Nike Kobe A.D. Performance Review | JAHRONMON

The Kobe A.D. is the first sneaker to drop in Nike’s Kobe Bryant signature line post-Kobe’s retirement. Honoring the legacy of a fantastic career and an amazing line of signature models is a huge thing to live up to, but can the Kobe A.D. stand out in what has been an amazing year for on-court models? Find out with my performance review of the Nike Kobe A.D.

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Traction: Nike has implemented two familiar traction patterns on the outsole of the Kobe A.D. In the front, hundreds of nodules (similar to what was found on the Kobe X) grip the court for maximum grip, while the back features a Kobe 6-like traction pattern that truly captures Kobe’s “Black Mamba” moniker. The overall performance of the outsole was pretty solid but the rubber compound that is used here is an absolute dust magnet and will require frequent wiping on floors where the conditions are less than ideal. While the traction performed fairly well in most conditions, a small problem I experienced during use quickly turned into a very big problem.

Early on, during hard cuts and lateral stops, I felt a sort of “peeling over” effect of the outsole. At first I thought that it was just the nodules in the forefoot splaying out like they are supposed to, but after only about ten hours of play I realized that “peeling over” effect was actually the outsole separating from the midsole. Simply put, the Kobe A.D. could not handle the amount of force I was applying to its outsole. The lateral forefoot, where the outsole extends outwards a little to create a small outrigger, just started to break off from the midsole — so badly that I could touch the Lunarlon cushioning. I honestly can’t tell if this is a design flaw or if I just got a defective pair, but what I can tell you is that I’ve never experienced something like this in any basketball shoe, ever, and I’ve run some shoes into the ground in years past.

Cushion: Last year, the Kobe 11 used the beloved drop-in midsole technology which gave us the option to customize the cushioning to our liking. If you didn’t like the standard heel Zoom and Lunarlon midsole, you could switch it out with a full-length Zoom or a full-length Lunarlon setup. This year, Nike provided an encapsulated Lunarlon and heel Zoom setup that is just not comfortable. The heel Zoom unit is basically nonexistent, even if you do strike or land with your heel, and the overall firmness of the encapsulated Lunar is almost unbearable during a painful break-in period. Even after the lengthy break-in period, the cushion setup is too stiff and doesn’t provide enough court feel to compensate for its overall firmness. On the medial side, the midsole uses a Phylon foam and this may or may not be the cause for some stabbing in the medial forefoot, which even occurs after you break in the cushion. To sum things up; no impact protection, mediocre court feel, and a long break-in period. Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.

Materials: Straight out of the box, the ballistic mesh-like upper feels extremely stiff, but after a standard break-in period the materials end up being slightly above average. Nike calls the mesh material they used here “breathable” but the only part of the Kobe A.D. that allows heat to escape and air to flow is the mesh tongue. The rest off the upper might as well be made of plastic from a breathability standpoint. The good news is that the mesh upper gets more comfortable every time you slip your foot in them and by the time it’s fully broken in, the upper goes unnoticed during use — a good thing, as it won’t distract you during playing time. There is a suede overlay in the heel area but this just gives the A.D. a boost in aesthetic appeal and has no effect whatsoever in its performance on-court.

Fit: Over the years the Kobe signature line has been pretty consistent with fit. If you got the Kobe 6 in a 10.5, you most likely got the same size in the Kobe 7, 8, 9, etc. The Kobe A.D. continues this consistency and provides a great all around fit despite the model’s other flaws. Some Kobe models have been known to have a bit of dead space in the toebox area. However, the A.D. eliminates this problem entirely; when you first step into the Kobe A.D. you might feel like they’re too tight but after the materials break-in the overall fit is pretty fantastic. The materials wrap around your foot so nicely that the dynamic Flywire, which is integrated into the lacing system, feels like a security blanket more than anything; it’s nice to have it there just in case you need to further adjust the fit to ensure a seamless experience.

Support: Kobe’s signature line has never been known as a “support heavy” line, but the models always did just enough to make the user feel secure on the court. The Kobe A.D. is no different, but as I mentioned in the traction section, the outsole started to separate from the midsole and that nearly counteracted the entire support system. Even though there is dynamic Flywire for lockdown fit, an external heel cup for lateral support, and a slight outrigger on the lateral forefoot, the separating outsole made it impossible to feel fully secure during play and quite frankly, it just isn’t worth the risk. Having a major problem like the outsole separating from the midsole not only prevents you from doing basic basketball movements, but it also increases the risk of rolling an ankle or even worse, tweaking your knee. If you get a pair, support is just fine and will provide the necessary features that you need to feel secure on-court, but you are taking a huge risk counting on the durability of the Kobe A.D.

Overall: The Kobe A.D. is a sort of coup de grâce, a final bow, the culmination of a fantastic line of signature models from years past that Kobe wore throughout his illustrious career. It’s a lot to live up to but Nike has shown us that it has been able to take Kobe’s drive and ambition for excellence and translate it into shoe design. To put it bluntly, the Kobe A.D. has no innovation, no ambition, and nothing worthy enough to be associated with the five-time world champion, 18-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA, future Hall of Famer, Kobe Bryant. I’ve been watching Kobe my entire life and he’s groomed me to expect high standards. His persistent journey to greatness radiated onto everything that had his name but the Kobe A.D.

