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.
Nike Kobe 9 Elite
To 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
Performance 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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