// : Recent Pickups : // December 2015

Nike Kobe 10 "Liberty Bell"

Nike Kobe 10 “Liberty Bell”

Back in mid December, I was fortunate enough to get two pairs of Nike Basketball’s most recent ‘high performance’ basketball shoes for an offer I couldn’t pass up. I must say, I was not a fan of either of the Kobe 10’s or the KD 8’s that released this past year. Both designs weren’t connecting with me, the colors and stories were awful, and the prices were WAY too expensive. Both the Kobe 10 EM and KD 8 retailed at $180, respectively – still very steep for the ‘target’ consumer of 17-18 years old.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the way both performed on court. I’ll be completely honest, when the Kobe 10 first came out early last year, I hated on the shoe so hard. I felt that it lacked the Kobe design look we had seen in the past with some of Kobe’s best signatures over the years, (KB 4, KB 5, KB 6, KB 8). It looked like a glorified Air Max to me, hence me passing on every color way that released up until I recently got the Liberty Bell Kobe 10 on the low. After playing in the kicks for about a month now, it has become my go-to hoop shoe, even over my Kobe 10 Elite low’s that I made on Nike iD and featured in my last post on here. The Engineered Mesh version just feels better on my foot than the Elites to and it flexes a lot better compared to the Elite Flyknit version as well. One thing that I noticed that’s different between the two is the tongue. The tongue on the Elite lows is a lot fatter and shorter than on the EM version. The tongue on the Engineered Mesh really locks your foot in place, to go a long with a GREAT internal heel counter as well. It sits right about your foot and when you lace the shoe tightly before playing, it locks you in and hugs the top of your foot really well.

Take a look on any NBA court this year and you’ll see just about 4 to 5 pairs on average of Engineered Mesh Kobe 10’s in Team Bank color ways on the feet of NBA guards across the league. Nike BB could have released some more simple color ways like the Team Bank colors that NBA ballers are wearing, but that’s a whole other story about releasing the ‘right’ color ways…

The selection from Nike Basketball this past year was pretty lack-luster as far as for performance basketball footwear goes. There were only a few options within the $100-$130 ball park range, the sweet-spot for most consumers. Some of the big hits included the Nike Kyrie 1, Nike Hyperchase, and the Kobe Mentality & Kobe Venomenon series. Then Kevin Durant’s KD8 came into play…After the initial release this past summer of the all red V8 color way, inspired by KD’s candy paint red Chevy V8 and the 4th of July color way, the shoe didn’t start out so hot as Nike Basketball had expected. Consumers thought it looked like a running shoe – a Nike Air Max 360 – and in a way, it kind of did to an extent. The price had gone up $30 dollars compared to last years KD7 and the design just wasn’t seeming to click with the basketball consumer as it did with say, the KD4, KD5, or KD6…

Nike KD 8 "Easy Euro"

Nike KD 8 “Easy Euro”

But damn, is the KD8 a comfortable shoe to hoop in! Forget about the colors that released or the horrendous saber tooth inspiration that was added on the heel of the shoe right before production began on the shoe, the shoe can flat out perform on the court. Color & design are a huge deciding factor in a shoe for consumers, hence the reason the shoe hasn’t been seeing as well, but the technology in the shoe sets it a part from any other basketball shoe on the market right now of all brands. The full length articulated Zoom Air bag is such a smooth and responsive ride, coupled together with the one-to-one fit of the Flyweave upper of the shoe is what makes it a great shoe in my book for any 1-3 guard. The Zoom Air bag is so responsive in the forefoot that I honestly believe that I gives more bounce in my jumpshot when wearing the shoes. The KD8 does sit a little bit higher off the court than I usually like, but the court feel is still there enough for your foot to feel the court. I give an edge to the Kobe 10 for being a bit lower to the ground and over all court feel compared to the KD8, making it my go-to hoop shoe over the past month.

Like any other hoop shoe that releases brand by brand, it all depends on your style of play, what types of shoes you have worn in the past, and what you’re looking for in a hoop shoe. For me personally, I love being lower to the ground and to feel the court, yet I still like to have some sort of responsive cushioning underfoot like a Zoom Air. I also love playing in the low tops for the free range of mobility compared to a mid or high. With the way trends are starting to go, it looks like low tops should still be into play with kids and high still relevant in the market place. All parents across the country who are buying these shoes for their kids still need to see some sort of mid to high tops on the walls of the sporting goods stores. They just can’t get over the low tops. But if Kobe can do it, so can you.

