Though the great Kobe Bryant may have been gunned down yet again by another injury this year, Kobe fans do have something to cheer for: the Nike Kobe X.
Yes, we have reached a monumental point in Kobe's signature Nike line, with the tenth shoe being revealed on the official Nike site last January 31, 2015.
To cut to the chase, the Nike Kobe X is as fearsome as the "X" in its name is. Have a look:
As you can see, the shoe has once again undergone huge changes. While the general profile is still pretty much unmistakably Kobe, the X has gone away with the Kobe 9's ultra-high-top design, said to be inspired by Manny Pacquiao's boxing boots. The shoe has reverted to a low-cut silhouette like the Kobe 4 first did in 2009.
Designed by longtime Kobe collaborator Eric Avar, the tenth iteration of the high-selling sneakers have come to embrace a cleaner, more minimalist form, and driven by a less-is-more philosophy. If you're looking for a counterpoint, the ultra-flashy LeBron XII screams of a more-is-more philosophy—as well as most other trendy basketball shoes currently in the market. The Kobe X bucks that trend, and goes for a more sophisticated look, which we think fits Kobe's current stature in the NBA.
The more streamlined appearance is a reason why we think it's a thing of beauty. It's so clean.
But as with any new release, the shoe comes not only with exterior changes but also with a string of performance upgrades in the cushioning, the traction and shoe's body.
The shoe features a hybrid cushioning system that combines popular Nike tech Lunarlon with side grooves inspired by ultra-flexible Nike Free system. Additionally, a Zoom Air unit can be found in the heel. The goal of the set-up is to give players a shoe ride that's responsive but soft, and firm yet flexible.
In terms of traction, Nike says that these kicks have the most effective traction system in the 43-year history of Nike's basketball shoes. We haven't put these shoes to the test, but according to the brand, the secret lies in the "nodules" that grip the court the same way that racecar tires have a tread pattern to help achieve maximum grip.
As for the upper, the Kobe 9's Flyknit is out, and in its place is what Nike calls an "open-weave textile" that's inspired by the pattern and strength of sharkskin.
Interestingly, the left heel in each pair features four red lines that's said to represent Bryant’s resilient return from injuring his left Achilles tendon. To repair the tendon, doctors used four feet of stitching thread in surgery. There's a cool bit.
The Nike Kobe X will be available globally at nike.com on February 7. A local retail roll-out will follow in the same month. Price TBA. (Our guess? We have none but if you're smart, you should be saving up now!)