The visual appeal of Kobe’s first post-retirement sneaker is off the charts but this is a performance review, and in that regard, the Kobe A.D. is more than just a disappointment. We are disheartened that a product with Kobe’s name performs this badly. Not only did the break-in time overstay its welcome, but the overall durability and comfort of the Kobe A.D. couldn’t make par. In fact, it didn’t even finish the front nine.

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21 Comments

  1. Most people said A.D. means After Death of kobe the basketball player, the shoe seems to try prove that true lol. Two 6th man scores and one benched, I thought nyjumpman23s review has a low kinda score, didn’t expected these from someone that really liked the kobe signature line.

  2. Most people said A.D. means After Death of kobe the basketball player, the shoe seems to try prove that true lol. Two 6th man scores and two benched, I thought nyjumpman23s review has a low kinda score, didn’t expected these from someone that really liked the kobe signature line.

  3. Wow! The damn sole peeled off?!?

    I originally thought the AD was an okay “gets the job done” shoe until I started playing in the Harden Vol 1, and now I don’t want to play in anything else.

  4. SMH, yeah I’m skipping this one. My Kobe 11 EM is still going strong. Nike better bring it on the Lebron 14 and Kyrie 3, but I’m not optimistic. Adidas is whupping their butts.

  5. I’d assume the splitting was QC more than design for sure. Really seems otherwise like Nike just hashed out some token retirement pair and left it at that.

    And seriously, awesome review. Editing somehow gets better every time than it already is. Big ups on backtracking on summing up each aspect.

    1. Well I took a look at some slow-mo footage I recorded and I could actually see the outrigger going underneath the shoe itself, so this definitely played a big part in the outsole separating. I think it had to do with a little bit of both but there is no denying its an issue that should not have happened.

  6. Would it be funny if the Mamba Mentality ended up being a performance beast? I mean I have my doubts with how the traction looks on it, but it’d be funny if Nike puts out yet another team/knock down shoe that outperforms the sig shoe.

  7. really disappointing shoe, looked promising with its design/silhouette. gonna stick with a fresh kobe 9 elite and some kd 9. really leaning towards an Adidas signature.

  8. I thought I was the only one experiencing that “peeling over” effect. It is quite disappointing as it limits my movements when playing and affects my confidence moving from side to side.

  9. Wow i can’t believe that happened…thoes was supposed to be the cream of the crop but dayum yeah they turned out to be the bottom of the barrel…yeah im sticking with my Harden Vol. 1…Adidas has been on fire latley and this review is why Adidas is on top right now..wow who woulda thought lol

  10. The are few things in sneakers that I find incredibly entertaining, and this review was one of those things. It is very encouraging to see that the downfall of NIKE and all aspects of NIKE being imminent. For far too long they have not only bullied and insulted the buying public with their product, but as of late their pricing has insulted not only the intelligent buyers, but even their sycophantic legion on places like niketalk with their egotist leader Methodical Management. They have attempted to bring Kobe Bryant into the fold as the heir apparent to Jordan, but as this review proves, the sole simply does not hold up.

  11. Why does Nike keep on putting out crap like this every year? Can’t understand it. At all. Just please retro the models from before please. And retro some LeBrons while you’re at it.

  12. Is the cushion as bad as it sounds? I actually like the feel of the cushion in the 10’s (they feel nice on heel strikes when I plant for a jump) – are the AD’s similar or more stiff for comparison purposes?

  13. I wanted to harsh on you for the review, because of how I love the look of the black white. Which I bought and played in…… arrrrgh. Everything you said happened, plus it killed my feet! Killed, like no other shoe has. Going back to my 11’s. returning to footlocker. Bottom squealed and sounded like it separated when I cut really hard one time. Really weird feeling….. geez Nike.

  14. I wanted to harsh on you for the review, because of how I love the look of the black white. Which I bought and played in…… arrrrgh. Everything you said happened, plus it killed my feet! Killed, like no other shoe has. Going back to my 11’s. returning to footlocker. Bottom squealed and sounded like it separated when I cut really hard one time. Really weird feeling….. geez Nike…… totally disappointed.

  15. Jarron, would you do another review on another pair? Maybe its just a QC issue that destroyed the performance.

  16. Thank you for an honest review. I tried these on the other day and I feared they would be as wack as the Kobe X. They were, in many ways, worse! At least in some iterations (the leather mid, for example) those were vaguely tolerable for kicking around in and they had some good points for hoops use (the traction indoors was great … I guess that’s about it).

    The whole encapsulated setup with Zoom and Lunar is the perfect way to RUIN both technologies. I did not expect to the same flaws as the X, which I thought was unusually stiff and non-responsive, but they actually managed to make it worse.

    The silhouette is clean but the materials do not seem to warrant the price tag. I am very disappointed in this shoe. The XI had its iffy points (elite versions were stiff, no higher cut iterations, kind of an odd shape to the toe box) but overall it reconnected with the things that made the 8 and 9 such excellent shoes. To see them incorporate the worst elements of the back half of his line is a real disappointment.

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