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The shoe above is a Kobe. It may be the second signature model for Sabrina Ionescu, but it’s a Kobe. The Kobe line from Nike reintroduced low-cut basketball sneakers. As Kobe’s career ended and Nike introduced the “AD” line, prices grew. The use of 360 Flyknit drove the Kobe AD NXT to an SRP of $200. The in-line Kobe AD reached a price of $160.

Nike attempted to satiate young basketball players with the Kobe Mentality and Venomenon basketball shoes, under $100 kicks, but those sneakers fell short. As Kobe’s career came to a close, basketball sneaker sales slowed considerably. Kobe’s line became Clearance Store staples. The Mentality and Venomenon could be found at 39.99 with an additional 30% off. The Kobe numbered sneakers were often 69.99 with 30% off.

 

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When the untimely loss of Kobe happened, Kobe’s estate and Nike entered a cooling off moment. During that window the GT Cut was born, and the Sabrina line took shape. Most of Nike’s basketball models became heavily influenced by Kobe’s design. Even the LeBron signature models, which typically looked like performance basketball boots, took design cues from Kobe’s models.

The shoe above is the Kobe V “Ink”. It is not the Sabrina 2.  If Nike created a “Protro”, an updated model of Kobe’s sneaker, they would undoubtedly limit production to create hype. The Sabrina 2 is ensured to be successful by its similarity and price. The Kobe Protro models average SRP is $180-250. The Sabrina is $130.

Kobe’s older models grew to be coveted and NBA athletes and hoopers cherished them. Combine this with the loss of a legend, a brief break in the relationship between Nike and Kobe’s estate, and the market for Kobe product is skewed.

Kobe’s passion for the WNBA and his support for Sabrina has been tied together via storytelling and cemented in the creation of a signature model that men at a more accessible price point. Before his death Kobe was frustrated about pricing and quantity. His frustration led to the temporary break up with Nike. The Sabrina 2 “Court Vision” looks like Nike has made the decision to relegate Kobe to the hype category which makes it difficult to get his product.

Won’t the continued design elements of Kobe sneakers finding their way into Nike’s signature models eventually diminish the reach of Kobe’s legacy? Am I creating an issue that doesn’t exist?

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