Nike Zoom KD9 Performance Review | Duke4005

Yeah, this is late. Yeah, the shoe has been out for three months. Yeah, the Nike Zoom KD9 has already been reviewed by everybody. Sorry, but when a shoe is this good it deserves all the praise it can get. Yeah, I just ruined the review for those of you wondering about the final overall opinion. Who cares — read up and enjoy…


duke4005 kd9 traction

TRACTION – For this review, two different shoes were used (the reason for why this lagged) in order to test two outsole options: the translucent option featured on the ‘Gold Medal’ colorway and the solid outsole of the original ‘USA’ colorway. On clean floors, both provided some of the best traction on the market — grippy, sticky, durable indoors, and doesn’t hold much dust due to the honeycomb cells being wide open. On semi- to really dirty courts the translucent stuck but had to be wiped frequently. The solid was good, no matter what nasty, grimy courts they were tried on. Outdoors? The solid will last a little longer, but probably not much, and once you wear through that rubber you are playing on Zoom bags. From a cushion standpoint, that’s great, but for traction, Zoom bags suck.


duke4005 kd9 cushion

CUSHIONING – Thank you, Leo Chang, or whoever decided to use REAL ZOOM in this year’s Nike shoes. When given Zoom bags like these in the HyperRev 2016 and the Hyperdunk 2016 all is right in the little court in my mind. This is the bouncy, responsive, energy returning Zoom that was supposed to be; there are no Phylon-encased quarter bags or not-really-there dime bags (Kyrie 2, looking at you) — just pure, unadulterated fun bags. Some have said in other reviews that the bags had a lag time, that lateral response was a little slower due to the softness of the bags. Nah, not really. Up and down the court is so smooth, running off cuts and screens is easy, and staying in front on defense was not a problem.

This setup is way more flexible than previous Max Zoom units and the bag didn’t leave feet hurting or tired from overworking to flex the midsole. And the separated units in the forefoot are magical; the flexpoint sits just at the foot/toe joint to roll into steps and jumps. Dang perfect. 


duke4005 kd9 materials

MATERIALS – Look!!! Nike put Flyknit on a basketball shoe!!! Oh, the Kobe series already has it? No, it doesn’t, at least not like this. True knit is flexible, comfy, and requires no break-in time. The KD9 completes the trifecta, but by a nose — it only has the knit in the forefoot and midfoot. No hotspots, no rough edges, and surprisingly, it keeps the foot on the footbed. The tighter overlay cross-pattern provides the hold by keeping the lateral stretch to a minimum. It isn’t as solid as a fuse or synthetic upper but slipping around in the shoe was never a problem while playing.

The heel is a mesh/fuse material which is nothing new, but it gets the job done. One question: with the solid internal/external heel counter, which does a great job in stability, why not go Flyknit all the way? Maybe on the KD10?


duke4005 kd9 fit

FIT – Ahhhh, now we get to the “problem” area. This is, by far, the most debated shoe, as far as sizing is concerned, in 2016. When wearing the ‘USA’ pair in my true size of 10.5, I almost pulled my shoulder out of socket getting them on. I don’t think I have wide feet (no Shrek in the building) but the collar would not let me in. But if you keep working you’ll eventually get it in (so. many. jokes.). The 10.5 would have probably worked, but an 11 felt way better on the piggies.

A note: I do like about a thumbnail width at the end of the toes for some comfort space. Once on, and with that little extra room, magic happened. You don’t even need the lace loops, just yank and go (again, jokes). The heel has extra padding just below the topline of the ankle collar and the placement cuts slip completely off. The midfoot area is a little tight where the mesh meets the knit, and it does not stretch, so if you’ve got the fat feet you are in trouble. The forefoot Flyknit wraps perfectly and believe it or not, keeps the foot over the footbed on just about every move. 


duke4005 kd9 support

SUPPORT – Basically a sock with a sole, so support structures are not at the front of the design ideas here, although the fit helps. There is an internal heel counter under that KD logo that does a good job holding the heel in even though the lacing system stops low on the ankle. The base of the shoe is wide, especially for a KD shoe, so the stability side to side is on.

