It has been such a pleasure to witness Kobe Bryant throughout his twenty years in the league. From 1996 to 2016, the Black Mamba has gone full-circle with his last game this week against the Utah Jazz. This past November, Kobe Bryant delivered the announcement to the league that this would be his last season. Bryant’s body has come to an end, “This season is all I have left to give… my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.” During this twenty year stint, Kobe Bryant has had so many great sneakers that changed the game, pushed the boundaries of innovation, and most importantly, made Mamba Moments to be etched forever in History.
To celebrate his 20 years in the league and his last season, we at Kicksologists have compiled a list of Kobe Bryant’s Top 20 Sneakers of All-Time. This list was not easy to produce by any means as there was much debate on what needed to be included and what did not. Thanks to a special group of Kobe enthusiasts, we got some much needed input as we weighted each sneaker based on three factors: historical significance, impact on the industry, and impact on the consumer. Bias and hype was put aside as this list is all about significance and not bright colors and limited amounts.
From his three-stripe start with adidas, his ’02-’03 free-agency run, to his now legendary signature line with Nike Basketball, we present you the Official Kobe Bryant Top 20 Sneakers of All-Time.
We shall start with the 11-20 with the rest to come throughout the week, #KobeWeek. Hit the jump and let us know if your favorite pair made the list. Hashtag #Top20Kobe to join in on the conversation.
20. Nike Kobe 11 “Mamba Day” (Insert Last Game Worn Shoe Here).
Sitting atop of the list goes to the last sneaker Kobe Bryant will wear this Wednesday. On his last game in the NBA, Bryant will take on the (hopeful) Playoff bound Utah Jazz. The Lakers will never be the same without their Black Mamba and all eyes will not only be on this game, but also what shoes he will be wearing on court. There is no official word on what sneaker Kobe will be wearing on his last game. The Kobe 11 “Fade To Black” or these “Mamba Day” Kobe 11 iD’s could very well be his last sneakers, but we can only stay tuned and find out.
19. Nike Zoom Kobe 2 Strength “Orca”
The Zoom Kobe 2 model had three iterations, Strength, Super Comfort, and Lite. It was the first to debut Nike Free technology in basketball as the outsole was segmented to incorporate a natural flex motion on court. Who knew the Nike Free and Kobe System were to become what they are today back in 2007. It was the first time Nike Basketball produce a specific model for the Playoffs and they did it with the “Orca’s”.
Performance wise, it was a stiff sneaker. Compared to the smoothness of the Kobe 1, the Free outsole was supposed to keep the shoe flexible, but instead, the stiff foam and plastic midsole kept it from being a classic. Nike actually had Zoom Air fixed within the insole similar to today’s drop-in inserts.
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18. Nike Zoom Kobe 5 “Chaos”
The Dark Knight movie brought a lot of inspiration to the Kobe 5 line that year including the Dark Knight and these Chaos Kobe 5’s. This was the first of many Chaos theme sneakers that soon followed as it became a classic model to this day. Inspired by the Joker from the Dark Knight movie, the Black Mamba brought a pair for George Lopez and stated this was one of his favorite colors for that year. Unfortunately, the Lakers lost their Christmas game in Staples Center against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. But that didn’t stop Kobe Bryant and his fourth ring celebration on the Lopez Tonight show.
What’s great about the Chaos Kobe 5 is the color blocking as you could literally match this sneaker with anything in your wardrobe. No matter what you wore, you could match with it, at least for me that is. The Chaos theme continued on with the Chaos Kobe 6 and has become a popular Nike iD theme since its 2009 debut.