December 28th, 2012 by Sneaker News
It’s hard to argue that Kobe Bryant isn’t the best basketball player we’ve seen since Michael Jordan. 30,000-plus regular season points, five NBA Championships, two Olympic Gold Medals and the fifth longest-running signature sneaker series in history puts the Black Mamba in a class only His Airness could top. His seventh Nike Basketball signature built upon the innovation of recent years, sticking with a low-cut design with plenty of animal details, but changing the game entirely with a modular fit system that allow you to ‘Attack Fast’ or ‘Attack Strong’. The Nike Zoom Kobe VII System offered a fresh approach to cushioning and ankle support personalization and its hilarious ‘Kobe System’ motivational seminar ad campaign had a cornucopia of celebrities singing his praises a la Bill Brasky or Chuck Norris. This talented mélange of athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs put a playful spin on the serious business of building a shoe worthy of the accomplished superstar, a mood echoed by the year’s most expressive colorway, perhaps across the entire basketball market.
After getting Kobe System co-signs from the likes of Kanye West and Richard Branson among others, the shoe saw one release after another, utilizing all sorts of creative color schemes and inspirations to bring the shoe to life. July’s “What the Kobe” VII wound up serving as a highlight reel of sorts, combining many of the key themes from one of the year’s most prolific silhouettes into one design in a style borrowed from Nike SB’s legendary Frankenstein-style Dunk Low.
Just like that 2007 Dunk standout, the ‘What the Kobe’ applied a different call-out to each available element, referencing Predator Pack animal spirits including the wolf, cheetah, shark, poison dart frog, and of course, snake. So while the WTK couldn’t fit in every single memorable style (perhaps most notably, the superb ‘Galaxy’ All-Star edition), it arguably one-upped the ‘What the Dunk’ in terms of casual appeal by opting for neutral base tones and a coordinated set of contrasting hues instead of copying verbatim from the original releases.
This mix and match style could now become an institution in the coming years, given that the “What the…” concept was also applied to impressive, yet unreleased, “What the LeBron” 9 and “What the KD” V editions. We’ll always remember the Kobe VII for introducing the concept to the basketball market and for proving that with the same kind of color flexibility employed in the reference-heavy makeup, you can add the kind of cohesion and compatibility that makes a meta-theme as aesthetically pleasing and wearable as it is collectable. On the whole, the Kobe VII might not have carried the buzz of some previous Black Mamba models, but there were more than enough bright spots to keep the shoe firmly planted in our memories as another well-worthy addition to the Kobe line and the storied Nike Basketball legacy.
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