Nike and Kobe Bryant today announced the debut of the Nike Zoom Kobe VI, a performance basketball shoe inspired by Bryant’s on-court alter ego, the Black Mamba. The design draws cues from the fearsome snake and incorporates key performance elements in a low-profile shoe that weighs just 10.6 ounces in a men’s US size 9.
“The Kobe VI is a very character driven shoe with the alter ego of the Black Mamba prominently featured,” said Bryant. “We continue to evolve the technology to make it a performance based shoe, but aesthetically you haven’t seen a shoe pop like this before. It brings to life what drives me.”
Nike Performance Footwear Creative Director Eric Avar led a team of creatives who worked with Bryant to bring the Black Mamba to life in the Nike Zoom Kobe VI. The shoe’s upper features unique polyurethane “islands” that emulate a snake’s skin and increase or decrease in size throughout the shoe to protect against abrasion and increase durability exactly where needed. To add a lighthearted spin and play off the reptile’s deadly venom, “Venomenon” is inscribed on the front outsole.
“The Black Mamba to Kobe means being one of the deadliest predators on the planet,” Avar said. “That’s his approach to every game – he’s very calculating and he’s very quick.”
A customized fit
Bryant challenged designers to build a shoe with amazing fit. Nike responded with an innovative dual-layer memory foam sockliner that conforms to the foot for a one-of-a-kind custom fit. A Phylon injected midsole adds cushioning for a more anatomically correct fit, and Nike Zoom units in the heel and forefoot provide additional comfort on court.
To emphasize Bryant’s lethal on-court play, Nike’s team of designers built off the success of the Nike Zoom Kobe V shoe’s lightweight, low-cut profile. This year’s shoe features reduced midsole thickness to keep the foot closer to the ground for improved stability and better court feel. The shoe fulfills Bryant’s desire for a true low-top, similar to that of a running shoe or soccer boot, with a low collar design.
The basketball shoe also employs Nike’s innovative Flywire technology in a new, three-layer construction. Inside the shoe a layer of mesh lines the foot, followed by a layer of Flywire and topped off by another layer of breathable mesh with polyurethane islands for abrasion resistance. This unique construction is lighter, more breathable and more conformable to the foot than previous Flywire designs in the Kobe series.
To ensure excellent traction, the Nike Zoom Kobe VI has a solid rubber outsole with a Black Mamba inspired modified herringbone pattern. Certain China editions of the shoe include XDR, or Extra Durable Rubber, for sustained durability against the rough surfaces of outdoor basketball courts.