This is how you take something great and make it even better…
Traction – My first experience with the Air Jordan XX9 was on the nicest basketball court I’ve ever stepped foot on… MJ’s. As you can imagine… the traction on that court was unbelievably good. However, I don’t play on pristine courts when I’m usually playing, and neither do most of you. Luckily, the XX9’s still held up on these more typical court conditions, where there were very few issues, and I only had to wipe the outsoles on really dusty floors. Definitely above average traction, not what I was expecting when I first laid eyes on the outsole pattern, but not quite up to the same level as the XX8. Is that a bad thing? Not at all, the XX8 had the best damn traction I’ve ever had (besides the Kobe 9) and the XX9’s just didn’t bite the floor in the same manor, but were still really good. I’d say the XX8’s went above and beyond what one would come to expect from their shoes’ traction, but the XX9’s give you what you should expect… something solid and reliable.
Cushion – This can technically be considered a downgrade since they’ve removed the heel’s Zoom unit, but it didn’t feel like a downgrade when you were playing. With the XX8, there was a small adjustment period while you were getting used to the protruding Zoom unit underfoot – this is no longer the case as the Zoom has been recessed back into the midsole a few millimeters. Removing the protruding Zoom does lessen the ‘bounce’ you receive from the unlocked aspect, however, its still undeniable that this is the best Zoom Air setup to date. I’ve tried Zoom in nearly every single way possible, this is the best version of it. Great court feel, ultimate responsiveness and you get some impact protection on top of that. What minor tweaks they’ve made only enhances the transition of the shoe, some felt the XX8’s were a little slappy from heel to toe, and I think this setup is awesome for Zoom Air lovers.
Does the heel bother me at all? No… but I’m used to playing in such a wide verity of cushion systems (from good to bad to horrible) that these felt just fine to me. I don’t usually put too much weight onto my heels while playing as it is so the setup was nothing to complain about. Jordan Brand did core out a small portion of the heel, similar to a runner, so that those that typically strike with their heel will receive some added compression for comfort.
Materials – Performance Woven upper… you the real MVP. In the video, I go over just what the upper does, how it’s constructed and thats something easier said than written. If I tried to write it out to you I’d probably go off on some huge tangent about every single little thread… and I’m not trying to do that. Just know that the upper feels great and it actually is supportive. One thing to note is that you’ll receive a better fit and experience the more you wear them… not sure why, but the woven upper really conforms to your foot shape the more you sweat in it. To the point to where you feel like you’ve got a custom shoe on your foot, way more than any Foamposite upper. They’re ready to go, fresh out the box, and almost reminds you of that one shoe that one shoe you’ve been wearing all year round then forgot about after you bought a new pair… then you’re reminded of how awesome they feel – being so broken in – when it comes time to mow your lawn. To top it off… the materials will allow wide footer to to rock these without having to go up a size as the upper will stretch and conform around your foot in no time.
Fit – They fit true to size and the lockdown is incredible for something woven. There is no Fuse or glue here… just fabric… which is insane. Everything from the woven upper to the Flight Web lacing system work in tandem and balance each other out. No slipping or sliding… just a shoe you lace up and forget that they’re on your feet. Until you look down and think to yourself… ‘sh!t, those are clean as f*%$”.
Ventilation – Not every attribute is perfect. Ventilation is okay… you have air flow because of the woven upper, however, this comes with a small drawback. Because the woven upper fabric, it tends to soak up moisture. Trying to get the shoe dried out enough for tomorrows run is hard unless you use a fan or something. Heat can escape, but not the moisture. Maybe if it were Dri-Fit? Not really sure… it wasn’t a ‘problem’ where I received blisters or anything… but its something to note.
Support – You’d assume that a sock couldn’t possibly support your foot but this isn’t just any sock. This thing is a digitally mastered piece of equipment… put together with precision. Think of a bullet proof vest… that’s just Kevlar strands woven so tightly together that it stops a bullet from plowing through your chest. Similar concept only the supportive pieces are built into the upper in strategic areas. Stretch where you need it, stretch where you should have stretch… all done with a machine that can weave together anything your mind can think of. Then there are the typical support features… the TPU plate, heel counter and outrigger. All doing what they were meant to.
Overall – I wasn’t sure how they were going to top the XX8… and they technically didn’t. Instead, they took what worked, made it work better then added some new tech on top of that. They took something great and made it even better…