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Nike KD 8 Performance Review

Not bad, not bad…

Nike KD 8 Performance Review 1Traction – How do you top the KD7’s traction? Simply put… this is how. It’s a modified herringbone pattern that looks as if it’s been digitized. Suffice to say, they played really great on every floor I played on. Only when the local 24 Hour Super Sport showed they desperately needed to clean the floor did I get any slippage, but even with the debris it was more reliable than other traction patterns I’ve used. Only reason why I won’t give them a Hall of Fame badge is because the rubber used is soft and is already fraying after a solid week of use. So, the down side is their potential durability, but while they last you’ll have some awesome grip.

Nike KD 8 Performance Review 2Cushion – A new full length articulated Zoom Air unit was created for the KD 8, and it looks extremely similar to one I designed way back when I reviewed the Nike LeBron 10. How does the full length Zoom feel? Well…you can’t really feel it most of the time. The main section under the ball of the foot feels amazing – super springy and explosive – but the rest is braced by additional rubber or plastic to keep the bag from compressing and becoming unstable. So while you receive some nice full length cushion that flexes better than previously used full length Air units, I think it could have been implemented a bit better. Personally, I would have encapsulated the cushion while retaining its flex grooves. Basically make it so that the cushion isn’t visible–the same way the Air Jordan 12 did. It’d still flex and move, but it’d be set directly under foot so you could feel the cushion and responsiveness without risking any instability. Either way, you don’t come across full length cushion like this, from Nike, at this price point anymore…and that’s saying something since these things are pretty damn expensive.

Nike KD 8 Performance Review 3Materials – They’ve renamed it Flyweave, but it’s basically the performance woven material that made it’s debut in the air Jordan xx9. It’s awesome. Period. You used to have to pay $225 if you wanted to try out Jordan Brand’s performance woven upper, but now you can try it out for less ($180). Yes, you can currently find the Air Jordan xx9 for under retail, but they don’t come with full length cushion and a performance woven upper like these do. Yeah, +1 for the KD8. The only drawback to a woven upper is durability. So if you’re worried about the potential longevity of your shoes then staying away from softer upper materials would be best. If you grab a shoe with mesh, woven etc. along the upper then don’t complain if they eventually tear… It’s to be expected at some point.

Nike KD 8 Performance Review 4Fit – Their fit is a little tricky. I went up half a size. And I usually never do that so I’d recommend trying them on. They reminded me a lot of the KD5 at first because the tongue is attached to the upper and your foot can definitely feel that upon putting them on. The difference though, these use a woven upper instead of plastic so they break-in in no time. Lockdown is solid as well. The forefoot is pretty snug to ensure that secure fit, while Flywire is in place to help reinforce the area upon lateral movements. Having the Flywire in this specific location might actually alleviate some of the pressure the woven will face while being played in, so it may help it last a bit longer. In the heel there is an internal heel counter that works great, and  the interior padding is really nicely sculpted to help keep things secure. Those saber tooth phylon pieces don’t really do any of the supporting though; they’re too thin and are basically there for storytelling purposes only.

Nike KD 8 Performance Review 5Support – Similar to the Zoom Soldier 9, there are support features all over the KD 8. The first, and most obvious, is their form fitting upper. The more natural your foot and the shoe adhere to one another the better the support will be. Then there’s the huge platform the shoe is built on. The Zoom unit is flat and wide, instability is pretty much a non issue here. Any potential instability would have come from the exposed zoom air unit, but like I described in the cushion section, there are support piece in place to ensure the bag won’t fold or collapse when you’re playing so you’re covered from every angle. If you wanted to see the support pieces I’m talking about then check the video, it’s a little hard to write and describe each area without putting you to sleep… if you’re even awake at this point anyway.

Something I personally disliked was the large exaggerated heel. It sticks out way too far and while it never obstructed transition like I initially thought it might, instead it just made it really easy for someone to step on me and take my shoe completely off. Getting flat-tired in a game usually doesn’t happen, but in these it happened more than it should have.

Nike KD 8 Performance Review 6
Overall – I really enjoyed the shoe on-court. They have some beastly traction and full coverage cushion. The woven upper is something that I personally love, and I hope others enjoy it as much as I do. As long as you get your the size that’ll fit you properly, support will be amazing. The KD 8 is right up there with the KD 5 and 7 in terms of on-court performance – all three are really awesome 0n-court. Hopefully they continue to get better each year…KD deserves a great performance shoe, and so do those that buy his kicks.


