Continuing Kobe Bryant’s signature line after his retirement was a no-brainer. There were simply too many ballers—from local rec runs to the NBA—playing in the line, and too much money to be left on the table, to stop it. Bryant may have love-hate relationship with fans, but there’s no denying his ability to sell basketball shoes to people who actually use them for their intended purpose.
What has been surprising though is the confusing naming convention of this post-retirement line, which, with the addition of this most recent model, now includes three different shoes named the Kobe A.D.—and that doesn’t even include the NXT and 360 variants.
Nike’s lack of promotion of this new model also comes as a bit of a surprise. While it was debuted by DeMar DeRozan in the Drew League over the summer and even worn by Bryant himself, the actual launch received considerably less attention. The sneakers dropped on “Mamba Day” with little fanfare outside of a post on the SNKRS app, and no accompanying press release detailing technology, design inspiration, or storytelling.
A shoe’s name and media rollout ultimately have no impact on its on-court performance though—which is what the new Nike Kobe A.D. is actually about. But without those extra elements to fall back on, it's all the more important that the shoe performs at a high level. Does it?
Hover over the dots for a full performance breakdown to find out.
Nike Kobe A.D. - Fit
Nike Kobe A.D. - Ankle Support
Nike Kobe A.D. - Cushioning
Nike Kobe A.D. - Traction
The latest Nike Kobe A.D. isn't spectacular, but is an easy recommendation for players whose priorities lean towards light, minimal, and low shoes. The cushioning isn’t quite on par with the cheaper PG2, but this model has a quicker court feel, plays lighter, and has better traction.
It doesn’t go into any contrived storytelling or overreach in its innovation. This could have been called the Kobe “Just a Basketball Shoe.” And that’s not a knock. The design is interesting enough visually, and it just does what it’s supposed to. It’s not a pinnacle-level product, but it’s not priced that way either. The latest Kobe A.D. is “just” a good basketball shoe, and sometimes—like in this case—that’s good enough.