Why the Nike Kobe 4 Still Dominates a Decade After it Debuted

At the peak of his game, Kobe Bryant and Nike Basketball reintroduced low cut performance sneakers to the sport of basketball.

Sure, guys like Steve Nash and Mike Bibby were playing in lows, but Kobe was THE MAN in the game at the time and a big one at that, standing at 6’6 and weighing well over 200 lbs.

Back in the championship hunt and coming off Olympic gold, Bryant inspired and challenged Nike Performance Creative Director Eric Avar by questioning why soccer players were so sharp, quick and efficient in low shoes. And yet, basketball players were still in high-top/mid performance shoes.

Kobe Bryant in the Nike Zoom Kobe IV (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

The Mamba’s quest for the next level paired with Nike’s innovative and groundbreaking technology created more than just a basketball shoe — it created a piece of art.

Coming it at an unprecedented 11.6 ounces, the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 reinstated the use of a low cut performance sneaker and totally changed not just the Black Mamba’s signature line but what players of all shapes and sizes across the league would wear.

Kobe Bryant’s Nike Zoom Kobe IV

The shoe featured Flywire technology to support and secure the foot. The shoe also contained LunarLite foam in the forefoot area for ultimate cushioning for better energy return. A Nike Zoom unit was added to the heel and was pieced together by a Phylon midsole.

Bryant looked quicker and stealthier in his fourth signature shoe: “the low profile shoe allowed him to make sharper cuts, while increasing responsiveness,” Avar said.

Not only did the shoe feel great, but its performance spoke for itself.

During the 2009-2010 NBA season, Kobe was a completely different animal. He averaged 26.8 points, nearly 5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. The iconic Mamba Mentality kicked in during the postseason as he averaged 30 points, 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals.

Kobe Bryant Dwyane Wade
Kobe Bryant in the Nike Zoom Kobe IV (photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images via Zimbio)

All the while, the league’s stars on the rise were catching wind of Kobe’s low tops and adpoting the same look themselves.

Even The Brodie.

Russell Westbrook in the Nike Zoom Kobe IV

But that’s not all, back to the Mamba.

After the Los Angeles Lakers blew by the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Bryant was crowned Finals MVP as he averaged 32 points and nearly 6 assists.

Kobe Bryant in the Nike Zoom Kobe IV (photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images via Zimbio)

Throughout the 2018-2019 regular season and even during the playoffs, the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 and the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro were seen all over the hardwood. DeMar DeRozan, Isaiah Thomas, PJ Tucker and many others were sporting the Mamba’s fourth signature sneaker in both OG and updated form.

Why? Because it still plays good. Registering as familiar and battle-tested, the Kobe 4 is a hit in ’09 and ’19 takes.

Peep a look at some of the best iterations of the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 in OG and Protro over the course of the 2018-2019 season below.

Honorable mention to the WNBA, The Drew League and more for holding it down in the Nike Zoom Kobe 4.

Essence Carson in the UNDFTD x Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro “Team Orange”
Epiphany Prince in the UNDFTD x Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro (via Las Vegas Aces)
PJ Tucker in the UNDFTD x Nike Kobe 4 Protro “Fir” (via NBA Kicks)
Tamera Young in the UNDFTD x Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro (via WNBA Kicks)
Kyle Kuzma in the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro “USA”
PJ Tucker in the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro “USA Home”(via NBA Kicks)
PJ Tucker in the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro “USA Away” (via NBA Kicks)
Devin Booker in the UNDFTD x Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro PE (via Suns)
Kristi Toliver in the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro “ASG” (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Shareef O’Neal in the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro PE (via The Drew League)
PJ Tucker in a Nike Kobe 4 Protro PE
D.J. Wilson in the Nik Kobe 4 Protro PE (Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andre Iguodala in the Nike Kobe 4 Protro ‘Del Sol” (via Ezra Shaw for Sole Collector)
D.J. Wilson in the Nike Kobe 4 Protro PE (via @NBAKicks)
Isaiah Thomas in the Nike Kobe 4 Protro PE (via Ron Chenoy)
PJ Tucker in the Nike Zoom Kobe IV Protro “Carpe Diem” (via BR Kicks)
PJ Tucker in the Nike Zoom Kobe IV Protro “Carpe Diem” (via Sole Collector)
DeMar DeRozan in the Nike Kobe IV Protro “Draft Day” (Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jrue Holiday in the Nike Zoom Kobe IV “Gradient Home” (Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Isaiah Thomas in the Nike Kobe 4 Protro PE (via NBA Kicks on Twitter)
DeMar DeRozan in the Nike Kobe 4 Protro PE (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Tobias Harris in the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 “Gold Medal” (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Isaiah Thomas in the Nike Kobe 4 Protro PE (Isaiah Downing for Complex Sneakers)
Giannis Antetokounmpo in his Nike Zoom Kobe 4 PE
Giannis Antetokounmpo in his Nike Zoom Kobe 4 PE (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
PJ Tucker in the Nike Kobe 4 Protro (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
DeMar DeRozan in the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 PE (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kyle Kuzma in the Nike Kobe 4 “Wizenard” (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
DeMar DeRozan in the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 PE (via Sole Collector)
Kelly Oubre Jr. in the Nike Kobe 4 “Prelude” (Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
DeMar DeRozan in the Nike Kobe 4 Protro PE (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Montrezl Harrell in the Nike Kobe 4 “Del Sol” (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
DeMar DeRozan in the Nike Kobe 4 Protro PE (Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
PJ Tucker in his “ACES” Nike Kobe 4 Protro Custom (photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Isaiah Thomas in the Nike Kobe 4 Protro PE (via Isaiah J. Downing)
PJ Tucker in the UNDFTD x Nike Kobe 4 Protro (Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Isaiah Thomas in the Nike Kobe 4 PE (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
DeMar DeRozan in his Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protro PE
DeMar DeRozan in the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 PE (via B/R Kicks)
DeMar DeRozan in the Undefeated x Nike Kobe 4 Protro (Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
PJ Tucker in the Nike Kobe IV Protro PE (photo by Bill Baptist/Getty Images via SLAM Kicks)
PJ Tucker in the Nike Kobe IV “Finals MVP” (photo via BR Kicks)
Isaiah Thomas in the Nike Zoom Kobe IV Protro “Draft Day”
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