Nike unveiled Thursday the "Kobe 9," the latest signature sneaker for Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
The 15-time All-Star will be wearing the high-top design when he returns to the court following an extended rehabilitation from a torn Achilles.
The new kicks are a departure from last year's low-cut model and they mark the first high-top design for Bryant since 2007. The "Kobe 9" fully wraps around the ankle, and the back of the shoe sports nine red detailed lines which are meant to symbolize Bryant's Achilles sutures following his April surgery. Another personal detail: the shoe's sole design is based on a "pressure mapping" of Bryant's feet.
"I draw inspiration from where I am as a player, as a person, and where my career is at this moment," Bryant said in a Nike release. "I'm trying to do something that the majority of people think is impossible to do. I let my emotions out when I step on the basketball floor, it’s always been my escape, and these shoes will touch a nerve on the court in the same way I do."
Bryant's signature shoe will be available in a series of colorways; the black, orange and yellow version shown above, dubbed "Masterpiece," will be the first out of the gates when it releases on Feb. 8. The shoe is expected to retail for more than $200.
Here's a gallery with additional images of the sneakers.
Nike added these technical details in a press release.
Nike Flyknit and Flywire technologies are a one-two punch, leading to a dynamic fit for Kobe’s intricate footwork.
- The single layer Nike Flyknit creates a seamless engineered upper that is the ultimate in superior lightweight performance integrating areas of high breathability, stretch and support where it’s needed most.
- Nike Flywire technology is strong yet dynamic for lockdown through the midfoot; its cables loosen and tighten with the natural motion of the foot.
- The carbon fiber heel counter provides strong and lightweight lateral stability when moving from side to side, while the heel remains stable.
Eliminating bulk and distraction was a focus for Avar. The idea of ‘simplifying without compromise’ helped shape the design of the KOBE 9 Elite.
- Nike Lunarlon cushioning insert provides responsive cushioning that keeps the foot connected to the court.
- The pressure mapping designed, minimal rubber outsole delivers durable traction and mimics the natural contours of the foot.
Nike Flyknit technology introduces a new way to construct a shoe upper by knitting strands of yarn. Nike Flyknit is better for the planet because it drastically reduces waste and materials from typical upper construction. The KOBE 9 Elite upper reduces waste by nearly 50% compared to traditional high-top basketball shoes that use multiple segments and cuts of material in the construction process.
Nike hailed Bryant's reliability last season with a "Count on Kobe" advertising campaign. Following his injury, the sneaker company honored his impact on the game with a "You Showed Us" campaign. Bryant, 35, recently signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers that will carry him through the 2015-16 season. The five-time champion needs just 676 points to move past Michael Jordan for the No. 3 spot on the all-time scoring list. ESPNLA.com reported Thursday that Bryant's long-awaited return to the court could come in a matter of days.