words // Nick DePaula

Just after signing with Nike in 2003 and a few years before his signature Zoom Kobe 1 was launched, Kobe Bryant was originally pegged to lead the Zoom Huarache 2K4 with several personal touches featured throughout the shoe. 

An incident in Colorado that we're all familiar with changed that, but collector Jay Jones recently shared a look at one of the earlier 2K4 samples that indeed incorporated Kobe's then-number 8 along the heel and on the medial forefoot of the midsole. 

From Jay Jones:
"Here is a little Kobe heat for you guys! Zoom Huarache 2K4 Looksee Samples from 2003. Early 2K4 samples incorporated Kobe's #8 in several locations on the shoe. This particular promo pair has blue suede on the toe box and heal areas. Suede swooshes as well! A unique pair without question, enjoy the pics!"

It probably worked out better for Nike that the Huarache 2K4, designed by Eric Avar, went on to be worn by several players on every team across the league and became the start of its own franchise series. Nonetheless, it's cool to check out this rare Kobe sample below that almost was!