Kobe Bryant’s Master Class

We are happily entrusting our procrastinating feet to the hands of basketball god Kobe Bryant. Yesterday afternoon, Nike revealed its latest collaboration with the athlete at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Called the “Kobe 9 Elite,” the basketball shoe, or rather, new second foot, will make you seriously rethink purchasing another pair of Converse.

Its seamless upper is crafted from Nike Flyknit, Flywire, and Lunarlon
: lightweight yet formidable materials that are part of Nike’s”Nature Amplified” design strategy, which designs for a body in motion using scientific data and athlete insight. The shoes provide high breathability, stretch, and support, with responsive cushioning, durable traction, and cables of yarn that loosen and tighten with the natural motion of the foot. As Bryant declares, “This shoe is certainly the most unique shoe I have worked on. When (Nike designer) Eric Avar and I sit down each year to brainstorm, I always challenge him to think differently.” The latest model favors the first higher cut since Kobe’s third signature shoe in 2007, embroidered with nine red battle scars on the heel as a nod to Kobe’s own Achilles sutures.

“With my recent Achilles injury I’ve been doing a lot of rehab and not as much on-court, so I haven’t been able to provide as much immediate feedback as I’m used to when I’m playing,” notes Bryant. “One of the best things of working with Eric and Nike is the rapport we have and immediate feedback I can provide as an athlete if I want something tweaked or modified.” Besides using his own body as design inspiration (see the delicately interweaving lines on the sole based on a pressure map of Kobe’s foot), Bryant fell upon off-court muses such as Michaelangelo, Picasso, and Leonardo da Vinci.

“Since this is my ninth shoe, we started going down the path of muses and who really inspires me,” he explains. “I’m really drawn to art. I wanted this shoe to perform well first and foremost, but I wanted it to be a piece of art. As you will notice, we took some of the Flyknit colors and wove them into the shoe making a piece of art. It’s only fitting, but we called the lead colorway ‘The Masterpiece.'” As for our own future achievements, it seems that walking—or running—towards them will now be one less hurdle.