NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who is famously known for wearing low-cut basketball shoes, said his new-look signature kicks were inspired by Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.
In a video released by the Bleacher Report website, the Los Angeles Laker All-star guard introduced the new Nike Kobe 9 Elite that sports a high top look which is a far cry from his past shoes.
The Lakers superstar, who watched Pacquiao train at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles ahead of the Filipino ring icon's third fight with Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez in 2011, later explained the design concept of the shoes.
They Said It!
“I was with Pacquiao watching him train preparing for a fight and I’m looking down, looking at his boxing boot and I’m saying, ‘Man, hmm... I wonder if there’s something there?’ The timing kinda matched up." - NBA All-star and Nike endorser Kobe Bryant
“I was with Pacquiao watching him train preparing for a fight and I’m looking down, looking at his boxing boot and I’m saying, ‘Man, hmm... I wonder if there’s something there?’ The timing kinda matched up," Bryant said in the interview.
Bryant has long been credited for popularizing low-cut basketball shoes, a fact that he attributes to his love for soccer.
“The idea first going into a low-cut shoe, obviously football had a great influence in my life, looking at how they move and so forth and same thing happened here”, he said.
Eric Avar, Nike’s VP of Design, quickly discredited the notion the higher profile of the shoes was meant to protect Kobe’s Achilles heel which he injured in the last NBA season.
“No. We started this project almost two-and-a-half years ago. There was a notion of going to a high top but more of a dynamic high top. It was something we were working on,” Avar explained.
In the video, Kobe said he was most impressed by the new shoes’ responsiveness.
“It’s very responsive, especially for a high top. It’s higher than normal but there’s no responsiveness to the high top in general. So your ankle when changing direction the ankle’s normally hitting the product and then there’s no ‘give’ there. But this there is and you kinda have that tactile stimulation on your ankle but you also have a kinda shoe that ‘gives’ and changes directions and moves with you which is the genius behind the Flyknit.”
The Flyknit is a new sock-like material designed to have a “second-skin fit” that Nike is applying to its footwear along with Lunarlon and Flywire.
The Nike Kobe 9 Elite will retail for US$225 and will hit stores starting February 8, 2014.
Check out the video here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1876622-story-of-new-nike-kobe-9-inspired-by-manny-pacquiao)