Kobe Bryant is always going to be remembered for his killer mentality, unbelievable skill and reluctance to pass the ball. However, not a lot of people realize the impact he has had on performance basketball shoes. He was the pioneer of the modern performance basketball shoe you see on shelves from today’s athletes like Kevin Durant and Paul George. And it all started with the Nike Zoom Kobe III.
In the year 2008 Kobe Bryant was in the prime of his career, giving out buckets at will to any defender who hopelessly tried to defend him. His signature shoe with Nike was growing in popularity with every release. At the time of the Kobe III’s release in 2007-2008 the basketball shoe game was seemingly more about……”fashion” (If you could even call it that).
There were shoes with everything from bulky shocks and thick soles to awkward ankle straps. If you ever have had a pair of shox I am sure you remember how cool you felt wearing them at the time; and contrastingly realize now how useless they actually were. Let’s take a look at one of Gilbert Arenas’ signature shoes with Adidas alongside one of Nike’s generic basketball shoes from 2007 as well.
Just by looking at these faux leather bricks you can almost feel how heavy and bulky they actually are. Luckily, Kobe decided that it was time to focus more on performance, and less on fashion. Kobe worked with the designer of this shoe and made it clear that he wanted the lightest basketball shoe in production, to give him an edge on the floor.
The result? The Zoom Kobe III weighed in at a light 13 ounces. To give a comparison, LeBron James’ sixth shoe, which also came out around the same time, weighed in at 16.8 ounces. That’s about a 30% decrease in weight for the Kobe III, which would definitely be a noticeable difference on the floor even by the most inexperienced player.
Call it a coincidence, but Kobe had a historic season playing in these shoes which was topped off with an MVP award.
The next installment, the Kobe IV, would continue to slim down by controversially becoming one of the premier low-top signature shoes on the market. Kobe’s idea to go with a low-top shoe was ballsy to say the least. He went with a low-top shoe when almost all other popular basketball shoes were going with mid or high-top shoes; due to the stigma that low-top shoes resulted in more ankle issues.
Fast forward a few years and Kobe Bryant’s signature shoe would get lighter and lighter, until a peak weight loss resulting at 9.6 ounces for the low-top Nike Zoom Kobe VIII.
Many others would soon follow in Kobe’s performance oriented footsteps, most notably signature shoes from Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Paul George.