Nike unveiled its new Kobe Elite 9 shoe, Kobe Bryant’s ninth with the company, and this one has a little different look.
For openers, it has a higher top. And, in the back, it sports nine little red lines — a reminder that the Los Angeles Lakers’ guard is still coming back from surgery to repair a torn Achilles’ tendon last April.
“It’s a symbol of the story we’re trying to tell,” Bryant told ESPN.com. “It’s a constant reminder of where I came from. From that night after I hurt myself and I expressed my anger in my Facebook rant to the state I’m in now. I wanted something I could draw inspiration from. Everyone doubts I can come back and do it again and here I am.”
— Nike Basketball (@nikebasketball) December 4, 2013
Bryant, 35, still hasn’t played; he’s in shape, but not basketball-ready.
“”[I]t’s one thing to be out on the track all day and run,” he said (via ESPN Los Angeles). It’s another thing to run, jump, change directions, now gather your legs for a shot. You still kind of feel like you get those ‘Bambi’ legs and that sort of thing. But, the Achilles’ feels pretty good. Other than that, you’re just dealing with the typical things that a player playing 18 years is going to deal with — just it’s sore here, sore there.”
The shoe also happens to be a nod to one of the graphic photos he posted after the surgery.
“You have to move the needle,” Bryant said of the shoe design. “… You want them to have an emotional reaction as soon as they see it. You want it to create conversation and debate and challenge how people think.”