*added Harden V1 vs Kobe AD*

Executive Summary:  Sorry for the delay, The holidays slowed me down a bit. Great traction and excellent fit with firmer than normal Kobe line cushioning that needs break in but feels decent after. Forefoot outrigger is too small and flexible and gets caught under the sole on occasion. Overall I feel like it plays a lot like a hybrid of the Kobe VI and X with firmer cushioning. 

Pros: traction, cushioning, fit, stability 

Cons: shoe overall starts out stiff and needs break in, Zoom is much smaller than the X and cushioning needs break in time, forefoot outrigger is small and can roll under outsole on hard crossovers and cuts, materials feel cheap to touch but work decently, pricier than other shoes

Sizing: true to size, wide footers will want to  go up half a size

Best for: guards and lighter bigs

Buying Advice: wait for sales. Gray colorway sold quickly but no Kobe on court hurts marketability. $110 or less is fair, bottom around $80

13.5 oz which is one ounce heavier than the Rare Metal or 3.5 ounces lighter than the Harden Vol 1. 


Mostly Kobe X with a dash of Kobe VI in the heel. 

As you can see from the pic, the set up with the micro grooves looks similar but the “micro grooves” are fewer and bigger on the AD. 

I didn’t know what to expect with this set up so I was pleasantly surprised these stuck well. The flat outer rim of the outsole does allow some dust to stick to it but the rest of the outsole saves it. I didn’t wipe at all the first two days on a lightly dusty court at all and didn’t have to wipe at all on a dirty 24 hour court so three straight days without a wipe. You can see the micro grooves look practically dirt free while the outer rim is grimy green. 

After pickup games were done I put these on at the same time at the same dirty 24 hour to compare and still didn’t wipe much at all with the AD, while I had to wipe regularly with the Clutchfit which is the bottom traction performer in my rotation. These are not quite top tier traction due to the flat parts of the outsole but they are great overall and are easily better than the Clutchfits at keeping dust at bay. 

Full length Lunarlon with heel Zoom just like the Kobe X. The difference between the X and AD is that the Zoom is much smaller in the AD than the X. I’ve read complaints that the X was too stiff in the heel so maybe that’s why Nike switched it up (probably $ reasons) but the X is still easily softer, bouncier and requires less break in time to feel that Zoom. If you thought the cushioning of the X was too stiff, you’ll hate these.  
The Zoom in the X actually goes across the entire heel and isn’t encased in foam like the AD so it feels like real Zoom. 

The funniest and saddest part about the AD is this

Fake Zoom. Sketchers inspired fake visible Zoom. A decade or so ago, Nike said they were done with visible Zoom or wanted less of it but now this. I guess technically it isn’t visible Zoom since it isn’t the Zoom bag … I can’t stop laughing and crying because it’s so funny   yet sad. 

What you actually get is a typical Hyperdunkish sized Zoom in the heel encased by Lunarlon that does not extend all the way across the heel. It is also somewhat recessed into the foam which makes it harder to feel. 

The cushioning starts out stiff since you have to break in the TPU cage as well as the foam surrounding the Zoom. I did have a little arch discomfort due to my flat feet and the way the Lunarlon on the medial side creates a little arch support but it went away after break in. Post break in, the cushioning in the heel didn’t feel out of this world but I could feel it a little bit. Or it was just the Lunarlon around it. 

As for the rest of the shoe, cushioning is still firmer than the X even post break in but it makes for a faster and more stable ride. It doesn’t feel like pure Lunarlon like the Kobe 8-11 but it feels like a mix of Phylon and Lunarlon. Maybe Nike mixed Phylon to add some longetivity to the Lunarlon since it tends to die quickly, I’m not sure. If you loved the feel of the previous models, you probably won’t like this set up because it isn’t set up the same way. The Lunarlon is encased in TPU on one said and there is a fiberboard between your insole and actual foam. Very different than the drop in set ups of the 7-9 and 11. 

  Overall, the cushioning isn’t the greatest in terms of pure comfort but it is a good blend of impact protection and responsiveness. It’s very different than previous Kobe’s which might be a turn off to many. I prefer the X set up for comfort but the AD feels faster and more stable since they are firmer.  I think a slightly softer Curry 2.5 or Clutchfit Drive 3 would be a good fair comparison. Bring back the ol meta forefoot and big heel Zoom like the VI and we’d be golden. Maybe next year..

Ride Height
Visually, the AD looks like it rides high off the ground but during play it doesn’t feel like it at all. I felt connected to the ground at all times. Curious as always, I pulled out my Kobe VI. The reason it looks so bulky and high is because of the high toe cap in the front. It rides at approximately 14mm according to Fastpass which is one third of a millimeter more than the Harden Vol 1. It also rides at 20.5 mm in the heel while the Harden sits at 25 mm. If you want to go or feel lower, get the Kyrie 2/3 or older Kobe’s. 

 Once again, you can’t trust your eyes, you have to trust your feet. Fake Visible Zoom, need I say more ? 


Nike is very consistent with their fit and the Kobe AD is no different as it runs true to size. I could have gone up half a size and still been ok since I have wide feet but most everyone else will be fine going true to size. 

