Kobe Bryant: The Hatching of the Black Mamba

" src="https://sneakerflippers.com/media/black-mamba-kobe.png" alt="black mamba kobe" width="400" height="614" /> Image via Pinterest

Kobe Bryant has cemented himself as one of the all time greats in the game of basketball. The Philly native, named after the legendary Japanese beef, enjoyed 20 years in the NBA on the Los Angeles Lakers.

Throughout his career, he’s also dropped some of the most legendary shoes of all time with both Adidas and Nike, including the Nike x Kobe Protros. He carries on his father’s legacy, who was a first round pick just like him and played 8 seasons in the league.

Bryant was the first guard to be selected directly out of high school. At the time he was only 17. Imagine being a phenomenon but also having your parents being legally required to co sign your contract–this is simply incredible.

While Kobe wasn’t drafted by the Lakers, they were the only team he played for. We’ll discuss this later.

Adidas x Kobe Bryant

Bryant began his playing career with an endorsement deal with Adidas. The deal was reported to be worth 48 million and lasted 6 years.

kobe adidas 2001 playoff flight club
A classic 2001 adidas Kobe model, the “Playoff”, looking quite different from the Nike versions. Image from Flight Club.

The outlandish designs of his first five signature shoes with Adidas were not well received by Bryant. What ensued was Kobe making the jump to Nike after the 2002 season when the contract had ended with the brand with the three stripes.

Nike and Kobe Bryant

Upon his arrival to the Swoosh, Kobe wore the Air Zoom Huarache 2K4, and Air Zoom Huarache 2K5 in the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 seasons respectively. These silhouettes were not his originally but were adopted by Bryant. His signature sneakers would debut after.

The man who would later be known as the Black Mamba was an 18-time all star, 2-time finals MVP, 2-time scoring champion and racked up over 33,000 points in his playing career. He’s had both of his numbers (8 and 24) retired on the Los Angeles Lakers. The list of accolades goes on, only a kid would dream of a stardom that large in the world of basketball, not to mention sneakers.

The Protro Idea – What is it?

nike kobe protro design background
A behind the design look at Nike and Kobe’s Protro sneaker line

The Protro series has brought a resurgence to Kobe Bryant’s illustrious signature shoe line that dons the Nike swoosh. The vernacular is a combination of performance and retro.

In other words, this is the first time we have seen these models be rereleased while Nike has enhanced the performance to deliver the on-court competitiveness in the 2019 landscape.

Along with the newest Kobe 4 Protros, the only other silhouette we have only seen recently is the Kobe 1 Protro. Clearly Nike isn’t dropping these consecutively, but the sneaker community seems to be fine with this as those are two of the most revered shoes in the Kobe lineage.

re release kobe protro 1 2018 flight club
The 2018 re-release of the Kobe Protro 1 in classic Lakers colors. Picture from Flight Club.

This campaign to bring back both old and new color ways of the Kobe models has been applauded. The Kobe Bryant signature series has been a hit on and off the court for well over a decade now and has been splashed with some of the more unique and sought after color ways and concepts.


We welcome these post retirement re-releases and are looking forward to more: next year it has also been confirmed that there will be a comeback of the Kobe 5.

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The Kobe 4

The 2008-2009 NBA season was the debut for the Kobe 4 with Nike. As for Mr. Bryant, this season was a statistical behemoth.

nba g bryant2 sw 668
Image via ESPN

In the summer of 2008, just before the start of the season, he won a gold medal with the USA Olympic Team in Beijing. In his 13th season, Kobe started all 82 games of the regular season and then another 23 in the post season where his team reached the finals for the second consecutive year. He finished that season hoisting a championship trophy while also receiving the finals MVP award.

The legacy of him as a player certainly spread to his sneaker models, which quickly became some of Nike’s most popular models.

In regards to Kobe’s pro model sneaker, the fourth installment of his line has been debated as one of the best in his entire collection.

The Kobe 4 features Flywire infused in the lateral and medial sides, two tone laces, zoom air cushioning, and the Kobe Bryant signature on the heel cup. It’s worth noting that this was the first Kobe silhouette to be a low top.

What we’ve seen so far for the Protro 4 in 2019

As previously mentioned, 2019 has been the year of the Kobe 4 Protro, which is perhaps a celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the original Kobe 4.

