After kickstarting his career wearing the Three Stripes, Kobe Bryant later joined Team Swoosh to forge one of the most influential partnerships ever seen in performance basketball. The Black Mamba certainly left his mark on both franchises, headlining adidas’ ‘Feet You Wear’ lineup and quickly elevating himself to super stardom, before releasing a comprehensive signature lineup with Nike — reintroducing low-tops to the court with the Kobe 4 and 5.
His sneaker legacy is undeniable, but there was a time where Kobe’s feet had no allegiance. After reportedly paying $8 million to opt out of his adidas contract in 2002, the star guard was barred — due to contractual obligations — from signing with another brand until 2003. Thus began the famed 2002-03 season, which was arguably the most fascinating sneaker season of Kobe’s entire career.
Free to wear whatever he wanted, Kobe hit the court in a wide range of heat — and it wasn’t all Swooshed or Three-Striped either. Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable on-foot moments of that significant, yet often overlooked, stanza in sneaker folklore.