Nike Kobe 8 System Black Sulfur (1)

words // Brandon Richard

Blending speed, precision, vision and versatility, Nike Basketball and Kobe Bryant officially unveil the Kobe 8 System.

The Kobe 8 System brings together performance innovations to create Kobe's lowest and lightest performance model to date at just 9.6 ounces in a men's size 9. Graphic snakeskin print was inspired by Kobe's on-court alter ego the Black Mamba, as well as the Chinese Year of the Snake in 2013.

At the head of the Kobe 8 System project was Nike Performance Footwear Creative Director Eric Avar, who worked closely with his team and Kobe himself. Kobe requested a shoe that acts as an extension of his foot, complimenting quick performance while staying low to the ground.

"I’m always focused on improving my game, to perform at my best. I want my shoes to mimic the speed of my game," Kobe said. "By shaving fractions off the height and weight, it allows me to play faster with more control so I can maneuver across the court – I want to feel like I’m moving at the speed of light."

Responding to athlete feedback, the design team implemented Engineered Mesh for the first time in a basketball shoe. The material creates an ultra-lightweight fit that is 90% mesh for 360-degrees of breathability and tightly woven strength for natural flex. Additionally, no-sew synthetic overlays on the toe and lateral quarter panel enhance support.

Full-length Lunarlon in the midsole provides lightweight, low-profile cushioning and allows for greater stability. A one-millimeter rubber outsole that combines classic herringbone with snake scale-inspired traction uses less rubber than traditional soles for durability and multi-surface performance. The 3-D anatomical heel counter provides a sleek, locked down fit.

The Kobe 8 System in Black/Sulfur will be available for $150 at stores globally and starting Thursday, December 20. The python-inspired colorway launches in Greater China on January 12, 2013 and in North America on February 2, 2013.

Beginning December 4, consumers can design, save and share the Kobe 8 System at On December 20, you can purchase your design.

NIKEiD will offer various performance and style customization options, including four midsole options, Lunarlon or Zoom cushioning inserts and Nike+ kits for those who want to track and measure their game.

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