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// : Andy’s Desk : // Nike Zoom Kobe 10 Elite Low iD

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For this edition of Andy’s desk, I will be showcasing the Nike Zoom Kobe 10 Elite Low, which I customized on Nike iD. Much like the Kobe 9 Elite Low that debuted last year, the Kobe 10 Elite Low first followed the release of the Elite High, then releasing the low this past summer in four general release colors with each having inspirations around Kobe somehow. I wasn’t really a fan of any of the colorways that Nike put out unfortunately, so I went the Nike iD route and created something on my own with colors that I wanted. Of the four colorways that Nike put out this year for the Elite Low, each featured very bright colors and were more complex colors. I wanted to create something more simple and clean with my design and ended up going with an all grey upper, white swoosh, black inner-liner, grey bottom and white laces, all very similar to the Kobe 9 Elite Low ‘Beethoven’ colorway that released in August of 2014.

Kobe 9 Elite Low Beethoven

Kobe 9 Elite Low ‘Beethoven’

 

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This years Kobe 10 Elite Low shares some similarities to last years Kobe 9 Elite Low, but there are still some big differences between the two. Much like last year, Nike carried over the very popular Flyknit upper from the 9 to the 10, making the Flyknit on the 10 a bit more flexible, lighter weight, and with less layers compared to the 9 Flyknit upper. The Kobe 9 Flyknit upper was more stiff in areas because it was backed by a thin layer of Hyperfuse under the the Flyknit, leaving some people in disappointment because the feel wasn’t similar to a ‘true’ Flyknit feel. However, the Kobe 10 Flyknit upper the years feels really good on foot – the fit is pretty snug in the toe box and it definitely needs 3 to 4 wears to fully break in. IMG_4272

The Flyknit found around the swoosh of each shoe and Flywire cables, the lateral and medial sides of the shoes is where you’ll find that ‘true’ Flyknit feel, as it’s a thinner, more flexible, and more breathable. As you move more towards the toe box, the Knit is more confined and definitely stronger in this area to keep the foot contained. This part of the shoe is a bit snug and I would say requires the most break in time. However, once broken in, the Knit conforms to your foot and feels really nice.

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Stronger Flyknit threads found in the toe box of the Kobe 10 Elite Low.

Stronger Flyknit threads found in the toe box of the Kobe 10 Elite Low.

The shoe offers great lockdown for being a true low top and when fully laced tightly, the foot feels very secure and locked in. Around the heel of the shoe is an internal Heel Counter that keeps the foot on the footbed on the shoe and to help prevent from any slippage inside the shoe. The top part of the tongue on the shoe also helps out with the lockdown and all around fit of the shoe because it is so padded and thick. The bottom half of the tongue is a mesh material that forms to the foot and the upper is a  suede padded tongue featuring the Kobe logo. Most tongues found on Kobe’s in the past have been thin or ones that just lay over top of the foot, but the tongue on the 10 Elite is super thick to keep the top of your foot locked down when laced tightly.

Internal Heel Counter found in the heel of the Kobe 10 Elite Low.

Internal Heel Counter found in the heel of the Kobe 10 Elite Low.

One technology that you’re guaranteed to find in Kobe’s product is some form of a Carbon Fiber plate or shank. In the past (Kobe’s 1-8) Nike featured a Carbon Fiber mid-foot shank, which basically offers premium support for the foot when the shoe is flexed. For the Kobe 10, the Nike designer Eric Avar switched it up and put a small carbon fiber plate near the forefoot outrigger to keep the foot stable when making hard cuts and planting from side to side. In some of the general release colorways that have a translucent outsole, you can see the plate on the outsole, but since my outsole is grey, it’s hard to actually see it. Pictured below is a picture of my pair showing the plate on the forefoot outrigger and below that is another picture showing the plate on the outsole of a translucent outsole color way.

The small black piece shown above is the Carbon Fiber shank that is on the side of the shoe and goes below the outsole as well.

The small black piece shown above is the Carbon Fiber shank that is on the side of the shoe and goes below the outsole as well.

Carbon Fiber plate goes from the outrigger of the shoe to below the forefoot for extra support when cutting or jabbing side to side.

Carbon Fiber plate goes from the outrigger of the shoe to below the forefoot for extra support when cutting or jabbing side to side.

As for cushioning in the Kobe 10 Elite Low, everything stayed the same across the board from the original mesh releases of the Kobe 10 and the Kobe 10 Elite versions. Encapsulated all in a clear TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) cage, you’re getting a large volume Zoom Air unit in the heel for ultra responsiveness and a full length layer of Lunarlon with Nike Free sipings in it for flexibility which starts at the midfoot of the shoe. Kobe’s three favorite Nike technologies that he wanted from Nike in this shoe were: Zoom Air, Lunarlon, and Nike Free. All prominent technologies that have been used in Kobe’s signature line in some form or way over the years.

Clear TPU casing with houses the Zoom Air and Lunarlon in the forefoot.

Clear TPU casing with houses the Zoom Air and Lunarlon in the forefoot.

