10 Things You Need to Know About the Nike Kobe X

  • Kobe Bryant Eric Avar Nike Kobe X


    1. History

    It’s not every day that somebody reaches this milestone. Ten signature sneakers. That’s historic, even in this day and age when more and more players are receiving sig shoes.

    Bryant has been down with Nike for over a decade and while he doesn’t necessarily have one particular shoe, or perhaps even a defining moment, that’ll keep his line resonating forever, he does have this: He’s a survivor who battled and consistently won. Bryant’s line is similar because it always pushed the envelope. Whether it was debuting a super low-cut in the Kobe IV or being the first to have an all-woven upper in a basketball shoe, Bryant forced the sneaker world to always keep up.

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  • 2. Launch colorway inspired by a dive into a pool

    Only Kobe would use a moment like this to inspire a shoe colorway, with the first of five planned colorways — fittingly called the “5 a.m.” — featuring a blue palette representing the pool. In August of 2013, Bryant was still in the midst of coming off the worst injury of his career. And so at 5 a.m. on this random day, he decided to test himself by jumping off a 40-foot platform. It’s undeniably Kobe, doing something like this just to prove to himself that he’s not afraid, that he’s willing to barrel through any obstacle.

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  • Nike Kobe 10


    3. Outsole features lightweight Lunarlon foam

    Kobe is always talking about ways to beat the competition, get that one tiny advantage that could prove to make the difference. So this year, Avar fitted the X’s outsole with a material that’ll allow you to get closer to the ground for quicker, more explosive cuts, without sacrificing that support that you need for achy joints and, who knows, maybe an extensive rehab.

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  • Nike Kobe 10


    4. Outsole also features siping grooves inspired by Nike Free tech

    This makes the entire shoe more flexible, more willing to bend with your own movement. This gives the sneaker the ultimate trio when it comes to your performance: It can be strong and flexible, but can also be firm when it needs to be. Nike Free technology is designed to make your foot stronger as it allows for more movement and a closer impact. It’s no wonder Bryant wanted this tech for his basketball shoe.

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    5. Can see inside, just like Bryant, just like a Mac computer

    The tracking system and sole technology were designed to let everyone see what’s inside. That’s possible because a translucent rubber casing masks both the midsole and outsole.

    Bryant wanted this to represent his recent desire to open up more to people. The Mamba was always a loner, someone who never let people into his private life. But recently — I don’t know, maybe it’s old age? — he’s found common ground with the common people by showing off more of his private personality.

    “As I’ve aged, I’ve become more and more comfortable being able to just really open up,” he said. “It is like the governor disappears and I wanted to reflect that in the shoe. I wanted to be able to communicate that.”

    Apparently, some of that inspiration came from the weirdest of places: an old Mac computer. Transparency is a huge part of this sneaker.

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  • Nike Kobe 10
    6. Heel features four red stitches

    The Nike Kobe 9 was heavily influenced by Bryant’s return and rehab from his torn Achilles’ tendon, and during the course of his work, Bryant often put nine “stitches” on the back of the shoe to represent the actual stitches that went into his surgery.

    That idea continued with this sneaker as the Kobe X features four red stitches across the heel, just as doctors used four feet of thread to repair his Achilles.

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    7. The upper is reminiscent of sharkskin

    When Bryant, Avar, Tinker Hatfield, and Mark Parker originally sat down all those years ago to talk about where Bryant’s sneaker line would take them, they spoke a lot about great white sharks. The creatures are fascinating predators, mammoth animals that can come from nowhere with incredible strength and agility. That level of athleticism and size is rarely seen in something so stealthy.

    Eventually, that route took them to the black mamba snake, but the Kobe X brought them full circle as the upper is an open-weave textile inspired by the strength and patterns of sharkskin.

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  • Nike Kobe


    8. Bryant wants every sneaker to take a snapshot of his career

    Yes, this is sort of a cliche in the sneaker industry. It’s what everyone says. This new shoe represents where I’m at right now. But Bryant, as is his custom, goes to the next level.

    He plays in new shoes every game, securing and storing any sneaker involved in one of his memorable moments. He maintains that his plan with Nike, when he first signed with them over 10 years ago, was to have a collection of sneakers that perfectly captured everything going on in his life and career so that, 20 years from now, he could pull one out and know exactly what point in his life he was looking at.

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  • #SoleWatch Kobe Bryant low-key debuted the Nike Kobe X tonight.

    A photo posted by Sole Collector (@solecollector) on


    9. Bryant won't play in them this year...

    …but he did unveil them before the official launch, rocking a black-based colorway in street clothes before a recent game against Chicago.

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  • Nike Kobe 10


    10. This is not where the Nike Kobe line ends

    You might think, considering he’s 36 years old and is now facing his third-straight season ended by an injury, that maybe the X is the right place to stop. Maybe this is where Kobe rides off into the sunset and the team at Nike starts thinking about retros. It’s a cool end point. Bryant, however, said at the launch of this shoe that he’s already thinking about the next three, already planning and coming up with his next story to tell.

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  • Kobe Bryant pool dive Kobe 10
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  • Nike Kobe "Prelude Pack" sneakers
  • Kobe Bryant Nike Kobe X
  • Nike Kobe 10

Kobe Bryant has done some amazing things in his career. He’s scored over 32,000 points, won Finals MVPs, rings, the adulation of every single basketball fan of this generation. Bryant’s been worldwide famous for close to 20 years now and he’s so respected by everyone around the game that he’s know as the last of an extinct breed. Very few athletes reach this level.

But the Mamba’s legacy won’t just be about what he did on the court. With the Nike Kobe X “5 A.M.” colorway set to release this Saturday at Champs Sports, it’ll have to include his sneakers, too. Why? Because this is the 10th signature sneaker in this line, a rare milestone for anyone.

Bryant came to Nike after leaving adidas early in his career, already with a little experience in what goes into creating a signature silhouette. And since then he’s been a part of some of the most incredible technological and design advances we’ve ever seen in the basketball footwear industry. Bryant made low-cut sneakers possible. He helped launch the Hyperdunk design. He showed the first all-woven performance upper was possible. And all along, Nike designer Eric Avar was there for the ride.

The Mamba might be out for the year with yet another surgery — his third straight season ending like this — but there’s no question this weekend’s colorway is a must-cop for long-time collectors. Make sure you do your homework, though, and know what you’re getting into. Here are 10 Things You Need to Know About the Kobe X.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney

image via Nike