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When Kobe Bryant started rocking low top sneakers, basketball players across the world followed suit (no offense, Gilbert Arenas). Yesterday (December 4) in Los Angeles, Nike and the Mamba unveiled the KOBE 9 Elite basketball shoe, and it’s a high top. 

The KOBE 9 Elite utilizes Nike Flyknit, Flywire, Lunarlon and Nike’s “Nature Amplified” design ethos, which focuses on factoring in the body in motion along with scientific data and input from athletes.

“We are just scratching the surface of the potential of Nike Flyknit to transform the way we design shoes to meet athletes’ needs,” said Mark Parker, President & CEO of NIKE, Inc, at the The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). “The Kobe 9 redefines the basketball shoe by combining power, strength, and flexibility with lightweight materials and a whole new method of manufacturing.”

The combo of Nike Flyknit, Flywire and Lunarlon, as a well as a carbon fiber heel counter, keeps the shoe very lightweight yet strong. It is Bryant’s first hi-top signature shoe since 2007 (the Nike Zoom Kobe IV dropped in 2008), but it includes a  knit collar so it still feels like a low with mid-top support. Another added personal touch is the outsole, which is based on a pressure mapping of Bryant’s foot.

“I draw inspiration from where I am as a player, as a person, and where my career is at this moment.  I’m trying to do something that the majority of people think is impossible to do,” said Bryant. “I let my emotions out when I step on the basketball floor, it’s always been my escape, and these shoes will touch a nerve on the court in the same way I do.”

The KOBE 9 Elite will be in stores globally on February 8, 2014. Check out photos of Kobe Bryant, who just caught a new 2-year contract with the Lakers, and KOBE 9 Elite in the debut “Masterpiece” colorway, in the following pages.

Photos: Nike

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