. Legend Blue

This year, Jordan Brand gave us two Air Jordan 11 releases for the holidays, the Air Jordan 11 Legend Blue and Air Jordan 11 Pantone – as part of the Air Jordan Ultimate Gift of Flight Pack.

The color “Legend Blue” was highly advertised throughout each silhouette, as one features minor accents of the Blue, while the other is fully dressed in it.

The Air Jordan 11 Retro Legend Blue is finally set to debut this Saturday, December 20th, 2014 at select Jordan Brand retailers.

Dressed in the original “Columbia” color scheme, but now named “Legend Blue” the iconic Air Jordan 11 silhouette comes in a mix of patent leather and smooth leather in all White, with a tongue tag, Jumpman logo and translucent outsole tinted in Legend Blue.

The Air Jordan 11 Retro Pantone from the Air Jordan Ultimate Gift of Flight Pack will complete this years Air Jordan 11 holiday releases. Unlike the Air Jordan 11 Legend Blue, this Retro 11 will release along side the Air Jordan XX9 in a limited edition pack.

This special version of the Air Jordan 11 features Legend Blue on the patent leather and smooth leather upper, and a White midsole and translucent outsole tinted in Legend Blue.

Some of the major difference from the releases begin on the interior, as the Pantone 11s use more of a luxury styled inner liner – similar to what we’ve seen on the Anniversary 11s. The Legend Blue pair was built with a full mesh tongue and leather upper, while the Pantone 11s has a more smooth nubuck-like leather build. Finishing up the comparison is the outsoles. The Legend Blue 11s came with a more milky/tinted outsole, while the nike kd 11 stayed more traditional with a Blue icy translucent outsole.

Check out these exclusive comparison photos of both “Pantone” and “Legend Blue” Retro 11s below and for everyone planning on picking up the Air Jordan Basketball shoes of Flight Pack tomorrow, December 23rd, good luck and please be safe.

Which pair do you find to be the victorious one? The Air Jordan 11 Pantone or Legend Blue? Speak your mind in the comments section below.


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Nike KD 11 Performance Review

The Nike KD 11 went from being my most anticipated basketball shoe to test to one of the worst of 2018.

Traction started off strong with the Nike KD 11 but things quickly went south the more time I spent in it. The rubber frayed and dust got clogged instantly within the tightly spaced grooves. The KD 11 outsole couldn’t handle anything I threw at it long term.

Fortunately, there is a bright side, because the traction did well outdoors. I play primarily indoors and that’s where I had all of my issues. Of course, the traction stuck like glue on clean courts with fresher finishes. I just don’t have the chance to play on courts that nice on a regular basis.

Nike KD 11 Performance Review cushion

Surprisingly, the React and Zoom Air combination on the KD 11 was money. While it doesn’t feel like much fresh out the box, give everything some time to warm up and break in — the rubber cage especially.

Once you break the shoe in you’ll find yourself feeling a nice spring to each step, thanks to the Zoom Air, with plenty of impact protection courtesy of the React midsole. While you can’t feel it with you fingers/hands because of the firm rubber cage (cupsole), the React midsole is very soft, so just give the shoe a little time if you’re unhappy with it from a try-on perspective.

I don’t like playing in the KD 11 but I loved playing with this cushion setup and hope to see it utilized on other models in the near future.

I like Flyknit, I really do, even though it doesn’t seem like it at the moment. The forefoot of the KD 11 is firm — and backed by a layer of nylon with a lot of glue. While it looks like a knit, it doesn’t feel or act like a knit.

Then there is the rest of the knit build, which is just the way I tend to like my knitted shoes. The only thing is that this time around the knit is so stretchy that it’s made the shoes nearly unplayable for me. At least, I don’t feel safe playing in them. Casually, I think people will really love the Flyknit upper. The problem is that this is a basketball shoe. Some may enjoy the upper and the way it fits/feels but I’m not a fan.

Nike KD 11 Performance Review fit

Keeping your foot onto the footbed is the name of the game when it comes to fit, lockdown, and support. The Nike KD 11 just couldn’t do it at all, ever. I know Kevin Durant likes to wear his shoes really loose — to the point where they’ve come off of his feet during games several times — and while that’s cool for KD I like my shoes to fit a bit more securely.

Never once did I feel locked into the shoe or supported by the upper. I’d tie the shoes so tight that I’d cut off circulation to my feet — which makes you feel like you’re carrying around dead weight on the court — and that just isn’t a comfortable way to play.

