J2: Goodbye, Kobe. Hello Kobe XI.

It's been 20 years since Kobe first stepped on the professional hardwood. And what a career it's definitely been. We all know his ups, his downs, his highs and his lows. His fans, his haters, and his teammates and the 20 seasons, 2 Olympics, 33643 career points and 6306 career assists. We know it all.

Credit: NBA.com

Love him or hate him, Kobe Bryant was undoubtedly one of the best basketball players in history and the NBA, media and even the sneaker community is not afraid to showcase his illustrious retirement and outstanding career. Kobe Bryant was welcomed in almost every city for his last away games. LA relished in his last physical presence in a Lakers uniform win or lose. People who normally don't talk about basketball mentioned Kobe's retirement as some breaking news that they needed to share with the world. The press, the NBA and his endorsement deals made that known as well.

Photo Courtesy: NBA

Kobe, being Kobe, rode high into the sunset and didn't go quietly, dropping 60 points against the Jazz and coming back to take the win 101-96, capping off his already impressive 20 season resume. What caught the sneaker community's eye was his last game worn pair of Kobes you'll ever see on his feet, the Black Mamba XI.

As part of Nike's farewell campaign dedicated to his retirement, a slew of different footwear Kobe has worn during his career are being released in special colorways called 'Fade To Black'. From the Huarache 2K4 to the Kobe 1 to the Hyperdunk and to the final note of the masterpiece, the Kobe XI. This particular model of the Kobe sports the shape known all too well in the Kobe series, which involves a clean, simple low-cut silhouette, made for the true 1 and 2 guard with attention made to every detail.

As opposed to an entirely TPU heal counter to cradle the ankles with a separate upper, Eric 'E' Avar uses a different approach, which features a combination of Flyknit and TPU 'threads' to create a strong, more stable fiber while maintaining simplicity in the design. This complex, yet sophisticated Flyknit construction works in conjuction with a one piece, translucent outsole, which houses the Zoom cushioning - A staple in the Kobe Bryant signature for a more 'low-to-the-ground' feeling and responsiveness. In the Black Mamba colorway, the details are just as important - The golden swoosh, gold tipped lacing and the final game date on the heal adds to the finishing touch. Perfection in almost every aspect in E's design goes hand-in-hand with Kobe's game.

The Kobe Bryant signature Basketball shoe continuously shapes the way Nike should do Basketball. And with this year's model, The Kobe XI does the job in a lightweight, responsive and low-cut, but stable design to perfectly pair with Kobe's explosive exit. Thank you, Eric. And Thank you, Kobe. Enjoy your last days watching from the game you helped shape, evolve and flourish into the next level.


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