August 20, 2013 BY Aaron Kr. / 7
Before jumping ship over to Team Swoosh in 2003, Kobe Bryant spent the first six years of his pro career repping the Three Stripes. Kobe made headlines back in May of 1996, signing with adidas straight out of high school before even declaring for the NBA Draft, marking the first time a major brand had ever taken such a large gamble on such a young player. His time there yielded several memorable models and moments, some of which occurring before he even had his own signature shoe.
At the time of his signing, adidas was just starting to right the ship after losing some ground in the basketball market, but they had been lacking a superstar face to provide that extra endorser push that has proved so vital to selling basketball sneakers over the last few decades. Although still just a teenager, Kobe Bryant instantly supplied just that with his fearless game and attitude, and a personality that appeared to be well-suited to restoring glory to adidas B-ball and bringing some sorely missed “showtime” back to the L.A. Lakers.
Kobe joined adidas right around the launch of the brand’s “Feet You Wear” campaign and soon became the face of the EQT Elevation. While he wore the shoe for much of his rookie season, its biggest splash was made as Kobe laced up a headturning
purple pair for the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest. While it may not have been one of the most exhilarating dunk competitions in history, it did have its moments and Kobe and his Lakers shooting shirt managed to edge out the competition with some high flying acrobatics and a brash confidence that amped up the arena and got the fans behind him.
Although it was over 15 years ago, many of the images from that night in Cleveland are still fresh in our minds, and adidas will stir up that nostalgia further with a re-release of the shoe that was on Kobe’s feet during the performance. Now renamed the Crazy 97, the model formerly known as the EQT Elevation will rise again in the purple Lakers colorway that it has become best remembered for.
A lot has changed since then with Kobe now over at Nike and appearances by superstars in NBA Dunk Contests becoming very few and far between, cementing this release further as a poignant reminder of a day and age that has passed us by but will never be forgotten. You can check out the ’97 Slam Dunk highlights and the original commercial for the shoe below, and continue on for a gallery of images and info on how to get a pair for yourself.