Here at ONE37pm, we believe that a person should be remembered by the life they chose to lead. Today we are celebrating the birthday and amazing life of Kobe Bean Bryant. Bryant was and still is the symbol of many important things in this world. He was a doting husband, loving father, great friend/teammate/mentor, one of the greatest sports figures to ever grace the face of this planet, and a sneaker connoisseur. In the nearly three years since his passing, we have celebrated Kobe and his life in many different ways. First some history, and then we'll take a look at the best Kobe shoes ever released.
The Best Kobe Shoes: Ranking His Top 15 Sneakers
We're celebrating Kobe's birthday and 8/24
When thinking about how we wanted to commemorate 8/23 (his birthday) and 8/24 (the date that coincides with the two numbers he wore through the course of his career), we realized that we hadn’t done an article highlighting some of the best Kobe sneakers.
Like Mr. 24 himself, Kobe’s have always been a representation of greatness and monumental moments. Some of the colorways that Kobe released (such as the Grinch’s for example) were replicas of actual shoes that he wore in-game, while others were just cool designs that he and the Nike team came up with. Regardless, Kobe was always heavily involved in the design and decision making when it came to his signature shoes, and that dedication is something that is being continued by Vanessa Bryant in his honor.
During his twenty-year career (and afterwards), Kobe was signed to two major brands. Upon getting drafted in 1996, Bryant signed with adidas for what wound up being a seven year partnership. Today, many of Kobe’s signatures with adidas are considered coveted vintage collectibles that are highly sought after by his biggest fans.
In 2003 Bryant’s deal with adidas expired, and he made the decision to sign with Nike as the two both agreed that his appeal as an athlete and public figure would extend beyond retirement.
And as they say, the rest is history.
Whether you already own a pair of Kobe’s, or you’re shopping for your first-time pair, we’ve got you covered with many of his finest releases. Below are 15 different Kobe Bryant shoes that you can get to celebrate 8/23 and 8/24.
15. Undefeated x Nike Zoom Kobe 5 Protro “Hall of Fame” (2021)
The official shoe that celebrates Kobe’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. This shoe paid homage to Kobe’s championship resume with a metallic gold upper, purple accents, and a purple Nike swoosh on the right side panel. A mismatched pink Nike swoosh is featured on the left side of the sneaker, with his two numbers, 8 & 24, inscribed within the swoosh.
Additional features include a breathable mesh with snakeskin-textured leather overlays, mismatched branding lands on the tongue and heel, the Undefeated’s Five Strikes logo, and Kobe’s personal trademark.
14. Kobe Mentality “Black Red” (2017)
Released in 2017, the “Black Red’s” are one of the most prominent Kobe’s released to date, and one of the many signature silhouettes outside of his flagship series. The Kobe Mentality shoes are known for their basketball lifestyle look and artistry, with bold graphic prints being their defining feature. The “Black Reds” have a blackish gray base, with red and yellow overlays for the cherry on top.
The Nike swoosh is silver on this particular colorway, and has Kobe's trademark Shozoku logo with a marbled outsole. Very Kobe if we say so ourselves.
13. Zoom Kobe 5 Protro “Bruce Lee” (2020)
Just about every Kobe fan is familiar with his Bruce Lee fascination, which is who inspired this particular release. Bruce Lee’s fighting style and mindset was a constant source of inspiration for Bryant’s own Mamba Mentality, and the shoe itself pays tribute to Lee’s legendary jumpsuit from his 1974 film Enter The Dragon.
The sneaker sports a black and yellow design complete with the slightest hint of red, and is a lightweight build that has Nike’s Flywire technology in the upper, a foam midsole, and a large-volume Zoom Air unit in the forefoot.
12. Kobe 10 GS “Hero” (2015)
Kobe was also heavily influenced by superheroes, which is the inspo behind this colorful 2015 release. This iteration of the Kobe 10 was a representation of cosmic superhero energy with its purple lightning strike static electricity upper, which was quite clever if we might add.
That static electricity pattern is consistent amongst the shoe, with a purple and orange gradient, a Lunarlon cushioning system in the midsole, and a Zoom Air Unit. It should also be noted that the 2015-2016 season was Kobe’s 20th and final in the NBA, which makes the superhero theme very fitting.
11. Zoom Kobe 4 “Bred” (2009)
2009. The year Kobe made his way back up to the number one championship spot. Originally launched in 2008, the shoe was designed by Eric Avar and Tom Luedecke, making the Kobe 4s first Kobe sneaker to be released in low-top form (the ones pictured are the mids). A black upper is the standout feature on this shoe, along with a mixture of white and varsity red on the outsole.
The shoe also has Zoom Air cushioning, and Kobe Bryant’s signature on the heel. 2009 was a simpler time in the world of both basketball and sneakers, and the “Breds” are an example of that.
10. Zoom Kobe 6 “Dark Night” (2011)
There goes Kobe’s love of superhero movies again. Somebody was clearly inspired by 2008’s The Dark Knight, and rightfully so as it’s one of the greatest films in modern cinematic history. Released in 2011, the Nike Zoom Kobe 6 'Dark Knight’ features a Dark Gray upper that has black polyurethane snake-scale detailing, a blue swoosh that apparently glows in the dark, the signature Kobe branding in red, and gray leather tongue.
Of course with KB putting out a Batman colorway, he had to drop a Joker counterpart to match. Entitled “Chaos” the Joker version of this dropped later on the same year. Kobe represented Gotham very well with these.
