The moment Kobe Bryant fans have been waiting for is here. No, the NBA legend isn’t making a surprise return to the court, but there are still plenty of reasons for Black Mamba fans to be excited this year, because Nike has announced the return of Bryant’s first signature sneaker.
Instead of the “retro” tag bestowed on a majority of sneaker rereleases, this line of Nike Kobe releases is dubbed Protro, short for performance retro. According to Nike, the Kobe 1 Protro was created after the legendary Lakers star took a trip to an amusement park and took note of the robotic characters, which he likened to to the internal technology of a performance shoe.
Bryant, who’s long been known as one of the most involved athletes in the design process of his shoes, wanted to bring back the Kobe 1 with the same look as the original but with updated inner components using Nike’s newest technologies.
The brand and baller got to work using the advancements and knowledge they’d gained since the sneaker’s 2005 debut to bring the model into the modern-day performance realm. They gutted the shoe, removing unnecessary foam and decreasing the overall weight by almost five ounces. The shoe’s cushioning is updated, too, from a combination of forefoot and heel Zoom Air to a full-length Zoom Air unit.
Nike put the updated shoe through the test on the feet of its athletes who favor Kobes on the court, including NBA All-Star starter DeMar DeRozan. According to Nike, DeRozan noticed the advancements “right away.”
“For [Kobe], it’s all about performance and whether today’s players will want to wear it on the court,” said Tony Grosso, senior product line manager at Nike Basketball. “He’s super-intentional and thoughtful about everything he does. He always has a plan, and for retros, the plan was always to stick to performance-based innovation.”
The Kobe 1 Protro will arrive in its original “Varsity Maize” style on Feb. 17 for a retail price of $175 from Nike SNKRS and select retailers. There’s more to come for the shoe, too, as Nike has already confirmed the release of a camouflage-covered collaboration with Los Angeles retailer Undefeated for NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 15.
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