Hard to believe that Nike introduced Flyknit two years ago. Flyknit may just be another lightweight option for Nike to mess with, but they sure have the attention of many runners and now hoopers around the world. Since its debut, Nike Kitchen has been cooking up something special for the hardwood, with another first for the company, the Nike Kobe 9 Elite.
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The Nike Kobe 9 Elite launched early this year becoming the first Knit base upper for the sport of basketball. Basketball is a high intensity sport where the player not only moves in multiple directions within seconds, but also involves vertical leaps and jumps. The main challenge for Nike Basketball was to create a Flyknit one-piece upper that would contain, support, and protect the foot. Is it possible for strands of yarn and knit to handle the outside forces of hooping? Wouldn’t the foot flex too much? According to our performance review, the Kobe 9 Elite had one of the best scores thus far on court. Although it shared the same key features from the previous model, the Flyknit upper felt more naturally and protective long term. Did it function better for basketball? Maybe. But to be honest, it felt more comfortable, but is still subjective. Some prefer the Engineered Mesh option for the Kobe 9 Low and some like Flyknit. At the end of the day, it’s always great to have options.
Now let’s step away from aesthetic and performance features for a minute and discuss how Nike Flyknit changes Nike Basketball in terms of availability and production. First off, the production process of Flyknit is quite extensive and complicated. For one, it takes a longer time to produce the material. Textile machines are much larger and are more intricate on the construction of each woven knit. Not to mention that it is more costly to use Flyknit as the machines, engineers, programmers, and designers all take part in this process. To put this all in perspective, normal Engineered Mesh Kobe 9 takes about 3 months to make whereas the Nike Kobe 9 Elite takes around 5-6 months. So what does all this mean? So what if takes longer and costs more? Glad you asked. Lengthy production and higher costs means a more expensive product that won’t be widely available.
For example, most of the releases thus far for the Kobe 9 Elite series are much more limited in numbers than the EM (Engineered Mesh) counterpart. Say a retail store receives about 70 pairs of the Nike Kobe 9 EM Low, but they only get 24 pairs of the Flyknit version. Not saying this proves anything, but there should be some reason and explanation for this. Pricing is also a $40.00 USD difference between the upcoming Flyknit Low and EM Low models of the Kobe 9. Whether it is worth the price, that is up to the consumer. Knowing the market, the product will still sell and Nike is much aware of that.
Nonetheless, Nike has flawlessly found a way to expand their horizons in the basketball world. I never would have guessed that Knit fibers at a almost pixel-like size can bring a whole new dimension to basketball production and functionality. The possibilities are endless and I guarantee you that this is only the beginning. More models are being designed and tested as we speak for on court use with Flyknit in mind. So far the only basketball player to use Nike Flyknit is Kobe Bryant. We have yet to see Lebron James and Kevin Durant rock a Flyknit basketball shoe which may be in the near future. Jordan Brand also has the upcoming Air Jordan XX9 with similar tooling.
As always, make sure to keep it on lock here on Kicksologsits for more performance reviews and news. Feel free to follow Kicksologist Jefferrrson on Twitter and Instagram.
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