We’re doing something a little different today on Sun and Sole: Our first review of basketball shoes. They aren’t exactly brand new, like our regular running/training shoe reviews, but they’re both unique products and very running-influenced.
Right off the bat, you can tell these are almost polar opposite shoes. The KD 11 is a bit heavier, but much better at absorbing shock from jumps. The Kobe, meanwhile, is a lot better at cutting and lighter, to boot.
The upper of the KD 11 has gotten backlash from most reviewers for not having enough lockdown for cutting and lateral movements. We found this manageable simply by going down half a size and this problem/solution may vary with foot shape. But undeniably, the KD 11 has fantastic cushion. The combination of Zoom air and React (a pairing soon to be seen in Nike’s Vomero 14 running shoe) is responsive, yet protective. The weight and wide base of the shoe, the plush cushioning, and the difficulty some wearers have making tight maneuvers make this a shoe best for larger players, like a center or power forward.
By contrast, the Kobe uses a drop-in midsole made of Lunar and React foams and focuses support in the ball of the foot, compared to the complete wrap around foot cupping of the KD 11’s rubber outsole. This means it isn’t quite as responsive as the Zoom Air models, but it saves a lot of weight (helped by a low-cut ankle, compared to a mid-top) and the upper is something else. Even though you can literally see though the mesh, it provides extreme support. The toe bumper did bend in an odd place, but it wasn’t the worst feeling. Some players might find it irritates the top of their foot, however. Being lightweight with great grip (clean the soles regularly, though), point and shooting guards might have found their shoe of choice. Small forwards could arguably go with either shoe in this article or the Kyrie 4, which we also tried and liked, but did not include in this review (it did not include any new technology).
KD 11: 7/10
Kobe A.D. NXT 360: 8.5/10
(and Hell, the Kyrie 4: 8/10)