5 Reasons Why Kobe Bryant Has the Greatest Performance Sneaker

  • Holy trinity of performance tech

    The Kobe 9 is loaded with what’s perhaps the holy trinity of performance footwear technology: Flyknit, Flywire, and Lunarlon. For anyone who’s familiar with the various tech features that Nike integrates across its performance footwear lineup, you’ve probably experienced one, two, or even all three of these tech elements at one point in time or another. But unless you’ve laced up a pair of the Kobe 9, you’ve never experienced all three combined with such precision. Flywire support and Lunarlon cushioning are no strangers to the hoops world, but the Kobe 9 is the first (and only) model to integrate a Flyknit upper. What makes Flyknit so unique is that it can be engineered to meet the exact specifications of a player, minimizing waste thanks to its seamless, on-piece upper that provides superior lightweight stability. Pair that with the responsiveness of the Lunarlon sole and the lockdown support from Flywire and you simply can’t lose (unless you’re the Lakers).

    image via Nike

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  • Pressure-mapped minimal outsole

    Proper footing is everything in basketball. The unique pressure-mapped design on the shoe’s outsole is meant to mimic the natural contours of a foot. It’s based on the pressure points of Kobe’s own feet, giving rest of us a sense of what it’s like to play in Mamba’s shoes (pun intended). The shoe’s minimalist outsole itself falls in line with the idea of “simplifying without compromise” that the Kobe 9 is built on. The slim outsole provides enough traction and cushioning underfoot without losing court feel. This results in improved agility without much trade-off.

    image via Nike

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  • Options

    Kobe changed the game back in 2008 when he stepped onto the court in a pair of low-top sneakers instead of the high-top silhouette that had become synonymous with basketball for much of the sport’s history. As a result, amateur ballers looking to do their best Mamba impression suddenly had options when it came to their footwear choices. The upside of the newly introduced low-top design was obvious: less restriction and greater range of motion. While the concept served Kobe well for much of his career, in more recent years, he, along with the rest of us, realized the pitfalls of low-top shoes: exposed ankles. So Nike went back to the drawing board and created yet another shoe that revolutionized the hoops footwear market, except time it was in the form of an ultra high-top sleeve design. While you would think that that’s counterproductive since going back to a high-top shoe will limit mobility, the addition of the pliable Flyknit material counteracts the restrictions of a standard high-top silhouette. Once again, this translates to more support and less compromise. With both a low-pro and a high-top version of the Kobe 9 available, you have choices.

    image via Nike

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  • Carbon fiber heel counter

    Unlike the LeBron 12 or KD7, the Kobe 9 features a carbon fiber heel counter that provides strength and lightweight lateral stability that simply can’t be matched. Now, that’s not to say that the LeBron and KD models aren’t supportive in the heel area in their own regards, but the carbon fiber wing plates on the Kobe 9 offer less restriction during quick, side-to-side cuts, while holding the foot securely in place. This setup caters to more of a dynamic player who prefers to utilize his entire skill set on the floor #kobe.

    image via Nike

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  • The numbers don't lie

    In 2013, roughly nine percent of NBA players were wearing Kobe’s on their feet—the most of any signature model. While this season is obviously different, and the numbers may have fluctuated just a bit, it’s proof that more and more pro ballers are playing in Kobes, yet, off the court, an increasing number of sneaker enthusiasts are going out and buying either the LeBrons or KDs—both of which are the top sellers in the hoops category respectively. Still, the fact that the Kobe 9 is so highly regarded amongst Mamba’s peers is a tell-tale sign of a great shoe. Just this year, Manu Ginobili, who has traditionally played in the LeBron signature over recent seasons, made the switch to the Kobe 9. It makes sense too, given the fit issues that King James himself experienced with his namesake sneaker last season. Manu’s not alone either. Other notable NBA stars who play in the Kobe’s include Andre Iguodala, J.R. Smith, Rudy Gay, Amar’e Stoudemire, Nick Young (when he’s actually playing), and others.

    image via USA TODAY Sports

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Like many things in life, the type of sneakers a basketball player wears often comes down to personal preference. That’s not to say, though, that influence from pro ballers, particularly ones with signature shoe lines, doesn’t play a role. There’s a good chance that you, like the rest of us, are probably guilty of buying a new pair of sneakers—whether it’s the LeBrons, the KDs, or the Kobes—solely because of the hype associated with them, rather than how well they actually perform. Fortunately, when it comes to performance sneakers, these days it all goes hand-in-hand. Think about it—these players have signature shoes because they’re the best at what they do. And because they’re the best at what they do, they need sneakers that can keep up with them. So if they’re good enough for the pros, they’re good enough for the rest of us mere mortals too, right? Well, we’d like to think so.

Kobe Bryant’s signature shoe line with Nike has been one of the premier shoes in basketball over the past decade or so, but the series has taken somewhat of a backseat in the LeBron James and Kevin Durant era. And it makes sense—Kobe, who’s been rocking steady in the league for nearly 20 years is practically on his farewell tour, whether he’s ready to admit it or not. Meanwhile, LeBron and KD are in their prime, so it’s only natural for aspiring ballers to cozy up to their namesake sneakers. Though, what some folks don’t seem to realize is that when it comes to performance, the Kobe reigns supreme. If you’re the proud owner of the Kobe 9s, then you already know what we’re referring to.

This Friday, a new blue and gold-based colorway of the Kobe 9 EM will be dropping at Champs Sports and only a fool would think to pass these up. For the rest of you, peep the following 5 Reasons Why Kobe Bryant Has the Greatest Performance Sneaker.

BUY NOW: Kobe 9 EM Collection

Follow Gurvinder on Twitter at @gurvindersg

image via Nike