Kobe Bryant Sneaker History (Osneaker)
History is defined by a legacy, a story, and achievement. Those moments that etch themselves into the record books create the foundation that we live by. This statement has been exemplified through a footwear line which has co-signed the success of Nike's well established history. Introduced in 2006, the Nike Zoom KB24 has developed into one of the prestigious lines part of the Nike pipeline. It is the single best performance shoe on the market, offering aspiring athletes support and comfort on the court. The colors neatly dyed onto each pair symbolize Kobe Bryants team affiliation ranging from his early days as a high school phenom with the Lower Merion Aces to his celebrated success with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kobe Bryant's introduction into the NBA came in 1996, chosen 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets. Los Angeles Lakers acquired Kobe Bryant by sending center Vlade Divac to the Hornets. Bryant's rookie year did not reward him with much playing time. He was later installed deeper into the Lakers lineup as his productivity improved, and his effectiveness as a shooting guard resulted in wins. Kobe flourished defensively and offensively averaging 30.1 points per game. His solitude and defiance is often compared to that of Michael Jordan.
His working tools have become a mainstay to his style of play, the shoes built and designed to Kobe's preference have offered the superstar the ability to carve through the hardwood floors and jump above restless defenders. Kobe's style of play, allows him to plow through defensive walls and put points on the board. His fulfilling career has earned him 5 NBA championship rings, 2 NBA finals MVP awards, a NBA season MVP award, 12 NBA All-Star Game appearances, 2 NBA scoring championships, 8× All-NBA First Team, 2× All-NBA Second Team, 2× All-NBA Third Team, 8× All-Defensive First Team, 2× All-Defensive Second Team, 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP and NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner.
Before the start of the 1996-97 NBA Season Adidas signed Kobe Bryant to a six year contract worth $48 million. Adidas failed to achieve the success that Nike’s Basketball shoe division has enjoyed during their relationship with Kobe Bryant. While the Kobe Adidas sneaker collection is highly sought after by fans of Kobe Bryant, during the time of it’s release the demand for Adidas Kobe shoes was very poor.
Kobe Bryant signed with Nike in 2003, the 5 year contract was worth $45 million. Nike didn’t jump right into making signature models for Kobe Bryant, following the lucrative endorsement Kobe Bryant was charged with sexual assault. He was later proven not guilty, the court decision allowed Bryant to breath in a sigh of relief and continue with his career. Initially Kobe was sporting Nike Zoom Huarache basketball shoes during his early years with Nike. It wasn’t until 2006 that Nike produced a line for Kobe, and it wasn’t until 2009 that Kobe Bryant won a championship in a pair of Nike shoes.
Nike Zoom Kobe I (1)
The Nike Zoom Kobe I was unveiled in 2006, after wearing the Zoom Air Huarache for three years, Nike decided on dedicating a signature shoe line based around Kobe Bryant. Chief Nike Basketball designer Ken Link took charge in developing this bulky model made for aggressive use on the court. Link developed a shoe that was built around Kobe Bryant’s playing format.
During the off season Kobe hit the gym and bulked up to 225 lbs, Link wanted to design a shoe that would contribute to Kobe’s resilience and ability to overshadow some of the biggest players on the court. After careful planning and serious preparation Ken Link came up with the Nike Zoom Kobe 1, it weighed slightly more than previous Nike Zoom Huarache models that were produced for Kobe Bryant. The weight of the shoe wasn’t necessarily an issue, the shoe’s comfort and protective support was beneficial to Kobe’s playing style. Kobe built a reputation in the NBA for his cutting and slashing moves, this style helped Bryant utilize these shoes properly, in essence the design would cater to those need and it reflected onto Kobe’s game.
On January 22, 2006 vs. the Toronto Raptors, Kobe made his mark by scoring a career high of 81 points. The exceptional performance that evening elevated Kobe Bryant in the eyes of every NBA fan in the country. He proved to be not only a leader but also a dominant player in a league crowded with amazing talent. The special features on the shoe helped Kobe expand his style of play, the outsole carried a multidirectional pattern which is used to provide traction and durability. The molded TPU wrap locked in the heel and provided solid framework that helped Kobe change directions.
