Performance Review: Nike KD7

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

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The Nike Basketball division has had an interesting year to say the least. From a performance standpoint, it’s been awhile since I have reviewed a Nike product that I truly loved playing in. The shoes I’ve recently tested from the brand have all had a pretty significant flaw in my eyes. In the Kobe IX for example, there’s a total lack of midfoot support/cushioning and for me, it made the shoe unwearable after a few games. The LeBron XI never quite fit or flexed naturally for me. Neither of the KD models fit me well and the Elite version had a serious fit/stability issue. Even from other brands, I struggled to really find a shoe I liked playing in outside of adidas’ Rose 4.5.

With all these reviews in the rearview mirror, I was anticipating a fresh start in the KD7. There is plenty of tech to be found, including a 180° Zoom bag, Hyperposite heel/collar, midfoot strap, and Dynamic Flywire support. Thankfully, the shoe delivers and is one of the top performers I’ve hooped in this year.

Fit
The KD7 features a hybrid construction, with a mesh forefoot forefoot and midfoot construction combined with a Hyperposite heel. I had some initial doubts before as to how well the two very different materials would blend, but I found the fit to be very good. I hope this mesh construction is something Nike uses more of going forward, because it plays so much more naturally than Fuse does. The flexibility it allows is awesome, and using mesh allows lets the Flywire cables – which are actually utilized – to cinch the foot down. Whereas a thicker, stiffer Fuse setup limits the amount of support you get from Flywire, this mesh build helps the cables pull as tight as possible.

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There’s ample room in the toebox, and even though an 11 is typically a little short for me, there’s just enough volume in the toebox that it fits perfectly without constricting the toes. The mesh build helps here again, giving you plenty of flexibility in a key area. Forefoot lockdown is very good – you can lace the KD7 up extremely tight – and the midfoot strap is actually useful for midfoot lockdown. You might notice some pressure on the top of your foot due to the strap and the stitching of Hyperposite piece, but that’s mostly alleviated after the first few wearings.

I noticed very slight slippage in the heel fit upon the first few wearings, but I’d chalk that up to the Hyperposite getting broken in. It’s a stiffer material, but it holds its shape and will mold to your foot somewhat after you get them broken in. Overall, the fit was excellent in the KD7, particularly in the forefoot area. It’s the first and most important box to check, and the Swoosh nailed it with this one.

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Heel-Toe Transition
The KD7 is very smooth from heel strike to toe off, with a full length Zoom unit, stable midsole and flexible outsole. I almost felt like the shoe promoted more of a midfoot strike – not to the extent of the KD III, which felt like it had a bulge under your arch that rolled you forward – but I noticed myself not landing quite as squarely on my heel. A midfoot strike is a very neutral and natural gait (it’s what many competitive runners strive for), so this is a good thing.

Cushioning
As mentioned before, the shoe features a 180° Zoom bag, visible at the heel. The Zoom bag is housed in a solid midsole that provides plenty of support while still remaining flexible. The midfoot support from the KD7 is the best I’ve had since the Anatomix last year. While I may sound old harping on support, if you play enough ball you WILL need it eventually.

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You’ll notice five TPU bars on the bottom of the shoe that run through the midfoot, mimicking the bones of your foot. This aids support while promoting natural flexibility, and is a fantastic addition to the cushioning setup. The UA Anatomix Spawn featured a TPU support structure with a similar idea in mind, and it was great in that shoe too. Hopefully, the extreme lightweight/flexible movement will get phased out of basketball models and we’ll get more attention to detail when it comes to midfoot support.

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Responsiveness is excellent with a firm but bouncy Zoom setup. Stability is also very good, thanks to the supportive midsole and overall fit of the upper. The lateral stability is miles ahead of the KD VI Elite. As far as step in comfort, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better hoops shoe. The Jordan CP3.VII and XX8 SE both were extremely comfortable underfoot, and the KD7 is right there in terms of sheer comfort.

Overall, this may be my favorite cushioning setup of the year across all categories along with the XX8 SE. I loved the support and responsiveness especially, and it simply plays well in every aspect.

