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Head 2 Head: Air Jordan XX8 vs Nike Kobe IX Elite


Alrighty folks, we at Kicks On Court have got something really special for you today! Presenting our first ever, Head 2 Head featuring two of basketball’s performance kings;The Nike Kobe 9 Elite and the Air Jordan XX8, without further ado, let’s hop to it.

The Contenders:

 Nike Kobe 9 Elite

_MXN0177To date, this is Nike’s most technologically advanced basketball shoe. Flyknit just dominates the entire upper, and Fuse is layered underneath and dynamic Flywire is there to provide the support essential for basketball, carbon fiber is used to support and contain the heel and the high profile gives you that snug fit that will help you elevate your game. Cushion is provided by the Lunarlon drop-in midsole and traction is just wicked, with a story telling pattern similar to a pressure map of Kobe Bryant’s foot. The Kobe 9 Elite is a prime example on how far Nike is willing to take the basketball shoe without going too outrageous.


Air Jordan XX8

_MXN0028Performance King of 2013, a fitting heir for his Airness, and definitely a shoe that MJ would have loved to have during his prime. A lightweight shoe with a stealth fighter like silhouette. The shroud hides what is essentially the most advanced Air Jordan in history. The Dynamic Fit system ensures you stay firmly planted in the shoe while the carbon fiber heel counter does an excellent job of keeping you locked down. The Flight plate carbon fiber shank will give you that extra oomph to propel you at breakneck speeds on court, while the unlocked zoom in the forefoot and high volume zoom bag give you a responsive ride. Epic Traction is provided by what seems to be a fingerprint like pattern on icy, translucent rubber. All in all a sleek, but effective package.


_MXN0005 _MXN0153


_MXN0139 _MXN0200

First test was done on a cement court, painted with rubberised court paint.

The Kobe 9 held up well, allowing me to perform cuts and providing great grip to maneuver around the court, however, once dust started to build up, I found myself losing traction bit by bit. Forcing me to hesitate and slow down.

The AJXX8 in contrast, gave excellent bite on this court, giving me a bit more confidence in my movement, the dust on the court did not seem to hinder their traction, as they just kept on gripping and gripping the court no matter how hard I drove.

Second test was the hardwood.

The Kobe 9’s traction was nothing short of epic, even with a little dust, the rubber material on the Kobe 9 just kept on gripping the hardwood like there was no tomorrow.

The AJXX8 was pretty much the same story, humungous traction, undeterred by dust, grip like nothing else.

Conclusion (Traction)

Both shoes exhibited similar amounts of traction but in different ways, considering they were designed for different styles of play, they behaved very different from each other. The Kobe 9 providing a more even traction experience throughout the entire foot, whereas the AJXX8 was excellent on the forefoot. My advice for Kobe 9 wearers is to keep wiping down and keep em clean if playing on anything other than hardwood courts.


Fit & Support

Make no mistake, these are some pretty high cut shoes, but the materials used don’t actually hinder your mobility on the court.

The Kobe 9 makes use of Flyknit and Flywire to support you while the AJXX8 has the Dynamic Fit and the Shroud to keep you planted.

The experience in the Kobe 9 makes it feel akin to wearing a sock, kind of like an extension of your own body, it feels more natural, and the placebo effect of the high collar allows you to feel extra confident in your movements. In one word, cozy.

The AJXX8 is in contrast, secure, the Dynamic fit system gives you flexibility and support at the same time, used alone like in the XX8 SE is fine, but even though the Shroud doesn’t provide any additional technical support, it gives you a sense of security and an extra wow factor not seen since the Glove.

Conclusion (Fit & Support)

Both of these shoes accomplish what they set out to do, fit like a high top and play like a low. Whether you like the contained and comfortable fit of the Kobe 9 or the secure Dynamic Fit of the AJXX8 is entirely up to you.

_MXN0195 _MXN0047


The Cushioning on both of these couldn’t be any more different, the Kobe 9 offers a low ride that gives you excellent court feel, while the AJXX8 provides maximum cushion with minimal material use.

The Kobe 9’s low profile cushion will benefit more grounded players, guards who like to dash around the floor and keep themselves at a distance for those mid to long range shots. The drop-in Lunarlon is similar to what Nike has in the Kobe 8 and Lebron XI, so you have tons of options whether you wanna go soft or hard.

The AJXX8 introduced us to the Unlocked Zoom, this tech allowed for the first time a more responsive cushioning that gave players comfort without too much tech (I’m looking at you Max Zoom) in addition to that, there’s an extra “bounce” we get from the Unlocked Zoom, giving you a little bit more pep in your step, the unfortunate downside is that these Zoom bags rupture easily and will shift out of place when you play a little too hard.

Conclusion (Cushion)

The Kobe 9 and AJXX8 will give you just the right cushion for your style of play, but the edge does go to the Kobe 9, but only slightly because of the flexibility of the drop-in sole otherwise, the AJXX8  provides the better cushion experience.


