The Sneaker Evolution of Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant has been playing basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers for a long time now. A very long time. And he’s spent almost all of that time donning his own line of signature sneakers.

Of course, Kobe hasn’t been wearing the same pair of shoes for his entire career—far from it. His sneakers have changed and evolved just as surely as his game has. And that’s saying something.

Adidas EQT Elevation—1997

We’ve got to rewind all the way back to 1997—Kobe’s rookie year— for these bad boys. Though it wasn’t technically a Kobe signature, Kobe wore these sneakers throughout his inaugural season in the NBA, which included his memorable 1997 Slam Dunk Contest victory.

He may have seen the court for just 15 minutes per game that season, but all these years later, people still remember the sneakers.

Adidas Kobe Bryant: KB8—1998

The KB8 was considered a pretty bold design back in the day, but still not as bold as Adidas’ decision to give Kobe a signature shoe in the first place.

It’s hard to believe now that he’s become one of the greatest ever to lace them up, but Adidas took a huge risk in giving Kobe his own shoe. Remember, he was in just his second season in the league. He was no sure thing back in the day.

The doubters were in full force that year, strong to the point that Adidas actually decided to launch an ad campaign around all of the uncertainty (highlighted by this bizarre commercial). Considering both the way Kobe’s career ended up shaking out and how great the shoe was—it’s perhaps his best with Adidas—I think it’s fair to say that Adidas made a good call.

Adidas Kobe Bryant: KB8 II—1998

This shoe never happened. We won’t talk about it. Not even to mock it. It looked that ba...

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