Traction
Featuring a pressure mapped outsole with a herringbone-esque pattern (more wavy, reminded me a little of the Jordan XX3 models), the traction is excellent. Flexibility is good and the channels are deep, which is a recipe for reliable traction underfoot. I’ve only used it indoors, a few times on very good floors and once on a dustier one, but traction was great no matter what.

Materials/Durability
No issues so far here. The Hyperposite heel will scuff some on the medial side, but that’s to be expected. I anticipate the mesh holding up well in the forefoot, given that it’s backed by another layer of fabric. There’s also a medial toecap for durability in the toebox. I was concerned at first about the Hyperposite being stitched directly to the mesh but its well constructed and after playing in it I don’t have any concerns there.

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The KD7 proved to be one of the best shoes I’ve tested this year. It instantly becomes a go-to shoe for me thanks to the lockdown, support and responsiveness, along with great transition and traction. It’s simply a very good shoe overall, built to be a performance beast rather than just a unique silhouette like the KD 6. I was beginning to doubt Nike after being disappointed in the last few models I’d tested, but they got this one right.

As a final note, I think this is a great shoe for any position. There’s enough support for bigger guys, but the shoe plays very light and nimble thanks to the secure fit and good responsiveness. If you’re looking for a team shoe or something to last all season, definitely make it a priority to try on the KD7.

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Performance Review: Nike KD VI Elite

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

Kevin Durant’s 6th signature shoe was one of the most unique hoops shoes of the year, from the materials and technology to the construction of the shoe itself. The Elite version of the KD VI, put a premium spin on those characteristics (along with a premium price tag). Featuring a full-length 360 Zoom bag, Hyperfuse and foam-based upper and Kevlar-reinforced Dynamic Flywire, the KD VI Elite packed about as much new technology as possible into one shoe. Unfortunately for a lot of hoopers, the tech-heavy shoe won’t hold up on the performance end.

Fit
For full disclosure, I have a narrow foot and the width of your foot is going to have a big impact as to how well the KD VI Elite (or KD VI for that matter) fits. For me the fit was awful, plain and simple – it was the most unsettling shoe I’ve ever played in. I was afraid to plant and cut at full speed, and that is unacceptable in a performance shoe. That probably sounds harsh, but there are a number of reasons why I couldn’t get comfortable playing in the shoe.

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I don’t have a problem with low tops, in fact its my preferred type of shoe to hoop. The height of the KD Elite VI didn’t bother me as much as the fact that the eyelets don’t go high enough up the foot to lock you in. The top eyelet is across the top of your foot, but is not adequate as far as pulling the collar/heel of the shoe securely around your foot.

Besides the lack of eyelets, lockdown via lacing is impossible to achieve thanks to the use of Dynamic Flywire as the primary means of holding the upper to your foot. Yes, the innovative tongue that wraps the foot helps some but there’s an inherent amount of volume and width on the interior of the shoe and Dynamic Flywire is not enough to keep the upper secured to your foot. At this point, I could do without Dynamic Flywire in my shoes. It’s not sturdy enough to lock down the foot on its own – even in the HyperRev, which had a softer foam/Fuse upper, it wasn’t enough to make me feel secure – and in my opinion is only useful as a reinforcement to the upper.

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Now, if you have a wider foot the fit may be different as your foot may take up more room in the upper. If this is the case, you might be able to get the lockdown you need. I had a buddy with a significantly wider foot try them on and put a few shots up in them, and he thought the fit was fine. For me though, there was way too much room around the collar area and I could not lace the shoe up even close to as tight as they needed to be.

From there, my foot slid around all over the shoe. Several times on hard lateral cuts I found myself sliding over the edge of the footbed or slipping side to side in the heel. Perhaps with a softer or thinner upper the Flywire would secure the foot better, but it was a complete failure in the KD VI Elite. Even a wide-footer will still have issues with lacing lockdown and containment.

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Another note – lace pressure is pretty bad in these as well. I typically hoop in Elites, and even in extra padded Hyper Elites the lace pressure across the top of the foot was annoying.

