Kobe Bryant: A Trip Through the Basketball Shoes of the Black Mamba
Kobe Bryant is one of the most fascinating athletes that the NBA has ever seen. As a Los Angeles Laker, Bryant has done it all and then some.
He will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest players in NBA history. With five NBA titles, 12 All-Star appearances, a gold medal and everything in between, Bryant is amazing. His credentials speak for themselves, but he's also the game's best closer and an elite defender.
Whether it's been with or without Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant has been impressive. Now the team leader of the Lakers with viable sidekicks Pau Gasol and Ron Artest, Bryant is still proving doubters wrong.
This Lower Merion product has become more than a household name. Like him or not, he might as well be the best player that this generation has ever seen.
During his career, he's also supplied an assortment of sneakers. The sneakers have made him even more famous and made kids attempt to emulate Bryant on the court with his sneakers on. Bryant's swift transition from Adidas to Nike has put even more money into his pocket.
Here are Bryant's shoes throughout his NBA career.
1996: The Elevation
These were Bryant's first shoes and the ones that launched his career. Bryant donned these in his rookie year, most notably in the 1996 Slam Dunk Contest, which he won.
This shoe came in black/gold and also white/blue. Bryant was wearing the white/blue ones when he dazzled fans at the Dunk Contest.
For those who have tracked Bryant's career, they know that this was only the beginning.
1997: The KB8
This was Bryant's first signature shoe ever. He inked a $48 million deal with Adidas to keep his name associated with their brand. Little did we know then that an inevitable move to Nike would do wonders for his career.
A retro of this shoe came out in 2006 and was worn by many UCLA Bruins players during their run to the Final Four. The re-release came due to such high demand for this shoe.
2000: The Kobe
The Kobe was intended to look like Bryant's Audi TT Roadster. It was with this shoe that Bryant secured his first of five rings with the Lakers. This ring came with the help of Shaq.
I remember thinking that these shoes looked like spaceships when they came out. They transformed sneaker designing into the art that it is today.
2001: The Kobe II
The Kobe II's helped guide Bryant to his next two rings. While this shoe failed to deliver as the original did, it was still a hit.
These shoes looked good on the shelf but not the same when they were on your feet.
While Bryant enjoyed a lot of success in these kicks, they were nothing to look at.
2004: Air Zoom Huarache 2K4 (Nike)
These shoes came after Kobe had lost both his Adidas deal and Shaq. These were Bryant's Nike debut, and they didn't disappoint.
The early days with Nike were synonymous with the Colorado incident, but still nothing could stop Bryant.
These shoes were very light and comfortable despite the so-so design.
2006: The Nike Zoom I
On January 22, 2006, Bryant made history in these shoes that are sure to follow him to the Hall of Fame. He scored 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors. Bryant shot a remarkable 28-of-46 from the floor and sank 18 of his 20 attempted free throws.
Just because of this game, these may have been the shoes that Bryant made most famous. These were a part of the Uptempo line of shoes. They were also his first signature shoe with the Nike brand, which was leery to give him such honors due to his legal troubles.
2008: The Nike Zoom III
These were said to be Bryant's absolute favorite shoe. It was with these sneakers that Bryant obtained his first NBA MVP Award.
These were the signature sneaker of his 2008 season, when his team lost the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics. These didn't have the same look as their predecessors but were still notable.
2008: The Nike HyperDunk
Bryant led the USA's "Redeem Team" to gold in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China with these shoes. These were another notch in the belt for Bryant. First was his Slam Dunk and MVP shoes, and now his gold medal sneakers.
These were another high-top sneaker that Nike put out. Later on, we will learn about the switch to the more comfortable low-top.
2009: Nike Zoom IV
The move to the low-tops proved to be a good one, as Bryant won his fourth NBA title with this shoe. These were very similar to the Nike HyperDunk. The only difference really is that these were low-top.
Bryant was able to enjoy another successful season in these shoes. This one would culminate in another NBA title and also Finals MVP.
2010: The Nike Zoom V
While these took on some similarities to the Nike Zoom IVs, these had an identity of their own. They were similar in color and style (low-top), but the look and feel was improved upon.
Bryant won his fifth NBA title against the Celtics with these on his feet. It was sweet revenge in beating the Celtics in a historic Game 7, but also made Kobe 2-for-2 with the low-tops.