On December 24, 2020, Nike (and I presume Kobe Bryant’s estate, run by his wife Vanessa Bryant) decided to re-release the Nike Kobe Zoom 6 Protro in the Apple Green/Black/Volt-Crimson colorway. The shoes, affectionately called “Kobe Grinches” (because of their super green color and the extra red laces that come with them and because Kobe wore the original version on Christmas Day in 2010), hadn’t seen a re-release. since that initial drop in 2010. The anticipation for the shoes was off the cards for a number of reasons, but chief among them was that Kobe Bryant passed away on January 26, 2020, and everything about Kobe — from shoes to jerseys — was immediately in great demand. For sneakerheads, however, with his passing and everyone else wanting a piece of Kobe, the “Grinch” shoe is considered a holy grail – a shoe highly coveted by individuals and sneakerheads in general – for many.
So you can imagine everyone had their trigger finger ready on the The SNKRS App and some were willing to wait days at every retailer that sold the Grinches in December 2020. And as you can also imagine if you’ve attempted to buy the coveted shoes online in recent months, many, many Ls have been taken at retail price. Same with all the Kobe re-releases that happened during 2020 and 2021. Nike re-released several Kobe 4, 5 and 6 (the most wanted models); you could see a plethora of NBA players rocking Kobes while they were in the bubble last year, and this NBA 2021 season is the same. After the Grinches fell, players across the league rocked them (and still do). Note that the shoes were selling for $190. Put a pin in there.
Before Kobe died, there was news of trouble in paradise. Even though Kobe had joined Nike and become one of their top athletes, Kobe had become somewhat disillusioned with the company. He was even in talks to create his own line of shoes; apparently he didn’t like the way Nike marketed and promoted his shoes. You see, prior to Kobe’s passing, Kobe’s shoes weren’t exactly everyone’s shoes of choice. Jordan will always reign supreme in the shoe space, at least among casual wearers, but you can look through college games and see Kyrie Irvings shoes and Paul George shoes on athletes across the country, even the NBA players wore them. And that’s not to say that nobody wore Kobes but apparently the sales weren’t very good.
Well, after his passing, as I said, Kobe’s shoes, in particular, rose in demand. You can go to any of the sneaker resale sites and expect to pay $300 to $400 for shoes that weren’t moving the week before. So Nike, being a company, decided to re-release many of the most popular colorways and these shoes sold out within minutes every time. Which brings us back to the Grinch’s December 2020 release. Nike did what it always does with coveted shoes: limit inventory. You would think that considering that one of the greatest basketball players of all time just died and everyone, including the entire NBA, paid tribute to him, that the company could release a significant amount shoes each time; it seems the Bryant estate wanted anyone who wanted a pair of Kobes to be able to get a pair of Kobes, including kids’ sizes. It didn’t happen and the frustration was evident.
Vanessa Bryant took to social media shortly after the Grinches sold out in December to let everyone know that if you wanted a pair of Grinches, she was going to try to make it possible. It was a nice gesture; I didn’t believe this was actually going to happen. (It wasn’t. If you wanted a pair of Grinches, you had to then, and have to now, pay at least three times the retail price for them.) Well I guess the frustration and inability to get Nike to make sure there were enough shoes on the retail market eventually boiled over like a news that Nike and Kobe Bryant’s estate have severed ties. Naturally Vanessa wanted a lifetime contract with Nike (similar to the contracts that Michael Jordan, Lebron James and soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo have) but I guess the negotiations fell through and they couldn’t come to an agreement , or that Nike wasn’t offering what the Bryant estate thought they should be entitled to. Anyway, Kobe’s contract retirement extension with Nike ended on April 13, 2021.
These things happen in business and it’s unfortunate because it means Nike will presumably stop production of all Kobe branded shoes and apparel etc. Which means that unless you already have a pair of Kobe’s (and if you want some), you’re about to pay stupid prices for them, from resellers. For example, I own a pair of 2020 Kobe Grinches. I didn’t buy them for the retail price of $190; I really wanted them so I convinced myself to pay $400 for them which is insane but I really really wanted a pair. Before news of the domain left Nike, the price was nearly $500 on resale sites like StockX and GOAT.
But now ?
I am currently looking at StockX and the prices of a size 10 in the Grinch the colorway is $680. I don’t see how it doesn’t continue to increase. Go take a look at any Kobes. The Kobe 5 Lakers colorway? A size 10 is $500. The Kobe 5 Protro “Bruce Lee” is also goes for $500. And that’s not to say the shoes were retail before this announcement — they weren’t — but the resale price is going up. So basically, if you don’t already have one and hate paying crazy resale prices, you won’t be buying a Kobe anytime soon.
What sucks. When Kobe passed away, it really touched and affected a lot of people. And while I know shoes are just shoes, they are a way to connect with your favorite player. They’re a way to show support, and sometimes they fly like hell and work wonders with various outfits you might own. Thus, the fact that Nike, which has its own problems with the resale market. maintaining the same practice of limiting pairs of shoes from a recently deceased icon is an interesting business strategy on its own, but now because they probably weren’t coming to the table with a reasonable offer considering who Kobe was for the business, it’s going to be really difficult for people to get the Kobe shoes. And that’s a loss to many since his shoes were both good on the basketball court (as the NBA clearly proves) and more recently popular for casual wearers. They left a lot of money on the table, which is their prerogative, but the culture loses more.
I’m glad I have a pair of shoes I wanted and I guess if I need to send a kid to college I can sell them. I hope you have yours too. Otherwise, you’re about to have to back up a Brinks trunk to a reseller; be sure to order a half size up…Kobe runs small.