Even casual basketball fans knew the end was near for Kobe Bryant’s illustrious career. After numerous injuries in the prior seasons that put the Black Mamba on the shelf, Bryant announced on November 29, 2015 that he would be retiring at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season. Shortly thereafter in December, the Kobe 11 was unveiled as the last shoe Bryant would rock on court.
The Eric Avar designed shoe took aspects from previous Kobe styles and improved on them. The low-cut returned permanently this time, with no high-top version being created. The drop-in Lunarlon midsole and Flyknit was reminiscent of the Kobe 9, although the knit was made more durable with TPU (plastic) being mixed into the upper. The hash marks on the heel once again harkened to Kobe’s achilles injury, as did the red and black launch colorway that had a silhouette of the Greek figure Achilles.
Later on, a more affordable Kobe 11 dropped with a mesh upper, with this version being the shoe worn for Kobe’s last hurrah. With free rein on shot-selection in the last game of his career, the Black Mamba created his last “mamba moment”, dropping 60 points in a win against the Jazz.