As Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers were gearing up for what amounted to a title run in 2009, Nike released his signature Kobe IV as part of the brand’s Playoff Pack. Ten years later, the “White/Del Sol” Playoff Pack (POP) colorway returns as a Nike Kobe 4 Protro, releasing May 24 on SNKRS.
The latest iteration in Bryant’s performance-driven “Protro” series maintains the exact design from the original release. The white-based upper is accompanied by a black Swoosh that’s outlined in gold, and quilted stitching on the collar.
Although dubbed a model for the 2009 NBA Playoffs, Bryant didn’t debut the shoe on the court until Game 2 of the Lakers’ first-round matchup with the Denver Nuggets. He scored 32 points on an efficient 10-for-20 shooting from the field, but the Lakers suffered a narrow loss.
L.A. rebounded to win Game 3 and eventually closed out the series in six. Bryant wore the colorway during several home games throughout the Lakers’ run in the Western Conference Playoffs. He then switched to ‘home’ and ‘away’ models of a “Kobe 4 Finals” version.
But when the Lakers held their parade to celebrate the franchise’s 15th NBA title, which culminated with a rally at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Bryant opted for the “POP” model of his fourth signature shoe.
The “white/del sol” release is the second iteration of the Kobe 4 Protro brought to market. The first was the “Draft Day” model — outfitted in a Charlotte Hornets design” to commemorate the night Bryant was selected 13th overall in the 1996 Draft.
Nike released the model, along with several others, during All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. Thus far, various colorways of the Kobe 1 and Kobe 4 have been released under the “Protro” umbrella.
Bryant announced plans to take previous models from his signature line with Nike and retool them with updated technology that mirrors that of today’s footwear. While considered a retro line similar to what Jordan Brand has found endless success with, Bryant has focused on performance.
“It just didn’t fit right with everything I stood for, with the Mamba Brand,” he said at the time of announcing the series. “Protro is about evolution and improving on things that were.
“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.”