Kobe9Top10 - Cover

Welcome to Mamba Week, where we originally planned to celebrate all things (well, most things) Black Mamba leading up to the reveal of the Nike Kobe X this weekend. But with Kobe Bryant’s future in the NBA uncertain (he’ll be back but whether it’s this season or the next is the big question) as of this post going live, it kind of puts a little damper on things. But does that mean we’re going to scrap our plans and return to our normally scheduled Jordan Week, which is basically every week in the calendar year? Nope, much like Mamba himself, we’re going 6-24 in NBA Finals and still winning it all because why not?

Before we move on to the Nike Kobe X, let’s take a look back at the Nike Kobe 9, a very controversial shoe that went against the grain of what we’ve come to know from Mamba’s kicks. After several years of convincing the world that it was ok to play in low-cut basketball shoes, Kobe and designer Eric Avar went with a different direction with the Nike Kobe 9 Elite. From the high-cut design to the use of Flyknit and the decision to release the “Elite” model first, nothing was the same with Kobe’s signature line. Prior to hitting store shelves, there was plenty of doubt as to whether or not the Kobe 9 Elite could work on the basketball court and in the court of social media. Those fears turned out to be mostly unfounded as players like DeMar DeRozan, Nick Young and J.R. Smith proved that you could rock these “boots” on the court while kids found creative ways (read: joggers) to wear them on the street without looking totally looking a fool.

It’s hard to say where the Nike Kobe 9 will ultimately lie in the pantheon of Mamba’s kicks. While Flyknit was revolutionary on a basketball shoe to be sure, it felt nothing like Flyknit. The shoes themselves were great for performance, but while an NBA player can make just about anything look good, that guy or girl wearing them at the local gym might get some odd looks. What we can at least decide on today is which Kobe 9s were the best from a plethora of high-profile releases. So here’s our look back with the Top 10 Nike Kobe 9 Colorways.