Friday, January 31 the Los Angeles Lakers will take to the Staples Center court for the first time since the death of Kobe Bryant last Sunday, January 26. There was supposed to have been a game between the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, January 28, but it was postponed following the tragic helicopter crash that killed nine people, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
The Lakers Coaches Are Honoring Kobe In Tonight’s Game With a Special Tribute
According to ESPN’s NBA reporter Dave McMenamim, head coach Frank Vogel says the coaching staff will wear Bryant’s signature sneakers on the sidelines tonight. The coaches have a plethora of classic Kobe looks to choose from, as the NBA superstar was known for many different-yet-iconic styles over the years.
Bryant’s first official shoe to bear his name was the Adidas KB8 in 1997, followed quickly by The Kobe in 2000, also by Adidas. When he signed with Nike in 2003, Bryant rocked the Air Zoom Huarache 2K4s, wearing variations of the Lakers’ iconic purple, black and gold color scheme for several years until debuting the Air Zoom Kobe 1 in 2005.
There have been many iterations of the Zoom Kobe over the years, plus he has also had the Hyperdunk, the Venomenom, the Elites, and more. Bryant was known for his high involvement in sneaker designer, with meticulous attention to detail. He once likened his time working with the Nike designers as to how Harry Potter felt when he got to Hogwarts.
“I’m telling you, it was like when Harry Potter landed in Hogwarts,” Bryant said several years ago, according to ESPN. “He was home. I’m always around a bunch of people who are competitive and just as competitive as I am or just as passionate about the sport as I am.”
Kobe’s Shoes Have a Personal Connection for LeBron James
In a heartbreaking coincidence, the night before Kobe’s death, his former teammate LeBron James passed Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, to move into third behind Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In a post-game interview, LeBron spoke with ESPN about how much Kobe has meant to him over the years and that the first time they met, Kobe gave LeBron his shoes.
“It’s just too much. It’s too much. The story is too much,” James said of Bryant. “It doesn’t make sense. Just to make a long story short, now I’m here in a Lakers uniform, in Philadelphia, where he’s from. The first time I ever met him, gave me his shoes on All-Star Weekend. It’s surreal. It doesn’t make no sense, but the universe just puts things in your life. And I guess when you live in the right way, when you just give it everything to whatever you’re doing, things happen organically.”
He continued, “And it’s not supposed to make sense, but it just happens. And I’m happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball players to ever play, one of the all-time greatest Lakers. The man has two jerseys hanging up in Staples Center. It’s just crazy.”
The game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers starts at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.
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