TGRR Blog: What It Means to be Elite

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

In 2012 Nike introduced the Elite series, which consisted of upgraded versions of the LeBron IX, Kobe VII and Hyperdunk for the athletes’ playoff runs. Upgraded construction like carbon fiber heel clips and midfoot panels, a reduction in layers of the Flywire-based uppers and beefed up midfoot shanks worked to provide wearers with a better fit, more durability and lighter weight.

On March 20, Nike officially unveiled the Elite 2.0 series. The LeBron X, Kobe VIII and the KD V all received the Elite treatment and were upgraded in different ways. We don’t normally do breaking sneaker news here because we try to keep TGRR as performance-based as possible – we’re not just another sneaker news blog. But this news was especially pertinent to us at TGRR, as these shoes are supposed to represent the best in Nike basketball technology and performance.

At the end of the post, add your vote to the poll at the bottom and let us know which of the three Elite 2.0 shoes you like best.

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The first model we’ll take a look at is the LeBron X PS Elite. “Unstoppable Power” is the tagline along with the shoe, and there are a few noticeable differences between the Elite version and the standard model. The midsole is slightly more chunky, but the real difference comes in the form of the large carbon fiber panels on the midfoot and heel. The heel piece, with three “wings” wrapping around the lateral side and two more wrapping around the back to the medial side, should provide a lockdown fit.

There’s also another smaller wing along the midfoot to provide some lateral stability. With Kevlar-reinforced Flywire and laces, this shoe is designed to lock you in and withstand any pounding a player could put it through.

LEBRON X PS ELITE: Unstoppable Power

Forged by time, heat and pressure, the diamond inspires LeBron James’s tenth Nike signature shoe. His elite version drafts off the rare Carbonado diamond, a virtually indestructible stone said to derive from an ancient supernova, the most explosive force in the universe. The shoe’s bright citrus colorway and graphic collar lining capture James’s unstoppable power.

The LEBRON X PS ELITE is designed to be stronger, offering the highest level of performance for James in the post season. The shoe builds on the innovative advances of the LEBRON X and takes it to a new level with:

  • Carbon fiber-reinforced mid-foot wings for excellent lateral stability
  • Kevlar® aramid-reinforced Nike Flywire technology for consistent lock-down through the midfoot
  • Kevlar® aramid laces resist stretching for a more consistent fit
  • Articulated foam tongue provides impact protection and minimizes lace pressure

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Next up in the Elite 2.0 series is the Kobe 8 System Elite “Deceptive Speed.” The Kobe 8 doesn’t get quite as many external upgrades as the other two – though it does feature a carbon fiber heel counter and midfoot shank – and some Dynamic Flywire shows up on the forefoot and reinforced with Kevlar. Under the hood though, the Kobe 8 gets Zoom Air cushioning (finally) and improved padding in the once paper-thin tongue. A better fit and more responsive cushioning should lead to a quicker shoe on-foot.

KOBE 8 SYSTEM ELITE: Deceptive Speed

Kobe Bryant often showcases the adept speed and precision of his on-court alter ego, the Black Mamba. The KOBE 8 SYSTEM ELITE is inspired by the lethal green pit viper snake and the x-ray vision emitted by its heat-sensing eyes. Bryant stays three steps ahead of his opponent with his keen vision. The KOBE 8 SYSTEM ELITE highlights Bryant’s power of deceptive speed with a poison green colorway and x-ray vision graphic on the collar lining.

The KOBE 8 SYSTEM ELITE is designed for precision footwork while offering:  

  • Carbon fiber heel clip and shank for lightweight stability, quick cuts and jumps
  • Dynamic Flywire technology reinforced with Kevlar® aramid to provide more consistent stability and lockdown
  • Articulated foam tongue provides impact protection and minimizes lace pressure
  • Kevlar® aramid laces resist stretching for a more consistent fit
  • Phylon midsole and Nike Zoom technology providing consistent, responsive cushioning

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Without question, the shoe with the most drastic changes from the base model is the KD V Elite. And I am instantly infatuated. The shoe goes from a mid-top in the regular version to a low in the Elite, a plus as far as I’m concerned. The next thing you’ll notice is the prominent, dare I say late 90s/early 00s-esque, caged Zoom Air bag in the heel. The large volume, visible bag transitions to the midfoot via a carbon fiber shank and noticeable arch. The arch and Zoom bag combination reminded me of the Zoom Drive or Zoom Vapor 8; I expect great cushioning and stability through the midsole but I’m interested to see if the heel-toe transition is smooth thanks to the high arch. Kevlar boots the Dynamic Flywire strands that are found throughout the upper, another new feature from the Fuse-based standard KD V. Carbon fiber shows up on the V as well, in the form of a large floating heel clip. If there’s a shoe of the three that I’d most like to review, it’s the KD V Elite.

KD V ELITE: Ultimate Control

Capturing Kevin Durant’s thunderous power of ultimate control, the new low KD V ELITE debuts in a volt colorway, illuminated by the sharp glow of lightning bolts. The design speaks to Durant’s versatility, shooting accuracy and finely-tuned court vision. 

The re-engineered low-top silhouette offers a full range of motion for Durant’s playoff push. Additional enhanced technical highlights include:

  • Carbon fiber heel counter and shank provide lightweight stability for quick cuts
  • Dynamic Flywire technology reinforced with Kevlar® aramid to provide more consistent stability and lockdown
  • Articulated foam tongue provides impact protection and minimizes lace pressure
  • Caged Nike Zoom unit in the heel for responsive cushioning and stability

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