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Nike Kobe 9 EM Performance Review

Not much has changed between the Nike Kobe 9 Elite and the Kobe 9 EM but there were a few minor changes made that made for a fun ride.

Traction, Cushion, Fit and Support are pretty much identical when comparing the Kobe 9 EM to it’s Elite counterpart. I personally enjoyed the fit in this shoe a little more due to the material change as they feature very little Fuse and they were missing the really high collar but overall you get the same experience.

Materials are the main difference between the two models. Flyknit vs. Engineered Mesh. The Flyknit is more durable and less breathable due to it’s Fuse backing. They are both really flexible so I can’t complain at all about that. Engineered Mesh tends to rip easily and while I believe it could still happen with the Kobe 9 EM, as it did with the Kobe 8, I feel that the increased thickness of the Mesh is going to help prolong that from happening… that along with the Nylon reinforcement they have running throughout the interior of the shoe.

Carbon Fiber vs. TPU support would be their last real difference. Basically… you get the same overall performance so it doesn’t really matter. Yes, Carbon Fiber is a little more sturdy but the way they have designed the structure to wrap the foot from under instead of over I think will allow the TPU to stay in one piece for a greater length of time.

Which would I personally choose between the Kobe 9 EM & Kobe 9 Elite? I love how the Flyknit looks but the lower EM model is just as efficient and still gets the job done for less money. What about the Kobe 9 EM & the Kobe 8? Well… you can’t go wrong with either one but from a personal level, the traction on the Kobe 9 EM is more reliable on more surfaces. They’re also slightly more durable and the practically Fuse-less interior was more comfortable for my feet.

Nike Kobe 9 EM Perforamnce Review

121 comments
  1. Great review Chris! Maybe a little bit more colouring on scorecard would be more presentable, what do you think? (Is it a kobe IX elite “detail” PE scorecard? XD)

          1. what size are all the weights on the scorecards generally referring too? thanks for the review nightwing

      1. I understand the weight for the kobe ix em = 11.9oz.
        What is the weight for the kobe ix elite LOW?

        Thanks

  2. Chris,

    Could you please provide an explanation for the drastic change? What happened to Kicks on Court? I understand how growth works but this feels very sudden and I was hoping to provide some kind of explanation or article on the front page explaining things. Did Complex buy you out? I’m not hating on your decisions but just feel like the least that can be done is provide some kind of warning or information explaining to users where the site is heading.

    I’ve been a fan since the Nightwing2303.com days and saw the transformation to K.O.C. and stayed a devoted viewer. I’m very sad to see the logo replaced. I wish you the best….

    http://kicksoncourt.com/complex-lists-15-best-independent-sneaker-blogs/

  3. Nice review. I think Im gunna pick up a pair when some more colorways come out so I can match with my school uniform 😛

  4. Thanks again for another great review and for the comprehensive comparisons with the other Kobe models. The site looks better than ever, great work on the redesign and Long Live WearTesters.com!!

  5. NW I came to the same conclusion after hooping in these for a week. I wrote on the first impression post that these are better than the elites.

    To those thinking what is better between the Kobe 8 and the Kobe 9 low EM, good look even finding a pair of Kobe 8 at this point. Unless they are still on Nike ID, they are always sold out around my way. I like Kobe 9 low EM over the Kobe 8.

    1. Yeah, I dig both versions of the 9 on-court but these just are more suited to what my overall package would be. If there was only a super high top Kobe 9 then that’d be one thing but since there is a low option then I think they’re just better due to the collar not having a real affect on fit or lockdown. And I def like the way the 9 EM feels on foot over the 8… I like having less Fuse.

  6. The scorecard color needs to change a bit, b/c it’s hard to tell the rating view.
    Overall, great video and write up. Big ups homie!

  7. Congratz on the new website Chris ! Looks a lot more detailed and polished up, hope to see more great things in the future. You’ve helped me in many ways choosing the right performance shoes, and this review does not disappoint. Seems like the Kobe 9s EM are just as good (and even better considering the price difference) as the Elites. Thank you for all the work you put into giving us all the info. we need.