The Phylon midsole is sculpted under the arch for a little stiffness there and the Zoom Max is cut away in that area to keep that sinking feeling away from that area. For someone with foot problems, and looking at the KD7 and 8, the support on the 9 is surprisingly light, although KD did say his shoes are designed for the now, not what may happen, or to prevent something later from injuring. 



OVERALL – Best. KD. EVER. Seriously. Besides a little less support than some need, there are no problems with this shoe. Traction — excellent. Cushioning — beyond excellent. Materials — the best Nike has to offer. See a pattern? Actually, this is the best Nike shoe in years.

Hyperbole? Exaggeration? Maybe, but the KD9 just shows what the Swoosh can still do when it wants to — make killer performers with comfort that look okay off-court (in a few years this may be a killer casual retro). If you want the best Nike has to offer, look no further: the KD9 is all you need to know. 


duke4005 kd9-scorecard





  1. It’s great that you were able to try both the translucent and solid outsoles. The cushioning and flyknit makes this a elite shoe. I wanted a pair but I couldn’t because feet arent narrow enough. Good performance review by Duke.

  2. Great review man. I just purchased some on eBay for below retail and they should be here soon. I’m really looking forward to getting on the court with them. My knees and legs will thank me from what I’ve heard/read.

    1. Got em in and the shoe fits my foot well. The only part that feels any small amount of pressure is the mid-foot at the fuse point but it’s not pain…it’s just a constant slight pressure or knowing that it’s there especially with my right foot which is probably just naturally higher at the mid-foot. The comfort under foot is crazy. I really hope that Nike will use this flexible max-zoom on more models.

  3. Nice review…the KD 9 are my current favorite basketball shoe, which used to be a toss up between the jordan 29 low and the Lillard 2

    1. I’m between these and the rose 7 when I’m not reviewing a new shoe (and sometimes when I am). 2016 had been magical so far.

  4. These are very good shoes that should work for most. I have small feet for my size so I put extra load on my cushioning setup. Unfortunately, I find the zoom is slow to response and little unstable on lateral moves because of this. The KD9 just doesn’t work for me when playing intense games. It does work for me when I shoot around, lift, and play casually.

  5. I agree with your finding with the fit DUKE. but considering how horrible they were to put on, I would have given it a 6th man award. the only difference is that I almost tore the shoe off just by trying to put them on.

  6. You can get em at Footlocker, but you should probably buy them from online because my size was sold out when i went

  7. Well, the sizing is a tricky thing. I have worn Nike size 13 like for ever (+20 years)
    but KD 9 I have in 12,5 and there is at least 1 cm space at the front of the shoe. So the shoe sizing is “narrow but long one”.

  8. Definitely had lag time on my pair. Everything else is near perfect. But saying there’s no lag time just isn’t true, I think it’s definitely more guard friendly

  9. I like that you are continuing to cover the shoe. My question is this and only this: Are these ANY wider than the KD8? The last appears to be identical to the naked eye. Those were a nice shoe (rare low top with adequate support) but they were prohibitively narrow for me. I could maybe deal with the narrowness of the midfoot but the toe box killed me, even after just three hours of casual wear I had discomfort and the early formation of blisters on my fourth and fifth toe. I can wear most Nike basketball shoes comfortably but the KD8 was a no-go. Will I have any different experience here or is it the same last with different tooling? Thanks.

  10. great looking and the cushion is great.. however the front zoom bag has popped on first the left and now the right shoe… they did make it 4 months – but for the price I expect a shoe to last a full season….

    1. Send it back in and get a voucher. Should get full retail from nike, which would get you another pair of KD9 and have about $50 left over now with the way prices dropped.

  11. Hey just wondering.
    Is the KD 9 ‘Aunt Pearl’ /Black/Hot Punch made of a solid rubber sole or a translucent sole?

    Oh and great review helped me a lot Duke!

  12. My son had 2 pairs of these. He wore them to high school for about 3 months ( switching back & forth between the pairs – and btw he is not rough or abusive to his shoes). The heel on the one pair wore thru to the air pocket & it burst, rendering 1 pair useless. The other pair is wearing thru also. These shoe soles are soooo thin and I definitely don’t think they are worth the $150 price tag! Sad that Nike has such poor quality now days and they don’t stand by their products. I contacted them and they told me that it wasn’t a defect in workmanship so they couldn’t do anything for me. Nope! Not a defect, just cheaply made!

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