2009 kobe protro 4 carpe diem price flight club
The 2009 Kobe 4 “Carpe Diem” on Flight Club for $405, well above its retail price.

Here is a rundown of the releases this year and their reception. 

Kobe Protro 4 Draft Day 2019

kobe protro draft day hornets picture official
Image via Nike

Release Date: Friday, February 15th 2019

Retail: $175

The first iteration of the Kobe 4 Protro pays homage to the team who drafted him, the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets drafted him and traded him to the Lakers in the offseason. It was the story that never happened for Charlotte.

The predominantly white upper, purple swooshes, and blue outsoles are a trip back to the 90’s and the vintage color combos that were admired. The heel features an embroidery date of his draft which was June 6th, 1996.

This particular shoe is still available on the Nike SNKRS app which is seldom for a hyped release. For my size (10) I could cop a pair for under retail on StockX, including shipping and fees.

Around the initial time of the release, there were sales over $230 which was in part of the buzz of it being the first Kobe 4 to drop in the Protro line.


Kobe Protro 4: “Del Sol”

kobe protro 4 2019 del sol release
Image from Sneakernews.com

Release Date: 5/24/19

Retail: $175

Another backstory to go alongside this color way of the Kobe 4 – this time, it’s a championship. Bryant wore this white, black and yellow sneaker during the 2009 playoffs as previously mentioned.

The Del Sol’s were also seen worn by him during the championship parade. The shoe features a quilted collar and a unique, detailed insignia on the tongue.

kobe protro 4 2019 del sol on feet
From Sole Collector

So far, the Del Sol model has had a similar arch as the Draft Days in terms of resale value. While starting off selling in the low $200’s, right now you can find them right about at retail.


The upcoming release calendar – What’s hot?

The 2019 Kobe Protro 4 Carpe Diem

nike zoom kobe 4 protro carpe diem av6339 001 pair
Image via Nike

Purple and gold, it’s only right to talk about the next upcoming release in these iconic colors.

Early pairs again have floated in the $200-$230 range so we shall see what happens in the world of resale in the shortcoming days.

Release Date: 6/1/19, 10 AM

Retail: $175

Where to Buy: Nike SNKRS App

Undefeated Collection

kobe 4 demar derozan undefeated on feet 2019
DeMar DeRozan this season with an early pair of the teal Kobe Protro 4 Undefeated. Image via Sneaker News
undefeated kobe 4 on foot suns 2019
PJ Tucker rocking the Undefeated Kobe Protro 4’s in bright orange in the Western Semi-finals. Image via Sneaker News

Release Date: TBD August, 2019

Retail: TBD

While the swoosh hasn’t officially announced a release, there are rumors of a collaboration on the Kobe 4 with Undefeated. The LA based premium apparel brand/sneaker boutique is no stranger to working with Nike. For example, the Kobe 1 Protro Pack that released in the summer of 2018 piqued the interest of many.

We’ve seen PJ Tucker and DeMar DeRozan each rock what are rumored to be a part of the pack set to drop at the end of the summer.

If the drop is to happen as seen on foot above from April 2019, the Undefeated x Kobe Protro 4 will come out in a teal and yellow colorway and a bright orange and purple colorway reminiscent of the Phoenix Suns.

Stay tuned for more details.

The Kobe Protro 4 PJ Tucker PE

pj tucker pe kobe protro 4
Image from Hot New Hip Hop

Finally, for the coolest model that sadly won’t be dropping to the public is a one-off camo version of the Kobe Protro 4 .

We saw these exclusives in May of 2019…hopefully in the future Nike changes their mind and drops them to the public.

They were made exclusively for Rockets player PJ Tucker, who seems to be the top hookup in the world this year for hot Kobe’s. 

Most of us don’t have these kind of connects though, so learning is our only way to get into this crazy industry.

Thanks for reading and good luck copping!



Take your reselling game to the next level



erik anson

Erik has been a devotee to sneakers and footwear in general ever since he can remember. His Mount Rushmore of sneakers in his collection would be the Grey New Balance 990v4's, Nike x Atmos Animal Air Max 95 (06), Jordan 3 White cement, and Pure Platinum Air Yeezy 2.


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