In the aftermath of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter crash earlier this year, one of the most unseemly stories to come out was how resellers quickly snatched up nearly all available merch from the late Lakers star — from jerseys, to sneakers and more — and flooded the retail market with them at dramatically hiked prices. It was gross and unfortunate, and also prevented most real fans from being able to afford gear to honor Bryant.
Nike quickly took Bryant’s merch off the market, and hasn’t released any new stuff since his unfortunate passing... until now. Nike officially announced on Thursday that in order to celebrate what it’s dubbing “Mamba Week” — which encompasses Bryant’s August 23rd birthday, as well as “Mamba Day,” August 24 (8/24) — it will release new colorways of Bryant’s “Kobe Protro” signature line, as well as new Lakers jerseys.
The Kobe V Protro “Big Stage” colorway at the top of this article will release on 8/23 in North America, and here are a few of the others (per Nike’s press release, which also has a few more details on the origins of the shoes):
According to Nick DePaula of ESPN, the week will also see NBA players debut Bryant’s new shoe colorways during the playoffs, and based on the Nike release, at least a few WNBA players doing the same seems likely:
“Every game, I write on my shoes, ‘Be Legendary,’ which is what Kobe signed on my shoes back in 2016,” says Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker. “He’s had an impact on my life that no one’s ever had, and probably no one ever will have again. He taught me to ask myself, ‘What am I doing here if I’m not trying to be the best at it?’ That not just a basketball quote. That’s a life quote for me.”
Booker is far from alone in his admiration for Bryant. From Sabrina Ionescu, guard for the New York Liberty: “The beauty of basketball, for me, is that it’s a sport you can never perfect. What made Kobe great was that he wasn’t scared to try new things, because that risk of failure is where you grow. Kobe tried to perfect everything about his game, from the way he played to the way he approached the game.”
Nike also seems to not want to be seen as profiting off of Bryant’s legacy, and will be donating $1 million to his signature charity, the Mamba and Mambacita Sports foundation.
According to DePaula, it won’t be their only charitable donation:
In addition to the $1 million donation to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, Nike will also help to continue funding and operating the Mamba League, a grassroots youth league launched in 2017 by Bryant in tandem with The Boys & Girls Clubs of Los Angeles.
Initially started as a 40-team coed basketball division that spanned eight spring weeks between the traditional school team and summer AAU basketball windows, the Mamba League also pushed for an even tally of boys and girls participating, while also looking to provide female coaches with a chance to become more involved.
“The Mamba League is a fun league for kids to learn the game and have fun,” Bryant said at the time. “But also, to understand the connection that the game has with life in general, and convert that into being a better son, a better daughter and a better student.”
Competition to get these shoes will likely be fierce, so set your alarms on the days those shoes drop, and be ready to refresh the SNKRS app. May the lottery be ever in your favor.