MUST-HAVE: Kobe Bryant's new basketball shoes inspired by boxing champ Manny Pacquiao

IMAGE Jerome Ascano/Nike.com

Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant (right) wanted a basketball shoe that protects the ankles and allows for versatile movement, just like Manny Pacquiao (left) is able to maneuver around in his boxing boot.

(Inset) The Kobe 9 Elite from Nike, which will be released worldwide this February.


Mark your calendars, sneaker heads, because February 8, 2014 is the day that you've been waiting for.

On that day, the much-anticipated Kobe 9 Elite from popular sports brand Nike will hit stores globally.

There has been much speculation about the performance of the Kobe 9 Elite, which is the latest from the collection of NBA superstar and Nike brand ambassador Kobe Bryant, given that it is the first basketball shoe that has an unconventional design.

Back in December, the Internet was studded with images of Bryant holding a prototype of the new shoe, which actually looks a lot like a high-cut boxing boot.

Bryant was interviewed by various international and local media outlets about the shoe, and the multi-awarded athlete revealed that the design, which he had a hand in creating, was actually inspired by the Philippines' very own Manny Pacquiao.

Kobe has always been vocal about his admiration for the boxing champion, and now he pays homage to one of the world's most important athletes.

“Manny was getting ready for the Marquez fight two years ago, and I stopped by his training camp.

"I watched him spar and train, watched him moving, looked at his footwork, trying to learn from him, how he uses his footwork.

"I asked myself, ‘I wonder if I could move like Manny in a basketball shoe that looks like his boxing boot?'

"The basketball shoe had to be really light, like Manny’s boxing boot.

"I wanted high-tops to be responsive to the movement of the ankles,’” Bryant told Joaquin Henson of The Philippine Star.

"High-tops gives you protection around the ankle, but it’s not moving with you. It’s more of a barrier," he even said in an interview with international media outfit CNBC.

SPECIAL FEATURES. Aside from its unique design, the Kobe 9 Elite also features leading technologies in shoe engineering—such as the Flyknit, Flywire, and Lunarlon—which gives the shoe the title of a “performance thoroughbred.”

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In particular, Nike’s Flyknit technology was engineered specifically for the Kobe 9 Elite.

In a Q&A with website sneakernews.com, Nike's creative director and vice president for innovation Eric Avar, explains this: “Primarily, the type of fibers used were different.

"We used some non-stretch fibers on the forefoot and the lateral, and more traditional fibers at the mid-foot, and made use of more dynamic fibers up to the ankle collar for that dynamic fit.

"So, it really was a combination of the type of fibers and type of stitches—tight stitches at the forefoot, moderate stitches at the mid-foot, and simple dynamic stitches at the collar.”

Avar also denied that the high-tops were the product of Kobe’s recent ankle injury, as the Kobe 9 Elite has been in development for the past two and a half years.


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