Had the firm knit from the toe been swapped, or even brought over, to the midfoot I think that would have helped things out quite a bit. Perhaps throwing in a more traditional lacing system versus a Flywire-only system could have helped out as well.

This is one of those shoes that you’re going to have to wear to get the awful experience that I did. Again, some may enjoy the shoe on-court but I have a feeling many are not going to be pleased.

Nike KD 11 Performance Review support

Due to the sloppy fit and stretchy materials, support is greatly compromised. As I mentioned above, I never really felt safe playing in the shoe. Believe me, I tried to make the KD 11 work — the cushion is great — but I just couldn’t get it to work for me.

Torsional support is abundant due to the rubber cupsole while heel support is adequate with the sturdy heel counter. However, it would have been even better had the lacing system been able to really draw your foot into the rear of the sneaker to use that heel counter properly.

An outrigger is present but your foot rests on top of the midsole. Couple that with a really stretchy and forgiving upper and its roll-over city. I cannot tell you how many times the side of my foot hit the floor from rolling over the footbed in these. It’s something that you should never want in a shoe unless you’re immune to ankle injuries.

Nike KD 11 Performance Review overall

I really loved the KD 9. I really wanted to love the KD 10. I thought I would really love the KD 11. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most disappointing shoes I’ve tested in a while. We could really use a good blend of performance knits and leathers on these modern shoes. The fully knit build has been so hit or miss over the last few years that I question why we’re still trying it in 2018. Have we not learned by now that the rear of a shoe needs more structure?

Look at the PG 1, PG 2, and Kyrie 4 as examples: textiles in the front, structured heel in the back. I mean, even the KD 7 (my personal favorite KD model to play in) got it right. Weight reduction shouldn’t come at such a high cost. Support is needed in basketball shoes and the KD 11 is further proof of that.

I wish I could get a refund but I had to pay an arm and a leg to get the KD 11 early in order to review it on time. That means I didn’t go the big box retailer route.

The KD 11 hits retailers on July 18 in the U.S. If you’re able to make it work let me know in the comments down below.  

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Nike Hyperdunk 2018 Performance Reviews

As the U.S. Men's Senior Basketball team recaptured an Olympic gold medal this summer for the first time in eight years, it's also the first time in eight years that Nike embarked on their latest, most talked-about and frenzied technological innovation since Nike Shox. It was in 2000 that Vince Carter leapfrogged a seven-footer in his white and navy Shox BB4s, sparking a retail rush when the BB4 conveniently released a few months later. Even before its initial worldwide launch, the Nike Hyperdunk 2018 has already been the beneficiary of Nike Basketball's most integrated marketing campaign to date, which includes ESPY cameos, limited Marty McFly-inspired releases, countless print and television ads, and even a fictitious Hyperdunk Recovery Center website and hotline for victims to receive treatment.

This time around, there's no doubt that Nike's corporate brass was hoping that Kobe Bryant and his Hyperdunk-wearing brethren could carry out the collective goal of collecting gold this summer in Beijing, helping to elevate the shoe into the upper echelon of Olympic footwear among the likes of the Air Jordan VII, Air More Uptempo and Shox BB4. As Bryant and his Team USA teammates showcased the Hyperdunk this summer, they did so in a product offering from Nike Basketball that features two technologies in their infancy, each with equally bold top billing.

The two most heralded innovations that Nike created specifically for the Olympics are Lunar Foam and Flywire technology -- one a cushioning element; the other, an upper material. Developed in conjunction with NASA engineers over the past few years (fancy huh?), Lunar Foam is a resilient, high rebound, spongy foam that is actually used in the seats of NASA's space shuttles. While Kobe Bryant might demand a light shoe that allows him to explode 40 inches off the hardwood for a crowd-silencing dunk, NASA's space shuttles must reduce weight wherever possible in order to leave earth's orbit - quite a difference. So, to create Lunar Foam, Nike mixed Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA for short) with Nitrate rubber, allowing for a foam cushioning unit that Nike says is 30 percent lighter than Phylon, which Nike has been using over the past decade. Lunar Foam's responsive properties stem from the rubber compound included in it, and the lower impact and cushioned ride along with a lighter weight are certainly a welcomed innovation, though I'd argue Zoom Air is still superior. (More on that later.)