Heel-Toe Transition
The heel-toe transition was very good thanks to the continuity and sculpting of the 360 Zoom bag. There was no slap from heel to toe, and flexibility was adequate even with the high volume bag. Combined with the responsiveness of the Zoom bag, heel-toe transition was one of the bright spots of the shoe.

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Cushioning
When I first put the KD VI Elite on, I said to Finch that this feels like $200 worth of cushioning. Besides being firm yet comfy, super responsive, supportive and low to the ground, the 360 Zoom setup is simply one of the best cushioning setups across the board. It’s not quite as responsive as the Flight Plate-aided setups in the Melo M10/XX8 and related models, but it’s very good. I always feel that a good Zoom bag strikes a perfect balance between being firm and plush, and the 360 Zoom is perfect in that sense.

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The shoe also plays fairly low to the ground despite having a full volume bag, though the stability is ruined by the fact that the upper doesn’t contain the foot over the footbed at all. Think of it this way – the KD VI Elite cushioning is perfect in a linear sense. In a straight line, walking or running, it’s going to feel like one of the best things you’ve had on your feet. Try to move laterally though, and it’s a different story. The lateral containment is bad thanks to the poor fit, and it combines with a full length Zoom bag to make lateral stability an issue. The midsole doesn’t wrap up around the foot much and that’s why a 360 Zoom bag can hamper lateral stability a bit.

If you’re looking for pure comfort, the 360 Zoom midsole of the KD VI Elite is tough to beat. Unfortunately the poor lockdown and fit kills the playability of the shoe.

Traction
The translucent rubber outsole features a geometric, storytelling pattern, but it provides better traction than I initially expected. On good floors you’ll get the familiar squeak on quick stops, and the shoe’s flexibility and relatively deep outsole grooves do a good job of stopping you on a dime.

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Materials/Durability
Being an Elite model, you’ll get all the latest tech and premium materials that Nike has to offer. 360 Zoom, Hyperfuse, Dynamic Flywire, etc. – it’s all there. I’m not sure if it’s $200 worth of materials (though you can seem to find colorways on sale already) but at least you’re getting the latest stuff. It doesn’t necessarily perform all that well on court, but as far as materials are concerned the quality is high and I don’t have a ton of durability concerns. The tip of the toe is reinforced against toe drag and I think the build is very good.

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For all the flashy tech, the KD VI Elite simply couldn’t get the basic requirement of good performance shoe down: a secure fit. Some players with a wider foot may find that it fits better through the upper than I did, but the poor lacing setup is going to be an issue no matter what. The cushioning is excellent, and traction, transition and material quality are all very good. Despite that, the fit is so sloppy that it makes the shoe tough to play in. I didn’t feel confident going all-out, full speed in the shoe and that makes it tough for me to play in.

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Still, I liked the shoe to a certain extent. The KD VI Elite is extremely comfortable and miles better than last year’s KD V Elite. I just wish Nike would have refined the shoe a little more, rather than just dumping all the latest tech into it. The other point to be made here is value and price. At $200, this shoe is a large investment no matter who you are and I expected it to perform at a higher level.

 

First Impressions: Nike KD 7

Prose: Max Smith

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The next installment of Kevin Durant’s signature line will debut June 28. It features Engineered Mesh, a Hyperposite heel, and both 180 visible Zoom in the heel and an embedded Zoom unit in the forefoot. Also, Nike brought back the popular midfoot strap from earlier models much to my personal liking. Retail will be $150 USD.

I am extremely excited to hoop in these and am planning to buy these upon release. The traction reminds me of the excellent performing Kobe 9 traction (elite review coming soon) and the shoe overall reminds me of a mixture of the KD 4 and 6 with a splash of the LeBron 11 thrown in (expect a review and the two latter shoes as well).

Take a look at the gallery below and be sure to leave a comment.

*Pictures courtesy of @tbishop8 and @peezy57 on Instagram and also niketalk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

9/16/13: Today in Performance Kicks

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

First Look at the Nike Zoom Revis 2

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Thanks to some awesome folks at NikeTalk, we have a shot at Tampa Bay Buccaneers DB Darrelle Revis’ next signature shoe. The Zoom Revis 2 is another clean design, with what looks to be a patent leather toe rand and dual midfoot straps. I’d venture to say that the midsole will be Zoom-loaded (since the first one feature a full-length bag) as well. The original Zoom Revis was a great performer as an all-around trainer and everyday shoe, and happened to be one of my favorite purchases of the year. Expect big things from the second model.

