words // Nick DePaula
images // US10
Long before the championships, signature low tops and accolades from Laker greats as the franchise's best player of all time, Kobe Bryant lived in a world where he had to prove himself to the legends of the game.
What better stage than the league's 1997 All-Star Weekend in Cleveland celebrating the NBA's 50th anniversary?
With the association's best players to have played the game all assembled in the stands at Gund Arena, an 18 year-old Kobe put on a show, commanding the crowd and throwing down pre-prop era dunks in his Lakers warmup top.
On his feet, KB8 was rocking one of the early classics of the Feet You Wear series, the EQT Elevation. The wavy upper drafted off of the shoe's ergonomic flowing midsole, with three stripes expertly incorporated into the design language and hologram hits along the ankle and tongue.
The shoe's bold color was a welcome surprise. It wasn't often that you'd see full color uppers then (Scottie's Air Maestro comes to mind otherwise), yet Kobe debuted the third FYW basketball model in a bright purple upper with yellow accents throughout.
If you're a fan of the model from over sixteen years ago, the good news is that adidas Basketball plans to retro the EQT Elevation next spring. There was a preview teaser of several new and old colorways just recently, and stay tuned for more on the return of one of the more classic late 90's pairs from the Three Stripes.
Check out Kobe's memorable purple EQT Elevations below, along with video of the full 1997 dunk contest.