Jerry West created shockwaves when he sent Vlade Divac for a rookie coming straight from Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania. 17 year old Kobe Bryant had come into the league as a member of the adidas footwear team. Take a look at how his signature shoes have changed in form and function over his storied career. Adidas was quick to give Kobe Bryant a shoe contract. Later Kobe made the jump to Nike. Take a look at how his signature shoes have changed in form and function over his storied career.

The History of Kobe Bryant’s Basketball Shoes

Complete Guide to Kobe Bryant Sneakers

1. Adidas KB8 (Crazy 8) – 1997

  • Designer: Eirik Lund Nielsen
  • Inspiration: Inspired by futuristic design elements and the technology of the late ’90s.
  • Top Colorways: Black/White, Lakers Home (White/Yellow/Purple), All-Star (Red/White).

Stats (1997-1998): 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists

The Adidas KB8, later known as the Crazy 8, was Kobe Bryant’s first signature sneaker. Designed by Eirik Lund Nielsen, this shoe was known for its bold, aggressive lines and advanced cushioning technology. A funny story surrounding this sneaker involves Kobe showing up to practice wearing mismatched colors of the Crazy 8, just to mess with his teammates. They spent the entire practice trying to figure out if it was a new style or just Kobe being Kobe.

2. Adidas KB8 II (Crazy 2) – 1998

  • Designer: Eirik Lund Nielsen
  • Inspiration: Evolution of the Crazy 8 with more streamlined design.
  • Top Colorways: Black/White, White/Blue, Lakers Away (Purple/Yellow).

Stats (1998-1999): 19.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists

The Crazy 2 continued the trend of unique designs with a more streamlined and aerodynamic look. Kobe wore these during his 1998-1999 season, showcasing his growing skills. During one game, Kobe accidentally stepped on a teammate’s foot, causing his shoe to fly off. Ever the competitor, Kobe still managed to grab a rebound with one shoe off, much to the amusement of the crowd.

3. Nike Zoom Kobe 1 – 2006

  • Designer: Ken Link
  • Inspiration: A mix of performance and style, blending classic elements with modern technology.
  • Top Colorways: Black/White-Varsity Purple, MPLS (Light Blue/White/Grey), Black/Yellow.

Stats (2005-2006): 35.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists

The Zoom Kobe 1 was Kobe’s first signature shoe with Nike, designed by Ken Link. This shoe featured a sleek, low-profile design with responsive cushioning. Kobe wore these during his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors. After the game, he joked that the shoes were so good, he might score 100 next time.

4. Nike Zoom Kobe 2 – 2007

  • Designer: Ken Link
  • Inspiration: A focus on performance and futuristic design, with a sleek, minimalist look.
  • Top Colorways: White/Black-Varsity Purple, All-Star (White/Red), MPLS (Light Blue/White/Grey).

Stats (2006-2007): 31.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists

The Nike Zoom Kobe 2 was designed with performance and innovation in mind. Featuring a sleek, minimalist look, it incorporated advanced cushioning and support. During one practice, Kobe challenged his teammates to a series of sprints, claiming that the new shoes made him faster. By the end of the session, everyone was exhausted, but Kobe was still full of energy, proving the effectiveness of the Zoom Kobe 2.

5. Nike Zoom Kobe 3 – 2008

  • Designer: Ken Link
  • Inspiration: A unique webbed design for enhanced flexibility and support.
  • Top Colorways: Black/White-Varsity Purple, Lower Merion Aces (White/Red/Grey), Black/Del Sol.

Stats (2007-2008): 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists

Championship: NBA MVP

The Nike Zoom Kobe 3 featured a unique webbed design that provided enhanced flexibility and support. This shoe was known for its breathability and lightweight feel. A humorous moment with the Kobe 3 came when Kobe decided to prank his teammates by swapping their regular shoes with pairs of the new Kobe 3s, which were a size smaller. Watching his teammates struggle to fit into the smaller shoes had everyone laughing, and Kobe eventually revealed the joke, handing out the correctly sized pairs.

6. Nike Zoom Kobe 4 – 2009

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Inspired by soccer cleats, emphasizing low-top performance.
  • Top Colorways: Carpe Diem (Black/Yellow/Purple), Del Sol (White/Black/Yellow), MLK (Black/Gold).

Stats (2008-2009): 26.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists

Championship: NBA Champion, Finals MVP

The Zoom Kobe 4, designed by Eric Avar, revolutionized basketball sneakers by popularizing the low-top design. Kobe wanted a shoe that allowed maximum mobility, similar to soccer cleats. A funny moment was when Kobe bet Eric Avar that the low-top design wouldn’t result in more ankle injuries, and Kobe won the bet, making Avar wear a sheep costume to a team event.

