Today marks the 9 yr anniversary of Kobe dropping 81 pts on the Raptors so it is befitting that I publish my review on an underrated shoe that set the foundation for the Kobe line.
The Kobe I is still in my top 5 rotation after nine years of technological innovations and eight , almost nine, newer models of the Kobe which shows that newer isn’t always better.
Pros: great cushioning, leather (!), support, fit and traction
Cons: leather will deform, heavier than today’s shoes but not really noticeable due to great fit, cushioning seems to die after a lot of wear time.
Best for: bigger guards and bigs
Never bothered to weight these until today. 17.5 ounces which is considered heavy compared to the average mid that weighs 15 ounces.
The Kobe I has a modified herringbone pattern that runs front to back as well as side to side similar to what the Hyperdunk 2013 used. I find it funny that it took 7 yrs for Nike to use this pattern again. The rubber is a softer compound that brushes away dirt thanks to a fairly open pattern. On clean or dusty courts the shoe just sticks and in the event of excess dust a quick wipe here and there does the trick. Whenever I know I’m playing on an extremely dusty floor I reach for these bc I know and trust how this traction will react. It has been my gold standard for traction and is just as good as the Kobe 8,9 and Clutchfit drive.
Back in 2006 nike used a different last on their shoes so they fit a lot differently than today’s shoes. I wear an 11 in today’s Kobes and lebrons but I wear a 10.5 in these. I prefer a finger’s width from my biggest toe to the end of the toe box and these are perfect. These also fit my flintstone width feet very well so there is no sliding or movement side to side or back to front.
Leather..it wrinkles with age and time just like my skin. Good luck seeing this again anytime soon. I will say I’m glad shoe companies are greener but cut out the BS about why knits are used.
Support and Stability
Support is minimal on the Kobe I but stability is there to save the day.
The support comes mainly from the wider base, the outrigger, and the carbon fiber that surrounds the midfoot and heel .
The foot sits below the carbon fiber so it creates a nice cupping effect that doesn’t let the foot slide out the footbed. The heel counter starts out pretty flexible from the get go but gets softer and softer as you play in it. Thankfully this is not an issue since the heel counter isn’t the main component of support in this shoe.
There is also a 3/4 length carbon fiber shank for midfoot support. I had to reglue a pair and got to see how far it extended
The Kobe I uses forefoot and heel zoom air. Nothing fancy (well I guess nowadays it sort of it) and it works great . You can actually feel the zoom in the heel and forefoot although it is not as bouncy as the 2K5. Kobe was a bit bulked up this season so he wanted more cushioning than he typically asks for which may be why I love this shoe so much since I’m so jacked (sarcasm).
I bought ten pair of these when Foot Action had them on sale for $35. I didn’t know if I’d like them or not but I said what the hell can’t go wrong for $35. Actually at the time I didn’t even like Kobe. Regardless I have gone through about 5 pair of these in 9 years and it isn’t because they rip or tear, but the cushioning just goes dead and the bounce disappears. Typical separation at the toe box and extended midsole happens frequently thanks to hard cuts and stops but that’s to be expected especially with leather shoes. I can still play in them even though they are 9 years old which speaks to the quality of the shoe.
I still love playing in these even after all these years. They’ve held up surprisingly well although I’ve gone through a lot of pairs of these. It is heavier than a lot of shoes out there but that weight served a purpose for a bulked up Kobe. Great traction, which has been a staple in the Kobe line was prominent even on this pair. Nike got the basics right with the Kobe I and that’s probably why I still love it so much.