Each year, during the month of August, Nike celebrates basketball legend Kobe Bryant in the form of Mamba Day. It happens on the day that combines both of Bryant’s jersey numbers: August 24 (a.k.a. 8/24). This is the first Mamba Day since Bryant’s tragic death in January, and the Swoosh is commemorating his life and legacy by extending the celebration to an entire week. Starting on Sunday, August 23 (which would have been the icon’s 42nd birthday), Nike will start rolling out a special footwear collection featuring memorable colorways of the Kobe V Protro, along with a limited-edition jersey co-designed by Mamba himself.
First up is the “Big Stage” sneaker, a slick black-white-and-gold edition with tattoo-inspired detailing that calls out some of Bryant’s highlights from the 2009-2010 season, when he secured his fifth championship ring. Then comes the “5X Champ”, which imagines what the gaudy championship-themed jackets given to Kobe after his second and third titles would look like in sneaker form. The shoe features purple patent leather and is finished with black and gold accents.
There is also a collaboration with Los Angeles-based streetwear label Undefeated: a duo of sneakers featuring shiny gold accents and bold logos. And rounding out the footwear collection, there is a sneaker inspired by the mythological character Medusa. (While Bryant couldn’t turn anyone to stone with a look, he could certainly stare daggers with the best of them.)
The last item in the Mamba Week collection is a black Lakers jersey inspired by the team’s relatively recent black alternate jersey. The jersey was co-designed by Bryant and it features a snakeskin print on the outside with black interior and 16 stars (one for each of the franchise championships) on the side panels. It’s also been reported that the Lakers are planning on wearing the Black Mamba jersey in honor of Bryant throughout the playoffs if they make it past the first round.
Even before Kobe’s death, diehard hoops fans and sneakers would come out in numbers to support their beloved star. It was a testament to his legacy and the huge impact he had on the game of basketball as well as the world of athletic sneaker design. The fact that Nike is pulling out all the stops to honor Bryant again this year is just proof that the Mamba mentality will live forever—beautifully designed sneakers and all.