The newly released Nike KD 12 has become one of the most polarizing basketball shoes in 2019 thus far. However, there have been some mixed reviews from sneakerheads and hoopers alike. To go along with the mixed reviews Nike also hit the public with a not so funny April fools joke. Originally the 90’s kid colorway was supposed to release on April 1st but upon checking the SNKRS APP and visiting retailers there were no signs of the Nike KD 12.In fact, at a local House of Hoops location, I was told: “Nike issued a recall letter” telling all retailers to hold the shoe and not sell it (even when the shoe was in stock in the back).

After a lot of early drama, I finally got my hands on a pair of the “Day One” colorway from Finishline on April 6th and I can HONESTLY SAY it was worth the wait! I’m calling it early the KD 12 is the best basketball shoe of 2019! Heres Why…

KD 12 Cushioning

True unrestricted full-length Zoom Air in the KD 12 upper.

Full-length Nike Zoom Air is probably my favorite cushion set up in a basketball shoe but before the KD 12, there have been very few if any sneakers that truly feature unrestricted full-length zoom. The majority of Nike basketball shoes has restricted or caged zoom units that limit them from reaching their full responsive potential. All that changed when the lead designer of the KD 12 Leo Chang decided to eliminate the Strobel board in the latest KD model to replace it with a full-length zoom unit that is actually stitched to the shoes upper. Comfort doesn’t stop there either, there is another hex shaped Zoom unit in the heel of the shoe providing double stacked impact protection and supremely plush ride.

Nike got it right with the KD 12 cushion set up, it’s my favorite set up in recent memory and I’ve had tons and tons of different basketball shoes over the last 25+ years.

KD 12 Traction

KD 12 traction is far superior to that in the KD 11. However, be mindful to wipe in between plays due to the collection of dust

“The traction can’t be good because the shoe features a translucent outsole!” WRONG! While some translucent outsoles have had traction issues the KD 12 seems to have defeated that myth. One of the gyms I play at regularly doubles as an elementary multi-purpose room so you can imagine how dusty and dirty the floor is. Even in not so ideal conditions the KD 12 seems to perform at a high level.

One thing I will say about the outsole compound is that it’s sticky and because of the stickiness dust does collect on the sole. This isn’t a problem but one will have to wipe to keep traction optimal. When preparing this review I compared the KD 11 with the 12 to see if the KD line is progressing or not and to my delight, the traction pattern is not only more aggressive but the compound seems softer making it perform better indoors.

However, it does seem that the outsole is more durable on the KD 11 because of its rigidity and thickness.

KD 12 Materials, Weight & Fit

nike kd 12 day one colorway close up
The KD 12 has Quad Axial flywire that is supposed to function like a Chinese finger trap, becoming tighter under resistance

KD 12 vs KD 11

KD 12 vs KD 11
Nike KD 12 vs KD 11, the newer model feels more like a real basketball shoe

I’ll be honest I didn’t particularly care for the Nike KD 11. Aesthetically it wasn’t bad and the idea of full knit upper sounded great but the execution wasn’t done all that well. However, none of that made me not like the shoe more than the heel counter and the extremely irritating pull tab in the rear. My Achilles felt as if it was constantly under pressure and now that I’m in my 30’s that scared me quite a bit.

Speaking with one of my friends Kaagen he said the same thing, the pull tab was digging into his Achilles and it even rubbed the skin off the back of his leg. Lots of guys are hooping in the 11’s with no issues and even KD himself wore them night in and night out through an NBA regular season and playoff run. In my humble opinion though the KD 12 is light years ahead of the 11 in the words of Joe Lacob. The materials used feel broken in right away, the shoe is lighter, the heel counter is perfect, the tongue is comfortable, traction is sticky and above all the full-length zoom is probably the best iteration to date.

There is simply no competition when comparing the KD 12 vs the KD 11, 12 by a landslide and really that should be the case if we aren’t progressing then what are we doing?

Nike KD 12 Release Dates

Below you’ll see a list of upcoming Nike KD 12 colorways and their release dates…

Nike KD 12


Release Date: Spring 2019
Color: Black/White-Pure Platinum
Style #: AR4229-001
Price: $150

Nike KD 12


Release Date: Spring 2019
Color: White/White/Amarillo-Game Royal
Style #: AR4229-100
Price: $150

Nike KD 12


Release Date: Spring 2019
Color: University Red/White-Black
Style #: AR4229-600
Price: $150

Nike KD 12
Release Date: Spring 2019
Color: Multi-Color/White
Style #: AR4229-900
Price: $150

Nike KD 12
Release Date: Summer 2019
Color: Black/White-Black
Style #: AR4229-002
Price: $150

Nike KD 12
Release Date:
 Summer 2019
Color: White/Wolf Grey-Black
Style #: AR4229-101
Price: $150

Nike KD 12


Release Date: Summer 2019
Color: Multi-Color/Blue Gaze-Orange Pulse-Red Orbit
Style #: AR4229-901
Price: $150

Nike KD 12
Release Date: Summer 2019
Color: Multi-Color/Orange Pulse-Barely Volt
Style #: AR4229-902
Price: $150

Nike KD 12
Release Date: Fall 2019
Color: Black/Cool Grey-Anthracite-Anthracite
Style #: AR4229-003
Price: $150

Nike KD 12
Release Date: Fall 2019
Color: Blue Gaze/Blue Tint-Photo Blue
Style Code: AR4229-400
Price: $150

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