In the Hyperdunk, Lunar Foam is implemented in much the same way that Air-Sole and Zoom Air units have been in the past-as a sculpted unit embedded in the midsole just under the ball of the foot. Flywire pertains specifically to the lightweight containment provided by the upper. No matter what sport an elite athlete is participating in, reaction time and the ability to change direction are crucially important, and basketball may arguably call for the most protection and support. After examining the history of bridge designs, Jay Meschter, Innovation Director of Nike's Innovation Kitchen, noticed advancements in bridge construction that would go on to shape the development of Flywire. After studying everything from more traditional brick structures that didn't age well, to our more modern cable suspended bridges that can support not only the weight of a bridge across vast distances like in San Francisco, but also the weight of massive daily traffic, he discovered that a shoe's structure can become more supportive when it is designed with long strands for support along the side. Meschter realized that by creating a cradle for the foot in a similarly arranged alignment along the shoe's lateral and medial sides, any given sport's unique and unpredictable movements could be better supported for quicker reaction time. The result is Flywire.

With a thin film of Polyurethane providing the structure of each Flywire panel, the thin strands that provide the support are made of a material called Vectran. Over six years ago, Meschter first aligned strands of nylon along a shoe last as he conceptualized Flywire, and after much deliberation over several materials, Vectran proved to be the most supportive material to fit the project's needs of support, light weight and flex resistance. It was actually down to Kevlar and Vectran as the strand material of choice to be used in Flywire since Nylon and several other fabric strands proved to be far too flimsy.

In Vectran's favor, when Kevlar is flexed, it can lose up to 25 percent of its strength, compared to zero percent strength loss in Vectran. In products like athletic footwear, any strength loss is crucial to athletes who depend on tenths and hundredths of seconds in competition. Another major factor in deciding upon a material for the groundbreaking upper construction was also the measured breaking strength between the two. Vectran boasts a higher breaking strength than Kevlar, requiring more force to compromise the high-performance multifilament yarn.

What is most clutch is also Vectran's ability to not only allow for weight reduction in Nike's products, but also the fact that the liquid polymer-based material is naturally very thermally stable. In an extreme climate like that of Beijing, which was being forecasted to host a sweltering summer nearing triple-digit temperatures with 70 percent humidity, it's also very important that Vectran can perform in any environment. While it seems like lots of tech talk and the material to the naked eye may appear to be just a thin layer along the shoe with nicely placed weaves, there's in fact quite a bit of technology and research that goes into constructing something as performance-fused as Flywire.

Deep in the Kitchen of the Mia Hamm Building, innovation never stops, and famed Hoops designer Eric Avar was hand-picked to design this latest, and perhaps greatest offering from Nike Basketball. Inspired by the classic Tinker Hatfield created Air Mag from the 1989 movie Back To The Future II, Avar began working on the Hyperdunk over two years ago. He set out to create a shoe that carried over similar ideas from the Huarache 2K series that he designed, and he also hoped to implement Flywire Technology in what would be the lightest, most supportive shoe designed for the Alpha Player.

In this case, Nike was able to tap into the perfect subject - Kobe Bryant. "He is a very demanding athlete when it comes to his product," explains Mark Parker, Nike's CEO and President. Whether he's fading away for another jumper or splitting a double-team and heading straight to the rim, there's nobody quite as skilled and efficient on-court as Bryant, and there is also no one who places quite the amount of lateral forces and strain on his footwear. The goal for Kobe is simple. "[That] I don't lose seconds," he says. "For me, it's all about reaction time."

And so, Avar began designing the shoe while simultaneously working on the Zoom Kobe III, both with the aid of regular input from Bryant himself. "I want a shoe that's light, helps my reaction time, and is comfortable," Bryant definitively says. "It just better not be ugly." It's been no mystery that Kobe has long heralded the Zoom Huarache 2K4 as his favorite game shoe, and in the Hyperdunk you'll notice a similar silhouette, down to the assuring collar height and pronounced lateral outrigger. His needs have varied annually, from the more robust Zoom Kobe I that he wore after a summer filled with two-a-day strength workouts during which he gained 20 pounds of muscle, to his current need for a lighter shoe after weighing in at just 200 pounds, his lightest weight since 1998. "The Kobe I was a little heavier than the 2K4," says Bryant comparatively. "That was done intentionally because I did a lot of running the summer before, and I wanted more cushioning that season at the expense, maybe, of some weight. It changes every year based on my needs."

Where the Hyperdunk luckily excels is in its light weight and unparalleled amounts of lateral support, allowing for the re-sculpted Bryant to be more swift and nimble in a half-court set. It weighs in at just 13.0 ounces in a size nine, over a full ounce lighter than the Zoom Kobe III, which was already the lightest yet of the Zoom Kobe line. In my size 13, the Zoom Kobe III weighed 18.5 ounces, while the Hyperdunk weighs 15.6 ounces - obviously a noticeable difference on-court. Bryant, doing his best Gallagher impression, even joked that when he first saw the Hyperdunk in person, he naturally tossed it up into the air, uncertain if it would ever come back down. (Yes - the corniness of that joke was hilarious to the crowd of 300 media members.)

