I didn’t realize it until today but I have the top tier signature shoe from each brand and I reviewed them all so why not have a little shootout to determine the king of the court ? I threw the Kobe X in since it is still one of Nike’s premier shoes. AJ XX9 not in the group pic because I sold them to a friend that wanted them.
Here are links to each individual review:
Honestly you could go with any of the top 4 and be good to go while the Lebron XII lagged behind considerably. Unless the floor was pristine or only semi dusty, traction wasn’t great.
These five shoes feature the latest and greatest from each company so I decided to split it into forefoot, heel, transition and overall.
Unlocked Zoom feels great plain and simple even if the XX9 isn’t my favorite iteration of it. The Curry One features a nice full length MicroG/Charged foam set up and feels better underfoot at the forefoot than both the Lebron XII and Rose 5. I put the Kobe X slightly ahead of the Curry One because the Charged foam seems to make the cushioning set up feel harder and less bouncy than the Clutchfit.I couldn’t feel the Zoom at all in the pods on the Lebron XII.
Boost is awesome in the Rose 5 especially in the heel. It doesn’t feel as plush as on their running shoes but that’s to be expected because basketball shoes require more stability and firmness due to the quick changes in direction.
The caged Zoom in the Kobe X feels responsive and bouncy, the way I like it and I like Caged Zoom because it adds structure and stability to the Zoom around the outside while keeping the bounce in the middle.Previoud caged Zoom enveloped the air bag from top to bottom but by letting a little bit go uncaged, it allowed the bag to respond a little more. The Lebron XII has a nice heel setup and protrudes slightly from the outside ala Melo 9 and feels good after some break in but just doesn’t rank well against the others. The AJ XX9 is just Phylon and meets the minimum pieces of flare at Chotsky’s.
Transition isn’t a huge deal for me but above is how I rank them. None of them are distinctly worse than any of the others but I did notice how smooth the Curry and Rose 5 are from heel to toe thanks to full length or near full length foam.
If only I could combine the forefoot Zoom of the XX9 with the Rose 5 I’d have my ideal set up. But since I don’t have my own sig shoe I’ll have to go with the Rose 5 . I wish the Rose 5 had a little more Boost in the forefoot but I understand why they made it the way they did and it works well especially for quick movements when you push off the forefoot. It’s definitely there but the feel of the heel and midfoot make it feel like it isn’t enough. The Boost in the heel and midfoot make the Rose 5 special in my opinion and it just feels that good to me that it can overcome the slight deficiency in the forefoot.
This is almost unfair considering the AJ XX9 has a performance woven upper. It really does conform to the foot as advertised. The Curry One also has a fabric upper and conforms wonderfully to the foot just not quite as well as the AJ XX9. The bottom three all have good fit but aren’t close to the level of fit of the AJ XX9 and Curry One. I liked the fit of the Lebron XII except the Hyperposite ankle collar. It never wanted to close tightly around the ankle and it is a pain to lace up. I had no fit issues with the Rose 5. There is a little deadspace in the toe box but it doesn’t affect performance imo and I switched out the insoles anyways. Heel to toe I was locked in.
All shoes had no heel slip or side to side movement.
SUPPORT AND STABILITY
Just looking at the Lebron XII you can see it was built to for stability and protection with a low profile and loads of Hyperposite. If you know D Rose, he loves having tons of protection from head to toe. Pretty sure he’d wear a helmet if he could on court (not a knock on drose, I love that guy but he is rocking a lot of gear ..compression leggings, knee pads, ankle braces..). So it only makes sense his shoe is built the same way. The Curry One and Kobe X have standard protection (Heel counter and fit) and are both stable underfoot. The AJ XX9 did not pass my heel test and has no real support to negate the instability in the heel and is therefore last.
Even on the hardest cuts the Rose 5 FitFrame kept my foot in the footbed since it runs from heel to toe. No part of the FitFrame lies beneath my feet which is key to keeping my foot in. Even if a thinner upper was used for the Rose 5, I feel like my foot would have still been locked in.
Although the Curry one doesn’t have a thick footstay, Under Armour thickened the Anafoam at high stress areas and does a great job holding the foot in place on hard cuts.
The Lebron XII looks like it would have much better containment with the huge Hyperposite wings but it flexes a lot on hard cuts and it really should be moved up a few inches since that’s where the majority of the pressure is on hard cuts.
The Kobe X did a nice job of containment although the footstay is a little more forward than where I’m used to.
The AJ XX9 only utilizes a plastic footstay at the forefoot and I could feel it flex on hard cuts.
Although these are all the premie models of each brand, the prices vary quite a bit:
As usual Nike and Jordan Brand have the highest prices due to their brand equity; including myself, people in general will pay more just to have the Swoosh on their shoes. Add on the appeal and brands of MJ, Lebron, and Kobe and you have yourself an expensive shoe on name alone. On the flip side, Adidas put itself in a bind with Drose and its continual loss of market share. On one hand, Adidas couldn’t price the shoe too low or people would perceive it as a non premium shoe but on the other hand, consumers don’t want to pay that as much for a shoe of a former MVP with the Three Stripes on it. Personally I felt that $129 would have been a good retail price even though it is only a $10 difference. Under Armour’s pricing probably could have charged $129 as well and sold just as well but I’m not complaining.
And the winner is..
I didn’t even think the D Rose 5 would win this shootout but after looking at all the categories, the D Rose does a great job at everything. Traction is fantastic, Boost feels great especially when I’m running down the court, it is supportive and stable without feeling unnatural or overdone, and containment is top notch. It isn’t perfect with that little bit of deadspace in the toe box but it doesn’t affect performance since my feet are locked in in every direction.
If support isn’t a big concern or you like more flexibility, the Curry One and Kobe X are both great. Between the two, it really comes down to preferences of the wearer. I do like the cushioning of the Kobe X over the Curry One (but I like the Clutchfit over the X by a touch) since it feels bouncier and more plush than the Curry One.
The biggest disappointments were the Lebron XII and Aj XX9. The two commanded the highest prices and touted the latest and greatest technology but both came up far short. The Lebron XII provides very good support but feels overdone while the AJ XX9 feels great on foot but doesn’t really have any support and felt unstable to me.
Imo, the lesson learned in all of this is that just because a shoe is expensive or isn’t your favorite brand doesn’t mean it performs the best. Obviously, different players, people, and reviewers will have differing opinions so don’t be afraid to try new brands. I love the current state of shoe performance techbology because it isn’t just Nike and Jordan anymore and with more choices and strong performers, we as consumers get better prices due to the competition pushing themselves.