On April 26, 2006, Kobe Bryant announced his plan to change his jersey number from #8 to #24. At the time, Kobe was the biggest name in the league, finishing off an outstanding individual regular season and preparing for the playoffs. Breaking down the numbers, Kobe first wore #24 at Lower Merion High School. By the time 1996 rolled around, Kobe was wearing #33 in honor of his father. But when Kobe hit the NBA later that year and wound up on the Los Angeles Lakers, #33 had been retired in homage to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Kobe's number change wouldn't become official until the start of the 2006-07 NBA season, but that wasn't the only big change for the Mamba that year. In 2006, Nike rolled out Bryant's first official signature model: the Nike Zoom Kobe I. To kick off the year, he dropped 81 points in a single game while wearing the model, which is the second-highest point total of all time. With full-length Zoom Air cushioning, Carbon Fiber accents, and a noticeable lower profile than other basketball sneakers in '06, the Zoom Kobe I was a forecast of things to come.
The latest Bryant sig, the Nike Kobe 8 Elite, releases this weekend in a “Superhero” themed colorway. Whether you're a diehard fan who needs some cheering up after the injury, or just want to try out some of Nike's high-end basketball technology, you'll want to keep an eye on the Kobe 8 Elite.