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Why is Nike so determined to handle Kobe Bryant shoe drops in the worst ways possible?

Nike has played a central role in ruining shoe culture. The Mambacita release was just the latest example of them show no interest in fixing the problem.

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Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Missing out on popular shoes has never been some new phenomenon. When the latest Jordans, Kobes, Iversons, or whatever dropped, it was kind of known that you had to act quickly or else feel left out as all your friends got to wear them. Yes, it was frustrating, but the process felt at least somewhat fair.

At some point, however, that shifted to whatever the hell is going on now, where so many consumers are growing apathetic as any new release is hyped up for its exclusivity over whether or not the shoe is even nice. To discuss that transition and what feels like a genuinely broken system, I welcome Michael Sykes of ForTheWin and his own “The Kicks You Wear” Substack on this week’s episode of “The Anthony Irwin Show.”

Over the weekend, Nike kicked off the next era of their relationship with the Bryant estate with their release of the “Mambacita Sweet 16” to honor Gianna Bryant on what would have been her 16th birthday. Cool enough if this is literally all you’ve read about the situation.

As has become their MO, however, Nike released far too few shoes, played favorites with who had a chance at buying said shoes, and the only people who walked away any kind of pleased were the secondary sellers who profited off the death of a father and his teenage daughter. Solid work all around, Nike.

This practice has become so commonplace that in many ways, shoe culture as we once knew it has died off, and countless would-be consumers have grown apathetic enough to not even try for this latest release.

The power dynamic seems out of whack as, rather than the market dictating what is cool, retailers pump money into hype systems that force people to buy shoes they might not even like or, hilariously, sometimes can’t even wear because the only sizes available have no shot at fitting.

Mike — who wrote about how badly this latest drop went on his Substack — and I discussed this debacle, as well as whether shoe culture can be fixed, plus how he watched Russell Westbrook and the Lakers from afar this season and plenty else.

You can listen to all that and more on our latest episode in the player embedded below, and to make sure you don’t miss a single one moving forward, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.