Nike Zoom Kobe VII Supreme System

The Nike Zoom Kobe VII Supreme System


This year, the Zoom Kobe series takes a step in a new direction, with an attempt to push the technology and features of the shoe to new limits.  Last week, our First Look uncovered an interchangeable midsole “System” offering two options.  The Play Strong midsole is equipped with a Cushlon base for cushioning and a high ankle sleeve, while the Play Fast option continues the Zoom forefoot and heel set up, with a standard low cut sleeve for support.  With all the hoopla and hype surrounding each Kobe release, our Performance Review puts the Nike Zoom Kobe VII Supreme System to the test.

Comfort and Fit

With either the Play Fast or Strong midsole inserted, the comfortable stretch material holds the foot tight.  The sleeve holds so well that the one would be able to walk with just the midsoles (although this is not recommended).  Tightening the laces, the stiff and rigid upper comes close coinciding with the snug and tight fit of the midsole sleeve.  For sizing, the Kobe VII is true to size with little wiggle room anywhere, including the toe box.  Ankle support is provided by the Play Strong midsole, as the velcro strap serves similar to a light ankle brace.  And even though the stretch material is on the thin side, the ankle brace does have a cumbersome feel.  At the rear, lockdown is a bit slippery, more so felt again with the Play Strong midsole, due to the fact that the silky stretch sleeve runs down the Achilles to the heel.  Another factor contributing to the lack of lock down is the foam side wall extending up the heel (for both midsoles), which keeps the heel from sitting flush on the counter.  Moving to the cushioning set up, both soles are relatively flat and are on the stiff side.  The difference between the two is that the Play Fast midsole has a lower profile, especially at the forefoot, while the Play Strong sole is thicker with a more consistent feel.  Around the sides of each sole, a thin flap of the foam extends up forming a side wall, which provides some arch support, but also brings a rough feel around the foot.  Both set ups, however, do have a very responsive feel.  Evaluating comfort and fit, the Supreme System is snug, rigid, and rough with light ankle support (Play Strong midsole).

Nike Zoom Kobe VII Supreme System

Snug and tight, the sleeve for either the Play Strong or Fast midsole holds the foot comfortably


Not uncommon for any sneaker, a break in period is necessary for optimal performance to be observed.  However, because of the midsole set up, the break in period involves not only working the upper in, but also easing the stiff foam in.  Once broken in, it is very clear what type of playing style the shoe is geared for – aggressive and fast.  First and foremost, our performance review will cover the Play Strong midsole, as it is a bit more versatile.  The main difference between the soles, as both are very responsive, includes a lower profile and a bit more freedom of movement (due to the lack of an ankle sleeve) for the Play Fast midsole.  To start, running is a bit stiff all around, as the flat outsole is not really geared for fluid heel to toe transitions.  Lateral movement, on the other hand, is exceptional and is where the light weight of the shoe is most noticeable.  Staying in front of an offensive player, the shoe allows the player to slide each way, with the great medial and lateral support felt.  Putting the outrigger to work, jab steps, quick baseline pull ups, and an explosive first step are best performed hard and aggressive.  And because of the responsive set up, deciding to change directions mid move is not a problem.  Jumping and finishing at the hole, like previous Kobe models, is aided by the light weight of the shoe, with the Cushlon or Zoom cushioning taking the impact on the hard side.  Perhaps the most surprising aspect in performance is with post play.  Due to the responsive cushioning, flat sole, and ankle support, the shoe has some advantages working down low.  Working a player down, the player can push down hard on either midsole, and a strong or spin finish can be performed explosively.  In all, the performance of the Kobe VII is fit for the fast and aggressive player.

In the stability department, the Kobe VII performs very well.  The ankle sleeve, provides comfortable support, and is a good option for those who prefer a low cut, but need some ankle support.  However, the addition of the ankle sleeve does leave some room for improvement in terms of integration and overall protection.  Moving on, the upper and sleeve offer both protection and hold for the foot.  The foot is always held in place, with very little movement aside from some light heel slippage.  Even more solid that the upper and sleeve is the very stiff foundation.  Made for the aggressive player, performing movements and tasks that push the shoe to the limits are handled naturally.  Whether it is the outrigger being pressed down hard or the mid foot plate holding strong, stability of the Kobe VII is stellar from top to bottom.

Nike Zoom Kobe VII Supreme System

A flat outsole with a herringbone pattern brings exceptional traction performance

Flat on the court, the outsole provides exceptional traction.  Court grip is even throughout, with the herringbone section on the medial side providing a bit more grip, especially evident while making aggressive cuts to the basket.  The shard traction pattern also grips well, helping the player stop laterally even on a court that may have a slight film of dust.  With the responsiveness of each midsole set up, and the flat design of the outsole, players looking for good grip will find traction performance favorable.  In the ventilation department, there are very little problems.  The sleeve on both midsoles do grip tight, but are designed keep the foot comfortable.  That said,  the foot stays comfortably dry for those long late night runs on the court.


Much like the Air Jordan 2011, the interchangeable midsole concept does come with a few pitfalls.  For the Kobe VII, it seems as though the overall fluidness and comfort of the shoe has been affected.  An although the ankle sleeve is welcomed, the integration in performance is jagged even though it does address one of the lacking performance aspects of the line in recent years.  However, the both cushioning options, offer responsive performance, and those needing for a low cut aggressive performer with good traction can look to the Kobe VII as an option.  Looking ahead, Kobe Bryant and the design team at Nike have always looked to push the limits of technology and style with the Zoom Kobe series.  The sneaker industry saw the Zoom Kobe IV as a breakthrough in low cut performance, but it seems as though subsequent models have done little to expand on the line.  With the ever changing basketball sneaker landscape welcoming new companies, and established brands developing high quality performers as each season passes, the performance of the Zoom Kobe series looks only to be catering, first to Kobe Bryant fans, and second to those who prefer a low cut performer, rather than overall versatility and high performance on the court.  In any case, the Nike Zoom Kobe VII Supreme System is available now at the Official Nike Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Air Jordan 2011
Nike Zoom Kobe VI