During the 2006 season, Kobe Bryant dedicated himself to playing 80 games that season and averaged a record high 35.4 points per game, along with 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists. 2006 was an important season for the Los Angeles Lakers because it allowed for a foundation to be built towards future success. Despite differences between head coach Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, Jackson came back to coach the Lakers and reinstall faith into one of the most coveted franchises in sports history. Kobe Bryant dominated the NBA throughout the 2006 season, despite his endless efforts to keep his team afloat the Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by losing in 7 games against the Phoenix Suns.
There have been several special edition models of the Nike Zoom Kobe I which have captured the attention of the limited edition sneaker market. In particular the Nike Zoom Kobe I Stash edition and the Nike Zoom Kobe I Houston All Star Game edition are highly sought after pairs. Houston based sneaker boutique Premium Goods introduced a limited edition Nike Zoom Kobe I which was released in both their Brooklyn, NY and Houston, TX stores. A player exclusive model was designed for the Pennsylvania based Westchester Comets.
Nike Zoom Kobe II (2)
The relationship between Nike and Kobe Bryant has always demanded a shoe design that would function unlike any other on the court. Stability, durability and weight were on Ken Link’s mind when he molded the Nike Zoom Kobe II. As in the past, Link worked together with Kobe when designing this shoe, in order to produce a model that would function specifically to the needs Kobe. Consulting with Kobe Bryant and taking part in a series of discussions helped Link mold the perfect silhouette to represent the Nike Zoom Kobe II. The Nike Zoom Kobe II was the first basketball shoe that was fully stitched, Link incorporated the Nike Considered & Nike Free methodologies by eliminating the use of any type of chemical bonds that are typically used when molding a shoe together.
There were several design components installed that made the Nike Zoom Kobe II unique, in order to insure flexibility, Link focused on producing an upper supported by panels that would allow for foot support. Single layer construction the term used when describing this type of foot support system, in Link’s words it’s “a way to get to a lighter, better system.” The shoes midsole served a suction cup providing ballers lateral support and foot protection. Separating this shoe from it’s earlier counterpart the Nike Zoom Kobe I, both heel and forefoot Zoom Air cushioning supports were installed into the inner workings of the insole. This technological improvement allowed for the shoe to sit millimeters above the ground. These slight details impacted Kobe’s performance on the court offering amazing flexibility that was never installed in a shoe before.
The final product resulted in allowing Kobe Bryant to sport a shoe that was lighter, lower and permitted Kobe’s feet to plant and change directions much smoother. Kobe continued his dominance amongst NBA players by averaging 31.6 points per game, 5.4 assists per game and 5.7 rebounds per game. Special edition models of the Nike Zoom Kobe II’s were introduced as well, Lower Merion Highschool was seen sporting a player exclusive colorway themed behind the teams colors. Up to date is is virtually impossible to locate pairs of the Nike Zoom Kobe II Lakers color ways. While the demand wasn’t overwhelming during the release, they were very limited and were not sold in many places besides a handful of retailers.
2007 was a frustrating year for the Los Angeles Lakers, there sub par performance during the season earned them a 7th seed in the NBA Western Conference. During the playoff’s they were pinned against the Phoenix Suns, this time around the Suns had no problem ending the Lakers season by eliminating them in the 1st round of the NBA playoffs. It goes without saying Kobe Bryant tried his absolute best to single-handedly help the Lakers move onto the next round. During the 5 game set, Kobe averaged a playoff career high 32.8 points per game. The lack of team role players restricted the Lakers from moving forward. While it was a disappointing year for the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, it would lead into an interesting final years of the decade. Kobe’s shoes would be revolutionized and the Lakers would return to days of glory.
Nike Zoom Kobe III (3)
On December 22nd, 2007, the black mamba inspiration came to life, Kobe Bryant sat down with designer Eric Avar for the first time to design the Nike Zoom Kobe III. The inspiration behind the shoe is the longest most venomous snake in Africa - the Black Mamba. Considered one of the most deadliest snakes, the Black Mamba is a ferocious reptile that strikes when least expected. It is the fastest snake in the world, capable of moving at 4.5 to 5.4 meters per second. Many of these traits were applied to Kobe Bryant’s on the court performance. The perfect motivation behind the shoe allowed the Nike Zoom Kobe III to become one of the most celebrated shoes in the Nike Basketball pipeline.
