Complete History and Visual Guide to Kobe Bryant Shoes
Even as a teenager, it was clear that Kobe Bryant was special. Although injuries have slowed him down lately, he has put forth elite play in multiple decades and is one of the biggest figures in modern basketball. It should come as no surprise that Kobe Bryant shoes are in the same discussion as LeBron James shoes and behind only Michael Jordan shoes as far as the biggest signature shoe lines in basketball history.
The key difference between the shoe lines for Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant is that Kobe was not always a member of the Nike brand. Only 17 at the time and fresh out of high school, Kobe Bryant signed a endorsement deal with Adidas. The six-year deal was reportedly for $48 million. This might explain why he did not sign with Nike to start his career as Adidas made a big offer to Bryant before he was drafted. A month later, Bryant was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets and then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
After a low-key rookie season coming off the bench, Kobe Bryant would take his game to the next level and become one of the top players in the game by the 2000-01 season. His Adidas shoes were along for the ride and other than their association with Bryant, are most memorable for their crazy designs. This might have ultimately been the undoing of the Adidas endorsement deal with Kobe Bryant. Reportedly unhappy with the KOBE TWO, Bryant made the switch to Nike once his deal with Adidas ended. This did not prevent work on his next Adidas shoe, and images have surfaced for what would have been the follow-up to the KOBE TWO, although no official name was provided. This was not the only time that Kobe Bryant switched to a competitor in the collecting world. Many will remember that before he was the face of Panini Basketball, Kobe Bryant was part of the Upper Deck family.
The Nike era of Kobe Bryant shoes began slowly as they collaborated on the inaugural signature shoe design. In the meantime, Kobe took the court wearing Nike Air Huarache sneakers for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. Finally, the Nike Zoom Kobe I made its debut and has been one of the most popular signature shoe lines since then. Kobe Bryant shoes have gone through a considerable transformation while with Nike. The first edition was more of a standard basketball shoe and subsequent editions transitioned to a low-top look, following a soccer shoe design. Now back to the high-top style with the Nike Kobe 9 Elite, the newest shoes share similar characteristics with a boxing boot, and was reportedly inspired by Bryant spending time with Manny Pacquiao.
In addition to the many Kobe Bryant shoes in his base signature offerings, multiple variations, including Elite and Prelude, add to the totals. The Nike Venomenon was previously not available in the US, but sneakerheads stateside can now find the lower-priced Kobe Bryant shoes. Also, the original Nike HyperDunk (2008), is commonly associated with Kobe Bryant.
The Nike Kobe 9 is the most current offering among Kobe Bryant shoes. With Bryant sidelined for much of the 2013-14 season due to injury, the shoes will be debuted on other Nike players before Kobe returns to the court. The first shoe to retail, the Nike Kobe 9 Elite "Masterpiece" colorway will officially release on February 8, 2014. This will be followed by the Kobe 9 Elite "Inspiration" on March 8th, and the Kobe 9 Elite "Detail" on March 22nd.
The following guide includes a chronological listing of all the main Kobe Bryant shoes. Each shoe is listed by name and the main season it was featured. There are also two images of each shoe edition as well as picture of Kobe wearing the shoes in a game.
Visual History Guide to Kobe Bryant Shoes
*Shoes synonymous with Kobe Bryant, but not officially among his signature shoes.
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Nike Kobe 9: 2013-14 (Official Release 2/8/14)