While lighter usually can mean flimsy - dare I remind those of you who played in the Hyperflight - in this case, the Hyperdunk arguably offers more support and stability than ever before, thanks to Flywire technology. "Lightweight containment is something that people want to have," says Yuron White, Nike Basketball Product Director. "You're going to see [Flywire] continue in our stuff, and they are looking to use it in all the other categories."

The Hyperdunk is full of its own thoughtful design cues from the legendary Avar. The boldly molded midfoot and heel counters offer stability and lock the foot down, and the shoe's upper is purposefully designed with an abundance of Nike's revolutionary Flywire technology. With precisely placed strands of Vectran aligned over the thin and breathable Polyurethane paneling, Flywire allows for the shoe to weigh in dangerously low, yet also offers enough support for even a brute's frame. Carlos Boozer and several other bigs wore it throughout the Olympics. Another immediately noticeable difference in the Hyperdunk is its insistence on going strapless, unlike the Zoom Kobe II, Huarache 2K4 and 2K5 before it.

To its credit, the lacing setup is linked by a hidden ghilley eyelet that helps marry the midfoot to the ankle, as compared to the Huarache 2K5, where the eyelets worked almost independently and at times created a sense of instability. Another sharp design touch from Avar is the eight dimples that can be found on the toe, midfoot and heel counter - an ode to the Beijing Opening Ceremonies held this summer on 08/08/08. Even the naming of the shoe appears straightforward, referencing the game's single most exciting play. "The lighter the shoe, the higher you can get up. We thought the name played perfectly to that," explains Archie McEachern, Nike Basketball Category Footwear Leader.

Above: The Hyperdunk's original outsole (pictured at left) included solidly blocked channels, while the production version (pictured at right) features recessed grooves and a herringbone pivot point in the forefoot for improved traction. 

While the lightweight support story in the Hyperdunk is perhaps seemingly the shoe's highlight, the cushioning embedded in the tooling is also a first in basketball, though a bit for the sake of marketing. At the heel is a standard eight millimeter, large volume Zoom Air unit, which offers an obscene level of responsiveness and impact protection. The forefoot debuts Nike's new Lunar Foam cushioning, which can also be credited for helping with the shoe's weight reduction. Lunar Foam is 30 percent lighter than Phylon, but provides a bounce-back cushioning feel almost comparable to Zoom Air. "I think it's more spongy and soft," says McEachern, when comparing the two.

The outsole is comprised of a solid rubber traction pattern that underwent quite a few changes through the development process. What began as a solidly blocked outsole configuration was soon altered to include forefoot grooves for greater traction on the final production version, as well as a herringbone inset at the pivot point. There is also a radiused, decoupled heel for smooth transition upon impact. At the midfoot resides one of Nike's most welcomed commodities: a nicely sculpted chunk of Carbon Fiber for added support. But, enough about what the shoe boasts...

So - Does It Perform?

After an initial run at the Bo Jackson Fitness Center's courts on the Nike Campus with other members of the media last April, I had to endure a three-week wait to get my pair back. Right away, I had one goal in mind, and that was to beat the hell out of them. Never before have I seen such a widespread marketing campaign and so much faith behind a shoe that, in my opinion, has little casual appeal, and so I knew that this shoe deserved more than my standard 10 wearings before I could come to a verdict. By the end of my testing, I'd worn the Hyperdunk nearly 30 times, on both indoor hardwood as well as on the asphalt outdoors, in both the synthetic leather based White Olympic colorway as well as the nubuck-based Black/Anthracite general release colorway.

Throughout the duration of the test, I was most comfortable lacing them up tightly one short of the top eyelet, and immediately while moving around for the first time, I could feel the shoe's benefits come to life. Along the upper, the first perceptible difference between the Hyperdunk and the three shoes in the Zoom Kobe line before it is the height. This shoe is certainly more of an extension of the Huarache 2K series than the Kobe line, taking on a sleekly defined collar and molded heel counter for maximum lockdown. For three years, the name Huarache consisted of strapped team shoes drafted off of the 2K4, aimed for every position in mind. This year, with the advent of the Hyperdunk and the Huarache 08, you can expect to see the lineage of the 2K series in the Hyperdunk line, and the minimal and lightweight sandal-inspired aesthetic live on through the Huarache name.

