Sometimes, nothing stacks up quite as well as the original. This was the case with Kobe’s second signature shoe, the Zoom Kobe II. Despite being released in three different versions (Sheath, Strength, Finisher), the sneakers never quite caught on with Kobe himself. During the time of their existence, he switched off between the Kobe II and the Nike Zoom Huarache 2K4, eventually going full-time with the latter.
It’s actually rather funny that Kobe often chose to don the 2K4s because they were the primary source of inspiration for the Kobe II sneakers, ala the collar strap. Working once again with Ken Link, team Kobe set out to take the best parts of the 2K4 Huaraches and advance them to greater heights.
The shoe itself actually set a couple of precedents in not being made from toxic chemicals or bonding agents, but rather being completely stitched throughout. Also, the sneaker was not given a traditional midsole, but instead had an upper that was stitched straight to the footbucket. This meant that the insole where the two Zoom air bags were embedded within, provided all of the cushion and support. Utilizing single-layer construction, the upper was built with multiple panels intended to provide maximum flexibility and make the shoe as light as possible.
Link stated that the Nike Free and Nike Considered served as blueprints and inspiration for changing the way that basketball shoes were developed by Nike. The Considered’s influence on the Kobe II was evident through the aforementioned single-layer upper, which helped in making the shoe light. The Free’s mark was left on the outsole where Link had implemented similar lateral and linear flex grooves intended for enhanced flexibility, an innovative first for Nike basketball kicks at the time.
I myself balled in the Strength editions of the Zoom Kobe II and must admit that my feet did feel very close to the ground and the cushioning around the entire foot was very obvious and more than adequate. They were surprisingly light as advertised too.
However, I did notice that my feet tended to move around quite a bit within the shoe while playing. I obviously can’t speak for Kobe or his reasons for essentially rejecting these kicks, but it’s not that surprising that he went back to the 2K4 Huaraches almost exclusively until the Zoom Kobe III was created.
Still, the three different versions were pretty fresh and always fun to look at.
[Original Release: 2007; Weight: 18.0 oz.; Players: Kobe Bryant]
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