  8. Chris I follow you from Bolivia tarija I’m a big fan of the sneakers is a shame that so hard to get them over here but hey your videos are very helpful to decide which to buy thanks greetings

    1. Hey Diego, nice seeing support from other parts of Bolivia. I’m from Santa Cruz. It is pretty tough to get shoes over here as well.

  9. I agree that the flyknit looks better on the KB9 elites, but other than looks, is there an actual function to the flyknit? kinda feels like a gimmick to me..

    1. It’s sturdier than the EM. Other than that… not much difference. If they could get the price margins closer to one another then I think that’s help ppl more.

  10. Hope to see this in our local mall. Mr nightwing nice review and i also love your new site. Keep up the goodwork.

  11. Great new branding NW! keep up the good work. I think the scorecard looks fine personally. No problems reading it for me but to each his own.

  12. I must admit, i had high expectations for the Kobe 9 Elites. I thought that the flyknit would provide a newer feel of one to one fit that molded to your foot. but when Nike placed all that Fuse underneath it.it didn’t feel any different from EM. IMO EM is the way to go. its cheaper and creates just as good mold to your foot as flyknit does…..Nice expansion NW btw

  13. Great review and love the new website! I’m thinking of getting a pair when some more colorslways drop. Hopefully they don’t rip too easily, I’ve had to send back my XX8’s(amazing shoe) and Super.Fly 2s. My m10s have traction that is starting to rip off(I strictly play indoor) and I can’t wear my HD 2012s because they give me tendonitis whenever I wear them. There’s only been one good pair of Nikes that haven’t had issues and I’ve bought like 5 pairs in the past 2 years. Sorry about the long rant

    Tl;DR I love nike but their build quality is killin me

  14. I picked these up two days ago rather than opting for the elites. Lucked out and the mall by me had 1 pair left in my size. Over the past two days I put about 7 hours of work on them, and they’re great. The traction on these is undoubtedly an upgrade from the 8’s. I feel like a damn spider on the court. The most notable difference to me between these and the 8’s is the lunarlon needs more break in time.

    New site looks good my man. Congrats on moving forward and continuing to keep it real with your reviews. I wish you continued success. You’ve definitely got my support.

  15. Nice review as always! Still waiting for laker cws of this. And hey nike just announced a flyknit low top version of the kobe 9 O.o so many variants

  16. Nice review once again nightwing, may I ask what type of court do you play in outdoors?
    Is it like a rough cement court or a smooth one with paint?

  17. Yo my man Chris! Great work on the new site! Scoreboard needs a bit of color though..how about crossing it out with something like the ghostbuster kinda thing.. Anyway great review plan to get these but it’ll be a lil difficult to get some good CW here in Philippines. Always a fan.

  18. Thanks for the review! Great as usual.
    i like the new intro…also good job on the new page layout, even I dont care a lot about runners, offcourt shoes…etc. but its good looking and well structured.

  19. Hey Nightwing, love your new scoreboard design, aswell as the new name and website. Great review as always. I just need to ask you if you’re planning to do a review on the Crazyquick 2.0. I’ve put them on at the store, and, compared to my old Crazy Light 2 , the fit is amazing, however the cushioning felt a little too hard. Thanks.

  20. Greetings from Brussels, Belgium NightWing!
    Congrats for the new website look and feel: gorgeous and clean.
    One question if I may: I had problems with my Kobe 8 due to the pointy backside (right behind the foot) that went straight into my Achilles’ tendon each time I jumped (I play volleyball too, so I do more vertical jumps than in basketball on average), the result: acute tendonitis!
    With the Kobe 9 EM they seems to have learned from this (and Kobe’s injury too) and provided an indented/concave heel backside…
    My question : did you notice any improvement or other on that side of things?
    Thanks a lot and keep it coming, it’s just great!

    1. The Kobe 8’s heel didn’t bother me at all but the Kobe 9 EM was very comfortable in that area to to it contouring around the ankle rather than running into it.

  21. First of all, congratulations on the new design nightwing. Imo this new name fits better than the old one.
    Anyway, I would like to ask if this would hold out better in an outdoor court? I hoop here in the Philippines but it’s mostly on rough terrain. Thanks for all the reviews and the replys.