7. Nike Zoom Kobe 5 – 2010

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Further enhancing the low-top design with lightweight materials.
  • Top Colorways: Chaos (White/Green/Red), Bruce Lee (Yellow/Black/Red), Dark Knight (Black/Blue).

Stats (2009-2010): 27.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists

Championship: NBA Champion, Finals MVP

Continuing the low-top trend, the Zoom Kobe 5 became known for its lightweight and responsive design. The “Bruce Lee” colorway was a tribute to one of Kobe’s idols, featuring scratches inspired by the martial artist’s iconic yellow jumpsuit. During a practice session, Kobe playfully mimicked Bruce Lee’s martial arts moves, adding to the lore of the “Bruce Lee” edition.

8. Nike Zoom Kobe 6 – 2011

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Inspired by a Black Mamba snake’s scales for enhanced grip and aesthetic.
  • Top Colorways: Grinch (Green/Red/Black), Concord (White/Black/Purple), Camo (Green/Black).

Stats (2010-2011): 25.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists

The Zoom Kobe 6 featured a snake-scale texture, paying homage to Kobe’s “Black Mamba” persona. The “Grinch” colorway became infamous after Kobe wore them during a Christmas Day game, leading to high demand and iconic status among sneakerheads. Kobe once pranked his teammates by sneaking in a toy snake into the locker room while wearing the “Grinch” sneakers, causing a hilarious commotion.

9. Nike Zoom Kobe 7 – 2012

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Designed for versatility, featuring interchangeable midsoles for different playing styles.
  • Top Colorways: Cheetah (Purple/Black/Red), Galaxy (Black/White/Orange), Invisibility Cloak (Black/Green/Blue).

Stats (2011-2012): 27.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists

The Zoom Kobe 7 was notable for its modular design, allowing players to switch between “Attack Fast” and “Attack Strong” midsoles. This provided a customizable experience for different playing styles and preferences. A funny anecdote about the Kobe 7 involves the “Cheetah” colorway, which was inspired by Kobe’s predatory instincts on the court. Kobe jokingly suggested that wearing the Cheetah colorway made him feel like he could run faster and leap higher, much like the actual animal.

10. Nike Kobe 8 System – 2013

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Designed for speed and precision, featuring engineered mesh for breathability.
  • Top Colorways: Christmas (Red/Black/White), Year of the Snake (Black/Red/Gold), Venice Beach (Multicolor).

Stats (2012-2013): 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists

The Kobe 8 System emphasized speed and precision with its lightweight, engineered mesh design. Kobe once joked that these shoes were so light, he felt like he could outrun a cheetah while wearing them. During one game, Kobe wore mismatched “Venice Beach” colorways, leaving fans and commentators amused and confused.

11. Nike Kobe 9 Elite – 2014

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Inspired by boxing shoes for ankle support and Flyknit technology.
  • Top Colorways: Beethoven (White/Black), Masterpiece (Multicolor), HTM (Black/White).

Stats (2013-2014): 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists (limited due to injury)

The Kobe 9 Elite featured Flyknit technology, making it one of the first basketball shoes to incorporate this material. Kobe requested a higher cut for more ankle support, reminiscent of boxing shoes. A memorable moment was when Kobe compared the support of these shoes to feeling invincible in a fight, and then proceeded to shadowbox in the locker room, much to his teammates’ delight.

12. Nike Kobe 10 – 2015

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: A blend of transparency and simplicity, featuring advanced cushioning and traction.
  • Top Colorways: Blue Lagoon (Blue/Black/White), 5AM Flight (Black/Blue/Yellow), Vino (Green/Black).

Stats (2014-2015): 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists

The Kobe 10 focused on transparency and simplicity, featuring a seamless textile upper and advanced cushioning. One of the standout colorways was the “5AM Flight,” inspired by Kobe’s early morning workouts. Kobe once shared a funny story about how his 5 AM training sessions were so intense that his neighbors would complain about the noise, leading him to take his workouts to a nearby gym.

13. Nike Kobe 11 – 2016

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Final on-court shoe for Kobe, featuring Flyknit and Lunarlon technology.
  • Top Colorways: Fade to Black (Black), Achilles Heel (Red/Black), Tinker Muse (White/Red/Black).

Stats (2015-2016): 17.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists

The Kobe 11 marked the end of Kobe’s on-court sneaker line, designed with a focus on performance and legacy. The “Fade to Black” colorway symbolized Kobe’s retirement, and fans fondly remember Kobe’s final game, where he scored 60 points wearing these iconic shoes. After the game, Kobe joked that he should retire more often if it meant scoring 60 points.