Conclusion (Overall)

Here we have the reigning performance kings of 2013 and 2014, the Kobe 9 Elite and Air Jordan XX8. They were built for one thing and one thing only, hardcore basketball, if ever there were two polar opposites in high tech basketball shoes, these would take the cake. The Kobe 9 Elite and it’s contained fit and low stance are perfect for grounded players with a more mature game, while the Air Jordan XX8 will appeal to more athletic players who like to fly. Its tough to choose an outright winner between these two, it’d be akin to picking which one of your kids was your favorite! Instead I leave it up to you our dear readers, you decide which one is best for your kind of game, you choose which best fits your style and most importantly in the end, just buy what you like.

You could go buy the Nike Hyperrev and we wouldn’t judge you, or maybe you’d rather hoop in your Jordan retros and that’s all fine and good. But because you asked us, we deliver the goods!

We hope we’ve provided the info you were looking for with this Head 2 Head!


Thanks to Justin Alonte for the Photos

    1. a GREAT shoe to ball in is the lebron 4. I’m 90lbs and i wear it to ball in for hours, great cushion, amazing fit, and ok traction

  1. This was a great post! I would really look forward to seeing these more often. I liked how the final conclusion said that the final decision was up to the readers, because everyone likes different features in their shoes.

  2. I recognize those socks. My friend has a pair. 🙂

    Sir, how on earth did you get those 9’s?! I saw them on display a Nike Park BGC. But not for sale though… You are a lucky man!

    Philippines represent!

  3. Find it interesting you noted the 28’s bag issues(which so far thankfully I haven’t ran into), but didn’t bring up the bottoming out of the kobe’s. Maybe that’s a issue only on the “heavier” guys. Again, I haven’t had the issue, but I’ve seen it enough on these forums not to have to even name other sites.

    Just keeping the playing field level. I don’t have to go on about how many shoes your reviews have gotten me to buy alone.

  4. Actually, I’ve heard about the Kobe 8’s bottoming out, but the Lunarlon in the 9’s are much denser and thicker (by just a smidge) hopefully it shouldn’t be a problem anymore, we’ll see once more pairs go out and get used more often.

  5. I really enjoyed the direct comparisons of this article. Which would you prefer for a post-up player that shoots the occasional spot-up J? I’ve been playing in my Melos but I’m looking to add one of these two to my collection.

  6. the kobe 9 seems like a dream shoe for me, traction, court feel, fit and support are all looking top notch, plus a full-length insole made out of my favorite foam, i couldn’t ask for anything more from a guard shoe. i’m a 1/2 who loves to prowl the perimeter playing defense or taking jumpers off the dribble/off screens etcetera, the kobe 8s were pretty much the best shoe of last year in my opinion (next to the cp3.vi and the crazyquicks), these look even better. here’s hoping a GR release comes out soon, dammit….

  7. First off nice idea and great work as always!

    And agree 100%, i played in the xx8 SE! and the kobe9 – and both got grippy traction, wonderful cushion in each its way, beautiful fit and lockdown, comes down to personal preference, and most important playing style!

    But as you said – as a guard i think athletic players who penetrate a lot and like to run/cut/jump will be happier with the xx8 se`s IMO. I prefer zoom cushioning over foams, so i loved the zoom here (loved zoom in the previous kobe models too, just as a reference for people feeling the same way!), plus i like the beautiful heel to toe transition of the jordans while running breaks.
    So the cushion being my turining point, add the easy but secure fit und the traction, especially on lateral movements and playing defense, my winner is the xx8 se.

    The kobe 9 is also a great great performer, like the kobe 8 beeing natural and light on the foot, just on point, giving you that “forgot i have shoes on” feeling. So for people who loved the benefits of the 8 just as i did: you will like the 9s too despite beeing higher.
    But i think that on a “harder” playing style they will wear down faster, as i experienced it with the kobe 8, starting with the lunarfoam (which is heavenly in the beginning!) bottoming out too early and the upper becoming too loose too early. Allthough it feels as if the flyknit/fuse upper of the 9 could holp up a bit longer. but that are just my experiences!
    Still as you mentioned perfect for average to rather grounded type players.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. I stated this in so many words on the Melo 10 performance review post. I got the Kobe IX Elite the day it first released and I didn’t really fly in it until we had games where everyone turned up. My knees were talking to me after those runs.

      So the cushion setups in a nutshell, the Kobe IX Elites have better court feel and the flight plate shoes have better impact protection.

      1. I fee the same way. After couple months the lunar of the 8s became dense – can’t speak of the 9s here at this point of time but the foam feels the same – so that after practice I could feel my knees too. Nothing too major, but coming from the kobe 5, 6, 7, which were still bouncy after the same amount of playing time, there’s been definitely a difference. But that “bottoming out” of the 8s and general quick wearing down process of the kobe line models (except the 7) depends on your playing style –and size/build of course, I’m a 6 feet guard – so I think we back at that.
        Court feel of the 9s as in 1on1 situations and tip toeing movements is really awesome, but since basketball is a lot of running and beating on shoes too and if one is up to decide for a “general” basketball shoe I’d recommend the xx8 SE. Have yet to try the melos thou! (never tried them on but they dont seem to be such “quick shoes” if you can say so lol)

  8. I want to buy the xx8 bamboo or the kobe 9s perspective ..
    Your final comment to me is like telling me that the shoes are overpriced (that’s a fact) and the best performance shoe at the time is the hyper rev 😉

    1. Actually my final comment was “Buy what you like” which does hold true, if you wanna get hyperrevs go ahead, if you wanna hoop in retros then do so. The XX8 and Kb9 are two different shoes built for two different styles of play, what we did was break down and compare the two to each other. The final decision has and always been with you our readers.

