Over the weekend, the Nike Vault in Downtown Los Angeles held a special event where Kobe Bryant met the designers of his Prelude Pack and answered a few questions from invited media and special guests, including the basketball team from Westchester High School.
Lakers Nation was fortunate enough to attend the event where Kobe answered questions ranging from his current injury status all the way to the name of his next shoes. Some unexpected special announcements regarding his Kobe 9s were also made, so keep on reading to see what those were.
On Saturday, the Kobe 9 Elite were released to the public and quickly sold out on NikeStore.com. The hype for the shoe was built from previous weeks of special New York releases and sightings of players like Amare Stoudemire, JR Smith and Nick Young rocking the Kobe 9s in games. This was definitely good news for Nike and Team Kobe as they went from changing the game with low-top sneakers back with the Kobe V to these boxing shoe like high tops.
Many think that the decision to go high-top was made due to last year’s achilles tendon injury, but Kobe assured the crowd that this was an idea two and half years in the making. Inspired by Manny Pacquiao’s boxing, Kobe wanted to change the perception of high tops as big and clunky into a form fitting feature of the shoe that enhanced a player’s connection with a shoe.
At the beginning of the Q&A session, Kobe addressed his injury basically saying that it’s out of his control and that the plan hasn’t changed to get better every single day.
“All I’m able to do is cycle. First week was cool, second week was a good workout, third week you need some other s***, but you have to stick with it.”
After the quick injury update, the interview started going towards inspirations for the new Kobe 9. With features such as the stitches that symbolize the ruptured achilles, Bryant talked about how it’s the worst injury ever and how he didn’t know how so many people went through that type of injury. Other features such as the use of Flyknit and Lunarlon technology, with special emphasis on how the Flyknit was able to provide that high ankle support without suffering the clunkiness of traditional high-top designs.
Let’s redefine what a high shoe should be and how it should feel and how it should perform. The high is very restrictive, so we wanted highs that played like lows. And while [Flyknit] technology has been incredible in the running shoes, we couldn’t carry that over to basketball yet. We put in a lot of work.
The major news for sneaker heads from the event surrounded the new color ways for the Kobe that are inspired by Kobe’s favorite pair of Jordans, the Air Jordan 3 and the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. It definitely goes along with the theme of the Kobe 9, where Kobe said a lot of the inspirations for the Kobe 9 color ways will come from “muses” he studied that achieved greatness in some way.
Towards the end of the Q&A, Kobe touched on a few more topics such as going to the University of North Carolina to compete with Vince Carter and his post-playing days where he would like to strengthen the Kobe Brand.
Because the event was dedicated to the Prelude Pack, I knew that each shoe held some sort of memory for Kobe from the 81 point memory of the Kobe I to the bitter memories of the Kobe 3, which were the pair he wore in the Game 6 loss to the Celtics in 2008. The question I asked to see what would be the theme for the next shoe and this is the response he gave me:
“Absence…..I’d probably make this shoe completely transparent. I would make the shoe completely transparent in so many ways because there’s a vulnerability that comes with being injured. So, you really have to open yourself up to people and let them kind of see what you’ve been going through. At the same time, I’ve missed so many damn games, just the absence of it.”
Kobe said all this was a smirk, so everyone knew he was having fun to the point that he even ended the comment with “don’t jack my sh**!”
Don’t worry Kobe. You’ve definitely have given me enough to work with here.
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