This guide will review the top shoes from the Kobe Bryant line to help you understand which one is best for your personal needs.
I am an avid basketball player who has been around the game for nearly twenty years. In that time I’ve owned a lot of shoes, with some of them being Kobe’s. That first-hand experience, mixed with other in-depth research, allowed me to properly analyze each shoe below.
The Mamba Focus is, in my opinion, the best Kobe Bryant basketball shoe because of its responsiveness, comfort, and unique style.
The shoe gives you everything you could want in basketball footwear. It feels great on your feet, comes from one of the top brands in the world, and looks amazing. No matter what position you play or how often you go out, it will give you excellent responsiveness time and time again.
However, Kobe had many other great shoes as well. The following sections will break down each of the best and explain what makes them special.
- Best Overall: Mamba Focus
- Most Comfortable: Kobe 1
- Best High-Top: Kobe IX High
- Best Lightweight: Mamba Fury
Who Should Get This?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a sneakerhead who collects tons of shoes, a player looking to step up your game with quality footwear, or someone who needs new gear for their next pickup game, Kobe Bryant’s ample shoe line has you covered.
His footwear spans a range of high-top, mid-top, and low-top models that will fit any foot size or game time circumstance. That plethora of options makes them perfect for any collector, as well as any player looking to enhance their skills at any level.
Top Kobe Bryant Basketball Shoes
Here I will break down each of the top Kobe shoes and explain what traits they have that separate them from others in his wide collection.
1. Mamba Focus
- Best for: Overall
- Key Features: Comfortable fit. Zoom Air unit for improved responsiveness. External TPU shank. Solid control and rigidity.
- Sole: Gum rubber
- Weight: 2.03 pounds
- Width: Medium
The Mamba Focus is a strong shoe that perfectly encapsulates Kobe’s alternate persona. The pair not only has a clean look in every color option, it also comes with exceptional traction and an external TPU shank. Both of those characteristics vastly improve on court performance.
Another reason this shoe kicks off the list is the Zoom Air unit that enhances general responsiveness, one of the key traits you need on the court. These hold up well, look sharp, and ensure you’ll be able to get quick cuts or fast moves no matter how much you play or practice.
The only true downside these shoes have is that they tend to be on the narrow side and run a bit small. Those with slender feet won’t notice, but those who have wider or larger builds may not like the way the Focus fits. However, that’s a small drawback for a truly well-rounded item.
2. Kobe 1
- Best for: Comfort
- Key Features: Comfortable feel with ample cushioning. Padded collar. Full-grain leather construction. Zoom Air technology and a rubber outsole.
- Sole: Rubber
- Fit: True to Size
- Weight: 4 pounds
The Kobe 1 is the first signature sneaker the legend did with Nike, and it still holds up as one of the best designs around. The entire shoe delivers plenty of strong support and has an incredibly soft feel thanks to the padded collar, internal sleeve, and full-grain leather construction.
There’s plenty of cushion here. On top of that, it comes with a carbon fiber spring plate and Nike’s Zoom Air technology to perfectly complement your skills while you play. The rubber outsole and herringbone traction pattern are both useful as well.
The only downside to these shoes is that they aren’t the sleekest or most attractive Kobe’s you can find. They have a bulky appearance that some people might not like. They are also heavier than similar pairs. If you don’t mind the look, however, you’ll be happy with their performance.
3. Kobe IX High
- Best for: High-Top
- Key Features: Lunarlon cushioning. Pressure mapping outsole and flexible construction. Dynamic Flywire increases agility and on-court performance.
- Outsole: Rubber
- Dimensions: 15.9 x 9.9 x 5.6
- Weight: 3.2 pounds
Those who want high-tops will absolutely love what the Kobe IX High’s bring to the table. These shoes are some of the most unique in the Mamba’s line, offering a unique snakeskin pattern as well as Lunarlon cushioning that brings a critical level of comfort to the pair.
The other big feature is the Dynamic Flywire that adjusts as you move. That extra flexibility is incredibly important when dealing with high-tops, allowing you to play the way you want without being restricted. The pressure mapping outsole works towards that end too.
The only lasting issue you’ll find with these is their durability. While all of the parts come from one of the best brands on Earth, they don’t have the same tough construction as shoes with sturdier materials. Still, the flexibility and breathability are both largely unmatched.
4. Mamba Fury
- Best for: Lightweight
- Key Features: Low profile design. Nike Zoom Air cushioning for added comfort. Sturdy midsole. Extended rubber upper for stability.
- Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Upper: Rubber
- Dimensions: 13.1 x 8.2 x 4.5 inches
While a strong, sturdy shoe is always good, a lighter one also goes a long way. If you’re interested in jumping higher, moving quicker, or just prefer a low-profile design, the Fury is the best Kobe shoe for you. It’s easy to wear and comfortable through the Zoom Air cushioning.
This sleek sneaker offers some of the best agility money can buy. It has a minimally structured upper as well as extended rubber along the sides. That provides you with ample agility and flexibility, but still ensures you get the support you need to cut down on injury.
The only downside to this specific model is that it can be a bit squeaky out on the court. The traction works well and the entire shoe is stable, but be prepared for a bit of extra noise as you move around.
How to Choose Kobe Shoes for Basketball
Each of these characteristics is important to keep an eye out for when picking out new shoes.
Comfort and Stability
Basketball is a fast-paced game that puts a lot of stress on your feet. As such, you need to do what you can to get soft, comfortable shoes with plenty of padding. That will cut down on blisters or other uncomfortable ailments. They help protect you from hard landings as well.
Your shoe’s performance also matters. No matter what line you’re buying from, you want footwear that enhances your game. Get models that are lightweight, offer extra flexibility, and come with good traction. These enable you to run, jump, and cut to the best of your abilities.
Design and Aesthetics
Though it’s not as important as the two above traits, design matters. Nobody wants to wear grandma’s shoes out on the court. You want your kicks to be attractive and represent your style as much as they can. Once you have the other traits in order, pay attention to the look.
The above shoes all work extremely well. If you have any other questions about Kobe shoes, I’ll answer some of the most common in this section.
Why is Kobe Bryant Called the Mamba?
Kobe gave himself the nickname back in 2003 after watching the movie Kill Bill, where an assassin uses a black mamba to kill another character. After that, it stuck and became his on-court persona.
What are Kobe Bryant Shoes Called?
Kobes are a wide range of sneakers that span many, many years. However, all of them belong to a larger Line and have the legendary player’s name in their title. That includes everything from the Nike Zoom Kobe I all the way to the Kobe 8.
What was Kobe’s Favorite Shoe?
Rumor is that Kobe’s favorite shoe was the much-touted Kobe 5 due to the way it balances durability, cushion, and strength. It looks great as well.
Does Kobe Bryant Have a Lifetime Contract with Nike?
No. Kobe’s contract, while lasting a long time with the shoe giant, had to be renewed every few years.
Why Did Nike Stop Selling Kobes?
After Kobe’s tragic death, his estate parted ways with Nike. That largely came from the frustration Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, had with Nike that his shoes only had limited availability. She also did not like how the line wasn’t marketed for children.
Useful Tips and Information
When buying new basketball shoes, you always need to know why you want them in the first place. Some players want good ankle support, while others seek to maximize performance or increase general comfort.
Always ask yourself those questions before making a purchase. Once you know what you’re looking for in a shoe, you’ll be able to track down the Kobe models that best fit your play style.
The Mamba Focus gets my pick for the best Kobe Bryant basketball shoe. It’s incredibly comfortable, due to the Zoom Air cushion, and also solid thanks to the rigidity throughout the entire model. It’s a solid shoe that fully enhances your game at any position.