SBD/December 5, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Bryant Unveils Latest Nike Sneaker Offering, While Wade Drops First With Li-Ning

Sneaker fans on social media seemed to either love or hate Bryant's shoe
Lakers G Kobe Bryant yesterday "launched his ninth signature shoe with Nike," while Heat G Dwyane Wade's shoe from Chinese brand Li-Ning was "introduced in North America for the first time," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. The Kobe Elite 9 is "a higher-cut shoe that might be confused with a pair that a wrestler wears." The feature that "sticks out the most might be in the back, where nine short red lines are spread out along the heel to mimic the sutures from his recent Achilles surgery." Bryant said, "I wanted something I could draw inspiration from. Everyone doubts I can't come back and do it again and here I am." Sneaker fans on social media "seemed to love or hate the shoe." Bryant said of the reaction, "You want them to have an emotional reaction as soon as they see it. You want it to create conversation and debate and challenge how people think." His new shoe hits stores on Feb. 8 at a cost of $225. Meanwhile, Wade's shoe yesterday "quietly dropped on a specially created website." The Way of Wade 2.0 Overtown is "the first fruits of a partnership" between Wade and Li-Ning "since Wade left Nike's Jordan brand before last season." Wade said, "We knew we'd be loved in China, but we wanted to test out the U.S. and slowly bring the shoes to the States." Wade said that one of the reasons he left Nike was because he "didn't truly get to design his own shoes." His new shoe "retails for $150 and is exclusively sold online" (ESPN.com, 12/4).

PUTTING HIS BEST FOOT FORWARD: CNBC's Jane Wells notes the Kobe Elite 9 marks the "first time Nike is using its new Flyknit ... in a basketball shoe." The shoe, which was "on the drawing board long before" Bryant tore his Achilles in April, was "inspired by the boxing shoes Manny Pacquiao wears." Bryant said, ""That was also a big part of the challenge because Flyknit is a great running shoe but you're also moving in one plane. In basketball, you've got to change directions, jump and I'm big so you've got to factor in the weight and so forth, the stability issue. So that was a big challenge for us, but I felt like our team did a pretty good job" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 12/5).
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