I did not like last year’s KD 7 Elite because I didn’t feel it embodied KD and his playing style. That and it was super stiff and had some serious heel slip just like the non elite pair. This year’s elite model actually looks like KD 11 with the long extended compression sock. Can it make me ball like him too?
Here is my original review for the KD8
KD 8 Review
Pros: traction, full length Zoom, fit, stability, nice materials upgrade
Cons: hard to put on, compression sock gets hot (although it is the purpose), Signature Zoom feel isn’t quite there, forefoot shell takes time to break in, lace pressure, pricey
Sizing: true to size (I went up half size with non elite), super wide footers may want to go up half size
Best for: guards but stable enough for bigger players.
1 ounce difference due to materials and extra long ankle sock . The half size difference has a minimal effect on weight. Still very light regardless.
By the way, the box is enormous
Same rubber as before and works the same as before. Wiping is required but not like Kobe XI or anything remotely close to that.
Same set up as the non elite. If you didn’t like the non elite set up, you won’t like this one.
The plastic clips on the lateral side are in place to keep the Zoom stable and firm for cuts. Although this takes away from the feel of Zoom, it has a functional purpose of keeping the player stable on cuts.
Above: you can see the articulated Zoom in the forefoot
Below: articulated heel
Nike claimed they articulated the Zoom for enhanced flexibility but I really couldn’t tell a difference. Just a standard Zoom would have worked just as well or better. Let’s see how the KD9 works up in a few months.
I went half a size up with the regular KD and went true to size with these. I’m guessing that the materials and “forefoot shell” allow the shoe to fit a bit longer and wider at the toe box. If you have really really wide feet I suggest trying half a size up.
Left is size 11 and right is 11.5. I know it’s hard to see any difference in size just by looking at outside of shoe but just shows how similar in size they are.
Is the shoe hard to put on?
Yes, have you tried to put a condom on your foot?
I was literally sweating after putting these on the first few times but I figured out a decent way to get them on but needed to be sitting down. You can also pull the ends like a sock and slip into the shoe. The sock itself seems to be very durable.
Thankfully, all that sweat and effort is worth it as these are really a sock with a sole. You can see the little ankle pads in the compression sock in the pic above. These pillows sit higher up the Achilles than the regular KD and do a good job locking the heel in. I noticed my socks were soaked in sweat at the ankle and above due to the compression sock. I didn’t notice it until after playing but just something to note.
You can even fold it down but I think they look worse
The upper of the KD 8 was redesigned and is now a one piece upper composed of mesh with a synthetic shell at the forefoot
If you look closely at the pics you can see the Flywire throughout the shell. The shell is very similar to the Flywire upper found on the Kobe IV so it is plasticky and needs break in (it is thinner overall though). Nike states they are Kevlar which is nice to see them use again. Personally I don’t mind a little break in time but it isn’t as natural feeling as the Flyweave on the regular 8. Not a deal breaker for me but I know some people prefer knit uppers.
I had some lace pressure problems at the top eyelet the first few times but it went away as I played. The regular KD didn’t have this issue because the tongue was nicely padded.
The way the plastic straps come around the top help with the lockdown.
Support and Stability
The sock doesn’t do anything in regard to support; it is only there for proprioception purposes and to keep the ankle warm.
The rest of the shoe is very stable as I said in my air jordan 1. Probably one of the most stable low tops I’ve ever worn. The whole design of the shoe seemed to be centered around taking pressure off the forefoot especially after KD’s Jones fracture surgery. I never felt unstable in these or the non elites due to the wide sole design and heel counter
Despite having a Flyweave upper, the non elite KD did a great job with lateral containment and the same holds true for the Elites. I never felt my foot slide out of the footbed even on hard cuts or change of direction. Well done Nike!
The past few years Nike didn’t really make any “upgrades” with the Elite models, but this year’s KD8 Elite feels like a step up in terms of materials and looks. As far as performance, I don’t feel they are much of a step up; marginally better lockdown in the heel but stiffer forefoot make it a wash. Nothing really stood out with the Elite versus the regular KD 8 aside from the compression sock. Even KD himself is wearing the regular KD8 during the the Thunder’s playoff run.
In all honesty, I feel the Elite series of shoes is just a way for Nike to create new sales since the NBA season is almost over and the regular pairs have been sitting on shelves for over six months. By creating a new sales cycle sooner, shoe sales have shallower and shorter valleys (very smart move). Since the price difference isn’t exorbitant like prior years, it really comes down to looks and I think these are much better looking than the non elites. Expect these to drop in price because I know a lot of people aren’t digging the high cut look. $90-120 is what I expect these to get down to in price.