  1. Have been balling in them the past week and have really enjoyed them overall. It definitely was more snug than I thought it would be, but it did break in after 2 games. It’s my first KD since the 5 and I’m glad I waited until the 8 to try a KD again. This is definitely my favorite KD and that’s coming from someone who really enjoyed the 5. Between this, the LeBron 12 and the Rose 5 boost, I think I’ve finally got a rotation I’ll be using for a while.

  2. Great review as always. Too bad about the cushion but will probably pick them up when I can find them in my size.

  3. Strong and detailed work NW. Do these have a shank plate? I’m very concerned about plantar fasciitis and I’m not comfortable with inserts

  4. Nightwing I really appreciate your performance reviews they are always very in depth. Which shoes would you go with between the Soldier 9 or KD 8?

  5. do you feel they splattered the upper with glue like the kobe 9s? They are “flyweave” but they feel like they injected it with something. the edge near the tongue and lace holes have a fuselike? material to reinforce that part. Overall, the upper is nowhere near as comfy as the xx9s.

    1. The only Fuse areas are the lacing and where the Flywire comes out. This is a tighter weave than the XX9, so it feels slightly different, and I personally liked the KD 8’s woven a little more than the XX9.

  6. Dang, I was jones one for a full side to side zoom monster. Those plastic speed bumps? Are they something highly noticeable it just more of a buzz kill because we expected a spring board type responsiveness? Another wait for the outlet shoe I guess.

    1. Wasn’t a buzz kill, but its not springy feeling like you’d think. If you’ve worn full length Zoom before then you might be a little disappointed. I still thought they were great though. Not trash or anything, just not a good as it could have been.

  7. And yeah, I never thought I would say a shoe would have a cardashian fat back, but I guess these do have a fat back!

  8. I was disappointed with the articulated zoom. It was a game changer executed wrong. Sorry Nike…

  9. I really enjoyed this shoe and have added it into my regular rotation. I did find them a bit tight at first but they broke in really well. The only issue I had was the rubber on the outsole strated to fray after the first game where my heel was striking the court.

  10. Great review! I will definetely be playing in mine more. Been straight casual so far with one solid day of playing. I hope that these will not dissapoint. The basketball world finally has low top wovens imo kobe 9 elite low didn’t count. Nightwing, what are you currently reviewing?

  11. These or the jc2 for cushion, traction and fit? I think you and I share similar tastes in performance models, same height (I’m 5 8 and three quarters but basically yeah) same position, same playing style. I was really counting on this one.

  12. full length zoom, especially of the exposed variety, is always kinda hard to pull off in a perimeter-oriented shoe without making the shoe unstable it seems, you either have bounciness and instability or the bounce of the zoom is restrained to make the shoe more responsive for quick players who need something low to the ground and fluid rather than something that feels super springy…

    i’m not the type of person who really cares all that much about how springy a cushioning system is, seeing as how i’m neither big nor heavy, and i love full length foam setups mostly because they allow me to stay low to the ground without any distractions whatsoever, whether that comes from instability, awkward transition, or whatever…unlocked zoom and all that is fun and everything, but for me the podulon or podulite or whatever they call it in the cp3 line is the jordan brand cushioning invention that suits me the most…

    the novelty of the kd8, trying to get a large volume full length zoom bag to be as flexible as something like the crazyquick, is cool, and it would be nice if nike managed to make something bouncy, flexible and low-profile all at the same time, but as long as it works in a guard-oriented shoe i don’t really care…

    really what’s more important is that the upper gives me a one to one fit, there is enough support for me to not roll my ankle when i’m cutting at sharp angles, that my heel is contained at all times and i’m not slipping around inside the shoe because the last is weird…like NW always says, when it comes to basketball shoes it’s all about priorities that are contingent on how you play and what you need, i just feel sometimes that people place too much emphasis on cushioning technologies, and the performance footwear industry seems to do the same as a consequence

  13. what i mean to say is that for me a basketball shoe is about giving you what you need to play your game without worrying about hurting yourself or having sore legs at the end of the day, and sometimes i think that focusing too much on how bouncy the midsole is kind of takes away from what basketball shoes are there to do, the basketball-specific problems that they address, the crazyquick, one of my all time favorite shoes, is a case in point, loads of people just stayed away from those because of the lack of forefoot cushion, as though doing such a thing was commercial suicide on adidas’ part

  14. The Best Shoe out there for now! Have a wide foot so I went half size up, a little tight at first but after 3 games it now fits comfortably. Been feeling no pain whatsoever after the break in and it has got to be one of my best shoes ever.