In this first installment of the Hyperdunk, Nike is off to a great start, using their two-year advance product timeline to create a worthy premiere.

At its strongest points, the Hyperdunk blows past the competition, but when it strikes its low points, there's definite room for improvement. In utilizing Flywire along the upper, Nike has found an excellent material that they can brand as their own and build off of well into the next decade. It's what makes Nike ... Nike. While adidas has taken on the adage of "Another year, another Pro Model" up until this year with the intriguing new Team Signature offerings and other performance brands have all but halted their innovation initiatives, I'll commend Nike for at least trying new things and looking beyond their current product for solutions in footwear, especially when they're already on top with little push from the competition outside of The Three Stripes.

After countless wearings, when the shoes are tied tightly, I can safely say that Flywire does keep you slightly locked in more than a rand of leather would, but it's the difference in weight that makes me comfortable in calling Flywire an innovation. When wearing the shoe, I purposefully shot less 3-pointers than normal, hoping to attack the basket and place enough strain laterally on the shoe on each drive to get a good gauge on the claims of Flywire, and sure enough, there's a noticeable difference.

Your foot simply doesn't budge from side-to-side, and I've never felt a shoe where the support was so firm, and yet there was absolutely zero inner discomfort. While the Air Jordan XX3 locks your foot in wonderfully, there admittedly are some inner chafing issues due to its harsh at-times midfoot chassis. With the Hyperdunk, you're afforded great support, gleefully soft inner comfort, and most of all, insanely light weight. I wasn't lying earlier, as my size 13 in the Zoom Kobe III, which everyone argued is the lightest shoe of the season, indeed clocked in at 18.5 ounces. In the White/Midnight Navy/Varsity Red Kobe Olympic colorway, the Hyperdunk was 15.6 ounces. That's a ridiculous difference for a basketball shoe, especially when you consider the other shoes I'm playing in now for reviews are all in the 18.5-19.5 ounce range, with the Zoom Soldier II most heavily clunking in at 21.6 ounces. Where the Hyperflight, which weighs 16.0 ounces in a size 13, offered the lightest possible weight at the time of its 2001 debut, its lack of support was disastrous, offering perhaps the worst lateral fit I've ever experienced.

Because Flywire is such a thin paneling and can offer the same, if not greater support than traditionally used materials, I'm excited to see Nike take the material even further and specifically aim to sculpt the upper more closely to the contours of your foot, just as the XX3 did. Flywire obviously makes up most of the story along the upper, but the purposeful design and noted inspiration from the Air Mag of two decades ago allow it to be a great performer. The two most noticeable design cues on the shoe, aside from Flywire, are the molded heel and midfoot wedges that are drafted off of the Mag. While a piece of TPU has been sculpted around the heel in past 2K series shoes, the foam used on the Hyperdunk offers comparable support and lockdown, but at a lighter weight.

You'll begin to notice that every single panel and componentry involved in making the Hyperdunk is the lightest of its genre. The tongue is insanely thin, reducing weight at the slight expense of some lace pressure if you, like me, tie the laces overly tight. There're also very few layers that make up the shoe, as the tongue extends into an inner sleeve, while the Flywire and toe overlays comprise the rest of the build. The ankle collar is equally thin, ditching previously used materials like Sphere Liner, memory foam and dual-density padding for the sake of keeping the lowest possible weight the focus. For the most part, each component of the upper serves its purpose of being light without detracting from the overall performance of the shoe.

I can't say the same for Nike's Lunar Foam cushioning, however, touted as a responsive and light cushioning system of the future. While Lunar Foam indeed helps reduce the overall weight of the shoe, it's hard to confirm Nike's claim of a 30 percent difference compared to Phylon, which can be a bit of a misleading statistic. The notion of a 30 percent difference assumes that the shoe you are playing in relies only on Phylon for its cushioning properties, which would never be the case in a $100-plus product like the Hyperdunk. If you're going from a $65 Phylon-based option, to a shoe that incorporates Lunar Foam, you'll certainly notice a difference in both responsiveness and weight, but if you're a cushioning elitist like myself, you'll also most likely be adamant about playing in Nike's unparalleled Zoom Air. Zoom Air is already lighter and exponentially more responsive than Phylon, so the comparison to be made is truly between Zoom Air and Lunar Foam.

