Time is moving fast and the bittersweet moment of saying goodbye to Kobe Bryant within the game of basketball is on the horizon. The Black Mamba will be entering his final NBA All-Star game in Toronto this year as part of his farewell tour, but the 81-point scoring phenomenon isn’t walking away from the game completely. Alongside Nike, Kobe Bryant has managed to change the game of performance footwear on the basketball court by pushing the limits of innovation over the years. Frequently working with top tier Swoosh designers such as Eric Avar, Kobe Bryant revealed in a recent interview the plans for his signature line moving forward after his retirement along with his thoughts upon LeBron becoming Nike’s first lifetime athlete, the new generation of signature athletes, and much more. You can view the interview in full via Sole Collector‘s 48th Issue.
SC: How’s it feel to unveil your last signature sneaker before retiring?
KB: It feels great, man. I’m very proud of the history that we’ve created while I’ve been playing. It’s a great feeling. I’ve put in a lot of work.
SC: Over the 11 years you’ve worked with Nike, is there a sneaker in particular that you’re proud of?
KB: It’s hard to say. Each, for that moment in time, was extremely innovative, so it’s hard to pinpoint one in particular. I think the one that was the most courageous leap was going to the low with the 4. That was the bravest thing. I remember having to go speak to buyers and having to explain to them why I’m going low, from an innovation standpoint, from an athlete performance standpoint, and the things we put into the shoe, like heel lock, that actually make the shoe safer than a high top. That was one of the more courageous leaps. It was one of those things where if it succeeds, it’s going to be industry changing, and if it fails, we’re going to be up shit creek.
SC: Where do you see the Kobe line going after you retire?
KB: We’ll remain extremely consistent with what we’ve been doing, which is creating innovative products that help athletes be the best versions of themselves. That’s not going to change. I don’t focus on how fashion changes. I only focus on creating innovative product. Hopefully the consumer knows by now that if you’re buying a Kobe product, you’re buying something that’s been thought through. We pay attention to detail all the way through. You’re buying something that’s going to help you perform better. That’s not going to stop.
SC: So you’re saying there’s going to be a Nike Kobe 12, 13 and so forth?
KB: Absolutely. We’ll continue to evolve. We’re going to continue to push and the line will keep growing.