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Nike Kobe IV 4 Protro Retro Performance Analysis Review

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11:04 am
March 21, 2019


Seasoned Veteran

Posts: 798


For sh*ts and giggles, I’m going to review this shoe from two perspectives because …well because it’s boring writing the same thing as I did last with the original Kobe IV. I’ve been playing in these for a decade.. looks like I’ll playing in them for a decade more. There’s a reason it still resides in my top 5 rotation.

Protro left, retro right

Pros: true to the OG, traction, big heel Zoom, outstanding fit, stability, containment, adaptable fit

Cons: no upgrades as a protro (I already told y’all it was all marketing even with the Kobe. I ), new forefoot cushioning would have been nice though

Sizing advice: true to size, half a size up if you want or need more space and width. Don’t be scared it will fit (that’s what she said)

Best For: guards who want a well balanced cushioning set up

Buying advice: $175 retail is pricey but you’re really paying for history, Kobes name and nostalgia. If you don’t want to pay $175 don’t buy it at $175 simple as that, there are plenty of other good shoes out there. First colorways are always limited so wait for more colorways. $140-150 is fair, low around $110-120.


14.5 ounces which is 2 ounces heavier than the OG. Not sure why but oh well not a big deal to me.


Just like my OG review, no changes at all, no width changes or anything like that. It wasn’t going to make a difference if they did change the width because this herringbone is just about as perfect as you can get.

Thin pliable well spaced and deep. Some wiping is required on very dusty floors but most of the time you’re good to go.

Protro Guy: it’s been a decade plus and this traction is awesome.

Retro Guy: it’s just like the OG?Sweet


As I said in my OG review the first iteration on Lunarfoam bottomed out quickly although I found the rest of the shoe to be so good that I didn’t care and got used to it. Eleven years later whatever the foam is (most likely Phylon or Cushlon) it still feels very similar to Lunarfoam and is still it’s Achilles heel (Kobe pun/reference intended).

Left, OG foam is very very slightly firmer to the touch than the Protro but feels slightly softer overall due to the strobel, insole etc..

I was hoping for full length as well so I could stop looking for the perfect shoe but I’m not the CEO of Nike. I would have loved full length or forefoot Zoom but I didn’t have any issues at with the forefoot (yet) and it feels softer than what you found on Kyrie 2/3 etc. My neuromas didn’t buzz so you know it’s just enough. Forefoot cushioning from Lunar to this stiff isn’t really a step back but more a step sidewise. I expect this foam to last longer than Lunarfoam at least.

Heel Zoom is big just like the OG

As you can see, the only change Nike made was changing the strobel to foam instead of cloth and using a less dense otherlite insole. The newer insoles manufacturers use now don’t really add any impact protection which is a commonplace across all companies. They have been marketing the insoles that conform to your foot which is sorta kinda true but boy are the flimsy.

Top: Protro, bottom Og you can see how much more dense the OG is.

So based on an idea I used in the past and forgot about and thanks to a post by ia Shayp3on IG, I decided to swap out the insole with a Micro G insole and it made a considerable difference comfort wise. Micro G springs back very nicely versus these cheapo insoles. Almost Zoom like (a React insole would have been nice Nike!)

Heel Zoom is fantastic and can be felt from day one. Once upon a time, heel Zoom was big and bouncy and it’s nice to see it back to its old form again.

Protro Guy: I wanted full length and they gave me the same set up as before. I thought full length zoom was going to improve my jumper, my endurance on court, while saving me knees but this set up was like the original and surprisingly didn’t affect my play. I still went 0 for 11 like when I play in my nike pg 3!

Retro Guy: same as the Og, sweet !


I went half a size up to 11.5 since I didn’t check SNKERS fast enough. Oh well they are a little longer (almost a thumb width) since that’s what happens half a size up. I suggest true to size like the OG and half a size up for wide footers.

Even half a size up I had zero heel slip no side to side movement and it still fit like a glove. The design on the ankle collar with the Kobe IV amazes me because nobody has copied it. The ankle collar just conforms around the entire Achilles and ankle perfectly even half a size up. I guess UA hired the wrong Nike designers.

*One thing I did notice with the the Protro I and these is that it starts out stiffer overall but breaks in after a few runs. The OG was not quite as stiff out of the box but they end up in the same place quickly*

Protro Guy: excellent fit way better than I expected considering it’s been ten years!’better than almost every low I’ve tried ever.

Retro Guy: same as the Og! Sweet


Oooh look at the tech!! Lines on plastic

“Flywire “and synthetic leather. No changes at all from the OG although the synthetic feels a little thicker and stiffer out of the box. If you’re into knits and weaves, well sorry you’re going to think these look and feel like crap but if you actually play in them and break them in, you won’t care.

Protro Guy: I thought I’d hate these materials because of the plasticky feel but they confirmed to my foot quickly no hot spots or pinching! No complaints. What is this synthetic leather stuff ?

Retro Guy: same as the OG? Sweet!!

Support and stability

Look at that lower heel counter. Performance upgrade !! Not

Support comes from the excellent fit and heel counter so no issues here.

Midfoot support is great thanks to the carbon fiber shank.

