While I thought the Flyknit upper of the KD9 was beautiful to look at, I was a bit skeptical of it’s ability to perform on the basketball court. However once I took the shoe onto the hardwood, those concerns were quickly assuaged. Putting the shoe on, I was treated to an inner that was devoid of any discomfort issues, but one that provided a sock like fit. Once I got them on the court, I saw this excellent fit extended beyond superficial casual wearing. The Flyknit upper was game ready right out of the box, as it was very flexible and moved with my foot and had no problem areas in the zones of flexion. Despite that flexibility, the KD9 was more than up to the challenge of providing lateral support that never let me down. The KD9 locked my foot in place and for the most part I experienced no internal foot moverment. I say for the most part because there was an instance where I had some heel slip but the issue stemmed from me not having the shoe laced tightly; once I addressed that it was not an issue for the rest of my time in the KD9.
Like it’s predecessor, it features a full-length Zoom-Air unit,but that is where the simularites end ( In my review of the KD8, I get into my issues with the cushioning of that shoe.). According to Nike, the tapered Zoom Air unit in the KD9 (16 mm thick in the heel and slims down to 10 mm in the forefoot) was the result of 3 years of advance wear testing. I can say that was three years of R&D well spent because the change and improvement over the 8 was immediately noticeable the moment I put my foot in the 9. The cushioning feel of the Zoom Air was light years ahead of its predecessor and and one of the best I have ever experienced in a Nike basketball shoe. The midsole, again according to Nike, is “minimized to enhance the responsive sensation produced by the Zoom Air unit.” To this end that mission was accomplished with flying colors. The cushioning on the KD9 feels great and makes playing in them a plaeasure.
The other issue that was solved from the 8 was midsole flexibility. The 8 never got to the point where the midsole flexed efficiently with the foot. This was never the case with the KD9. As Nike states : [the midsole] “is articulated with anatomical flex groove placed in the forefoot to maximize natural transitions.” Mission accomplished, Swoosh. Right out of the box, it was immediately evident that the 9 had capitalized on this shortcoming of its predecessor. The aforementioned flex groove really allowed the 9 to flex well and provide one of the most natural feel and transitions I have felt in a basketball shoe in quite sometime. The transition wa so well done, that it allowed the KD9 to feel like an extension of my for moreso than a external piece of equipment.
The traction pattern continues the honeycomb-esque design of the flyknit upper. The rubber initially picks up dust and debris like a magnet. Naturally, this caused a slight degradation in the outsole’s ability to grip the floor as well as I would have liked. This caused me to spend far too much time trying to keep the outsole in order to maintain a higher level of traction. Once the rubber had worn down (I would suggest wearing them a day or two in advance to speed up this process)on subsequent wearings, this issue diminished greatly. At that point, the KD9’s outsole showed a good ability to keep up with my moves on the basketball court, from hard cuts on offense, to defense and moves in the post, with no problems. I did not have any instances of slippage or the traction letting me down. A word of caution: the rubber is fairly soft and flexible; while this is great for indoor traction, I think it would make it too soft for serious outdoor use.
The KD9 took what the KD8 fell short on , midsole flexibility, cushioning response, and not only improved him but turned them into strengths. It also carried over the fit attributes from it predecessor but actually improved on them as well. It also offers good traction ( once the rubber wears down) , good court feel, pretty breathable and is a very stable shoe as well. It is suitable from point guard all the way to lighter or more perimeter oriented power forwards and center. Those who play primarily outdoors or need a very robust upper may want to explore other options.
Nike Zoom KD9
Colorway Reviewed: White/University Red-Race Blue
Weight: 14.1 oz ( in a size 11)
Pros: Wonderful fit, cushioning response and feel, traction ( eventually), very natural transitions and feel underfoot,
Cons: Traction can take a little while to come around