Everything you need to know about Kobe sneakers and what sneakers Kobe actually wore.
Kobe's sneaker background and history
The late and great Kobe Bryant will forever be known as one of the most iconic basketball players of all time. To name a few of his achievements, the Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard won five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, and 18 NBA Most Valuable Players, over the course of his two decade long career. Of course, while Bryant is known for his on-court prowess, the Black Mamba is also famous for his legendary Kobe sneakers that are extremely sought-after.
With stints at both adidas and Nike, the Black Mamba was able to accumulate an extensive catalog of signature models, many of which players still opt to play in today.
Kobe's adidas sneakers
When Kobe first kicked off his professional career, adidas immediately snapped him up for a shoe contract. Introduced in 1996, the EQT Elevation was the pair that he wore when he won the Slam Dunk Contest. The KB8 followed soon after and was made completely with Kobe Wan Kenobi's full creative control. A sequel, the aptly named KB8 II, made its grand debut in his third season. Featuring the popular Feet You Wear technology, the KB8 II was also infused with adidas' adiPRENE. This midsole cushioning is still used frequently these days, including on the Ozweego and Kanye West's Yeezy 500 silhouette. The KB8 III concluded the KB8 trilogy, and this was succeeded by the infamous KOBE model. Designed to look like the Audi TT Roadster, Bryant went on to average 28 points on the season and made it to the Finals against the Indiana Pacers. In this controversial shoe, he earned his first five NBA championships. One year later, the German sportswear giant was quick to announce the KOBE TWO, and according to the rumors, Mr. 81 disliked these so much that it made him want to take his talents to Nike.
After a period of being a sneaker free-agent and wearing nothing but Michael Jordan's Air Jordans, the Beaverton brand officially announced that it was teaming up with Kobe when the 2005 season came around. Not only did he win his first scoring title in the Kobe 1, the 8th Wonder of the World took home the second highest scoring output in the history of the NBA, beating the Toronto Raptors for 81 points. This was a massive win for both him and Nike, and it marked a brand new era for Bryant's sneaker game. 18 months later, the Swoosh released the Kobe 2, and with the unwavering success of both of these models, the Oregon company decided to experiment with the third iteration. Inspired by the Nike Air Huarache 2k4 and 2k5, the Kobe 3 was designed by Nike Creative Director and Vice-President of Innovation, Eric Avar, and placed more emphasis on performance. Unbeknownst to many, the K3's iconic diamond pattern is actually a nod to one of Kobe’s daughters, Natalia Diamante Bryant.
In between the Kobe 3 and the Kobe 4, the Black Mamba introduced the world to Flywire with the HyperDunk Kobe. In case you don't remember, this is the model that he wore when he famously jumped over the Aston Martin. While the K4 was regarded as the the lowest, lightest weight basketball shoe ever made, Avar decided to push the boundaries of basketball shoe design with the Kobe 5 which weighed in at just 10.6 ounces. The Kobe 6 took his alter ego literally with a snakeskin-like upper, and the Kobe 7 was introduced in 2012, accompanying the Lord of the Rings to the London Olympic Games where he took home a gold medal. The Kobe 8 focused more on becoming lighter than ever, and before Nike released the Kobe 9, the Phil Knight-founded sportswear brand decided to retro Kobe's signature shoes in anticipation of the Kobe 9. Dubbed the "Prelude Pack", the collection began with the Kobe 1, with each generation dropping one week after another.
Unlike previous models, the Kobe 9s came in three different shapes. The EM, which stands for engineered mesh, arrived in a low-top form, while the Elites came in both low and high-top silhouettes. The design of the K9 heavily influenced the Kobe 10, and this was followed by the Kobe 11 which is regarded by many sneakerheads and basketball fans to be one of his best sneakers ever. It also happened to be his final signature pair before he retired from professional basketball forever.
With that said, that didn't stop Bryant from dropping heat. In fact, even though he was no longer on the court, he continued to influence and inspire countless budding basketballers with his twelfth generation shoe, nicknamed the Kobe AD. Standing for "After-Death", this sneaker was made to celebrate players and athletes who manifest the Mamba Mentality. This was followed by the Kobe AD NXT, which is his simplest sneaker ever, and the Kobe AD NXT 360, which ended up being the last sneaker he created before his untimely passing on January 26th, 2020.
What shoes did Kobe wear?
