As Kobe Bryant continues to defy odds on the court this season, his Nike sneaker line is looking to do the same with his newest signature edition, the Kobe 8 System. Unveiled last night in Los Angeles, this shoe is the lowest and lightest performance basketball sneaker to date (9.6 ounces in a U.S. men’s size 9). Designed by Nike Performance Footwear Creative Director Eric Avar, his team and Kobe himself, this shoe is meant to be an extension of Bryant’s foot, keeping him as low to the ground as possible.
“I’m always focused on improving my game, to perform at my best. I want my shoes to mimic the speed of my game,” Kobe said to Nike Basketball. “By shaving fractions off the height and weight, it allows me to play faster with more control so I can maneuver across the court – I want to feel like I’m moving at the speed of light.”
Nike Engineered Mesh, an innovative textile, was incorporated for the first time ever in a basketball shoe (the sneaker is 90 percent mesh). It also features a full-length Lunarlon midsole, a one-millimeter rubber outsole, which combines classic herringbone and a snake scale-inspired traction pattern, and allows for less rubber than most traditional sneakers (hence, better responsiveness). Finally, a 3-D anatomical heel counter locks down the foot.
“We’re always pushing the limits of Kobe’s shoe to be faster, more precise, and to be modern,” Avar explained to Nike Basketball. “Kobe’s big on being bold, aggressive, provocative and making an impact. Working together, we’re on a never-ending quest for the perfect shoe for him.
“Nike Engineered Mesh creates a dynamic fit that syncs around Kobe’s foot to mimic the natural biomechanics, delivering security where he needs it. As the design team began working with the mesh, it took on this scale-like snake pattern that really brought the black mamba inspiration to life in compelling way.”
The graphic snakeskin print is obviously a play on his nickname, the Black Mamba, but is also significant because 2013 is the Chinese Year of the Snake. Four tiny icons can also be found on the shoe, representing Kobe’s key basketball characteristics.
The sneaker will drop on December 20 with the black/sulfur color available in stores globally, on nike.com and through NIKEiD. The python-inspired color (seen on the following pages) won’t launch until January 12, 2013 in Greater China, and in North America on February 2, 2013.
In the same vein as the LeBron X and the KD V before him, the Kobe 8 will make its way to NIKEiD on December 4. But if you want to make an actual order, you’ll have to wait until December 20.