Per usual, Nike nails it with the low as I experienced zero heel slip from the get go. You can see how contoured the Achilles padding is. 

Nike also decided to add a built in shoe horn which may look weird but functionally it works and they even added some grip

Side to side movement was non existent and there is virtually no deadspace on top of the forefoot either. The AD fit makes the shoe feel like an extension of your foot especially after break in. 

This was the best part of the Kobe AD. Well done Nike!

Materials, more like MEH terials… get it ? Is this thing on?

The mesh on the AD looks and feels cheap and starts off stiff but broke in within a few hours which is more than acceptable. No hot spots, no pinching and no pain for me. It does run a little hot because of how tightly bound the mesh is but heat can escape out the ankle and tongue. Similar ventilation as the Harden in my opinion. 

It isn’t the softest or most luxurious feeling upper but it doesn’t matter on court. I have no issues with the material on the Kobe AD. Nike could have used nicer materials but you’re paying for the Kobe and Nike name so I’m not surprised. 

    As most of you know I really don’t weigh materials heavily in terms of performance unless they become a distraction on court. I actually only mention materials because I want to cover all aspects of the shoe especially for those who can’t try or see before they buy. 

I am a firm believer that materials provide VALUE to the consumer so if something feels cheap, we the consumer aren’t getting much value. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Materials are a thing, not an actual performance aspect. It can affect other parts of the shoe on occasion but it would be reflected in actual performance aspects. 
Materials should only really be used as a tie breaker when deciding between kicks. So if it’s not a distraction it’s not a problem and this material works just fine. 

Support and Stability 
Since this is a low, support comes mainly from the excellent fit and the very firm and sturdy heel counter. I didn’t feel it made the shoe play clunky at all despite the size. 

Stability is excellent as well thanks to a flat outsole and tiny outrigger. I don’t know why it is so small (that’s what she said ?)

Problem with the tiny outrigger is that the rubber is soft and it can roll under the outsole on hard cuts. I tried to video it but it is so small I couldn’t see it on tape. Even when I tried to do it, I’d get it to roll under maybe 1 out of 7 attempts. You can see the Kobe X had a tiny outrigger but it was still a wider shoe overall plus it had a footstay so it didn’t have the same issue. 

Aside from the outrigger, Nike caged the cushioning like they did in the Kobe X to assists with stability. Plus the cushioning is just firmer overall. 

I didn’t worry about turning my ankle in these because overall they felt stable. Can’t say I enjoyed the rolling outrigger but it didn’t ruin my day or my game since it doesn’t occur constantly.  If something like that distracts you, don’t buy the AD. 

I wasn’t sure how this would play out since there really isn’t any physical barrier for containment but the AD contained the foot well for bit not having a footstay or any kind of barrier. The secret is actually the density and strength of the upper. Since it is bound so tightly, it doesn’t stretch too much on hard cuts. If this was made of pure Flyknit, containment would have been absolutely terrible. 

That being said a footstay would have helped with containment even more and possibly helped eliminate the occasional outrigger roll under. 


Fantastic fit and traction are the highlights of the Kobe AD.  Cushioning isn’t the softest or most fun out there even though Nike has the resources for it but cushioning is more preference than anything than else. Do you like the boat ride of a Cadillac or the firm ride of a Porsche or the in between set up of a Benz? It’s disappointing that Nike tried to fool us with the fake visible Zoom as they really should have just left it hidden in the midsole because you can’t fool the Internet. 

Concerns about the outrigger are warranted to a degree as it should have been made larger and firmer like previous models. Mine has held up so far but I don’t have three hour practices five days a week like some younger players do. Nike does carry a two year warranty but it’s up to Nike if they will replace it. Personally I’ve only had one instance where they didn’t give me a voucher. You can go here to read their Warranty Policy

Expectations will make or break reviews of the Kobe AD so I hope my review sheds some light on how the AD actually performs. If you expected the same Lunarlon feel as the previous Kobe’s you will be disappointed because these are firmer since there isn’t a drop in insole and it has a firm strobel. When you see the price of $160, you’ll expect more since other comparative shoes out there under that price point are offering nicer materials than the mesh on the Kobe AD. If you want more tech for the price, Adidas is the way to go as they are pulling all the stops to gain customers. But tech specs and cushioning isn’t what makes or breaks a shoe, you have to look at the shoe as a whole and this shoe works great despite not having the latest and greatest.  I enjoyed playing in the Kobe AD a lot even though it wasn’t perfect. I’d say overall it ranks in the bottom third or quarter of the Kobe line but that’s just a testament to how good the line has been. The Kobe I and IV are still my favorites to play in while the VII (bad heel slip) and III (bad traction) and II (too much inside shoe movement) in case you’re wondering. 

  Now would I recommend it for $160? No, because there are shoes they perform as well or better at $160 and AD prices will come down to the $110 or less levels in coming months. Derozen is a great Kobe torch bearer but he’s no Kobe and the Raptors aren’t in LA. Happy hooping in 2017! 

35 Comment on “Nike Kobe A.D. Performance Review 

  1. Pingback: Head to Head: Nike Kobe AD vs Adidas Harden Vol 1  | schwollo.com

  2. Pingback: Nike Kobe A.D. Mid Performance Analysis and Review | schwollo.com

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