Even after retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers a couple of years ago, Kobe Bryant remains to be one of the most polarizing athletes on the planet. That's what happens when you become your sport's biggest star following the Michael Jordan era, not only winning a bunch of championships, but taking over MJs place with Nike Basketball when it comes to being the face of the apparel mogul. And Bryant's reign as a hoops icon hasn't ended since he stopped playing.
The five-time NBA champ proved that with the unveiling by Nike Basketball of his "Kobe 1 Protro," a new shoe that uses inspiration from one of his original shoe designs, the Zoom Kobe 1, and blends new technology and modern style. Remember, the Zoom Kobe 1 are the shoes that Kobe Bryant wore while famously scoring 81 points against the Toronto Raptors during a 2006 contest — second-most by an individual in a single NBA game other than Wilt Chamberlain's 100. It's moments like that that have people wondering where Bryant falls on the Mount Rushmore of NBA greats — which I talked to Cheddar about a couple of months ago.
While Kobe Bryant initially turned down the idea of a retro line of his old sneakers from Nike, saying in the official press release that it, “just didn’t fit right with everything I stood for, with the Mamba Brand," he pivoted the direction and landed on the "Kobe 1 Protro" — which took over three years of work on. Here's what Kobe had to say, per the aforementioned press release:
"Protro is about evolution and improving on things that were,” says Bryant. “I wanted to build a business that wasn’t just based on things I have done in the past. It is important that the brand stands for performance and that everything we do is innovative, even if we are releasing shoes from the past they still must be built on performance.”
Bryant later tweeted out these two announcements about the shoe. Naturally, it got people on social media talking about what was to come.
According to Nike Basketball footwear product director Tony Grosso, the "Kobe 1 Protro" has improved cushioning, a reduced weight and an evolved production to eliminate pieces of the original Zoom Kobe 1 that were no longer necessary. The final product ended up being a shoe that will, no doubt, become both a collector's item of sneakerheads as well as a shoe to ball out in. Just ask Toronto Raptors superstar DeMar DeRozan, who scored 21 points while wearing Bryant's new shoe a couple of weeks ago.
For those hoping to snag a pair of their own, the "Kobe 1 Protro" will become available on February 17 on nike.com and select Nike retailers.
Lead image via Getty