The Nike KD 11 went from being my most anticipated basketball shoe to test to one of the worst of 2018.
Traction started off strong with the Nike KD 11 but things quickly went south the more time I spent in it. The rubber frayed and dust got clogged instantly within the tightly spaced grooves. The KD 11 outsole couldn’t handle anything I threw at it long term.
Fortunately, there is a bright side, because the traction did well outdoors. I play primarily indoors and that’s where I had all of my issues. Of course, the traction stuck like glue on clean courts with fresher finishes. I just don’t have the chance to play on courts that nice on a regular basis.
Surprisingly, the React and Zoom Air combination on the KD 11 was money. While it doesn’t feel like much fresh out the box, give everything some time to warm up and break in — the rubber cage especially.
Once you break the shoe in you’ll find yourself feeling a nice spring to each step, thanks to the Zoom Air, with plenty of impact protection courtesy of the React midsole. While you can’t feel it with you fingers/hands because of the firm rubber cage (cupsole), the React midsole is very soft, so just give the shoe a little time if you’re unhappy with it from a try-on perspective.
I don’t like playing in the KD 11 but I loved playing with this cushion setup and hope to see it utilized on other models in the near future.
I like Flyknit, I really do, even though it doesn’t seem like it at the moment. The forefoot of the KD 11 is firm — and backed by a layer of nylon with a lot of glue. While it looks like a knit, it doesn’t feel or act like a knit.
Then there is the rest of the knit build, which is just the way I tend to like my knitted shoes. The only thing is that this time around the knit is so stretchy that it’s made the shoes nearly unplayable for me. At least, I don’t feel safe playing in them. Casually, I think people will really love the Flyknit upper. The problem is that this is a basketball shoe. Some may enjoy the upper and the way it fits/feels but I’m not a fan.
Keeping your foot onto the footbed is the name of the game when it comes to fit, lockdown, and support. The KD 11 just couldn’t do it at all, ever. I know Kevin Durant likes to wear his shoes really loose — to the point where they’ve come off of his feet during games several times — and while that’s cool for KD I like my shoes to fit a bit more securely.
Never once did I feel locked into the shoe or supported by the upper. I’d tie the shoes so tight that I’d cut off circulation to my feet — which makes you feel like you’re carrying around dead weight on the court — and that just isn’t a comfortable way to play.
Had the firm knit from the toe been swapped, or even brought over, to the midfoot I think that would have helped things out quite a bit. Perhaps throwing in a more traditional lacing system versus a Flywire-only system could have helped out as well.
This is one of those shoes that you’re going to have to wear to get the awful experience that I did. Again, some may enjoy the shoe on-court but I have a feeling many are not going to be pleased.
Due to the sloppy fit and stretchy materials, support is greatly compromised. As I mentioned above, I never really felt safe playing in the shoe. Believe me, I tried to make the KD 11 work — the cushion is great — but I just couldn’t get it to work for me.
Torsional support is abundant due to the rubber cupsole while heel support is adequate with the sturdy heel counter. However, it would have been even better had the lacing system been able to really draw your foot into the rear of the sneaker to use that heel counter properly.
An outrigger is present but your foot rests on top of the midsole. Couple that with a really stretchy and forgiving upper and its roll-over city. I cannot tell you how many times the side of my foot hit the floor from rolling over the footbed in these. It’s something that you should never want in a shoe unless you’re immune to ankle injuries.
I really loved the KD 9. I really wanted to love the KD 10. I thought I would really love the KD 11. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most disappointing shoes I’ve tested in a while. We could really use a good blend of performance knits and leathers on these modern shoes. The fully knit build has been so hit or miss over the last few years that I question why we’re still trying it in 2018. Have we not learned by now that the rear of a shoe needs more structure?
Look at the PG 1, PG 2, and Kyrie 4 as examples: textiles in the front, structured heel in the back. I mean, even the KD 7 (my personal favorite KD model to play in) got it right. Weight reduction shouldn’t come at such a high cost. Support is needed in basketball shoes and the KD 11 is further proof of that.
I wish I could get a refund but I had to pay an arm and a leg to get the KD 11 early in order to review it on time. That means I didn’t go the big box retailer route.
The KD 11 hits retailers on July 18 in the U.S. If you’re able to make it work let me know in the comments down below.