From the minute he was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Kyle Kuzma has identified with and raved about Kobe Bryant.
With Kuzma joining the same franchise the five-time champion spent his entire career with and playing for Bryant’s former agent, the building blocks for a budding relationship were in place. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka arranged a dinner between the two during Kuzma’s rookie year.
When asked about their meeting, Bryant praised Kuzma for his intellect and desire to continue improving. The bond they developed extended beyond growing as a basketball player, as Kuzma has regularly worn sneakers from Bryant’s signature line with Nike.
In addition to being fond of the fit of Bryant’s various shoe models, Kuzma has taken to the creative process and attention to detail behind the line, per ESPN’s Nick De Paula:
“Kobe has always been great about shoes, the innovation behind it and the meaningfulness.”
Kuzma was among a group of players selected by Nike to create a specially-designed shoe for Opening Week of the 2018-19 NBA season. He naturally designed a “Kuzz Control” mode of the Kobe A.D. through Nike iD.
The second-year forward also spent several games in the groundbreaking Nike Adapt BB, and toward the end of the season sported various versions of a Nike Kobe IV Protro and unveiled other models during practice. Kuzma’s choice of footwear was assisted by becoming a brand ambassador for GOAT.
While their resell platform was useful in pairing Kuzma with limited sneakers, his size 15 made the search difficult at times. Nevertheless, he and DeMar DeRozan have been given an opportunity to carry the torch for Bryant’s Nike signature line.