The highly responsive design allowed the Nike Zoom Kobe III to reinvigorate and change the way basketball shoes were designed. Before the Nike Zoom Kobe III many Nike basketball shoes were designed for player versatility and strength vs the modern designs that focus on speed and function. Nike’s strategy behind the shoe offered sneakerheads an opportunity to purchase limited edition models and ballers to elevate their game with the unique design. The initial release consisted of the Nike Zoom Kobe III tailored in a white and purple version which was earmarked as an exclusive release for Asia and an all black version which symbolized the Black Mamba.
Sneakerheads around the country lined up at Niketowns and local stores to get their hands on this very special model as it became an instant hit. There were several notable models that commemorated Kobe Bryants achievements during the 2008 NBA Season. The Nike Zoom Kobe III All-Star Game edition was released to celebrate Kobe being voted onto the West All-Stars, but due to an injury Kobe Bryant was unable to play for the west. Nevertheless the All-Star Game edition model themed behind the uniform of the West team White, Red and Gold was highly anticipated by Sneakerheads.
In 2008, Nike unleashed a slew of unique models part of the signature Kobe III line. Some of the most notable color ways included the MPLS edition, MVP package and the China edition. These special player exclusive editions were made available to the public for the first time. 2008 as a whole marked a very special year for Nike Basketball, it was a year that led to the resurgence of beautiful designs and finely crafted basketball shoes.
Following the day the Nike Zoom Kobe III officially release, Kobe Bryant continued his road in etching his name into NBA History. On December 23rd, 2007, Kobe became the youngest player to ever score 20,000 points, in a game against the New York Knicks. His dominance during the 2008 season helped him earn the title of MVP and he lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a record of 57-25. Prior to the start of the season Kobe Bryant stated that he wanted to be traded if Jerry West did not return as acting general manger. Kobe later refuted his trade request after sitting down with Phil Jackson who convinced Kobe that the Los Angeles Lakers would become dominant again.
Into the playoff’s Kobe Bryant continued his dominance, sporting several colors of the Nike Zoom Kobe III, most prominently he wore the China editions and a white and black version. Kobe and company swept the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA playoffs, making Denver the first team in NBA history with 50+ wins to be swept in the first round of the playoffs. In the next round, the Los Angeles Lakers faced off against the Utah Jazz, Kobe’s dominance continued against LA’s western counterpart, Kobe averaged 41.2 minutes per game and scored 33.2 points per game. Kobe’s on the court presence was extremely helpful as he led the Lakers in assists with 7.2.
Give credit to the shoes! This was the first year that Kobe completely dominated the league and progressed so far into the playoffs without Shaquille O'Neal. The shoes really did make the difference as Kobe graced the court against the San Antonio Spurs in the 3rd round of the 2008 NBA playoffs. In the 5 games it took to beat the Spurs, Kobe was able to average 29.2 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game and 3.8 assists per game. Throughout the series Kobe sported the Nike Zoom Kobe III China edition. Once the Los Angeles Lakers reached the NBA finals, they went up against their bitter rivals the Boston Celtics. Kobe’s gas tank was drained throughout the series, he continued to play hard by leading the Lakers in points per game with 25.7, but it wasn’t enough to beat the big three and the rest of the Celtics. Throughout the series Kobe continued to sport his favorite color way in the Nike Zoom Kobe III, the China edition was on his feet for most of the series.
While Kobe and the Lakers were unable to secure a championship title, 2008 proved to be one of Kobe Bryant’s pivotal years. He developed key leadership qualities and a team was built around him that would dominate the NBA for years to come. Role players such as Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher continued to support Kobe in his quest for another NBA championship.
Nike Zoom Kobe IV (4)
The Nike Zoom Kobe IV made it’s official public debut on December 11th, 2008, Nike and Kobe Bryant hosted a live webcast catering to media and consumers alike. The webcast offered official release details regarding the the Nike Zoom Kobe IV. On December 20th, Nike released the first Nike Zoom Kobe IV Venom edition, the limited release shoe was only made available in select stores nationwide. Introduced next was the Nike iD Zoom Kobe IV, surfacing onto the market on December 25th, 2008, Nike allowed only 24 pairs per day to be personalized by sneaker heads all over America.
