The 2008-09 season was epic for Kobe in many ways. The ending of this season would epitomize Kobe’s legacy, but the beginning started a trend for his signature line for years to come. Bryant did start this year in the original Hyperdunk but soon transitioned to the Nike Zoom Kobe 4, a shoe that drew eyes for it’s lower cut. This was a specific request from the Black Mamba to designer Eric Avar, as Kobe noticed that soccer players never rocked high-tops despite the start-and-stop nature of the sport.
Kobe wanted the lightest and lowest-cut shoe out on the market and Avar went to work. The Kobe 4 still offer support with the low-cut, due to the Flywire strands on the sides that helped secure the foot in the shoe. The outriggers were also extended on the soles and a TPU heel cup was added to prevent the feet from rolling over. Nike still wanted to bust the myth that high-tops were needed for support, and did so rather hilariously with the series of “ankle insurance” ads:
Unlike the Kobe 3 which represented misery for the Black Mamba, the Kobe 4 was tied more towards happy thoughts. The motivated Laker team ended the regular season with a league-high 65 wins, and ran through the Western conference on their way to a repeat trip to the NBA Finals. Without the Celtics in their way, Bryant and the Lakers handily beat the Orlando Magic 4-1 to capture Kobe’s 4th championship.