Photography by: Fitzroy Facey
Intrigue, excitement, awe and confusion are all words that describe our initial reaction to the KD8 Elite, the enhancement to Kevin Durant’s latest signature shoe. Nike’s Elite series aims to fine tune their signature footwear, based on the insights of their athletes, when needed most as they enter the NBA Playoffs.
Let’s address the obvious from the jump. Yes, it comes with the never-seen-in-basketball-before compression sleeve that towers above the model. With that out of the way, let’s focus on how the KD 8 Elite performs, and provide a bit of context when comparing it to it’s predecessor, the KD8. As much as these two models differ, they are by it’s creation a similar on-court performer in many ways.
The KD8 Elite utilizes the same outsole as the KD8, a stylized cubed rubber design that provides full-ground contact throughout the gait cycle; offering excellent traction on both indoor and outdoor court surfaces. Which was a general surprise, especially when working with a translucent rubber outsole. The lateral portion of the forefoot is articulated with strategically placed sipes, that provided more natural movements, allowing for fewer restrictions during game play.
Much to our pleasure, the KD8 Elite re purposes the outsole, cushioning platform and midsole carrier for the foundation of the KD8 Elite. The articulated Zoom Air unit provides great court feel, and responsive cushioning that intuitively moved and flexed naturally throughout the regular stride. Durant himself made light of this component, stating that because both versions are so well suited for his style of play; it allows him to focus more and minimize any distractions during game play. The cushioning within first wear felt slightly thinner underfoot and stiffer upon heel strike, compared to other models available on the market. Yet this cushioning set up provided a greater rebound sensation beneath the balls of feet, even after putting in some serious hours. While expecting a more responsive feel from a Zoom Air unit model, the KD8 still did the job providing protection on impact, and spring upon jump off.
UPPER MATERIALS & FIT
The introduction of Flyweave in the KD8 was beneficial, but seemed to go somewhat unnoticed since its release. Designer Leo Chang decided that an upgrade in materials to provide a more substantial upper, with greater protection and support was a must for this Elite incarnation. The result was the introduction of Flywire intertwined amidst a Kevlar aramid fiber. Within this category is where many of the similarities between the two models end. The new upper material provides an upgraded level of protection and stability due to the sheer nature of the materials used.
One of the biggest gripes with the KD8, was the limited amount of toebox/midfoot room and an unforgiving forefoot material which resulted in a smaller fit, feeling a half-size too small. We are happy to announce that sizing has been improved with the KD8 Elite model. As a result, forefoot room has been increased, and the new upper materials score high when keeping the foot locked in. Biggest concerns were with the fit of the new compression sleeve and its inclusion as the seamless extension of the shoe’s tongue and ankle collar. The compression sleeve takes time to get used to putting on, but once you do, the one-to-one fit is unmistakably there.
Yet this same sleeve has resulted in the removal of a standard ankle collar, providing a sensation of a VERY low sneaker, with minimal ankle lockdown. From a proprioceptive standpoint, with the absence of a substantial heel counter and ankle collar; it felt that the heel could shift within, and at-worst fall out of the shoe at any time. However, the upper’s Flywire technology with Kevlar aramid fiber assist to provide for superior midfoot lockdown. Lastly, as great as the compression sleeve feels once on, it didn’t stay up on the calf during gameplay. Therefore, minimizing its supportive effects in the ankle and calf area.
Upper Materials & Fit: 8
SUPPORT & STABILITY
To our surprise, with the lack of a substantial ankle collar and external heel counter; the KD8 Elite scored high in support & stability. The wider-based platform, complete with lateral outrigger, integrated TPU midfoot straps (that make up the top two aglets), and structured new upper, make for a very stable package, in what feels like a very low cut basketball shoe.
Support & Stability: 8
One of the most provocative models to come out of KD’s signature line to date, the KD8 Elite is a lightweight model that provides amazing traction, stability, plus, a protective and supportive upper. Either way, the Elite version has made significant changes in some of the areas that the KD8 fell short. As a result, the playoff performer is a low cut on-court shoe for an agile wing or guard wanting to move as quickly and confidently as possible, in any direction. We recommend the KD8 Elite for quick players, looking for mobility with a locked in midfoot feel, with responsive cushioning and great traction.