      1. Yes compare the two hardest shoes to find on the market right now. Regardless if I choose the kobe 9 elite or XX8 I cant pick either up since their so hard to find.

  9. and the winner is… neither one!

    apparently it depends on what you like. well that was pointless. of course it comes down to personal preference- thats why you are comparing them; to decide which YOU like better!

    I love the idea of comparing the shoes but you have to pick a winner otherwise there was no point to doing any of it. might as well watch the review of each shoe separately and draw your own conclusions.
    a H2H chart w/ each category would go a long way

    1. It was not pointless by any means. It very appropriately broke down each model specifying their strengths, weaknesses and even a very clear and concise description of what type of player they’d better suit. If someone can’t choose based on all that info then they should just close their eyes and point at the wall inside the shoe store and grab any shoe to play in.

      There is not “better” shoe when it comes down to great performers. It all boils down to what your preferences are. Breaking them down in an easy to read manner in addition to the score charts already in place basically makes the decision process idiot proof.

  10. Nghtwing, I was wondering if you could make a performance review of Reebok Pumpspective Omni and D rose Englewood 2, I’m just very curious about how those two performs. Thanks!!

  11. As much as I like a basketball shoe for basketball. I’m not stepping on a court with a gimmicky wrestling shoe. Flyknit doesnt belong on a bbal shoe ever! Ots not just a fkyknit upper (as you know) so, there is no poiny. The upper could be Dodo Bird feathers for that matter. (The dodo has since gone extinct…hence reinforcing my point! Great Comparison though….XX9…not looking good either.

    1. There is some ignorance in what you are saying. It’s not just Flynit, Fuse is backing it up for more strength. Flynit or any material similar to it had never been applied to a basketball shoe before. Nike is not going to give up it’s lead on the market and not continue to be innovative.

      Also a new concept shoe that works/performs in the manner that it does is not a gimmick with proven results. Which leads me to ask, have you hooped in the shoe?

      1. Okay thank you. Wala pa akong makotaito sa baguio sojealous of you haha sana may makuha ako na j28 or kobe 9

  12. Both are hard to find. Not the case for the SE but thanks man this is a good read. Wanting that J more now.

    1. -_- However it depends on what your playing style is, what your weight is, how tall are you, and your position in the game that really would show what’s the best basketball shoe for you. Sure the Lebron Xi’s are great but there are many other shoes that are greater than that based on different preferences

      1. not really weight or height, just what you want regardless of your position. A PG and a C could wear this shoe well

        1. Yes..i agree. I have 191cm and 100kg…playing position three. I have problems with knees, so my maine requirement is cushion…and Lebron XI got it 😉

        2. I disagree…Im a heavy player and if I have a shoe which isn’t solid enough cushion when I take off explosively running I sink in the shoe instead of accelerating forward definitely slows me down

    2. But then again MA why did you have to bring up a different shoe other than the two spoken in this Head to Head topic. It kinda feels irrelevant to bring out the Lebron XI in to this topic

  13. Great review! Love the videos! Nothing doper than a true baller chasing the perfect fit! Much repsect from Adl, Oz

  14. Ufff…my mistake…i tried KB 8, but i don t know how much difrence is between these two… cushioning is similar – the same?

  15. Great matchup. But I would like to see Kobe 8 going up against Kobe 9. I am biased in this selection because Kobe 8 is perhaps the best basketball shoes I have ever balled in. But that’s just me.

  16. great article, but i was wondering: how are the kobe 9s considered the “reigning performance champs of 2014” when they’ve only been out for about a month and we’re only 3 months in to 2014?

  17. I personally believe that there’s no contest between these two awesome shoes. Just like what Ken Tamayo said ” The Kobe 9 Elite and it’s contained fit and low stance are perfect for grounded players with a more mature game, while the Air Jordan XX8 will appeal to more athletic players who like to fly.”
    In my perspective I love both preferences since the Air Jordan XX8 (more in particular the Jordan XX8 SE) and the Kobe 9 Elite is best suited for a 5’9″, 150 lbs, Combo Guard/Swingman like myself

  18. Idk why but my xx8s feel different then when I bought them. I think it just doesn’t feel as responsive anymore. The air bag is still firm and looks right. Not sure my foot just got used to the feel or not. Kinda bummed out because everyone is saying they’re craz nice and I’m sitting here like I don’t feel any special responsiveness.

  19. Managed to scoop up a pair of Perspectives w/ my Nike voucher from when my XX8s popped. Looking forward to hooping in these once my Achilles strain (the irony) heals up!

    Really wish the XX8s flightplate sole was durable for me, they’re the best I’ve tried on the court.

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