Kobe Bryant's Best-Ever adidas Signature Sneakers
While most remember him for his years donning the Swoosh, Kobe Bryant’s rise from high-school star to NBA legend was built on a foundation laid out by the Three Stripes. Kobe burst onto the scene back in 1996, coming straight from the courts of Lower Merion HS to the bright lights of the NBA — mini-fro and all. Breaking ankles and dropping jaws, young Kobe used his explosive athleticism and aerial panache to carve out a rep as the hottest talent on adidas Basketball’s roster, giving the brand’s on-court offering a much-needed jumpstart in the process. While the likes of Tracy McGrady and James Harden have carried the torch for Team Trefoil, it was the Lakers’ number 8 that reignited the flame back in the 90s. So, with that in mind, we decided to take a look back at some of Kobe’s best-ever signature sneakers from the adidas era. Look carefully and you might even spot a bit of Yeezy in there...
adidas KB8 (1997)
Simply put, this was the one that started it all. After a breakout rookie season gaming adidas Basketball’s Feet You Wear models (Top Ten 2000, Top Ten 2010 and EQT Elevation, just to name a few), Kobe was bestowed with a signature sneaker at the beginning of his sophomore season. With its distinctive curved aesthetic, the KB8 — like Kobe — was a bona fide head-turner on court.
An addition to Feet You Wear lineup, the KB8’s contoured edges were designed keep the wearer as close to ground as possible, thus increasing responsiveness and agility. Mesh lining, inner bootie construction, EVA midsole and Torsion system plate made this one of most tech-packed ballers on the market.
Later renamed the Crazy 8, the sneaker was first re-released in 2007 and remains a staple among the Three Stripe’s retro catalog, and for good reason — just look at those curves!
adidas KB8 II (1998)
Sequels don't always have to suck — the KB8 II proves that. Kobe’s second signature shoe may not be as revered as the first, but remains an important part of his rise to super stardom. Now in his third season, Kobe was adidas Basketball’s poster boy, appearing in a number of the brand’s most memorable advertising campaigns.
As his stock continued to rise, so did his minutes per game. To cope with the extra court time, the KB8 II was fitted with an even bigger rounded midsole for added stability and support. The KB8 II (Crazy 2) was re-released for the first time 2014.
adidas KB8 III (1999)
Apologies for being so predictable, but it’s hard to argue against Feet You Wear models being the standouts during Kobe's adi era. The KB8 III was the last sneaker in the FYW line, and also the last released under the ‘KB8’ label. It was also, arguably, the best-looking of the bunch.
Blessed with the contoured vibes of its predecessors, the KB8 III toned things down up top, going for a smoother leather construction and less jarring details.
A licensing dispute with Feet You Wear’s creator would eventually lead to adidas ceasing production of models using the tech. Lucky for us, the KB8 III’s legacy lives on in form of the ever-popular Yeezy 500 — we’re glad Kanye was a fan.
adidas Kobe 1 (2000)
Unfortunately, the termination of FYW marked the beginning of the end for Kobe and the Three Stripes. Before we were subjected to the abomination that was the Kobe 2, the OG Kobe 1 hit the courts and was one of the boldest ballers ever seen.
It’s in many the ways the ultimate love/hate sneaker. With its daring, boxy appearance, the Kobe 1 ditched the bulbous builds of FYW in favour of a futuristic aesthetic that would polarise the sneakersphere. Inspired by the Audi TT Roadster, the shoe is blessed with a double foam collar, half-shell toe, injection-moulded EVA midsole, and a Torsion system.
Safe to say, Kobe was a fan, gaming them throughout the second half of the 2000 season, winning his first ring, and continuing to wear them all the way to the 2001 Finals and his second Championship. As they say, the rest is history.