We’re still a week and change away from celebrating Kobe Day, but thanks to Nike, the legacy of one Kobe Bean Bryant is continuously finding new ways to live on. The University of Kentucky has been chosen to be the first school to implement the inaugural Mamba Program.
According to Hypebeast, Vanessa Bryant handpicked coach John Calipari’s program to initiate the Mamba Program. The program will have its players sporting Mamba-branded attire including apparel and sneakers such as the Kobe 11s, which will feature the UK branding on the insoles along with the Mamba logo on the tongue for the 2023/24 season.
Y’all know those Kentucky Wildcat players are going to be balling extra hard this season in those… if they don’t resell them anyway.
Prior to the official partnership, the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a charitable foundation conceived in memory of Kobe and his daughter Gianna “GiGi” Bryant, presented the team with Mambacita Kobe 4s during Kentucky’s venture to Toronto’s GLOBL JAM. Coach Calipari also became the recipient of a personal gesture from the Bryant family, receiving a pair of Mambacitas, a Gigi Bryant jersey and Kobe’s book, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play.
Kentucky’s deep connection with the Bryant legacy was further exemplified when the state hosted the Mamba Skills Academy last year, an initiative offering free basketball training to underprivileged children. Kobe’s eldest daughter, Natalia Bryant, along with the foundation, was part of the program.
Touching on the inaugural Mamba Program, Kat Conlon, the executive director of the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, shared “This is the first partnership with any university,” adding “Coach Calipari and Kobe Bryant had a very special relationship, so anything we can do with the foundation that continues to tell the stories of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, we are all game for it with the foundation.”
Y’all know those exclusive UK Kobe kicks are going to be going for a stack on the secondary market. Just sayin’.
Check out this throwback video of Calipari getting some exclusive Kobe kicks below, and let us know your thoughts on Nike’s latest venture in the comments section below.