Kobe Bryant was an amazing basketball player. Everyone knows this, but to properly explain what makes “Kobe shoes” so special, it’s important to remember how amazing he really was.
Kobe was drafted at the age of 17 in 1997, he played in his first All-Star game in 1998 and went on to play in 18 more and win 4 All-Star Game MVPs, he was a dunk contest champ, a 2-time scoring champ, he was selected to 15 All NBA teams, and to 12 All-Defensive teams, he was the 2008 NBA MVP, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, and a 5 time NBA champion. Simply put, he was one of the best to ever do it, but on top of that, he was the Black Mamba.
The Black Mamba was one of the coolest, smoothest, most relentless, and fierce players the NBA has ever seen. Much like MJ, Kobe had a unique and intimidating presence on the court. And it is this combination of on-court achievements and raw charisma that made Kobe a unique figure in NBA history, and his signature shoes so special to sneakerheads.
Kobe’s signature shoes both with adidas and with Nike are iconic, and, in the case of his Nike shoes, they are also some of the best performance models ever released. It is hard to choose the best-performing pair of Kobe shoes, so we decided to make a list (in no particular order) with our top picks in honor of Mamba Day and the launch of the all-new Kobe Brand. Check it out.
Last updated 08.25.2023
Best Kobe Shoes Overall
Nike Kobe 8
The Kobe 8 is one of the greatest guard shoes of all time. Traction – awesome. Cushion – amazing. Materials – innovative beyond belief. Fit – pretty much perfect. Ventilation – the best it’s ever been on a Kobe signature. Support – plenty.
What else is there to say? If you are a Guard then this is a shoe that you will appreciate. If there’s anything bad to be said about the Kobe 8 it is the upper durability issues on the medial side and the tendency for the Lunarlon midsole to lose compression over time. But, the Kobe is as durable as any other textile-upper hoop shoe, and in the new versions of the shoe, we will have a React drop-in midsole instead of Lunarlon.
Read the full review. Price: $180
Nike Kobe 4
The Kobe 4 stands out among the Kobe signature line because of the great mix of materials which makes it one of the more durable models in the lineup.
The Kobe 4 offers excellent traction, a great low-profile cushioning setup (which should have received an upgrade when they were protro’d back in 2019), and a very well contained 1 to 1 fit. They are one of the earlier Nike Kobe models so they don’t feel as modern as other Kobe models, but they are bad boys nonetheless. Read the full (protro) review.
Nike Kobe 6
The Nike Kobe 6 is everyone’s favorite Kobe for good reason. In terms of performance, the Kobe 6 is tied with the Kobe 1 for the title of “best on-court Kobe”. But is also a super lightweight shoe which puts it over the top for many hoopers out there.
The Kobe 6 has elite traction, amazing low-profile cushioning, a near-perfect fit, and excellent lockdown, BUT, they all need to be broken in. The Kobe 6 might feel slightly disappointing when you first use them on the court, but once they’ve had some time to mold to your foot and “warm up”, they become one of the all-time great performance basketball shoes. Read full review.
Nike Kobe 5
The Nike Kobe 5 is the best-fitting Kobe model ever, which is somewhat surprising since the upper is built with old-school Nike fuse. It’s a thinner version however which helps to keep the Kobe 5 lightweight and free-flowing. In terms of cushion, we have heel and forefoot Zoom Air which offer a nice mix of reactiveness and impact protection.
The shoe is also equipped with a carbon fiber shank, a wide forefoot outrigger, and aggressive traction. Simply put, this is an amazing hoop shoe and one of the best models Nike has ever produced (for Kobe or not). Read the full (protro) performance review.
Nike Kobe 1
The Nike Kobe 1 is one of the best basketball shoes Nike has ever produced in terms of on-court performance. Traction is elite. The Kobe 1 features a thick solid rubber outsole with a full-length herringbone traction pattern which grips the court like no one’s business, and it will actually hold up well outdoors. In terms of cushion the original Kobe 1 featured heel and forefoot Zoom units housed in a phylon midsole.
The Protro version came with a thinner Phylon midsole and a full-length Zoom Air unit, similar to the one in the Air Jordan 12. Both setups are fantastic, but the Protro version is particularly spectacular. And lastly, we have the upper which is built with old-school materials and is super durable. If you like ultra-modern hoop shoes, this will probably be a drawback, but if you like how shoes used to be, you will love these. The Kobe 1 is just one of those shoes that just gets better the more you use it. Read the full (protro) review.