The summer of 2008 served as a major upward benchmark for Nike Basketball, newly developed models were surfacing the internet and the anticipation for basketball shoes incorporating fly wire material was building. On July 20, 2008, Sole Collector leaked the first images of the official Nike Zoom Kobe IV. The shoes low cut was questioned by many, athletes believed the shoe would limit their transitions on the court. As the skeptics poured in, Nike’s marketing machine began it’s campaign. The first Nike Zoom Kobe IV model to be introduced was the ‘Carpe Diem’ edition. Carpe Diem a phrase taken from a latin poem by Horace translating to “Seize The Day”, the motivational tone set the direction for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009.
Unconventional methods typically lead to unconventional results, Avar anticipated both of these ideologies when producing the Nike Zoom Kobe IV. Kobe was very hands on with the design process of the shoe, he met with Avar several times before they were able to agree on a design with fine aesthesis and function. During the first meeting between Kobe Bryant and Eric Avar, Kobe insisted that Avar produce and design the lightest and lowest Basketball shoe ever made by Nike. The idea resonated from Kobe’s love of Soccer, his observations led to his desires, after noticing that soccer players required shoes with lower support in order to make sharp cuts and turns. Kobe requested that Avar achieves the goal of creating the lowest and lightest constructed Basketball shoe, without sacrificing the cushioning and support offered by traditional on the court footwear.
In the late winter of 2008, Nike unveiled a series of viral marketing campaigns just before the Nike Zoom Kobe IV was about to be made available to the public. Part of the initial campaign Kobe Bryant is depicted as President, CEO, CFO and Owner of Ankle Insurance Co, a pseudo company focusing on preserving players careers against the edgy Nike Zoom Kobe IV. A special micro site was created by Nike to enhance the concept that the Nike Zoom Kobe IV was in fact one of the most versatile basketball shoes on the market. For those of you interested in getting some ankle insurance yourself, don’t hesitate on visiting the official Ankle Insurance website www.notmybrokenankles.com. Part of the Ankle Insurance campaign, Nike put together a second viral video that included special appearances by comedian Mike Epps and superstar DJ AM who was wearing a pair of Nike Air Yeezy‘s in the video.
2009 marked a very special year for Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe had reinforced himself as part of the NBA’s elite by winning his 4th NBA Championship. He helped the Lakers earn the top seed in the Western Conference with a record of 65-17. In 2009, Kobe Bryant averaged 26.8 points per game, 4.9 assists per game and 5.2 rebounds per game. In the first round of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs the Los Angeles Lakers faced off against the eight seeded Utah Jazz. Kobe was sporting both the Carpe Diem and POP edition Nike Zoom Kobe IV. The Lakers were able to take down the Utah Jazz after 5 games, Kobe Bryant averaged 27.4 points and was the top scorer in four out of the five games.
Kobe started off the series against the Houston Rockets by wearing the POP edition Nike Zoom Kobe IV, in Game 2 he diversified his style by throwing on a pair of Nike Zoom Kobe IV ID’s in White and Yellow. For the majority of the series Kobe was seen with the Carpe Diem edition, he averaged 27.4 points per game helping the Los Angeles Lakers triumph over the Houston Rockets. The Lakers continued to embark on a great season by proceeding to the Conference Finals Vs Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets. Bryant came to play, he dominated the Denver Nuggets by averaging a whopping 34 points per game. His hot streak helped the Lakers get into the NBA Finals and face-off against the Orlando Magic.
During the NBA Finals Kobe continued on with his magical season by earning his first ever NBA Playoff MVP title. The Los Angeles Lakers completely dominated the Orlando Magic, it took 5 games for the Lakers to win their first championship since 2002. Kobe won his 4th ring by scoring 32 points per game against the Magic. Following the victory Nike released a very special edition Kobe 4-Rings t-shirt that was themed around the Muppets series.
Nike Zoom Kobe V (5)
The Nike Zoom Kobe V was one of the most anticipated shoe releases in 2010, debuting officially on December 26th, 2009 and made available exclusively on Nike ID. The shoe received rave reviews from athletes and shoe fanatics alike. The Nike Zoom Kobe V was released internationally on January 1st, 2010 in China and then proceeded to make its appearance in North America, Europe and the rest of Asia on January 16th ,2010.