  15. What is it with nike encapsulating all there great cushioning with tpu cages and pieces of plastic?

  16. Nice review Nightwing. I tried on the USAs today. Light shoe. Fit was good in my normal size 10. Heel zoom bag feels good. The forefoot is not as bouncy as I like. Sounds like it could break in a little, which would be good. My one concern is that the forefoot zoom feels a little strange at toe off – I can feel the end of the zoom bag under my toes. Was awkward feeling. This could make running and jumping feel a tad strange. Did you notice this at all? If so, did it go away as the shoes broke in?

  17. NW, great review. I’ve noticed that with really springy zoom air, i.e. Lebron X and 28SE, I sometimes get blisters at the ball of my feet. Did you have any blisters from the KD8? No pictures please… lol.

  18. Hey nightwing I got these but unfortunately wasn’t able to try them on before I purchased. They seem a little snug in the forefoot right now. I’ve only played in them for around 30 mins. The pain on the side of my foot was a little distracting so I had to switch shoes. Will these break in later?

    1. @ Tdb… We got the same problem when I first played on these. After the break in, you’re gonna be pain free, just keep on playing with it

  19. since they look similar to the kobe x traction (not the pattern) have you slipped in your X’s already? or are the Kobe X have better grip than these? NICE REVIEW AS ALWAYS!

  20. Hey nightwing , i purchased kd8 three days ago , and i played in them almost whole day , think they have good impact protection , i am heavy heel striker , but in these it looks like they are meant for players that play on their toes since i felt zoom only in forefoot … can you recommend some good shoes for heel strikers?

  21. In the paragraph about fit, did you mean the shoe reminded you of the KD 6 instead of KD 5? Because I believe the KD 6 is the model with the tongue attached to a plastic upper.

  22. What’s up NW, incredibly thorough review as always. I’ve been following your reviews for a really long time and I was just wondering if u could revert back to the 1-10 grading scale, the whole 6th man, starter, benched thing just isn’t detailed enough for me. I play at the collegiate level and I’m very particular abt all aspects of my shoe and I truly trust your judgment. U could even try a 1-5 scale as well, just please use something numerical.

    1. I appreciate your support, however, we won’t be returning to the 1-10 scale. The new system used the 1-10 in a simpler format that causes less confusion between a numbered score. The difference between 8, 9, and 10 is very little, yet those that would see the 8 in comparison to a 10 would assume that the 8 is the same as a 1 – which just isn’t accurate. So that is where the badge system comes into play. It wraps up a ‘good’ performer simply, while letting you know if something is not so good or gets the job done. You can see a more thorough explanation HERE.

  23. man the kobe 9 with a bigger heel part and kd instead of kb, pretty cool. KD has had wonderful shoes, since the KD 4 it was affordable and arguabley as good as any shoe, The price and tech continue to climb as the kobe torch is handed off, and Kyrie Harden and Paul George will fill PEs.——-

  24. The cushioning score is very meh for Full Length Zoom Returning to signature model. I really guess you have to feel it, i was hoping similiar to the Hyper Rev 2014. But its Nike. I have a question, would you prefer This full length zoom set up or unlocked Zoom> in other words, for a multi positional wing, who may play some post ball Do you prefer, Melo Unlocked Zoom/ KD full length or the Lebron 360 for example? I know

  25. Just a question, before playing with the Kd8s what shoe were you wearing/balling ? I don’t know if you do this, but I think if you wear KD’s 5,6&7 just for comparison prior to wearing the Kd8s.
    Great review though.

    1. I mean it will be better comparison, based on the shoe line and not just in general. Personally I’ve been a Kobe shoe follower but I went KD since after KD 4. So I’m doing Kobe and KD alternate, Kobe shoes has tons of technology compared to KD’s. I hope the KD8’s closest the gap between them two.

  26. Been hooping in these exclusively since July 6th and I’m REALLY diggin them. Current rotation is Lebron X1(Cushion KINGS), Kobe Vs, Kobe VIIs, Kobe 9s and now these.
    When I first started wearing these the overall snugness almost made me return/exchange them, but after 2-3 2hr hoop sessions I haven’t reached for any other pair.