Clear TPU casing with houses the Zoom Air and Lunarlon in the forefoot.

Clear TPU casing with houses the Zoom Air and Lunarlon in the forefoot.

The heel Zoom Air isn’t as soft as I thought it was going to be, but it gets the job done. It isn’t there to be super responsive under foot like Zoom Air was in the Zoom Kobe 4-7, but more so to serve for impact protection. Nothing about the cushioning screams that is ‘super’ comfortable, it’s kind f just there and gets the job done. The Lunarlon in the forefoot is only a thin layer with Nike Free sipings in it, which is the only part of the shoe that worries me. In the past when Nike has incorporated Lunarlon in the forefoot of shoes such as the OG Hyperdunk or Zoom Kobe 4, the material is very nice and soft at first, but with time it becomes less responsive and beings to break down. As you can see from the picture below, someone decided to dissect their Kobe 10 to see what was inside, and it is here that you can really see how thin the Lunarlon foam actually is.

Kobe 10 'Vino' colorway dissected, showing the upper, TPU cage midsole incasing the Zoom Air in the heel and the Lunarlon foam in the forefoot with the Carbon Fiber plate.

Kobe 10 ‘Vino’ colorway dissected, showing the upper, TPU cage midsole incasing the Zoom Air in the heel and the Lunarlon foam in the forefoot with the Carbon Fiber plate.

The traction on this years Kobe 10 has been something that seems to have been loved and hated by many. I personally have heard people praise the traction, but have also heard some people say that it wears down too quickly. The shoe features a pattern of little ‘stubs’ across the outsole of the shoe which are very small, but they are a very soft rubber so their playable to clean courts and grip the court really well. I haven’t had any issues with traction whatsoever from playing in my Elite Low’s.

Kobe 10 traction pattern.

Kobe 10 traction pattern.

Kobe 10 traction pattern.

Kobe 10 forefoot traction pattern, also showcasing the forefoot outrigger.

Kobe 10 traction pattern.

Kobe 10 traction pattern.

The Kobe 10 Elite Low is a great shoe and definitely lives up to the hype. Is it a true Flyknit for basketball yet? Not quite, but Nike is making strides. The shoe feels nice on foot and definitely requires some break in time. I would highly recommend trying there on as well if you are thinking of piking up a pair. Had Nike released some better colorways of the Elite Low, I feel like more people would be chattering about them. But since they didn’t and went the story telling route, a lot of pairs are still sitting on shelves. With the year almost being over, the Kobe 11 should be releasing come February, so be on the lookout of for those!

// : 2015 Easter Basketball Collection : // Nike vs. adidas

With Easter weekend upon us, it’s nothing new to see Easter themed basketball footwear from the likes of Nike and adidas. Easter is an official sneaker holiday in the NBA and brands have really begun to take full advantage of the spotlight. Over the past few years now, various brands have dipped into the Easter themed pastel color palette to celebrate the holiday. This year, both Nike and adidas go head to head for the Easter spotlight for their respective signature athletes.

For this years Nike Basketball Easter Collection (which released this past Thursday, 4/2/15 at major retailers) features four models: the KD 7 “Easter”, LeBron 12 “Easter”, Kobe X “Easter”, and new to the pack is the Kyrie 1 “Easter”. This years Easter collection is more like the 2014 Christmas collection, in that each pair of the collection has a different story and color behind the inspiration of the shoe. Inspiration for each shoe ranges for each shoe, from modern street art for the KD 7 “Easter”, to the color of a robin’s egg for the Kobe X “Easter”. The LeBron 12 takes inspiration from a Spring floral print with hints of baby blue and pinkish orange.

Take a look below at the Nike Basketball 2015 Easter Collection:

Nike Basketball 2015 Easter Collection

Nike Basketball 2015 Easter Collection

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Nike LeBron 12 “Easter”, $200

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Nike Kobe 10 “Easter”, $180

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Nike KD 7 “Easter”, $150

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Nike Kyrie 1 “Easter”, $110

As for adidas Basketball, who is relatively new to the Easter theme, the brand decorated their three signature athletes Damian Lillard, John Wall, and Derrick Rose all with Easter egg themed footwear. Unlike Nike’s pack, the adidas Easter themed collection all go with the same mint and solar blue color ways and will not be hitting retail, but rather are Player Exclusives only for the athletes. Take a look at the shoes below and be sure to leave a comment with which brand you think did a better job on their Easter collections.

adidas Basketball 2015 Easter Collection

adidas Basketball 2015 Easter Collection

adidas D. Lillard 1 "Easter"

adidas D Lillard 1 “Easter”

adidas D Rose 5 Boost "Easter"

adidas D Rose 5 Boost “Easter”

adidas J Wall 1 "Easter"

adidas J Wall 1 “Easter”