      1. Thanks. Really needed the insight. I thought the outsole would be thicker in this model compared to the elites.

  22. NW, the best way to express how valuable and anticipated your reviews are is that I have been checking the site at least hourly waiting for this review since I purchased the EMs the morning of their release. As always, EXCELLENT and informative review and thank you for anticipating the questions on the comparisons between the KB8 and the KB9 Elite.
    The new site looks great, and I am not a big fan of change, LOL.
    I rarely, if ever, leave comments on sites but had to let you know that your reviews are by far the best and most comprehensive I have come across. Keep it up the great work, it is most appreciated. You are a legend here in the DC area!

  23. Great review as always, Chris. As a long time reader, I hate to see those “snakes” take a bite out of your success. But we all know snakes are just snakes. Hopefully this is a blessing in disguise. And as a runner, I am excited to see the new categories. I am sure your site will be bigger and better in the future. Support from Hong Kong.

  24. Congrats on the site! I love your reviews and I read almost all of your post. Just wondering, if u have to choose one shoe to play in for a year from Kobe 9 EM or Kobe 8, Which one?

    1. Having hooped a whole lot in the 8s and now putting a decent amount of court time on the 9em, I would definitely out for the 9em’s. Traction is superior in every way, and the lunarlon is thicker.

  25. Hey Chris

    Good to see evolution but one thing as a “constructive” feedback is the new design is bit unclear to navigate and sort of “dont know where to click” sort of thing. Just a personal opinion

    Good luck with the new domain and all the seo as this possibly will be a bitch to get to the kicks on court level quckly

    All the best
    Alex

    1. great review. loved how you compared these with Kobe8. just a suggestion on this new layout, I agree with comment above in terms that it is a bit cluttered. There’s so much going on … I just wish you would put the performance tests on top because I consider your site to be performance-oriented. All the news and off the court kicks the other sites have it covered. But performance, NW, you ARE performance!

      1. Appreciate the feedback. I have the site setup to show the most recent news first followed by categories for you to click through depending on the sport you wish to partake in. I didn’t want the site to have a simple blog roll so that everything was cluttered together, instead I categorized it all so you just have to click into the category you wish to view. Hoopers have Kicks On Court, lifestyle people have Kicks Off Court, Runners have their category and more will follow once more content is covered. Hope that helps!

    2. Appreciate the feedback. I have the site setup to show the most recent news first followed by categories for you to click through depending on the sport you wish to partake in. I didn’t want the site to have a simple blog roll so that everything was cluttered together, instead I categorized it all so you just have to click into the category you wish to view. Hoopers have Kicks On Court, lifestyle people have Kicks Off Court, Runners have their category and more will follow once more content is covered. Hope that helps!

  26. I’m liking the new setup Nightwing. Great work. So personally for you is this your favorite Kobe ever?

  27. Good job make us proud

    Would you pick the kobe 8 over the rose 4.5??

    How big a difference is impact absorption?

  28. What shoe is better for a small forward and shooting guard, the Kobe 9 EM, KD VI, or the Lebron 11.

  29. I love this page so much ! Thankyou for making the guidelines of the shoes that I buy. I don’t think I’ve not seen one of your videos I watch them all. Chris your a true inspiration to a 14 year old like my self

  30. GREAT REVIEW ! i wanted to ask about stability, i have some ankle sprain problems and i was which shoe has better stability kobe 9 EM or KD 6 elite. what do you think ?

  31. Can anyone comment on the lateral stability of the Kobe 9 EM vs kobe 8? I liked the kobe 8s, but at times during harsh lateral stops/cuts, I felt the outrigger nearly roll over on multiple occasions. Does the addition of TPU on the Kobe 9 EM do anything to address that?

  32. Am I the only one that has terrible scuff marks on my Kobe’s??? It really bothers me. Don’t know what to do about it

  33. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get these but I caved and made this shoe my first ever Nike ID. I can’t wait to get them in hand. Hopefully Nike doesn’t mess it up. With the basic dark colors that I chose, that would be hard to do. Thanks as always for the review.

