Traction – I keep doing this, but I really can’t help it. The brain can’t help but judge certain things by how they look prior to experiencing it first hand. Traction on the Nike KD 9 looks like it would be trash, but it performed the exact opposite. In fact, there were times when traction was too good. Will every pair perform at such a high level? Without testing each pair it’s impossible to say. What I do know is that the rubber compound used on the versions with solid rubber outsoles will offer you incredibly sticky traction.
Were there times when you had to wipe? Yes, as is the case with most shoes. However, if I didn’t have time to wipe during game play the traction still held strong until I was able to get a chance to clean the outsole real quick.
Cushion – Full length Max Zoom in articulated fashion. This sh*t is amazing. Smooth transition, ultimate impact protection, and ultimate responsiveness. This cushion setup is everything you’d expect it to be and then some. The best feature is not what was just mentioned, but the fact that Nike was able to provide such attributes to the setup while still retaining mobility. All positions will be able to wear and enjoy these bad boys. Unlike full length setups of the past, these aren’t stiff or rigid to move around in. You’re fairly close to the ground, and you don’t feel as if you’re wearing a full length Air unit due to the segregated forefoot.
I was slightly disappointed with the full length Zoom setup we received in last year’s KD 8, but Nike made up for it with these guys. One thing to note is that the lateral forefoot section will collapse a bit if you land on it. With the KD 8, there were two TPU bumpers in that same location to prevent such a thing from occurring. I never rolled my ankle, or received any injury from the issue. However, it was something that was noticeable enough to throw into the review. When jumping, whether it be for a jump shot, to contest a shot, or for a rebound, try to not land on the lateral section of your forefoot. Sometimes you can’t help it due to being awkwardly vulnerable while in the air, but try to avoid it as best you can.
Materials – Flyknit. Not the heavily glued Flyknit, this is just Flyknit and some nylon backing it. Someone asked why would Nike use Flyknit if they were going to back it with nylon. The answer: it allows the Flyknit to do what Flyknit does while still providing a level of support that’s playable. Nylon won’t stretch in the same way that a knit would so the material will hold tight while still remaining flexible.
This is the best iteration of Flyknit we’ve received on a Nike Basketball model to date. I’m not going to go as far as saying it’s the best thing in the world, but if you’re like me and enjoy woven/ knitted uppers then you’re most likely going to enjoy the hell out of this setup. The material also got stepped on quite a bit, and while it’s dirty, it’s still in one piece.
The rear section is textile mesh, foam, and Fuse, and it’s nothing fancy. The rear section should provide enough structure and support for the foot so this setup works perfectly even though it doesn’t look as pretty as the forefoot area.
Fit – Like every other KD model that’s ever existed, I highly recommend trying these on in-store prior to purchasing. I went down 1/2 size and length wise they fit perfectly. They’re hard as hell to get on my foot, but once they’re on I’m locked in perfectly, just the way I like it. However, the left shoe’s seam gave me a ton of pain for the first few wears. It eventually broke-in, but it sure as hell was painful until then.
The one piece upper boot construction and the Nylon lacing system work well for the size I’m wearing. However, the lacing cables don’t move much so if you end up with a size that doesn’t fit you perfectly then you may have some minor heel slipping. Even though the heel is heavily padded and sculpted, that won’t makeup for an incorrect size issue.
Brace wearers: it’s pretty important that you bring your brace with you to try on shoes. That’s the only way to really ensure a sneaker will accommodate your additional attachment.
Support – The Nike KD 9’s support is essentially riding on one key aspect: the overall fit. If these fit sloppy in any way then we’ll have another LeBron 13 Low situation on our hands — with that shoe I was unable to fit 1/2 size down in which meant that the ankle lacing structure and heel section were just poorly designed. If your pair fits you perfectly then you’ll end up with a shoe that offers a one-to-one fit and plenty of mobility without lacking support.
The rest of the shoe is fairly standard as the rear section has the typical internal TPU heel counter. And, no, the tiny little KD logo is not the heel counter. It’s just a piece of plastic glued to the exterior section of the shoe. Meanwhile, the cushion system is flat and shaped just like your foot, providing you with great stability.
Overall – Nike did a decent job with the KD 8 while the KD 8 Elite felt like a cheap, unnecessary, and unfinished version of the KD 8. Luckily, that isn’t the case with the Nike KD 9. You’ll receive solid traction, fantastic cushion, great materials, and if you get the size that fits you best, you’ll also receive a solid and secure fit for optimal support. Some may think that getting all this for $150 is a steal, and I whole-heartily disagree. Getting all this for $150 is exactly what we should be getting. $150 isn’t exactly chump change. Paying above $150 for a sneaker is really just paying for a novelty item. It might look cool, but it’s usually not worth it.
However, your money will be well spent when it comes to the Nike KD 9. If I like something enough to want to grab another colorway then that’s how I know that they’re pretty money on-court.