What will become of Kobe Bryant's Nike signature shoes now that the man himself has faded to black? The brand certainly isn't stopping the series: Bryant confirmed with Sole Collector in March that Kobe 12s and 13s were already in the works. But who will maintain the on-court presence of the shoes in the NBA now that Bryant can't? For now, the most likely candidate may be Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan started wearing Nike Kobes when the line debuted in 2006 while he was in high school. During his year at USC, the school got player exclusives on the regular. And since entering the league, he's made a habit of wearing rare and unexpected Nike Kobe pairs. His unwavering support of the line has made him the go-to Kobe guy behind the Mamba.

"I think when you think of Kobes in the league outside of Kobe actually wearing his shoe, you gotta put me in that category of wearing the Kobes," DeRozan told Sole Collector in an interview on Monday. "To me, they’re one of the most comfortable shoes to play in."

He says that Bryant is by now well aware of his affinity for the shoes.

"I remember one game we played against [the Lakers] and I wore some different kind of shoes. He looked at my shoes like 'Yo wassup?' and I was like, 'Mines haven’t come in yet.' So it's one of those things that he knows for a fact that I’m secondhand when it comes to wearing the Kobes."

DeRozan says that he already knows a bit about the design of the upcoming Kobe 12, but wasn't able to share any details on the shoe. Until its release, he'll be in the Kobe 11, a shoe he'll bring with him for the 2016 Summer Olympics​ in Rio.

Could DeRozan be a possible anchor for a future "Team Kobe" entity representing Nike Kobes on-court in the wake of Bryant's absence? If he lands in Los Angeles the move would make all the more sense, and reports indicate that the Lakers are very interested in him. Then again, he's set to become a sneaker free agent this summer, so it's possible he won't even be a Nike athlete come fall.