kobe-11

Full confession, I bought into Kobe Bryant’s Nike signature line right around the Kobe IV. I bought them in Austin right around SXSW and for the past few years, they’ve been the most substantial basketball shoes I’ve owned. I could have also admitted they’re in Duke basketball colors but that’s beside the point. Kobe’s signature line with Nike, at least from the Black Mamba being on the court is coming to an end. With that, Nike unveiled the Kobe XI, the eleventh Kobe Bryant sneaker and arguably the finest one they’ve come up with yet.

Bryant and designer Eric Avar set out with one goal in mind for Kobe’s final on-court shoe: “to perfect Flyknit for basketball.” Avar stated in more detail upon the official unveiling that performance came first when designing the Kobe XI. “I think the legacy for the Kobe shoe would hopefully be first and foremost about true performance … lightweight, responsive, and kind of the essence of simplicity,” Avar said. The shoe features a similar low silhouette to that of the Kobe X but there’s more than meets the eye with the Kobe XI.

The shoe is arguably the most advanced Flyknit infused sneaker in the Nike family with an upper, full-length Lunarlon foam, a Zoom Air unit in the heel and a mesh tongue for breathability. The inner workings and details about the shoe are even more intriguing with the ‘Achilles Heel’ black and red colorway as a tribute to Kobe’s 2013 Achilles injury. In the words of Nike, the shoe “features a graphic representation of the hero on the right heel, while the left features four-stitch marks representing the four feet of thread used in Bryant’s 2013 Achilles surgery.”

Visit Nike.com for more details and hi-res photos. Kobe’s final -on-court sneaker, the Kobe XI hits retailers on January 9th.