Beyond the Signature Line: Other Kobe Sneaker Products by Nike

Apart from his main signature line, Nike released several other Kobe-branded products that have left their mark on the sneaker world. Here’s a look at some of the most notable ones:

14. Nike Kobe A.D. – 2017

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: The transition from Kobe’s playing career to his post-retirement phase, focusing on the “Mamba Mentality.”
  • Top Colorways: Midnight Navy, Black/White, DeMar DeRozan PE (Player Edition).

Stats (2016-2017): Retired

The Kobe A.D. was the first shoe released after Kobe’s retirement. It symbolized the “After Death” (A.D.) phase of his career, emphasizing his enduring influence on the game. The design incorporated Lunarlon foam and Zoom Air cushioning, providing a balance of comfort and performance. DeMar DeRozan, a noted Kobe disciple, often wore his own special editions, adding to the shoe’s popularity. Kobe once joked with DeRozan that he should get a commission for every pair sold.

15. Nike Kobe A.D. NXT – 2018

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Advanced technology and innovation, pushing the boundaries of sneaker design.
  • Top Colorways: Wolf Grey, Volt, University Red.

Stats (2017-2018): Retired

The Kobe A.D. NXT featured a unique lacing system and Flyknit construction, focusing on a snug, adaptive fit. This shoe highlighted Nike’s commitment to pushing technological boundaries, much like Kobe’s relentless pursuit of excellence on the court. The Volt colorway, with its bright, electric look, became an instant favorite among sneaker enthusiasts. Kobe once joked that the color was so bright it could blind his opponents.

16. Nike Kobe Mentality / Mamba Rage – 2019

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Affordable performance shoes embodying the “Mamba Mentality.”
  • Top Colorways: Black/Gold, White/Red, Cool Grey.

Stats (2018-2019): Retired

The Kobe Mentality series, later renamed Mamba Rage, offered a more affordable option without compromising on performance. These shoes were designed for everyday players who wanted to channel Kobe’s fierce competitiveness and drive. The “Cool Grey” colorway, with its subtle yet stylish design, was particularly popular among younger players and streetballers. During a summer camp, Kobe wore these and challenged campers to beat him in a shooting contest, promising a pair of Kobes to the winner. Needless to say, he went undefeated.

17. Nike Kobe A.D. Exodus – 2020

  • Designer: Eric Avar
  • Inspiration: Representing Kobe’s journey and the new generation of athletes inspired by him.
  • Top Colorways: Black/Gold, Pure Platinum, Green Glow.

Stats (2019-2020): Retired

The Kobe A.D. Exodus continued the legacy of Kobe’s post-retirement line, focusing on a minimalist design with maximum performance. The “Green Glow” colorway stood out with its vibrant, eye-catching appearance, reflecting Kobe’s larger-than-life persona on and off the court. Kobe once quipped that the glow-in-the-dark feature made it perfect for late-night practice sessions.

Funny Stories and Anecdotes

Kobe and the Mamba Day

On April 13, 2016, known as “Mamba Day,” Nike celebrated Kobe’s final game by releasing limited edition sneakers and gear. Fans around the world donned Kobe’s gear, and the demand for his final game shoes skyrocketed. Kobe famously scored 60 points in his last game, a fitting farewell to a legendary career. After the game, he humorously suggested that Nike should have released 60 different colorways in honor of his performance.

The Kobe 8 ‘Venice Beach’

The “Venice Beach” colorway of the Kobe 8 was inspired by the vibrant, colorful culture of Venice Beach, California. Kobe loved this colorway and once joked that wearing these shoes made him feel like he was playing on the beach, bringing a bit of California sunshine onto the court. He even mentioned that the shoes gave him an extra bounce, as if he was playing on sand.

Kobe’s Love for Soccer

Kobe’s passion for soccer heavily influenced his sneaker designs, especially the low-top models like the Zoom Kobe 4. He often drew parallels between basketball and soccer, emphasizing agility and footwork. Kobe even joked with his designer, Eric Avar, that he wanted a shoe that could make him “nutmeg” defenders like a soccer player, leading to the creation of some of the most agile basketball shoes. During one training session, Kobe attempted a soccer-style “nutmeg” on a teammate, resulting in a lot of laughs.


Kobe Bryant’s sneakers are more than just footwear; they are a testament to his legacy, work ethic, and innovation. From the bold designs of the Crazy 8 to the technologically advanced Kobe A.D. series, each shoe reflects a chapter in Kobe’s illustrious career. Whether you’re a sneakerhead, a basketball fan, or someone who admires excellence, Kobe’s sneakers offer something unique and inspiring. As you lace up a pair of Kobes, remember the Mamba Mentality – relentless, passionate, and always striving for greatness.


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