Unlike many professional basketball players, Kobe Bryant wore all of his Kobe models. From 1996's adidas Elevation EQT all the way to the AD NXT 360 which was introduced over 20 years later, the Black Mamba wore all adidas x Kobe and Nike x Kobe sneakers. With that said, he was also a fan of other shoes too. After his contract with adidas ended, Neo wore many Air Jordans, including the Air Jordan 3, Air Jordan 6, Air Jordan 7, Air Jordan 8, Air Jordan 11, Air Jordan 12, and the Air Jordan 17. Excluding exhibition and All-Star Games, Bryant scored almost 3,000 points in MJ's signature sneakers across 65 games. He also rocked the Air Huarache 2K4 and Air Huarache 2K5 in 2003 and 2005.
What are the best Kobe colorways?
While some of the best Kobe colorways are unfortunately PE editions, the Eight Man has also blessed the sneaker community with many iconic colorways over the past two decades. A fan favorite is no doubt the Kobe 5. Pairs like UNDEFEATED's "Hall of Fame," "5x Champ Lakers," and "Bruce Lee" are some of the most legendary pairs out there. Elsewhere, the Kobe 9 is also extremely popular, with colorways such as the "University Red," "Inspiration," and the "What The Kobe" being up there amongst the greats.
Of course, we can't talk about the best Kobe colorways without mentioning the Kobe 6. Not only do we have the "Del Sol" and the "Grinch," the "Mambacita Sweet 16" is without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest pairs ever made. Released after the deaths of Kobe and his daughter Gianna, this special edition colorway is a fitting tribute that honors their lives as well as the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. Decorated with a plethora of details that represent Gigi, her uniform number features across the upper, while the heel swaps out the classic Kobe signature in favor of the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation logo. The insoles are also decorated with angel wings and a halo. More adidas x Kobe and Nike x Kobe sneakers are scheduled to release, so make sure you follow us over on Twitter and download the Sole Retriever Mobile App!
How do Kobes fit?
You should go half a size up for Kobe x adidas shoes. The KOBE TWO was infamously too tight for Bryant and he felt that his feet were too squished while on the court and thus this affected his overall performance. However, Kobe x Nike sneakers are generally true to size. While every single generation is very different from each other, we still recommend going TTS. That said, if you have wider feet, it wouldn't hurt to go 0.5 up. If possible, make sure you try on a pair before purchasing to be sure you’re getting the correct size.
How much do Kobes cost?
Retail for Kobe sneakers are really dependent on which silhouette you're looking to cop. For example, the first adidas x Kobe model costs $130, while the Nike Kobe 6 Protro "Mambacita Sweet 16" will set you back. However, on the other side of the spectrum, more exclusive collaborations like UNDEFEATED's "What If" Pack retails for $400. For your best chance to cop all of the latest Kobe shoes, stop what you're doing, follow us on Twitter, and download the latest version of our Mobile App today.
Where to buy Kobes
adidas recently brought back its Kobe collaboration, and these can be found on release day via adidas, the CONFIRMED app, and select retailers worldwide. The same can also be said about the Nike Kobe releases. You will be able to buy most general release pairs on release day at Nike, the SNKRS app, and online and in-store stockists across the globe. With that said, Kobe Bryant sneakers are getting more and more sought-after by the minute. Following his passing two years ago, resellers have been snapping up Kobe shoes immediately upon dropping to try and make a quick buck.
Controversially, the Nike Kobe 6 Protro "Mambacita Sweet 16," which was specifically created to commemorate Kobe and Gigi, sold for thousands when it released earlier in 2022. After much backlash, marketplaces were forced to pull this pair from offerings as a sign of respect. With that said, rumors suggest that more adidas x Kobe and Nike x Kobe sneakers are about to make a comeback, and we’ve got you fully covered through our Twitter and Mobile App where we’ll alert you on upcoming releases, raffles, and much more!
What’s the hot take?
Arguably one of the best basketball players of our generation, not only did Kobe Bryant's Mamba Mentality inspire us on the court, it also dominated our sneaker collections over the past 20 years with countless Kobe x adidas and Kobe x Nike releases. With so many different colorways, models, silhouettes, and styles to choose from, and with rumors of a major comeback on the horizon, expect this collaboration to be more popular than ever over the next few months. For the best chance to secure a pair in your size, keep your eyes peeled on our Twitter and download the Sole Retriever Mobile App if you haven't already. We’ll make sure to keep you updated with the latest news, release details, and raffle information for Kobe shoes and more in the sneaker and streetwear world!