    Absolutely loving these so far. Traction is astounding, right behind my Kobe 9s.

    1. Better overall fit, traction, transition, and feel lighter on foot. KD6 has better impact protection but not quite as suited for hard drives or cuts. I’d love running the court on the KD6 Elites on breaks or training. The KD8 has been a better overall shoe but definitely took some lessons from the 6 Elite

  27. These definitely break in after some time for all those wondering. Have a wide for so I went up half a size to 12.5. I’m a bigger guy at 245 and unlike the average player, I felt full length zoom bounce and impact protection. I thought the HyperRev2014 was great responsiveness but on impact, it would still hurt my knees. The Hyperposite2 had incredible impact protection but no responsiveness for hard cuts. These have been an incredible compromise and my go to. The Kobe X have been the best for me and these have past it up for me personally as a bigger guy. Having had an Achilles rupture, heel protection is huge. The Flight Plate system was great before I had the injury. The KD8 have been awesome and I can highly recommend to any bigger/ Fast player.

  28. I’m currently playing in Kobe X lows and SC lows… i am 35 years old, im a guard and have gotten heavier through the years… plus my knees are shot soo i really need good cushioning.. I love playing in the kobes… which has better cushioning the kobe x’ or the kd8’s? i really like how this shoe looks but its different when you play in em..

  29. Hi I wondered if these shoes will stretch at the point were the tongue ends? when I go up half a size the shoe feels snug on the top of my foot, but if I go up a full size I have too much room in the toebox

  30. I bought this and played a game for 3 hours indoor. Love the cushion setup. It’s bouncy and you can feel the pump of the Zoom Air on the Heel. It’s lightweight too, like you are playing barefooted.

    But I got an issue, because of the fitting. My Left Pinky toe got swollen and hurts like hell. I’m a wide footed and always wear 10US on my Lebron’s and Kobe. After the game , I sold my KD 8 the next day. I never experience it on any of my M10 and M11 and even on the Lebron 9, 10 and 11. Was thinking I should have size up to 10.5US.

    Would love this shoe but 10.5US is too big and long for me. since im 9.5US TTS and I use 10US to size up on Lebron and Kobe.

    Overall I like the shoes except for the fitting.

  31. These are very under rated. You can get them for well below retail now at outlets and ebay. Talking $85-100 shipped! and for that price they are awesome value! full length zoom, knit upper, great traction! All you need to do is go and try on several sizes at local store with your socks that you ball with.

    1. But are you saying that because they’re finally hitting outlet prices? Where were you when the shoe first dropped for $180? There are components of the shoe that are awesome, I give them that. But to say they’re underrated is an overstatement IMO.

  32. Hey NW! I wore my pair for the first time last night. They were so tight that I ended up rolling my ankle. Were yours pretty uncomfortable before they broke in?

  33. Hey Nightwing2303, I have larger feet (size 14 mens), and have had problems with Nike shoes tearing. My Kyrie ones and Kd7’s torn where you put your foot in, in between the tongue and the heel, around that area, like where the plastic “armour” meets the fabric on Kd7’s. Do these shoes do the same?

  34. So the Jordan XX9 is my go-to hooping shoe no question, and I got my Lebron 13’s a half size small as a result they’re more of an accessory now, and my Kyrie 2’s were the alternate, but since they have a bright white midsole and were custom I didn’t want them to keep getting dirty. Pre-Christmas Sale+Nike Factory Store Outlet= KD 8’s for $35. Yeah $35. And they are a great shoe for $35 brand new, never used closed box. I like them almost as much as the Jordan’s and more than the Kyrie’s tbh

  35. I got these for $55 last year over spring break in a Nike outlet in Vegas. (I was at a basketball tournament.) Great steal, but terrible shoe for the position I play. (Point Guard). Traction is okay, but every time I walked off the court, my feet were on fire from the terrible cushioning. The laces are super short too. These shoes are also extremely stiff.

  36. Thanks for the review NW. I had the KD8 Hunt’s Hill Night. It never felt like I could tie the laces tight enough to get a good lockdown. The shoes were comfortable and the traction indoors was really great. It was also annoying to have the extra ba-dunk-a-dunk in the heel. It always felt like I was wearing those “increase your vertical” strength shoes. After one year and only using the shoes indoors one of them popped in the front. I much prefer Kobe 4s and 5s or the Kyrie for a super snug minimalist feel.

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