  34. i was just wondering my true size is 11. I used sz 11 for kobe 8s, and for these IX, funny story actually, i asked to try on size 11 just to be sure also, the worker came out with the shoes both of us thinking it was size 11, it was somewhat a perfect fit. as soon as i got into the car i didnt notice that it was size 10 1/2 that i tried the whole time but it was such a perfect fit so i didnt even bother to look at the size on the box and the shoes. I don’t wanna return it because its perfect. so im wondering is it just really better to get these kobe IX em on half a size lower or have i always been 10 1/2 lol, or should i go to 11s?

  35. put in the lebron xi midsole on the kb9.. and i can tell y’all it feels 10x better having that zoom in there vs full length lunarlon – not to mention it’ll last much longer as well.

  36. Hey Nightwing great review, I’m just curious because you said the kobe 8 and kobe 9 em were very similar at a peformance level, if not the kobe 9s em were slightly better, so why did the kobe 8s get a 9.25, but the kobe 9s em got a 9 in score?

    1. I believe I stated my personal preference between the two, not which is ‘better’, but as for the scores… they’re determined by the total average of all the scores. You’d have to see which attribute was rated higher in the 9 vs the 8 to find out which is why its .25 greater overall.

  37. Since the grooves in the outsole are thin and soft, would an XDR outsole effect the traction indoor? If so how much?

  38. All hoops players should have strong arch support in their shoes to prevent the arch from breaking down over time. While you are in your 20’s and early 30’s you may not think you need arch support , but as time goes on your feet are going to start hurting like h3ll and you’ll wish you did. This Kobe shoe is BAD BAD BAD for your feet for two reasons : 1) the insole cannot be removed and replaced with Superfeet or custom orthotics (which you should all be wearing); 2) Nike went cheapskate and removed the arch supporting carbon fiber arch plate they had in previous versions. Bit if these facts make this a BAD shoe to play basketball in. Take care of your feet people and you’ll have a LONG hoops life.

  39. I am looking to purchase the Kobe 9 Elite Lows (either the Beethoven colorway or a Nike ID option), but I have no way of knowing what size will fit me. In the Kobe 8 I wore an 11 but i felt like there was a little more room in general that i didnt like (not much though). I tried on a 10.5 in the EM’s and really liked how they fit. Any idea on what the better choice would be?

  40. Nightwing I have a quick question regarding the fit of the kobe 9 em. I recently bought the kobe 8 in a 9.5 yet I can’t wear socks that have thick padding such as elite socks in them because it hurts my foot so I have to wear thinner socks such as normal nike socks. I’ve heard people say that the kobe 9 em fit wider so should I buy the kobe 9 ems in a 9.5 or should I step up to a 10 because to wear kobe 8s with thick padding socks I need to wear a size 10. Thank you and good luck with the new website!

    1. My Kobe 8 & 9 EM are the same size and I wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s what works for me at least so maybe it will work for you as well. I’d try them on if possible.

  41. I understand the weight for the kobe ix em = 11.9oz.
    What is the weight for the kobe ix elite LOW?

    Thanks

  42. I just picked up Easter em kobe 9.. I was just wonder how is the ankle support, I tried them on and loved the feel and freedom. Just a little worried on support, its my 1st low top.
    I played college ball and Im a shooter, so My footwork has to be on pair. I love doing step backs and quick movements

    Soooo Immmm Giving kobe 9 low a shot

    Thank You for your reviews, you are always very detail compared to kick genius which Im big fans of both sites

  43. Does these shoes last long in indoor court? From what i can see the rubber on the outsole is pretty soft. I play ball in an indoor court once a week, 1hr 30 mins per session for training purposes, how long do you think the outsole on these will last?

  44. Great review as usual. I play college ball as a combo guard. I wanted to know if ankle braces could go with these and not be uncomfortable. Iliked the kobe 8s but they were too low and as light as they were, I didnt like them too much. I know these are higher and a bit more solid but Im still thinking of ankle braces with. I just need your thoughts on that.

