We have yet another NXT sighting for the Kobe A.D. line. When Kobe Bryant retired, we thought the line would slow down. Instead, Nike Basketball and team re-invented itself with the return of lead designer, Eric Avar. The result, the Kobe A.D. NXT.
Similar to the Kobe 11 tooling, the Nike Kobe NXT is the first of its kind, no laces. Prior to release, we previewed the NXT technology as it provided a new lacing system for the series. Today, we now have another solid colorway in a Dark Grey and White combination. The Flyknit woven upper shows an intricate pattern unlike anything we have seen in the past. Making its way back to the line is the removable insert. Housing a Zoom Air unit encased with Lunar is a great combo for responsiveness and comfort.
We haven’t had a chance to get our hands on the new Kobe NXT, but we can assure you that the sneaker fits like the Nike Kobe 11. Personally, I tried the sneaker on and it feels great. A bit strange with no laces and a little difficult to get your feet into them. Once locked in, the heel cup feels secure and the step-in comfort is nice. If you’re familiar with the line, this should be no stranger to your feet.
Lead designer Eric Avar has been covering the Kobe series for most of his time with Nike. He wasn’t the designer for the A.D., but did return for the NXT. For years the Avar kept the same silhouette. Why? Simply because it worked.
Year after year, minor tweaks were made to advance the line. Whether it was to go low-top, having removable inserts for cushioning, or pushing the boundaries of high-top with the Kobe 9 Elite. Whichever the case, the Kobe line has been the leader of development in the Nike Basketball department. Players throughout the NBA have relied on the Kobe System for its performance benefits on court. However, the NXT brings us to a new beginning possibly with a bold shroud covering the upper. Is this for aesthetic purposes only or is there something more profound and deeper with this design choice?
The overall consensus with NXT is a mixed one. Sometimes we get one of those love it or hate it type of sneakers and this fits right in. Reason being is that the shroud is so uncommon on court. If we don’t see laces, we expect straps. No straps or laces? How can anyone take it seriously right? Gary Payton had ‘The Glove’, but even those had laces underneath. All current athletes from the Nike brand never featured a shroud so seeing the NXT may be a first for many kids or even adults.
Nonetheless, the NXT is not only unique, it also brings a challenge for the brand. In an age of self-tying laces, don’t be surprised that Nike could very well bring that technology into basketball. Nike Senior innovator, Tiffany Beers stated the auto-laces is not a gimmick and is indeed being tested in basketball.
We’ve tested it in training, running and basketball — mostly in running to get the durability right.
It doesn’t feel gimmicky after using it. Athletes move and change. And their environment is constantly moving and changing. So optimal fit is important. Why isn’t our shoe changing more with our foot? That speaks to the potential future of where this is going.
“Optimal fit? Constantly moving and changing?” Sounds a lot like Mamba himself speaking those words himself. Kobe is known challenge the limits of his line and push the boundaries. It would be ridiculous to think that he hasn’t thought about implementing auto-lacing to his brand. But he also wouldn’t just do so in order to sell shoes. It has always been a performance first line. Everything else is secondary. Looks is secondary. Feeling cool is secondary. Functionality and execution is what the Kobe Bryant signature is all about.
Whether you like laces or not, the Kobe NXT is a right step into the brands future. It’s hard to imagine the world of basketball without Kobe Bryant. He changed the game in 2008 by going low-cut and could possibly be on the verge of doing it again. We can’t say right now what the future holds, but the Kobe NXT proves that the line is just as inspired as ever as they continue to push the limits of innovation.
These Nike Kobe A.D. NXT ‘Dark Grey’ will be releasing soon. No official date yet, but expect these to drop for $200.00 USD retail price at most Nike retailers.