9. Zoom Kobe 6 “Wolf Grey” (2011)
2011 was a sick year for Kobe releases. The Wolf Grey gave us metallic, futuristic, Star Trek, and Y2K all in one. Featuring a bold serpentine texture, a metallic silver snake-like pattern accentuated by white details, and a “VENOMENON” logo on the toe, the “Wolf Greys” are one of Kobe’s boldest releases to date.
If you look even closer, you’ll also find Kobe’s Shozoku logo, side swooshes, and heel signatures. A performance shoe to the fullest, this iteration of the 6s also has Flywire technology for a custom fit, and Zoom Air in the midsole and forefront for responsiveness.
8. Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 FastFit (2019)
Might want to grab your 3D glasses for this one. The Kobe AD NXT 360 was designed with speed, movement, and agility in mind. First revealed in November 2019, the latest update to the shoe boasted a tie-dye textile with innovative lacing, a contoured mesh inner layer, and a solid stabilizing heel clip.
Color-pop accents, narrative detailing, and the signature Nike swoosh are the additional features complementing the shoe, making it a truly dynamic sneaker. One only Kobe could have come up with.
7. Kobe 8 “Green Glow” (2013)
Every athlete signed to a signature deal needs a beach-themed colorway, and for Kobe, we think it’s the Kobe 8 “Green Glow” release from 2013. Here are the details for this one: a defining reptilian theme that acknowledges Bean’s Black Mamba Mentality, a tongue tag depicting a snake wrapped around Kobe’s personal logo, and a Green Glow/Mineral Teal snakeskin print in the engineered mesh upper.
The contrasting art element comes in with the pops of Laser Orange on the branding elements and outsole. Not sure about you guys, but this definitely reminds us of sipping a Tequila on the beach for sure.
6. Zoom Kobe 4 “Carpe Diem” (2009)
The meaning of Carpe Diem is “Seize The Day,” and Kobe was definitely somebody who seized every shot, moment, and opportunity. Nothing was ever out of reach when it came to Bryant, who lived life to the fullest. The “Carpe Diem” colorway has a drool-worthy combo of black, white, Varsity Purple and Del Sol, and comes equipped with Flywire technology on the upper.
For the comfort element, you can also find a Lunar Foam midsole and Zoom Air cushioning for extra support. Perhaps the most unique feature on this shoe is the Italian sports car-style 'Carpe Diem’ logo on the tongue, which obviously references Bryant’s Italian roots.
5. Kobe 11 Elite Low “Achilles Heel” (2016)
Life can sometimes be filled with obstacles and challenges. For Bryant, one of those challenges was the struggle with his achilles heel injury. How Bryant himself said, the key is how you respond to those challenges. That’s the very definition of Mamba Mentality, and as Kobe embarked on his 2016 farewell tour, he made that even more clear with the release of the “Achilles Heel.”
The shoe had a black and red gradient colorway for January 2016, paying respect to the Greek god, Achilles, and Kobe’s season-ending surgery in 2013.
4. Kobe 11 “Mambacurial” (2016)
Another farewell drop, the “Mambacurial” was an elite colorway that had a gradient pink and green color scheme, and breathable woven Flyknit fabrication. There’s absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that the “Mambacurial” colorway is one of Kobe’s best ever, with its nod to the Mercurial soccer boot that inspired the design.
To top off the already perfect sneaker, the “Mambacurial” also has an oversized ‘NIKE’ logo decorating the medial side, and a mountain-like translucent Action Green overlay accenting the midsole. One of our favorite’s from Bean.
3. Kobe 11 GS Team USA (2016)
Kobe Bryant was a part of two gold medal winning Olympic Rosters during his playing career (2008 and 2012). So it was only right that he dropped a Team USA colorway during his 2016 farewell campaign as well. The “Team USA” 11s made their debut in July 2016 to support the Olympic Team heading off to the Rio Summer Olympics the following month. The low top shoe has a patriotic red, white and blue color scheme, a lightweight build, and nods to Kobe throughout including four stitch marks on the left heel as an allusion to the four feet of sutures used in his 2013 Achilles surgery.
The shoe has the numbers 8 and 12 etched into the right heel to represent the Olympic years in which Kobe won gold medals with the US Men’s National Team.
2. Zoom Kobe 6 Protro “Grinch” (2010 & 2020)
We’ve mentioned the “Grinch” colorway on more than one occasion, and that is perfectly okay because it’s considered to be Kobe’s most beloved and iconic shoe. Making its initial debut in 2010 as part of the Nike Basketball Christmas Day Collection, the “Grinch” is full of every shade of green imaginable with its snakeskin texture, eye-catching aesthetics, and Zoom Air
Cushioning Technology, Kobe was definitely “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” for a few teams over the years. Hey if you’re going to be forced to play on a holiday, might as well get a win right?
1. Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita Sweet Sixteen”
We saved what we believe to be the best Kobe shoes of all time for last. Kobe’s basketball partner in crime was his daughter Gianna aka Gigi, and just from the outside looking in, you could tell he was so proud of the young lady and athletethat she was becoming. The “Sweet Sixteens” are an ode to her. A mixture of Kobe’s signature snakeskin black and white, the shoe has the traditional Kobe signature for the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation crest, with "Kobe'' and "Gigi" inscribed on both the left and right shoes, and a “2” to represent Gigi’s AAU uniform number.
The insoles have additional tributes to Gigi with a design that features angel wings, a halo, the nickname "Mambacita" and another "2." Long live Kobe and Gigi.
Happy Birthday to the Mamba himself. Be sure to snag a pair of Kobe’s in he and Gigi’s honor, and watch the WNBA Playoffs in support of women’s hoops.