words // Nick DePaula
While it might've seemed like this summer included an all-time crop of sneaker free agents, it's hard to imagine that it's actually been a full ten years since the greatest sneaker free agent ever was on the market.
That would be when Kobe Bryant spent the 2002-03 NBA campaign in a full assortment of sneakers from several brands as he weighed his options before eventually signing on with Nike Basketball.
During that ever-awesome year, Bryant was mandated as per his contract break terms with adidas to not wear any one brand for three consecutive games. As a result, we got a full onslaught of sneaker switches from Kobe, as he repped Nike, Reebok, AND1, Converse, and of course, quite an array of Air Jordan PEs.
While he was spotted in purple and gold custom size 14 AJ IIIs, VIIs and VIIIs throughout the year, he wasted no time getting off to a quick start and kicked the season off on opening night in Concord Air Jordan XIs.
The Lakers played host to the Spurs on October 29th, 2002 with a depleted roster that featured Kobe and DFish at the guard slots and a frontcourt of Robert Horry, Devean George and Soumaila Samake. Not exactly the squad that hoisted three straight O'Briens the previous three seasons. Kobe finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks and little help from anyone else on opening night.
Check out some vintage shots of #8 in the XI below from exactly a decade ago. For a full list of the top 15 sneakers Kobe wore during the 02-03 season, along with a look at our Top 10 Brand Switches, be sure to check out Sole Collector's iPad Issue 12, available later this week on the Apple iPad Newsstand.