To the delight of many Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers fans, a version of his previously unattainable Air Jordan 9 Player Exclusive is releasing this weekend. Bryant wore the exclusive Jordans during his famous season of sneaker free agency in 2002-03, making them a "holy grail" for collectors and commanding top dollar on the open market. Now, you no longer need to shell out thousands to own a pair, but they won't be exactly like the shoes once laced up by the Mamba.
Collector Eric Hsieh, owner of the ultra-rare original Kobe Air Jordan 9 PE, provided a side-by-side comparison of the shoe next to the retro. Aside from the number '23' on the heel in place of Kobe's number '8,' the use of concord instead of true purple gives the shoe a very different look. So, this weekend's release is a taste of what we missed out on 14 years ago, but those who own the original are still in possession of something special.