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via NT/SC

KD Trey 5

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Each season, Nike typically trots out an Asia-exclusive Kobe Bryant signature shoe (check the Zoom Kobe 81, Venomenon or Dream Season), highlighted by extra durable construction and simpler materials that are geared towards outdoor play. Apparently, Kevin Durant’s signature is going to get a takedown model, dubbed the KD Trey 5. The shoe features a fairly simple  Hyperfuse upper atop Zoom cushioning and sturdy midsole. The outsole reveals a wide herringbone traction pattern for grip on outdoor courts. The shoe is expected to see an overseas release, and is at least worth a Google image search (even if these models typically get slept on in the U.S. market.)

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via hoopcity

Jordan Melo M10

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Believe it or not, we’re up to ten signature shoes for one Carmelo Anthony. The line has typically been a solid performer for guys at the wing spots, even if it has flown under the radar some. It’s featured some unique performance innovations along the way – remember the ankle sleeve on the M4 and exterior Flywire lockdown system on the M9? – and the M10 appears to incorporate some of the best tech Jordan Brand has to offer.

Featuring the brand’s Flight Plate midsole shank and Proplate Zoom cushioning, the M10 looks to be a performance monster (and a direct descendent of the XX8). From the outsole to the midsole, the M10 looks nearly identical to the XX8, but the etched heel counter and a Dynamic Fit upper give the M10 a few of its own details. Take a look at the four colorways previewed so far and stay tuned for further release info.

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via NikeBlog

TGRR Blog: First Impressions of the KD VI

Prose: Finch (@Sir_Stymie)

There are plenty shoes that get released that just naturally fit into my style – but sometimes there is that rare shoe that just gets you, captivates you in a certain way and you just can’t wait to try it on. That shoe for me was the Nike KD VI. Although it’s not a shoe that I would usually get all that excited about (usually I’m into lowkey retro releases), there is something about the minimalistic silhouette that piqued my interest.

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Maybe it was the aggressive aesthetics, the bold and somewhat gaudy colorways or the fact that I’m a sucker from the Air Max/Zoom combination – a feature the KD VI provides. Maybe it’s that it has a soccer boot flavor that makes me nostalgic (I was soccer player for the vast majority of my youth until I found basketball). Either way, when I first saw the specs for this shoe, I was in love. I could not wait to get this shoe in to my hands and to experience all it has to offer.

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I got the opportunity to see these warlocks a few day before the release at my neighborhood friendly Foot Locker. The first thing that got me was the box which goes beyond the garden variety orange Nike box. Upon further inspection it is a new, custom box complete with KD logo and hexagon pattern throughout. It’s good to see that they are going with a full on brand with the Durant line (Ed. note: Good point, especially with the increase in price).

Opening the box, I noticed right away that these kicks are low and almost Kobe-like, which I hoped for based on the initial pictures. Another aspect of the shoe that you’ll notice is the overall brightness and vibrancy of the colors. (I of course was trying on the “Seat Pleasant” colorway which is my favorite of the colorways I’ve seen.) The Sonic Yellow/Tropical Teal/Midnight Navy flat-out pop together and my mind was racing thinking of gear that would match.

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Kim (of whom you know from her in-depth review the Nike Flyknit Lunar 1+) was with me during this endeavor and was also able to try on the kids size. She was not a fan because there was no Zoom bag in the kids model and she found the upper to be stiff and uncomfortable – just a heads up for the youngbloods or the parents of them.

Kim trying on the GS version of the KD VI.
Kim trying on the GS version of the KD VI.

As I slipped the shoes on, I realized right away that the shoe runs long – long enough that I would not feel comfortable playing in them in my usual size 13.

Perhaps because of the combination of the design and overall length in the fit, I didn’t feel great responsiveness from the Zoom bag in the forefoot. I promptly tried on a size 12 and the difference is night and day. Getting the proper size is critical for this shoe – you’ll definitely want to try it on before you buy if you plan to hoop in it.