Meeting the standard in evolution, the Nike Zoom Kobe V was developed under the watchful eyes of Nike’s Innovation Kitchen Creative Director Eric Avar and Black Mamba himself Kobe Bryant. When stepping into the design studio with Avar, Kobe requested that Avar put together the lowest and lightest weighing basketball shoe ever made. Kobe believed it would enhance his performance on the court, comparing himself to soccer players who use low top shoes in order to excel in their on field efforts. Bryant emphasized the low top design and cushioning that would offer the tremendous support needed by a player like Kobe.
Nike has always stressed the significance of combing esthetics and performance, Avar wanted to take advantage of this opportunity by composing a shoe weighing in at 10.6 ounces, which weighs one ounce lighter than it’s older brother the Nike Zoom Kobe IV. Up to the date of it’s debut, the Nike Zoom Kobe V is known as Nike’s lightest and lowest profile basketball shoe. The design elements compliment the concept developed around the sneaker, the sole has a neat “herringbone” pattern which reduced the amount of weight on the shoe and provided on the court traction. A complimentary feature, uniquely placed on the Kobe V is a dot pattern that translates to “heart” on the side wall of the outsole.
In order to provide sufficient cushioning, Avar put in two zoom bags, one that offers support for the heel and the other underneath the big toe. Support and stability are both promoted with the design of this shoe, in order to manufacture a model that offered these professional standards, Eric Avar placed a carbon fiber plate in between the shoe and it’s sole. In 2010, this feature contributed to the title of being the lightest basketball shoe ever made, Flywire material was introduced into the design in order to decrease the mass of the shoe. The super light mesh has been widely used on many running models, and later became synonymous amongst athletes playing basketball. Basketball players wouldn’t settle for anything less, strong leathers that bonded the athletes foot became obsolete in 2010.
This innovative Nike Zoom Kobe V comes in over 30+ color ways, some of the most prominent models include the Nike Kobe V Bruce Lee, Nike Kobe V Chaos, Nike Kobe V Dark Knight and the Nike Kobe V Aston Martin edition. All of the mentioned models were released in limited quantities and were worn by Los Angeles Lakers players throughout the 2010 season. It was a perfect season for Kobe Bryant to debut these amazing shoes. In 2010, Kobe averaged 27 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, and 5 assists per game. His dominance helped the Los Angeles Lakers take the #1 seed in the Western Conference. During the playoffs, Kobe and company sported several different color ways of the Nike Zoom Kobe V. During the 1st round of the 2010 western conference playoffs, Los Angeles Larkers took on the Oklahoma Thunder. Kobe Bryant went head to head with Kevin Durant, punch for punch the series took six games to decide the results. Bryant led the Lakers with 23.5 points per game, during the series Bryant sported the Nike Zoom Kobe V POP and Lakers Home edition.
The conference semifinals proved to be a much easier task for the Lakers who trampled the Utah Jazz by sweeping them in four games. It was against the Jazz where Kobe Bryant debuted the Nike Zoom Kobe V Purple/White edition which had the #24 stitched onto the heel. This pair did not receive much attention and up to that point was not released by Nike. Following the sweep the Lakers headed back to the Staples Center to take on the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Conference Finals. The continued Playoff MVP performance by Kobe Bryant sent the Lakers passed the Suns in six games, Kobe averaged 33.6 points per game, keeping it simple Kobe rocked the Nike Zoom Kobe V POP and home edition predominantly against the Suns.
As expected by many, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers reached the pivotal NBA Championship to face off with long time nemeses the Boston Celtics. It took seven games for the Lakers to defeat the Celtics, the win earned Kobe his 2nd Playoff MVP title and 5th NBA Championship Ring. Two of the most notable Nike Zoom Kobe V’s were worn during the NBA Championship series, Kobe Bryant wore the very special ‘Big Stage’ Nike Zoom Kobe V in both home and away colorways. During the Los Angeles Lakers championship parade Kobe Bryant was seen wearing a very special edition Nike Zoom Kobe V ‘Parades’ edition. Kobe Bryants illustrious career was well represented in 2010, the Nike Zoom Kobe V was born and another championship title was earned.