The Nike Kobe 5 is back in Protro form and we have the performance review. If you are looking for a modern performance model with similar performance, check out the Serious Player Only Player 1.
The heartbeat pattern is back and there is more tread than before. This is the first time that the outsole tooling has truly been updated with more tread added in between the original pattern.
I didn’t notice whether or not this was a greater version of the traction that what originally released, but one thing I noticed is that the additional tread gives dust a place to get stuck so some wiping will be needed when you’re at your local gym that isn’t well kept. Otherwise, the traction played and performed just as I remember — not quite as good as the Kobe 4, but still a very good and reliable setup.
Cushion is another area that has changed quite a bit from the original model.
The original featured a heel Zoom Air unit and a forefoot Met Zoom Air unit — this Zoom unit was a bit larger than a quarter and sat right beneath the ball of the foot. All of this was housed within a very minimal Phylon midsole.
The new Protro version of the Kobe 5 replaces the small forefoot Zoom unit with Nike’s new Zoom Turbo. This changed adds Zoom Air to the entire forefoot of the shoe — a change that I welcomed.
Initially, the forefoot cushion was firmer than I had expected. Especially when compared to the Nike Kyrie 6 that I still love playing in today. However, the more I’ve played in the Kobe 5 Protro the more they break-in and the more I’ve been able to feel the Zoom Turbo do its thing. Keeping you low to the ground while still offering a bit of impact protection and springy under-foot responsiveness.
Now, the Cushlon midsole replaces the original Phylon midsole and the heel Zoom Air unit. It amazes me how far foam cushion has come since I was a kid. This iteration of Cushlon damn near feels like Zoom Air is riding under your feet. It’s bouncy and responsive, however, at times I do feel it’s a bit too soft.
I would love to see the team at Nike continue tweaking things with these Protro models. Perhaps seeing something like the React/Lunar combo we saw in the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 — that ride was smooth as butter while being soft in all the right places and firm right where you needed it. Maybe that could be something they use in the eventual Nike Kobe 7, 8 or 9 Protro releases.
Materials are practically identical to what we saw used on the original model. The texture and embossed patterns might differ a bit, but the overall structure and build is the same.
This might be the only plastic-based setup I really enjoyed other than the Nike Kobe 6. The super thin skin-fuse material is thin enough to flex and maneuver while being string enough to keep you contained.
I remember the original model having some durability issues where the fuse was heat welded together, so I am curious to know if that issue was addressed for the Protro. I never personally burst through my original pair of Kobe 5’s, but maybe someone that had can fill us in over at our WearTesters Discord Community.
I went true to size, and that is what I’d recommend.
Most of the shoe fits just as I remember — snug. I’ve always used the Kobe 5 as a reference for when I really loved a shoes fit as I consider the last used on the original to be the greatest of all time.
When I say that most of the shoe fits just as I remember them I’m referring to the toe area. This Protro feels like it bubbles up during certain movements which is something I don’t remember the original doing. I’m not sure if this model was built on the same exact last as the OG or if they no longer had the original last available and went with something similar, but for whatever reason I just felt like something in the toe is off a bit. However, the midfoot to the heel is still just as amazing as it originally was. Snug and secure. Wrapping my foot up like a glove.
Support primarily relies on the overall fit, and while these felt a bit different in the toe, the shoe still hugs the foot and locks it into place. The heel features one of the best heel counters of all-time while the midsfoot utilizes a glass composite shank plate. This plat provided the support you’d normally receive from a standard Carbon Fiber shank, but it was much lighter in weight. You still fit within the midsole a bit and the outrigger is a thing of beauty. This is one of those shoes that you lace up and forget about — in a good way.
Ten years later and the Nike Kobe 5 is still just as bad ass as it was before. After being able to finally play in the Kobe 1 (Protro) the Kobe 5 feels like an extension of what they started with the Kobe 1. A lot of the same features are still there, just much lighter in weight.
The carbon fiber shank. Wide forefoot outrigger. Super snug and form-fitting fit. Aggressive traction. Everything is there when comparing the two models. One just happens to be made with “old” materials (leather) while the other was made with something a bit more modern at the time (Fuse).
It’s only January, so I’m not willing to bet that the Nike Kobe 5 Protro is the best basketball shoe of 2020. But… if it is then we may have a problem. That won’t be a great look if something that released in 2009/2010 outplays something releasing today. It wasn’t a good look for knitted builds when the Kobe 1 Protro proved leather still has a place in basketball, and it won’t be a great look if TPU based skin-fuse does the same.
All I know is that if you liked the original then you should enjoy the Protro. If you never played in the original then you should enjoy the Protro. So long as the shoe offers what you’re looking for in your basketball shoes.