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Although the upper itself has a minimalistic design, the midsole and sole seems to be sophisticated and strategically set up for peak performance. Again, in the size 12 (a full size down from my normal size) the Zoom bag hit me right under the ball of my foot and the unit was as responsive as ever.

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I was unable to purchase that day but this shoe is definitely on my must-cop list for this year. Overall, I was very happy with the way the shoe fit initially after I went a size down. Also, I was very happy with the heel to toe transition at least in my initial test – I was aware that there was some concern with slappiness in the KD Elite and it seems that Leo Chang and co. have remedied the problem.

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The one concern I do have is the upper – most importantly the tongue – because there really isn’t much to it. It pretty much made of the Hyperfuse material except it has a mesh kind of feel for breathability and is built into the upper of the shoe. In terms of padding though the upper, outside of around ankle collar there isn’t much else. Ultimately, I am a tad bit concerned with the long-term comfort and durability of the shoe, as I am with most shoes of this genre and generations. But I came away happy with my first impression of the “Seat Pleasant” KD VI. When I am able to cop and hoop in these bad boys and put them through the ringer, I’ll make sure I hit you fine folks with an in depth review (possibility a collaborative affair with my homeboy Jake) and maybe an accompanying video? Keep it locked to thegymratreview.com.

Performance Review: Nike KD V Elite

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

Colorway Tested: Hyper Blue/Volt/Blackened Blue
Size: 11
Price: $180

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Of all the Elite 2.0 series models, the KD V Elite was the most different from its base model. It dropped the top, swapped heel Air Max for a caged Zoom Air bag, employed a carbon fiber shank and floating heel counter and worked the performance staple Flywire into the upper. I was excited to try the shoe from both an aesthetic and technology standpoint, and once I got the funds in order I went ahead and picked them up.

What I found was a mixed bag, and I was reminded that premium materials don’t necessarily translate to premium performance.

Fit – 8.5
In the Elite series, Nike typically tried to strip away layers of the upper and get the shoe down to its bare minimum with premium materials. The synthetic upper is reinforced with Kevlar-based Flywire and features a carbon fiber heel counter. The fit is snug through the toebox, midfoot and heel – no complaints there. The heel fit, especially, is absolutely perfect. I was locked it from the get-go, though there’s a definite break-in period (3-4 solid wearings) before I really felt it flex with my foot.

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The problem is, it’s just not very comfortable. Stripping down a shoe to its essentials and using high-end textiles is great, but it doesn’t guarantee comfort. I found it feeling sort of harsh and not overly comfortable. The lockdown was great – I felt extremely confident cutting and planting at high speeds – it just wasn’t a comfortable fit, especially when combined with the cushioning (which I’ll get to later).

One other thing that did bother me was the tongue. Nike billed it as an articulated tongue and the padding is adequate but the tongue continually slid off to the lateral side of my foot, which was annoying and made the fit less comfortable overall. The lacing system still worked fine and locked me into place, but the tongue was just bothersome.

Heel-Toe Transition – 8
With the shoe’s high arch, I worried a bit about the transition being clunky and my fears were realized to a certain extent. That caged Zoom bag is sexy and gives the shoe a great silhouette, but it really protrudes from the heel and sits quite a ways off the ground (I don’t know what the heel-toe drop is, but it definitely felt more significant than the Crazyquick or CP3.VI). Because of that, there’s a noticeable slap from the heel strike through the toe-off and that’s just not what I’m looking for in terms of transition.

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It’s not necessarily bad – KD runs on his toes and if you do the same you shouldn’t have issues – but it was not as smooth as I like my transition to be. The carbon fiber midfoot shank and rigid chassis did seem to become more fluid after several wearings, but they both combined to make the transition slightly disjointed. Again, planting and cutting was fine but the heel-toe transition just didn’t suit me.

Cushioning – 7.5
I’ve mentioned it in prior reviews, but Finch made an excellent point about the relationship between the midsole flexibility and the cushioning system. How the midsole is constructed has a huge effect on how well the cushioning system responds. The forefoot and heel Zoom bags normally prove to be my favorite cushioning setup, but I felt that the stiff chassis of the KD V Elite hindered the effectiveness of the Zoom.

