If you ask me it’s still a bit hard to grasp that come next season there’ll be no Kobe Bryant on the NBA court. No Kobe in a Lakers jersey. The Black Mamba’s 60-point game versus the Utah Jazz was the fitting last hurrah to a truly amazing career. With the release of the Kobe XI “Draft Day” Nike reminds us that it could have all turned out very differently.
The year is 1996. The date is June 26. Draft night. Not just any draft night. It’s the night that some of the best players to ever set foot on the NBA hardwood were drafted. The draft class of 1996 is arguably one of the best in history. 10 players went on to become NBA All Stars, including Ray Allen, Jermaine O’Neal, Stephon Marbury and Antoine Walker. And 3 of them even became league MVP: Steve Nash, Allen Iverson and, of course, Kobe Bryant. With such a talented and deep draft class it’s maybe understandable that Kobe didn’t get picked super early. But no. 13? Come on! No disrespect, but I’m sure Lorenzen Wright, Kerry Kittles, Samaki Walker or Todd Fuller agree that they weren’t really better than the young Mamba. That’s of course with today’s knowledge. Back then, Kobe was just a 17-year old high school kid who no-one really had on the top of the list. Except maybe for the Lakers and Jerry West. So they made a deal with the Charlotte Hornets to acquire their draft selection and – 5 minutes before the actual pick – told them to pick Kobe. The Lakers traded their starting center Vlade Divac to the Hornets in return – the best draft day trade in history. So Kobe never really played for the Hornets but instead played all his 20 seasons in purple & gold.
The new Nike Kobe 11 “Draft Day” features a white Engineered Mesh upper with translucent fuse overlays for stability. Turquoise (“Blue Lagoon”) and purple (“Court Purple”) hits on the laces, lining and logo details are inspired by the Hornets colorway that Kobe might have worn if things had gone differently. On the heel of the right shoe you can find the date of that infamous draft night: 6.26.96. On the heel of the left shoe, on the other hand, there are the 4 red lines we’re used to from the Kobe XI, representing the surgery Kobe had to undergo when he injured his achilles heel.
Nike Kobe XI “Draft Day”
White/Blue Lagoon/Court Purple
April 28, 9 AM CET
Buy the Nike Kobe 11 Draft Day at KICKZ.COM
Also available in our stores Stachus/Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin Basketball and Stuttgart II.