  45. Hey Nightwing, Do you think i’ll have any problem with these (I use custom orthotics)? Specifically it’s 13mm on the arch and about 5mm on the heel (JUst so you can have an idea of the orthotics thickness 🙂 ). I would really appreciate and answer, thank you for your support. 🙂

    1. i would say, shoes with a drop-in midsole are basically completely incompatible with orthotics (Kobe 8, 9, Lebron 11…).

      but there are lots of other good shoes out there ;)…i would recoment to try them in store with your orthotics if possible.

        1. You sure? It’s a little hard to try them on here in México, but i’ll try to give the Kobes a try and see from there. Do these fit the same as the Kobe 8? Because it’s easier to try those on.

          1. To me, having had both Kobe 8 (which I still have and is still a big favorite of mine despite that damn tongue behind the heel that hurts the Achiles tendon), the 9 EM are a bit narrower (I have a rather wide foot) than the 8, length wise they are the same, just narrower. I wouldn’t advise go half a size up though, just pick your 8’s size and wait a couple of games before the fit “settles-in” and it stetches around your foot.

      1. Do the shoes with drop in midsoles still have an insole on top of the midsole?

        If so, wouldn’t you still be able to use orthotics if it’s not too tall height wise?

  46. I like everything about this shoe except for the fact that whenever I play in them the arches of my feet burn and hurt like crazy. Does anyone know why it does this or how to fix it? If anyone can answer this question it will be very much appreciated.

    1. Hey i have the same problem!!!! During games whenever i rub for like 2 min my feet starts to ache and when i sit on the bench for a solid 30 second its all good.. Idk why but im just saying I experienced it

  47. I have the same problem as well when I use my Kobe 9s but it doesnt happen when use my 8s. Any comments on this??

  48. Bought my daughter a pair of What the kobe 9 elite high a few months ago and they ripped at the seam today (just above the ankle) I called Nike customer service and was treated like garbage and was told basically send them in and IF, IF Nike decides there is an issue with the shoe they will replace them if not “Oh Well”, I’m out almost $380.00!! I asked customer service What are we supposed to do in the meantime? Basketball has started. She said, “I don’t know”. WHAT??? $380 was spent on sneakers that I would assume would last longer than 3 months!!!!!

    1. They told you what they tell everyone. The issue your shoe had would be accepted, they just can’t tell you that over the phone without physically inspecting the product first. You spent too much if you paid $380 on the EM version as well. Seen them at the outlets for half off retail in some colorways.

    2. Just adding my POV for anyone still considering these to play in. TL/DR: I am not a big fan of these.

      I found the traction pretty awful at my Y, which is not the most pristine NBA court but an average sealed wooden court. They squeak plenty so it seems like they’re grippy, but I slide more in these than any other proper basketball shoe I have. I have to wipe them frequently, but since the traction pattern is so wide, it’s not like it’s just dust that is getting in there, it’s the pattern and material itself.

      To state the obvious, these have very little cushioning (even when new). Especially in the forefoot. Some people who want very low, maximum responsiveness (which is obviously who these are for) may like that, but they make my feet burn like crazy, my arches hurt and gave me shin splints–which I don’t get with other sneakers (I’m not that heavy and play in other fairly minimal low-tops so it’s not like they are an inherent mismatch for me). I don’t have issues with the heel cushioning, but I don’t like really cushy heels in general.

      You really need to try these on and see if the cup of the Lunarlon insole feels good to your forefoot (especially how it curls up on the sides). I have normal to narrow feet (I wear Chucks) so this wasn’t an issue but I do think they fit a bit small overall. My toes were packed in pretty tight compared to other Nikes in the same size. The lockdown was okay if I tied the top laces pretty tight (random note, these come untied way more than my others for some reason). My other issue with the grip pattern on the surface of insole that catches your socks when you put them on. I really hate this. I suppose it’s meant to stop as much slide as possible, but since they are so low and narrow to begin with, I have to loosen them all the way and jam my toes in before putting my heel in and lacing. It’s so annoying but if I just slide my foot in, my socks pull on my toes and feel awful.

      The other aspects, which I don’t think matter much, are all fine (I got a grey/silver and black which looks nice). FWIW, I went bought up some discounted Run the Ones to replace my worn ones, which I find fit me much better, seem to have better grip where I play, and have a bit more forefoot cushioning (due to the Zoom unit) which makes a big difference for me.

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