Before Kobe Bryant would accomplish one of the most storied careers in NBA history, the future all-time was…traded. The infamous draft night swap that sent Kobe Bryant, the 13th overall selection out of Lower Merion H.S. in June of 1996, from the Charlotte Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers would plant the fruitful seed that would later sprout a dynasty of five NBA championships. So while the purple and gold lifted five banners during that span, the thirteen teams that passed on the Black Mamba would be metaphorically kicking themselves while wondering just how different the futures of their respective franchises would’ve been.
Nike touched on this key moment in history with a series of colorways dubbed “Draft Day”, dressing up Kobe’s signature shoes in the Hornets colors of white, purple, and teal. But UNDEFEATED extends that story by creating two distinct colorways of the Kobe 5 Protro, forever cementing this important piece in Kobe history and thirteen different “What If?” scenarios.
The Nike Kobe 5 Protro “Unlucky 13” points specifically to the Charlotte Hornets as UNDEFEATED touches on the classic team colors of white, purple, and teal. However, this version is enhanced with an oversized golden Swoosh, premium cordura fabric, and a rubberized snakeskin made of synthetic materials. Both the Kobe logo and UNDEFEATED strike logo is featured on the tongues, while a logo lock-up is utilized in the interior. The insoles list all the teams that squandered the opportunity to trade the future Hall-Of-Famer. Perhaps the most unique detail is the “AIR” logo on the heel, which replaces the middle I with an upside Kobe logo.
The Nike Kobe 5 Protro “Dirty Dozen” calls out the twelve teams that could have drafted Kobe Bryant. Many of the players selected before him went on to have amazing Hall-Of-Fame caliber careers of their own, but none quite matched the championship rings and league-wide accolades amassed by the Black Mamba. Similarly to the “Unlucky 13”, this version features an oversized golden Swoosh, exterior detailing, and the same logo touches. The colors are actually a mosaic of the twelve franchises that overlooked Bryant, creating a “What The” style mash-up.
The Nike Kobe 5 Protro “What If?” Pack officially releases on August 27th, 2020 exclusively at UNDEFEATED.com. This is one of several key releases during Mamba Week, the dedicated span that includes other Kobe 5 Protro releases such as the 5x Champs, Big Stage, and Girls EYBL.