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When his 2012-13 basketball season was cut short by injury, Kobe Bryant's shoe game remained healthy and strong.

Recovering from a left Achilles tear suffered near the end of that season, Bryant didn't take the court until early December, several weeks into the following season. Then, just six games into his return, he "tweaked" his left knee, as he referred to it. Proving this to be a serious understatement, this tweak ended up being a broken bone in the joint. Weeks of recovery and rehabilitation turned into months, which turned into another season ended prematurely.

But when he limped off the court in his Kobe 8s for the last time, he left on a note of toughness, having nailed two free throws after tearing his Achilles!

After several versions of the Kobe 8 dropped throughout 2013, the Kobe Venomenon 4 hit shortly after New Year's in 2014 with an eye toward outdoor performance.

Then the Kobe 9 Elite launched as a quickstrike on Valentine's Day. This latest rendition of the Mamba's signature kick reflects his rehab, with a super-high top for additional ankle support, as well as his repair, with horizontal red slashes that align vertically up the Achilles, meant to reflect the sutures from his surgery.

The Kobe 9 Elite also was the first among Nike's signature sneakers to feature its Flyknit upper. This continuous single thread is meant to lend a comfortable sock-like fit as well as virtually eliminate production waste.

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