Nike Kobe 11 Performance Review
Much like Kobe’s attention to detail on the court, it’s the finer details that make the Kobe 11 close to a perfect fit during the Black Mamba’s final season in the NBA. The expectation was high amongst the sneaker world to see just what Nike’s Innovation Director and designer extraordinaire Eric Avar had in store for what “might” be Kobe’s last on-court signature model.
Starting from the ground up, the low-profile translucent rubber outsole provides great court feel; nevertheless, its performance is inconsistent at best when it comes to traction in the traction. On a clean, indoor court you’re Kobe in his prime, stopping on a dime, splitting the double team with ease. Now on a dusty or outdoor court in comparison, you’ve morphed into 2016 Kobe going 4-10 from the field. The traction isn’t poor in this latest model, its good & sticks when it works, but it’s just inconsistent.
The drop-in midsoles that were utilized in the Kobe 8 & 9 return, this time incorporating a large volume Zoom Air unit in the heel for responsive impact protection upon initial contact. Coupled with a forefoot articulated Lunarlon midsole, what you have is a cushioning system that is lightweight, provides exceptional court feel and allows the athlete’s foot to move naturally. The fact the Kobe 11’s use the drop-in midsoles also allows the athletes to swap-in the cushioned midsoles from the aforementioned previous models, or customize their cushioning system prior to purchase at Nike.com
With the Kobe 11, Nike is introducing an enhanced upper material, that according to them is an advanced Flyknit material engineered for the game of basketball. What they really mean by that is the use of a full Flyknit upper interlaced with Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) fibers (or ‘yarn’) throughout to add both structure and stability to deal with the rigours of the game. Our weartesters found that even with the incorporated TPU fibers, comfort upon step-in felt great requiring no break-in period, yet still being structurally sound enough in all the right places and feeling locked-in upon the footbed.
In terms of stability ratings in the Kobe 11, despite not having an incorporated midfoot shank to deal with torsional forces, the combination of the TPU fibers within the upper, the internal heel counter and the general low stance setup, any thoughts of instability while playing on the court were held to a minimum.
As has been the trend in previous Kobe Flyknit versions a bit of extra room can be found in the toe box, yet the Kobe 11’s still run true to size.
FIT & LOCKDOWN: 8.5
Kobe is no longer the perfect NBA player, and neither is this Kobe signature model. But if you’re a player looking for a super comfortable basketball shoe, that’s lightweight, requires zero break-in period, is responsive, stable, and has great court feel, consider the Kobe 11’s as a swan-song pick up for the future Hall of Famer. Just make sure you’re playing on pristine courts (or keep wiping them), otherwise, you might be slip-sliding more than you’d like.