The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Kobe Bryant after Charlotte drafted him in 1996. During his rookie season, Bryant became the youngest NBA starter in league history and the youngest player ever to win the Slam Dunk Contest. He did both while wearing adidas shoes.
In his second season, Kobe Bryant was selected to his first NBA All-Star Game. Comparisons to Michael Jordan started as Kobe Bryant raised his scoring average to nearly 20 points per game in 1998-1999.
As Kobe's popularity rose, so did his shoes'. Sneaker collectors realized the phenom's potential and began collecting the adidas Kobe, adidas Kobe II, and KB8. After he signed with Nike, adidas reintroduced Kobe's first shoe, the KB8, under a new name: the adidas Crazy 8.
Starting in 2000, Los Angeles won back-to-back-to-back NBA Championships. It was after the 3rd consecutive NBA Championship that the Lakers traded away Shaquille O'Neal, breaking up one of the best 1-2 punches the league has ever seen. This gave Bryant the chance to begin solidifying his individual legacy as one of the game's greats. During the 2002-2003 season, Kobe scored 40 or more points in nine straight games, finished the month of February averaging 40.6 points per game.
In 2006, Kobe Bryant scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors wearing his first signature shoe from Nike, the Nike Zoom Kobe. Two years later, Kobe won his first and only NBA Most Valuable Player Award while wearing the Nike Zoom Kobe III.
In 2008, with Nike Basketball unveiling new lightweight technologies like Flywire and Lunar Foam cushioning, the engineering of Kobe shoes changed the way other basketball shoes were designed. The Nike Zoom Kobe IV was the first mid-cut shoe in the Kobe signature line and helped Kobe Bryant win his fourth NBA Championship. Special colorways of the Kobe shoes became increasingly popular during this time.
The Nike Kobe VIII quickly became more popular than any other shoe Kobe had worn due to its true low-top design. It featured an anatomical design, a newly-engineered mesh upper, A Phylon midsole, and a full-length Lunarlon midsole insert for stability. But due to multiple injuries and Kobe missing most of his next two seasons, the Kobe IX was born. It featured stitching across the Achilles to signify the determination to recover from injuries at an older age, and going away from his history, became a high-top shoe to prevent ankle injuries. Flywire and Flyknit technologies along with Kobe style highlighted this shoe.
The Kobe Mentality?s dropped while Kobe was injured, and signified his mindset in training to come back from his injuries better than ever. This slimmed-down version of his shoe went back to the basics; A lower price point, lighter-weight, breathable mesh, and simple colorways made this shoe a massive hit from younger kids to top-talent AAU.
Nike continues to develop groundbreaking technologies with the Kobe Bryant signature line. The Kobe X is the lightest and lowest Nike basketball shoe to date, and is designed to fit like an extension of Kobe's foot for a quick first step. For the first time ever, Nike unleashed its' Ultra-grippy outsole for super quick cuts that also enhances lateral movement. The visible 180-degree Nike Zoom unit increases responsiveness, while a carbon fiber outrigger provides lateral stability for side cuts. The sleek, lock-down fit of the Kobe X, along with personally-storied colorways enhance his legend as well as the breakthroughs in performance of his signature shoe. As Kobe looks to become the all-time scoring king, his legendary shoe line continues to be a fan-favorite and will certainly stand the test of time.