I'd still stick with trusty Zoom Air if given the option. The heel Zoom Air unit in the Hyperdunk is almost to the point of arrogance, as during play you can notice how far apart in cushioning the two units are. There's perceptibly something there with Lunar Foam, so I won't go calling the technology an absolute gimmick in a basketball application yet (and I definitely rock a pair of LunaRacers for weeks at a time), but after the fourth wearing, you'll have already bottomed out the forefoot cushioning in the Hyperdunk, resulting in a firm and stiff feel under the ball of your foot. By the tenth wearing, all feeling of cushion is gone, and while the court feel is certainly a positive in the Hyperdunk, the forefoot cushioning has all but vanished. Lunar Foam excels in being light, but it's at the expense of comfort and longevity, which most ballers would obviously prefer. While it's understandable that Nike is offering Lunar Foam as it was anchored by the task of creating a shoe that was part of huge marketing campaign and also mathematically clocked in at the lightest weight yet, it's at the expense of the overall performance of the shoe, which strikes the need for change.

Another reason the Hyperdunk remains the lightest shoe we've seen in years is the no-frills outsole design that incorporates a low-to-the-ground, solid rubber grooved pattern with a herringbone pivot point inset. The decoupled, radiused heel allows for perfect heel-to-toe transition during play, and the Carbon Fiber spring plate at the midfoot provides a propelling sensation that everyone will appreciate, from guards, on up to the game's agile big men of today. If you're on a clean hardwood surface, the traction is perfect from the jump: both squeaky and efficient. It's on a dusty court where you'll notice a drop off in traction compared to other shoes with more deep channels, and you'll be forced to swipe often to keep the outsole as clean as possible. The traction pattern isn't average by any means, and it should offer up enough maneuverability to withstand the speed and directional shifts of even the most hurried guards.

To the shoe's credit, and of course a definite Avar touch, the Hyperdunk features a perfectly sculpted lateral outrigger. I specifically recall one half-court set where I became convinced of the Hyperdunk's on-court stability merits. I caught the ball in my familiar right wing spot, and as I drove left past my defender towards the free throw line, I planted my left foot, dribbled left to right behind my back and finished with a right-handed layup. When planting, jab-stepping, or even while defensive sliding (I'd assume - I can't promise I attempted this basketball maneuver), the Hyperdunk's balance resulting from Flywire and the generous outrigger keeps your foot locked in over the footbed and allows for a great amount of control as you make your next step and take flight. Beforehand, I ranked the Zoom Kobe II as my favorite in terms of its awesomely low-to-the-ground feel and ability to change directions, but the Hyperdunk has surpassed that shoe, with an even more supportive upper thanks to Flywire, a more assuring outsole by way of the outrigger, as well as a more generous lining package compared to the harshly sculpted Kobe II.

Overall, the Hyperdunk is an excellent start to the Flywire era, promising lightweight containment and support at a relatively generous price of $110. Ten, maybe even five years ago, this shoe would have certainly retailed for $125, but our recession-crippled economy calls for even the biggest of global corporations to adjust to their consumer's spending habits, which have been to buy remarkably less footwear than in the recent past. I definitely was impressed right out of the box with the overall comfort, fit, feel and support of the shoe. The weight is perceptibly light, traction sticky and reliable, and the cushioning added up to provide a solid combination of responsiveness and low-to-the-ground court feel for the active player, which on a good day I'd like to consider myself. Is Lunar Foam the most awesomely innovative cushioning system the industry has been waiting on after letdowns with React Juice, Tubular Air, Shox, A3 (A Cubed) and 2A? Not remotely.

This shoe is far from a HyperGimmick, but it seems as though there's just something so superior about a low volume air bag full of tightly packed fibers ready and eager to respond against each other in an instant upon impact. Zoom Air, for now, will remain the industry benchmark, but luckily for Nike Basketball, it's readily at their disposal. In the future, a Hyperdunk-like silhouette with ample Flywire, heel and forefoot Zoom Air, and more Herringbone coverage along the outsole would appear to be an untouchable performance masterpiece. Perhaps then, brands across the basketball landscape will step up and re-emerge on the innovation front for the first time in over a decade. Adidas is making some definite strides with the new TS Creator and Commander and the return of Formotion in the heel, but for now, the Hyperdunk is still the choice basketball shoe for next season. It makes for a great team buy for high schools and AAU teams alike, allowing for great control of your movements, sufficient cushioning, and of course, the lightest weight yet in a product of its kind. With Bryant and the "Redeem Team" recapturing the gold this summer in Beijing, it may also just be time to place the Hyperdunk alongside the greats of Olympics past.  

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