words // Brandon Richard
Before piecing together an iconic eight-shoe signature sneaker line with Nike, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was winning championships with Shaquille O'Neal in pairs by adidas Basketball. From 'Feet You wear' classics like the Top Ten 2000 and KB 8 (Crazy 8) to more polarizing designs like the Kobe and Kobe Two, Bryant's short run with the 3-Stripes was responsible for a few of the most memorable silhouettes of his career.
Goldin Auctions, a Kobe Bryant supported charity, recently got their hands on some rare pieces of Kobe memorabilia (hopefully not from his mother) in support of The BULLY Project. Among those items are a few pairs of rare prototype adidas Kobe samples directly from former Senior Footwear Development Manager Daniel Fulton.
The following are included in Goldin's lineup:
The KOBE TWO 'All-Red' and 'USA Flag' samples. Produced in 2001, Fulton believes there may be only four pairs of the All-Red sample in existence. Worn by Kobe for Opening Night of the 2001-2002 season, 'USA Flag' sample is one of the most sought after pairs of Kobes in the sneaker hobby. Approximately 30 pairs were created, including a pair given to LeBron James to play in while he was still at St.Vincent-St. Mary.
The KB8 III in a limited edition 'Platinum' colorway. This pair was produced exclusively for the UK market and limited to a run of about 330 pairs. The pair being auctioned off is number 001.
Lastly, the unreleased Kobe III in Lakers-inspired black and purple. Of course, Bryant left adidas after his six-year deal expired in 2002, had an amazing 02-03 season of sneaker free agency and then signed his first deal with Nike later that summer. The shoe carries over the molded synthetic material used on The KOBE and the KOBE TWO, adding a textile base and zipper closure. This is possibly the only existing sample of this colorway, according to Fulton.
If you're a Kobe, adidas and/or sample collector, all of these pairs are worth keeping an eye on over at goldinauctions.com.