Kobe Bryant, also known as The Black Mamba, put the final exclamation point on his career recently in a way that only Kobe could. Setting a new record for most field goal attempts in a game with 50 shots, Bryant scored 60 points and led the Los Angeles Lakers to a victory in their final game of the 2015-2016 NBA Season. For sneaker fans, Kobe has always been one of the most important figures in basketball and for the final game of his 20 year career, he laced up a unique pair of his signature sneakers from Nike, the Nike Kobe 11 “Fade To Black” colorway.
Kobe’s sneaker legacy began two decades ago after being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th pick in 1996. That same day Kobe was traded to the team he’d always been a die-hard fan of, the Los Angeles Lakers. Shortly after, as he began his professional career, Kobe Bryant was signed to adidas and was given a series of signature sneakers that included models now known as the Kobe 1, Kobe 2, Crazy 8 and others.
Along with some of the best sneaker commercials of all time, one of the many highlights of Kobe’s early years in the NBA came in the 1997 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Kobe laced up the adidas EQT Elevation, now known as the adidas Crazy 97 and took the Slam Dunk title home.
After parting ways with adidas, Kobe spent the 2002-2003 NBA season as free agent sneaker-wise. He would eventually sign with Nike but during that season The Black Mamba wore some classic basketball sneakers, most of which were personalized for him in Lakers purple and gold. The Air Jordans, Nike Air Huaraches, and Reebok Question colorways that Kobe wore during his free agency have become some of the most coveted pairs that collectors chase to this day.
Kobe’s Nike signature sneakers began in 2006 with the Nike Zoom Kobe 1, which was the shoe he wore for his unbelievable 81 point game against the Toronto Raptors.
Kobe’s collection for Nike has become one of the most popular sneaker lines of all time thanks to unique designs from Eric Avar. Plus, unlike most athletes, Kobe Bryant is very involved in the design process of his sneakers. Over the years, the Kobe sneaker line has seen bold designs like the incredibly low-cut Zoom Kobe 5 and extra high-top versions like the Zoom Kobe 9 Elite.
But no matter the aesthetic, Kobe Bryant’s Nikes will always hold a place of honor among sneaker collectors thanks to The Black Mamba’s incredible performances over the years as one of the all-time Los Angeles Laker greats.