The Nike Kobe XI EM is the successor to the Kobe IX EM, which was a great sneaker to ball in. The Lunarlon and EM combination worked so well on the IX’s that Nike decided to bring them back for the XI’s. Did the XI’s live up to the legacy of the IX? Let’s find out.
The traction on the Kobe XI EM can be summarized in one word: Great. The traction pattern is somewhat similar to what you would find on a razor blade as each side has these razor blade-like nubs on the outsole. In the middle, you can see that it is hollowed out and made to look like a snake, something that makes no difference when you’re actually balling in them. Plus it also helps that the rubber is solid instead of the translucent rubber found on the Kobe XI Elite.
There were moments when I had to wipe my sneakers in order for them to have that squeaky clean grip, but those moments were far and few between. As long as the court is in relatively great shape and kept up to some degree, these should last a while and wiping won’t be as frequent as other sneakers. These should also do well outdoors because the rubber is durable and grips the floor, even with slight dirt and dust present.
Overall, I really liked how the traction was after being skeptical at first. It allowed me to make quick cuts and rapid changes in direction without the worry of any slipping. They looked like they wouldn’t grip that well because of the way the traction pattern looked compared to the Kobe X or even Kobe IX, which had amazing traction. The fact that Nike used a solid rubber outsole made it even better. I give the traction a 5 out of 5.
Unlike the Kobe XI Elite, the Kobe XI EM does away with the Zoom bag in the heel and replaces that with a Lunarlon insole/midsole, which isn’t a bad thing. The Lunarlon is spongy, responsive, and it feels great underfoot when walking around. Once game action started, it felt even better as the Lunarlon provided me with prefect impact protection. Personally I had no problem with it as it absorbed the impact fairly well and I didn’t have any aching joints or had any pain elsewhere.
However for those that don’t really like the Lunarlon setup, there are some solutions available. Since the insole is easily removable, you can remove the Lunarlon insole and replace it with a insole from a Kobe XI Elite which comes standard with a Zoom Air bag in the heel. If that still doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can actually get an insole with a full length Zoom Air bag. These are just some solutions that you can use to meet your cushioning needs.
In all, Lunarlon did its job and it did it well. It provided adequate impact protection, and it felt good. It gets a 4 out of 5.
Personally for the fit, I went half a size up and they fit me just fine. There was a little bit of dead space in the toe area, but it was so small that it wouldn’t even be a problem. The Engineered Mesh helped the fit as it allowed the shoe to conform better to your foot shape. The plastic heel counter also helped provide a studier fit for my foot.
In terms of support, it is pretty basic. Plus, it honestly depends on how the fit is: if the shoe fits well, it will support you well and vice versa. Apart from the fit, there is a plastic heel counter that keeps the heel secure and in place. The sneaker also has a flat base with an outrigger that will prevent any tipping and such. The Engineered Mesh does a great job in containing your foot and conforming to your foot and prevents any problems.
The combination of the EM, the flat base, and the heel counter provide a sturdy ride in which I didn’t have to worry about tipping over or rolling my ankle and things of that nature. The Fit/Support get a 4 out of 5.
The Nike Kobe XI EM is a worthy successor to the Kobe IX EM. The traction, despite looking unassuming, was actually pretty great in that I didn’t wipe all that much and it held up pretty well. The Lunarlon insole/midsole provided enough cushioning and felt great underfoot and when just normally walking around. The fit was good as was the support; the engineered mesh really helped as it wasn’t restricting and the heel counter cupped the heel perfectly so that there wouldn’t be any heel slippage. Add in the outrigger and you have yourself a pretty solid go-to basketball shoe. This gets a 13 out of 15 (which is an 86%, if you want percentages).