Having surveyed a panel of resident sneakerheads, ESPN on Monday began to unveil their #NBArank of the ‘All-Time Kicks.’ For the Los Angeles Lakers, the shoe culture was dominated over the past two decades by Kobe Bryant.
His sneaker history began with Adidas, is carrying forward with Nike, and has featured several pairs of transcendent and iconic shoes. Bryant, along with other athletes of the Nike shoe family, Michael Jordan and LeBron James, figure to factor prominently in ESPN’s ranking.
The trio each placed one shoe in the first unveiling (Nos. 21-30), with Bryant leading the pack with three pairs.
The first to appear, at No. 29, is the Nike Kobe 9 Elite. Dubbed the ‘Masterpiece,’ the lead colorway released Feb. 8, 2014.
However, prior to the ‘Masterpiece’ hitting shelves, the Nike Vault, which was located adjacent to Staples Center, raffled two limited colorways. Next for Bryant on the #NBArank list is his Adidas KB8 at No. 22.
Bryant’s first signature shoe is often remembered for the colorway (included below) he wore during the 1998 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden.
Over recent years Adidas has re-released the famed shoe, though under the ‘Crazy 8’ moniker, due to Bryant now being under contract with Nike. Lastly, the Nike Zoom Kobe V was placed No. 21 on the all-time list.
The Kobe V was lower and lighter than its predecessor, the Nike Zoom Kobe IV, and drew inspiration from soccer athletes. While the Kobe V was first released in Lakers-centric colorway, it became most famous for the ‘Big Stage’ iterations that Bryant wore against the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals.
The Nike Kobe XI Elite, the last Bryant wore on-court, was among the shoes listed as an honorable mention by ESPN.