Stability is excellent on the IV. No excessive squishiness in the heel, low to ground in the forefoot, large outrigger and who can forget the Y heel which everyone has copied over the last decade. Although it isn’t a true indicator of support and stability, I don’t think I’ve ever sprained my ankle in these.

Protro Guy: just low the ground and stable just like the best shoes out today wtf!!

Retro Guy: same as the Og?! Sweet!


No issues just like the OG. Foot stay, stiffer synthetic upper etc…

Protro Guy: dang whoever thought that this was even a performance aspect is a genius

Retro Guy: ditto^^ same as the Og?! Sweet!!


Protro Guy: Despite not having full length zoom, I have to admit the Kobe IV played great with exceptional traction, fit, and stability. It feels like it was part of my foot after only a few games and surprising, the forefoot cushioning wasn’t an issue even though I would have preferred full length Zoom. Switching out the OG insole added a lot more feel and spring under my foot and I actually didn’t miss full length Zoom much. Just a nimble quick feeling shoe. No wonder the sole line loved the OG so much. At $175 it is expensive for a performance shoe but it still performs well.

Retro Guy: same as the OG?! sweet!! If I close my eyes I couldn’t tell you which shoe was which after breaking them in. I love that Nike didn’t change a thing and why should they when it’s one of the best low tops of all time? Kobe won his first championship post shaq in these, brought low tops as an alternate and retros are always dope to wear. I don’t have to pay $250 for the OG so if Nike continues to produce retros true to the OG, I’ll be happy. Pretty hard to top the Kobe IV.

So why did I review this from two different perspectives ? Expectations are going to affect the tone of reviews and I’m a “performance” guy and collector so I can see both perspectives. People are upset about full length Zoom not being used in the Kobe IV protro and I get it which is why I don’t get all hyped when I read pre release news since they can be inaccurate. Words are just words so I’d rather try the shoe myself and see how it plays rather than base it on “tech specs”. People are also upset about the $175 MSRP which is also understandable but guess what, Nike is an uber strong valuable brand across the world and than Adidas, UA, LiNing, Anta, Brandblack (who dis).

Really surprised about Anta but then again I’m not in Asia. Look how Nike is the same value as 2-8 combined.

Have you ever tried to sell a pair of Jordans or Nikes versus trying to unload a pair of Hardens or Curry’s? I have and the value and market for those make it a lot harder to get rid of. Wear a pair of Jordans a few times and you can still sell them for retail but if you do the same with a pair of Hardens or Curry’s you’ll be eating a 50% loss. Did you see how quickly Air Jordan 11 Concords sold at $220 in unprecedented quantities ? That’s just the power of a brand and the retro market. If you’re going to argue the logic that Nike should lower its prices, good luck with that. Ask Bentley or Aston Martin to drop their prices to Hyundi range while you’re at it.

If you don’t want to pay $175 or don’t have a connection to them don’t buy them, simple as that. “Performance” sneakerhead make up an extremely minuscule percent so I don’t expect Kobe Protro prices dropping anytime soon because of #Protrogate. All company’s are FOR PROFIT, so they are trying to maximize PROFITS. It isn’t like Nike is the only one playing the retro game and charging a premium, it’s just that people actually want the Kobe IV.

These Tmac retros are set at $160 and nobody cares because we all know they will go on sale. Even older “tech” no rings, no finals, no dunk championships..ah Tmac, wtf are you good for?

As I was writing my conclusion, I think this might be the second time I’ve reviewed a new retro as a performance sneaker so I’m not sure how I should grade it? Do I grade it by price ? If so, I’d take it over the more recent expensive models such as the Lebron XV, XVI, Jordan 28-33 because it fits me and my game perfectly and it’s probably one of the most nimble shoes I’ve ever played in. Just a perfect amount of court feel and comfort for me. If you’re looking for a more plush shoe, this is not it and even if it had an 8 mm bag, this still wouldn’t be the right shoe for you. If you want plushness go buy something with Boost or KDs or Lebron. If you want a full length Zoom Kobe get the Kobe I Protro, you’re not giving up anything versus the IV except it’s a higher yet flexible. Cushioning is all about preference so I’m pretty sure everyone would have preferred full length over heel only but it isn’t a deal breaker. If cushioning was all that mattered to me, I’d just call this a sneaker cushioning review site and give all my awards to Adidas, Lebron, and KD.

Against a typical $130-140 shoes ($140 is what the Kobe IV would cost in today’s dollars) it is still just as good or maybe even better depending on what you’re looking for despite the fact that it doesn’t have the latest and greatest forefoot cushioning. I think these feel way better than HOVR Havoc and even the full length set up of the Curry 6 which has the “latest and greatest”. Plus they don’t peel off (that’s the real shame in my opinion). Don’t forget UA put full length EVA in the Curry 4 and 5 and called it proprietary (all sneaker companies are ). There are plenty of other shoes out there that are are fantastic but not that many shoes that are special to me. My mind is filled with great memories in the Kobe IV and even though that has no effect on any true performance aspect, it does give me that extra bit of confidence and aggressiveness I need at times. If you have no emotional attachment or don’t have a big FOMO complex, you’ll be fine in the Kobe AD Mid, Exodus etc..everything I reviewed so far this year has been great including the PG3 and Why Not Zero 2 which I will have a review for soon.

Overall, the Kobe IV Protro is just as good as the original which is by me.