Kobe Bryant may have played his final ever NBA game - and went out in dazzling fashion - but his mainstream influence doesn't appear to be waning one little bit.
When Kobe waltzed off the court following an unbelievable 60-point haul against the Utah Jazz in April, many people started to wonder what arguably the greatest Laker of all-time would do with himself.
While the 18-time All-Star and five time NBA champion has remained committed to his production company Kobe Inc., the Black Mamba is making his presence felt in other areas, too. Namely, with sneakers.
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Nike have announced the release of the final instalment of the Kobe 11 Muse Pack and it comes directly from Nike president and CEO Mark Parker.
Kobe and Parker first worked together in 2003, when Kobe singed with Nike and appeared in the Nike Huarache 2K4, a shoe designed by Eric Avar, Tinker Hatfield and Parker. The final Muse Pack sneaker comes from Parker’s desire to build on the legendary Black Mamba mantra.
Sports Illustrated have reported that nods to the black mamba snake appear throughout, from a new Flyknit pattern to the laces, tongue and even the shoe’s underbelly.
Kobe says he’s thankful for Parker’s desire to grow and learn. “Even though he has a large business to run,” Kobe says, “Mark still takes time to mentor me.”
The first sneaker in the three-shoe pack is the KOBE 11 Avar Muse, which is targeted at nature and the great outdoors. The shoe features crafted details, like a leather patch on the right heel printed with a philosophy that Avar and Bryant share: “I see beauty in the struggle.”
News.nike.com insist that the shoe’s blue hues represent the sky and water seen from the California summit, while the taupe collar lining and outsole mimic the textured granite formation below.
With two more shoes yet to debut, Nike will be hoping to capitalise on the wildly successful Kobe Bryant brand even after he's dropped his final bucket. We'll keep you posted as soon as the other two incarnations are released.
Life after basketball
The career-long Laker filled for the 'Black Mamba' trademark earlier this month and founded Kobe Studios as an extended arm of his Kobe Inc. company.
Vino has insisted he is still getting up early to work out and keep himself busy, even in retirement. Just one day after his incredible retirement game, Kobe got up, worked out and was in his office for 8:30am.
The Lakers have the second overall draft pick this summer and have a ton of cap space to try and replace Kobe at the Staples Center, but, truth be told, they may never find another Black Mamba.