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5 Sneakers for 5 Unforgettable Moments in Kobe Bryant’s Career.
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We pay tribute to the memorable Mamba on the occasion of his birthday by exploring five iconic shoes inextricably linked to as many highlights of his glorious NBA career.

We celebrate the legendary Mamba through the five signature shoes that marked his glorious NBA career.

The unforgettable Lakers legend, who tragically passed away on January 26, 2020, has left an immense void, commensurate, however, with the enormous legacy he gave to the world. This legacy is not only about sports, but also embraces the profound life lessons-always charged with motivation and positivity-that continue to echo, spoken on and off the parquet court.

‘If you see me fighting with a bear, pray for the bear’ –

Mamba Mentality.

Kobe embodied uniqueness, both in the game and in daily life, proving himself tireless and always ready to give. He was capable of generosity and selflessness, but at the same time displayed an impenetrable steadfastness.

We pay tribute to the memorable Mamba on the occasion of his birthday by exploring five iconic shoes inextricably linked to as many highlights of his glorious NBA career.

Find out about them in the article.

1) adidas KB8 and his first All-Star Game.

A month before he was selected 13th in the prestigious 1996 Draft ceremony, the then 17-year-old phenom was already dominating games in Philadelphia-area high schools, wearing jersey number 33 for Lower Merion High School. It was during this time that Kobe signed his first multi-year contract as an adidas-sponsored athlete.

In his first year in the league, Kobe wore the EQT Elevation: one of the German brand’s most cutting-edge models at the time. However, it was in his second season that he received what many consider his first true personal signature shoe: the adidas KB8s.

During the 1997/98 season, Michael Jordan’s last season in Chicago, Bryant had the opportunity to challenge his childhood idol on three occasions: in each of these games he wore the shoes that would go down in history as the “Crazy 8s.”

Kobe with adidas Crazy 8s

The last meeting between these two unmatched players, both coached by Phil Jackson, took place during the All-Star Game in New York. For Bryant, who was participating in this star-studded game for the first time, the end result was disappointing, with the Western Conference being defeated by MJ’s team. However, despite this, Bryant emerged as his team’s top scorer, recording 18 final points.

2) “The Kobe” adidas and winning the first NBA ring.

Although many people identify KB8s as Kobe‘s first signature shoes, it is actually the 2000 “The Kobe” that officially marked his entry into the exclusive group of players honored with custom basketball shoes.

These sneakers made their debut during the winning campaign in the 2000 Playoffs.

To create this model, adidas established a collaboration with another major German company, Audi, as can be clearly seen from the design inspired by the Volkswagen Group car company’s TT Roadster model: the styling was strongly reminiscent of sports car aesthetics.

This model also marks the introduction of Kobe’s logo for adidas, which consisted of a silhouette of the young star with the iconic “afro” haircut of the time, known as “Frobe.”

One of the most iconic images of the young Kobe in the yellow-purple number 8 jersey is associated with this model: the dunk over Rik Smits. Kobe Bryant was injured during that game and missed the following Game 3 but was later a key factor in the final 4-2 victory over the Indiana team, earning his first of five rings.

3) The “Sneaker Free Agent” and the first Air Jordan 3 PEs.

After a six-year stint with adidas, Kobe Bryant broke his contract with the German brand in 2003, paying an $8 million penalty.

In the 2002/03 season, Bryant went through the “Sneaker free agent” phase, meaning he was a player free of any endorsement contract. During this time, he wore a variety of shoes, from Nike Air Force 1s to various Jordan models to Reebok, Converse and AND1.

A clue to his future choices became apparent when he sported Air Jordan models customized with Lakers colors. These shoes, linked to his lifelong idol, brought him luck, helping him to three outstanding performances with over 50 points per game. He scored 51 points against Denver on Feb. 12 wearing Air Jordan 7 PEs, 52 points against Houston six days later wearing Air Jordan 3 PEs, and 55 points against Washington on March 28, 2003, in the last official meeting between MJ and KB.

In June 2003, Bryant officially made his decision, signing a 4-year contract worth $40 million with Nike.

4) The first Air Zoom Kobe 1s and the 81 points against the Raptors.

The Nike Zoom Kobe 1s originated as his first signature shoe. Released in January 2006, these shoes were designed to represent his unique and aggressive style of play, also becoming famous for being worn during Kobe’s historic performance in which he scored 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, also representing the shoes linked to his best individual performance.

Another notable variation was the red, white, and blue one worn for the All-Star Game, and various Lakers-themed color combinations that were shown during the Playoffs that same year.

5) The Nike Zoom Kobe IV: From MVP of the Finals.

In December 2008, Kobe Bryant introduced his new Nike Zoom Kobe 4s, considered by many to be among the best signature shoes ever created for basketball.

At the conclusion of the 2008/09 season, the Lakers captured their first title since Shaquille O’Neal, with Kobe¬†earning his first Finals MVP trophy.

The 4-1 victory over the Orlando Magic saw Kobe wearing three pairs of Kobe IVs, including the “61 Points” version with white, yellow, and purple hues, on which the names “Cathy,” “Jayden,” “Grandma” and “Mildred” were written in honor of Lamar Odom‘s relatives who had passed away. Another relevant variation was the “Finals MVP,” with which he concluded the series.

In 2019, Nike celebrated the 10th anniversary of Bryant’s victory by releasing 10 pairs of Protro, or reinterpretations of past performances, of the Kobe 4. In addition, in the previous season, more than 100 NBA players used the Kobe 4, demonstrating how the model has positively stood the test of time.

‘My heart can handle the battle.

My mind can handle the fatigue.

But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.’

From his farewell letter to basketball published in The Players Tribune, “Dear Basketball, I’m ready to let you go.

Kobe Bryant.

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