Kobe Bryant’s journey with Nike led to a basketball shoe revolution
It’s rare for a player to step into the NBA and have a gargantuan impact on the whole sport as a whole. It is even rarer for that same player to switch gears when it comes to the shoes the players wear on the court. To make that kind of impression, you have to be a special talent that only shows up once in a generation. From the early 2000s to the mid-2010s, this player turned out to be five-time champion, Kobe Bryant. When it comes to Kobe’s sneaker release, there are so many amazing designs to choose from, and if you’re looking to get a pair, or even sell, eBay just might be the solution you’re looking for. EBay has many policies in place that protect both sellers and buyers. For example, all pairs are sent through Sneaker Con’s special sneaker facility, where all shoes go through rigorous authentication processes. EBay’s Guarantee of Authenticity lets sneakerheads sleep at night knowing their rare and retro sneakers are real. Not to mention, the brand doesn’t offer a sales charge on shoes over $ 100. Their vast collection of rare shoes encompasses Kobe’s rich history, and if there’s one particular pair you’ve always wanted to own, there’s a good chance eBay has it.
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Kobe’s sneaker trip was certainly a rocky road at first. Sneakerheads don’t fondly remember his days with Adidas, although his free sneaker agency is a legend. Kobe would wear any brand that sent him something and eventually he signed with Nike. Together, Kobe and Nike have delivered a fleet of incredible athletic shoes to the masses while also creating new trends that have left a lasting impact on the current crop of NBA stars who have their own signature shoes. Sadly, the Nike x Kobe partnership is officially coming to an end, which is news announced just a few weeks ago. At the end of 2021, Nike will stop selling sneakers related to Kobe and as anyone can imagine this has led to an increase in the scarcity in the market which has also increased the value of its shoes.
After an entire year of being courted by numerous brands, Kobe signed to Nike in 2003 although he didn’t get a real signature sneaker with the brand until 2005. For most of that year, Ken Link started out. to design a shoe for Kobe to adapt to the vibrations of the time. Pretty much every player wore tops or mid-tops, and this shoe was no different as it had a stealthy yet bulky design. The Nike Kobe 1 pairs finally started hitting the market in January 2006 and on the 22nd of the same month Kobe dropped 81 points to the Toronto Raptors while wearing a white, purple and black colourway. Eventually, this Player Exclusive got a retro in 2019 and it remains one of the most iconic shoes to ever graced Kobe’s feet.
Image via Nike
While the Nike Kobe 2 and Nike Kobe 3 were cool, Kobe’s real impact started with the Nike Kobe 4, which debuted in the 2008-2009 season. It was a special moment for Kobe as he had just lost one loss in the NBA Finals and he was on the verge of winning back-to-back titles, further strengthening the legacy on the pitch. Kobe knew he had to do something special with his signature sneaker line, and that’s exactly what he did by shocking critics and consumers with a low shoe. When playing basketball you need proper ankle support otherwise you may get injured. Well, Kobe didn’t seem to care about all of that because he stuck with his beliefs and completely changed the course of basketball shoes with just one figure. When the shoe debuted, there were people who told it it just wasn’t going to work. This fueled Kobe who launched hilarious promotional campaigns including ankle insurance, which poked fun at the idea that these shoes caused injuries.
Needless to say, the Kobe 4 proved to be hugely popular and its success in the field forced people to take note of what a low-top could do for someone’s game. Nowadays even tall men can be seen wearing low shoes and when it comes to the iconic new sneaker lines, most of them are low shoes. From the Nike KD to the Nike Zoom Freak 1 to the Nike Kyrie series, it’s undeniable that these shoes wouldn’t exist without Kobe’s foresight.
After the success of the Nike Kobe 4, Bryant continued his low journey by unveiling the Nike Kobe 5 which was a subtle deviation from the previous model. Kobe would go on to win his fifth and final NBA title in these shoes and it was the “Big Stage Home” colourway that earned those Game 7 honors against the Celtics. This white and gold pair was an instant hit among fans and when you think of the Kobe 5 you think of this specific colourway.
Image via Nike
While the Kobe 5 was an excellent model, it was the Kobe 6 that really elevated Bryant to GOAT sneaker status, and all thanks to a colorway: “Grinch”. For decades, the NBA has played games on Christmas Day, and the Lakers are still a part of those festivities. Surprisingly, no player had ever thought of wearing shoes that actually paid homage to the day’s festivities. Well, Kobe changed that with a green and yellow pair of Kobe 6s that immediately made you think of the cranky creation of Dr. Seuss. The original pairs of these sold out immediately, and the retro 2020 reissue suffered exactly the same fate. Now this shoe will never be released again, which means if you want a pair, sites like eBay are your best resource. The success of the “Grinch” model came with Kobe’s second major contribution to the sneaker world: Christmas-themed shoes. The following year in 2011, LeBron James released a Nike LeBron 9 “Christmas”, while Kobe returned right away with a purple and yellow Christmas Kobe 7. The following year, Kobe dropped the Kobe 8 in a unique Christmas sweater offering, which found himself in a duel with Christmas models Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen. In the years since, some of the league’s best players have continued the Christmas tradition and long after Kobe’s retirement the holiday motives are still strong. This is yet another example of how Kobe was able to set trends while capturing our imaginations.
Image via Nike
To end his career, Kobe dropped two low shoes in the Kobe 10 and Kobe 11. However, in between that, Kobe got experimental and downright manic with the Nike Kobe 9 Elite. Coming from an injury to Achilles, Kobe wanted something that would give him both ankle and calf support. This ultimately led to a huge high top that helped bring Lunarlon midsole technology and flyknit materials to the world of basketball. These two innovations are still found in basketball models, and the boldness of the Kobe 9 Elite remains impressive. While it doesn’t get retro, it’s a shoe that cements Kobe as a man willing to take risks with his brand, which is hugely commendable.
Image via Nike
While we’ve been lucky enough to get retros of the Kobe 5 and Kobe 6 over the past couple of years, its Nike release of 2011 and beyond won’t be returning anytime soon. These sneakers have now become their own makeshift time capsules that will make you reflect on some of the best years in NBA history. A moment where we got to see Kobe doing what he does best every night, defying expectations and inspiring a whole generation of basketball players. As sneakerheads all we can do is tip our hats on the man and rock his sneakers with pride as we go hoop in the local courts, shouting “Kobe” after each jumper.
Let us know your favorite Nike Kobe sneakers in the comments below.