More than two years after Kobe Bryant’s passing, his legacy, on and off the court, continues to resonate. And while news circulated around the internet of a rumoured final Kobe sneaker by way of a Kobe 6 Protro “Mamba Forever” last year, we never saw the shoe as business deals between the Bryant Estate and Nike boiled down behind the scenes. With the thought that they’d never release again, sneakerheads saw the sign and began hoarding Kobe’s best shoes. Prices soon reflected their scarcity and they slowly became unobtainable.
Update 05/05/2022: News surrounding the release of the Nike Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita Sweet 16” has been confirmed by the brand. The sneaker will release through exclusive access via the SNKRS app on Sunday, May 1 in select regions. with the decision made to;
“Prioritize members who have put the Mamba Mentality to work on the court and fans who have followed Kobe and Gigi’s journey from the beginning,” per the brand.
Outside of that highly exclusive release, those who are lucky enough to live in the Greater Los Angeles area will have a second chance with a SNKRS Pass reservation drop. The sneaker is currently available via sneaker resale sites such as StockX and GOAT with prices sitting between $793-$8,419 AUD.
The Bryant Family and Nike Reach a Deal
Over the last few weeks, talks between the Bryant Estate and Nike were said to have resumed, and on March 26, 2022, Nike released news that it had come to terms on an agreement and announced the Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita Sweet 16” with 100 per cent of net proceeds going to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.
“Kobe Bryant means so much to so many of us, not just NBA fans but globally beyond the game,” says John Donahoe, President & CEO, NIKE, Inc. “His impact in growing the sport, particularly encouraging women and young people to pick it up, endures as one of his deepest, lasting legacies. Together with Vanessa, we hope to honour Kobe and Gigi by championing a new generation for many years to come.”
“I am happy to announce that we will continue my husband’s legacy with Nike and look forward to expanding his and Gigi’s global impact by sharing the Mamba Mentality with youth athletes for generations to come,” said Vanessa Bryant in a statement.
The details of the agreement remain scarce, however, Vanessa and Nike will work together to establish a youth basketball centre in Southern California and Nike and the Bryant family will continue to outfit the NBA and WNBA athletes who carry the legacy of the Mamba Mentality.
The First Sneaker in the Deal
Alongside his hall-of-fame career, Kobes sneaker legacy remains inked as the best performance basketball sneaker line of all time. The Kobe 6 is up there as one of the most significant in the series, falling only behind the Kobe 5 which the Black Mamba wore on the big stage throughout the 2009-2010 finals where the Lakers won the title for a second straight season – Kobe won the Finals MVP for the second year in a row. The sneaker is also a favourite amongst NBA players such as DeMar DeRozan, Devin Booker, and Shai Gilgeous Alexander (before he signed his Converse deal).
Nike Zoom Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita Sweet 16” Release Information
Release Date: 2022
Color: Mamba Academy Black/ white
Style Code: N/A
Men’s: $180 (based on previous releases)
Wrapped in a snakeskin pattern, the Kobe 6 was unbelievably light, low, and responsive. Nike debuted many of its subsequent technologies in the shoes before trickling it down to other models. As a sneaker, it was loved by the Mamba, and now it’s taking its turn to honour Gigi Bryant in the form of a special edition colourway dubbed the “Mambacita Sweet 16”.
In the shoe, Nike plays tribute for both father and daughter, swapping out the classic Lakers purple and gold colourway for a black/white/gold colour that reflects the themes of Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy. A post-retirement foundation that Kobe dedicated to teaching and encouraging youth through the game of basketball. If you were lucky enough to watch any of his tutorial videos before his passing you know just how awesome this foundation was going to be, and this partnership will help carry the legacy.
The sneaker places Gigi Bryant’s #2 jersey in gold at the heel, alongside Kobe’s name on the left and Gigi’s on the right. Finally, the Mamba Sports Academy logo finished the heel, and the famous snakeskin pattern extends into the inner lining in true Kobe fashion.
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