If there's one thing that Kobe Bryant's recent Nike signature shoes have elicited, it's this: strong reactions.
People either love the low-top look or hate it. Love the fact that it's a "system" that comes with four midsole options. Or hate it, dismissing it as a gimmick.
You'll notice two things when you look at the shoe. First, you'll notice the snakeskin-type pattern, which is appropriate for a man nicknamed the "Black Mamba." You'll also notice that it's mostly mesh. Nike says it's the first time the material has been used in one of its basketball shoes.
If you get to pick it up, you'll notice what you see in most shoes today -- it's lighter than ever before. It weighs only 9.6 ounces in a men's size 9.
Fans can begin designing and saving their Kobe 8 on NIKEID next Tuesday and can actually order their designs on Dec. 20, the same day the Kobe 8s hit retail (priced at $140).
I sat down with Kobe to talk about his latest endeavor with the world's largest shoe and apparel brand.
Rovell: What stands out for you about the Kobe 8?
Bryant: Well, each time we do this we try to get better than the year before. I think this version is lighter and more comfortable. The mesh allows for us to use a lighter material, but also provide me and consumers with the strength and stability that we need.
Rovell: I posted the shoe on Twitter, and the reactions were very mixed. How do you feel about that?
Bryant: I'd rather do something that moves people than be right down the middle. You don't get anywhere with a blah, vanilla product. It's like good art. You like it or you don't. I'm fine with that.
Rovell: It's a low-top, so you could argue that it's easier to wear with jeans than a high-top shoe. How do you envision people wearing these: on the streets when going out or on the court?
Bryant: Well, I hope in both places. But performance comes first. We do everything to maximize performance, and then we add all the bells and whistles that make it a good-looking shoe that people will want to wear it off the court.
Rovell: Shoes keep getting lighter and lighter. This one is 9.6 ounces. Is it possible that it's too light? That people like to feel more on their feet when they are playing?
Bryant: I think that used to be the case. But people have changed. It's pretty amazing to think that four years ago, my shoe was 17.6 ounces and we thought that was light.
Rovell: Some guys like to break in shoes. Other guys like to open a fresh box a couple times a week. What's your preference?
Bryant: I go with a new pair every game. There's something about [opening up a fresh box] that still drives me crazy. It's just something that has become part of my routine.