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With a harsh slap from heel to toe rather than a smoother roll, the Zoom bags seem to only deaden the impact without giving you the full responsive feel you’re probably used to. I simply didn’t feel the level of responsiveness I normally do out of a Zoom-Zoom setup, and I have to believe that chassis has something to do with it. It’s not terrible, just not what I’d normally expect from that setup. The cushioning itself is pretty minimal too, so it’s something to keep in mind if you have bad knees or hips that require more impact protection. Court feel is great, but I felt like the Crazyquick offered equally good court feel with better impact protection and the CP3.VI certainly was more comfortable (and still low to the ground).

Traction – 9
Yes, I know it’s not herringbone, but the polygonal pattern used on the KD V Elite still performs pretty well. Stopping and starting at full speed gave me no problems (the best test is a full speed pull up jumper – as if I need an excuse to shoot another one), but the outsole will pick up some dust over time. Tons of personal details are worked into the outsole design which is a nice touch, but I’d rather see those used on an area of the shoe that’s not so fundamentally important to its performance.

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Materials/Durability – 10
It’s an Elite shoe, so the materials are top of the line. Carbon fiber everything (midfoot shank and heel counter), caged Zoom air, Kevlar-reinforced Flywire and a high-end durable synthetic upper give the shoe premium materials from top to bottom – even if they’re not used quite as well as I’d like.

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Overall, I liked the KD V Elite but it simply fell short of expectations. With the amount of premium materials and hefty price tag, I expected better – especially in terms of cushioning. The fit was excellent and the caged Zoom, carbon fiber shank and chassis made the shoe very supportive, but I still feel like it just didn’t play well despite the impressive package. Because of the high end materials, I feel like the KD V Elite is slightly better than the sum of its parts, but still doesn’t perform to the level I would expect.

It’s staying in the rotation (along with the CP3.VI and Crazyquick) when I go through weekly shooting workouts, but I’m still hooping in the Crazyquick when I roll with the Terminator X squad.

Total: 43/50

TGRR Blog: Nike KD VI and adidas Rose 4.0 Release Dates

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

At my current place of employment, we recently posted a list of upcoming sneaker release dates that will be hitting our stores over the next few months. Two models stood out on the release calendar: the Nike KD VI and the adidas Rose 4.0.

Despite being the next signature models of two of each company’s biggest names, very little has been revealed about either shoe. A Google search revealed just one relevant post (from the always-reliable nightwing2303) concerning the tech specs of the KD VI. Searching “adidas Rose 4.0” yielded a little more information, though mostly just the blurry sample pictures that have been floating around over the last week and a half.

At any rate, the only new information that I can provide you is the tentative release dates for the two shoes. Again, I’m not an insider, but this is the first information I’ve seen concerning the release of these two shoes. The Nike KD VI (in a “YLW/NAVY/TEAL” colorway) is set to drop for this particular retailer on July 3, 2013 with a $130 price tag. The adidas Rose 4.0 in an “Away” colorway is slated to hit on October 10, 2013, while the “Home” colorway is scheduled for a December 5 drop. The Rose 4.0 has a MSRP of $160.

The other shoe of particular note to us here at TGRR is the Jordan Super.Fly 2, which is supposed to drop at this retailer on August 1 in four different colorways and a $130 price tag.

I stress again that I’m not an insider, and I’m only relaying the information from one footwear release calendar. Once more:

Nike KD VI – (Ylw/Navy/Teal) – $129.99 – 7/3/2013
adidas Rose 4.0 – (Away) $159.99 – 10/10/2013
adidas Rose 4.0 (Home) $159.99 – 12/12/2013
Jordan Super.Fly 2 (Gry/Blue/Ryl, Blk/Gry/Wht, Grn/Blk/Wht, Purp/Org/Blk) $129.99 – 8/1/2013

Can’t wait to see official pics and further release information regarding a few of the top performance shoes on the market. Leave us a comment or drop us an email at thegymratreview@gmail.com if you have any more info on these or other release dates.