The 2012-13 season was a career-changer for Kobe Bryant. After winning two championships in 2009-10, Bryant’s Lakers were bounced the next two years, only advancing to the second round each time. In contrast, the Black Mamba’s sneaker line stayed consistent in form, while still upping the performance.
The drop-in midsole and low-cut collar carried over from the Kobe 7 to the Nike Kobe 8, albeit with tweaks that improved on its predecessor. This time around, full-length Lunarlon made the shoe lighter while providing a softer ride. The Engineered mesh upper made the shoe lighter and more breathable, and the plastic backing still helped provide durability.
Stability was always a hallmark for the low-cut Nike Kobe styles, but that wasn’t the case for the Lakers – who traded for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the summer of 2012. Showtime was supposed to be back in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, both of the newcomers dealt with injuries throughout the season, leading the Black Mamba to play through his own ailments to lift the team. On the tumultuous season, Kobe told ESPN: “(the adversity) pushed me to a level that I had never been to before — ever — in my career.”
There was a span of two games against Sacramento and Dallas in which Kobe rested just 79 seconds combined, playing the rest of the 95 minutes. Late in the season with the Lakers closing in the 8 seed, Bryant dropped 47 points in a duel with then-rookie Damian Lillard in the win. Kobe played all 48 minutes this game. A few games later, Bryant’s career would turn though as the Black Mamba tore his achilles in a matchup against the Warriors.