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The Nike Kobe 8: History and Releases

Nike Kobe 8 Sneakers

The Chinese Year of the Snake was in 2013 and was a perfect mash-up for the Nike Kobe 8 System sneaker. It was first released in December 2012 before a solid 2013 run of colorway launches, including a snakeskin print that brought the Black Mamba moniker to life in a colorful way.

The Nike Kobe 8 System shoe was created by Eric Avar, the same designer to work with Kobe throughout his Nike performance line. It was another low-top performance basketball option in the signature line for Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant. Like the shoes before, Nike and Kobe worked together to push new technologies in the sneaker while stripping down the unnecessary to focus on performance.

With a late 2012 release, the Kobe 8 was primarily a 2013 shoe, although both the Prelude collection of 2014 and the Fade to Black collection of 2016 included releases of the Kobe 8.

Performance Features of the Nike Kobe 8

The Nike Kobe 8 System was the lightest and lowest of the Kobe line to date. Weighing just 9.6 ounces for a U.S. men's size 9, the Kobe 8 was nearly 2 ounces lighter than the Kobe 4, which was Nike's lightest basketball shoe when it debuted.

At the time of the shoe's release, Kobe said he wanted the shoes to mimic the speed of his game. By shaving fractions off the height and weight, it allowed him to play faster with more control. That brought the debut of Nike Engineered Mesh, a textile that made an appearance on a basketball shoe for the first time. With a 90% mesh construction, the no-sew synthetic overlays on the toe and lateral quarter provided support for the breathable, tightly woven mesh upper.

Nike Kobe 8 Sneakers

While first and foremost a performance technology, the mesh also allowed the design team to craft a scale-like snake pattern on the upper, highlighting the Black Mamba inspiration Kobe had become known for.

To keep the shoe low to the ground, Nike brought full-length Lunarlon foam into the midsole and a thin rubber outsole with a scale-inspired traction pattern. The one-millimeter-thick outsole reduced the rubber needed to help shave weight from the shoe, and Nike used an anatomical heel counter to help with fit and stability.

A Kobe 8 Elite version included Zoom Air in both the heel and forefoot.

Nike Kobe 8 on the Court

Unfortunately for the Kobe 8 System's legacy, it was the shoe Kobe Bryant was wearing when he went down with a devastating Achilles injury near the end of the NBA's 2012-13 season. But that didn't keep the shoe from gaining on-court success, with multiple NBA players wearing the design as part of Nike's sponsorship team.

Nike Kobe 8 Sneakers

Nike Kobe 8 Colorway Releases

From a Black History Month (583112-001) to a Shanghai Fireworks (555035-800), the range of Kobe 8 colorways offers a spectacular mix of colors. One of the most fascinating releases was the What the Kobe (635438-800), which really plays up the ability to use the engineered mesh to show off a deluge of colors and patterns.

The mix of 2013 releases came steady, with the Elite version adding technology later during the release cycle. A variety of colorways highlight the 2013 season — and don't discount Christmas 2012 (555035-030) —from the original mainline Sulfur/Electric (555035-001) that showcased the black and yellow snakeskin to the Elite+ Black and Gold (603269-100) version.

Nike Kobe 8 System 'Black History Month' (583112 001)

Nike Kobe 8 System 'Black History Month'

Nike Kobe 8 System 'Shanghai Firework Spark' (555035 800)

Nike Kobe 8 System 'Shanghai Firework Spark'

Nike Kobe 8 System 'Sulfur Electric' (555035 001)

Nike Kobe 8 System 'Sulfur Electric'

Nike Kobe 8 System 'Christmas' (555035 030)

Nike Kobe 8 System 'Christmas'

Nike Kobe 8 'Fade To Black' (555035 001)

Nike Kobe 8 'Fade To Black'

Along with more than 30 colorway releases across the Nike Kobe 8 System during the 2012-13 NBA season, Nike had two key celebration packs that included a Kobe 8. The January 2014 Kobe 8 Prelude (639655-900) release, celebrating Kobe's return from injury in a bright, multi-colored design with chrome accents, came hot on the heels of the Kobe 8's mainline timetable. Then came the Fade to Black collection marking Kobe's retirement. This February 2016 (869456-551) release features a soft purple shade across the entire shoe.

Collectibility and Value of the Nike Kobe 8

The Nike Kobe 8 System has a pair of shoes that set the pace for the 2013 releases, another couple of re-releases that prove popular, and a solid following for the dozens of additional colorways spanning the sneaker's life.

  • The Shanghai Fireworks model, with yellows and reds aplenty, is one of the most expensive on the resale market, fetching over $1,000 and at times reaching as high as $1,500 on eBay.
  • The "What The" Kobe, with a patchwork of reds, greens, yellows and blues blanketing the entire shoe, has undoubtedly made a statement on the resale market. The most-often traded high-end model of the Kobe 8 line, it can fetch up to $1,400 for fans looking for a distinctly pronounced Kobe 8 colorway.
  • The pair of re-releases, including the 2014 Prelude pack and the 2016 Fade to Black design, can both fetch around $600.
  • The Kobe 8 holds a substantial value from $400 to $600 across a range of colorways, including the Easter, Black History Month, Sulfur Electric and Christmas designs.
Nike Kobe 8 Sneakers