A decade ago, the late NBA luminary Kobe Bryant hit the court on Christmas Day sporting a pair of eye-catching, neon-green kicks.
Nearly 10 years later to the day, Nike will release a new take on the Kobe 6 ‘Grinch,’ so nicknamed for its resemblance to the classic holiday villain, on Christmas Eve. The launch marks the footwear giant’s second Kobe drop since the Los Angeles Lakers legend’s sudden death earlier this year.
The Kobe 6 Protro, while keeping its predecessor’s highlighter green coloring and scaly texturing—a nod to Bryant’s Black Mamba alias—will update several performance features. In the forefoot, the Air Zoom Turbo unit will help “provide responsiveness in all directions for quick start-and-stop play,” Nike said. A new last lends a faster, sleeker silhouette. The heel will feature a softer, more responsive foam. Finally, Nike increased the traction pattern’s surface area, giving the wearer improved ground contact for sharper cuts.
The sneaker is just the latest in a series of Protro—or “performance retro”—updates to the Kobe footwear family. Nike released the first, the Zoom Kobe 1 Protro in February 2018.
“Protro is about evolution and improving on things that were,” Bryant said at the time. “I wanted to build a business that wasn’t just based on things I have done in the past. It is important that the brand stands for performance and that everything we do is innovative, even if we are releasing shoes from the past they still must be built on performance.”
More recently, in its first new Kobe drop since Bryant’s passing in January, the footwear giant released a series of Kobe V Protros as part of “Mamba Week,” a weeklong event full of programming and retail launches that Nike rolled out in August to celebrate the late NBA legend.
Kobe sales skyrocketed immediately following Bryant’s sudden death earlier this year. On Nike’s own website, searches for “Kobe” yielded no product results the day after his passing, with the company reporting that all merchandise had sold out. At the time, Krista Corrigan, a retail analyst for fashion retail data firm Edited, said Kobe-related products dropped 77 percent in availability. Of the 22 retailers that carried Bryant’s gear prior to his death, only seven still had product available the day after.
Global fashion search platform Lyst reported in April that the Nike Kobe 4 Protro Carpe Diem sneaker ranked as its fourth-hottest product of the first quarter. Overall, page views for sneakers from the long-term collaboration between the brand and the Hall of Famer spiked 733 percent, Lyst reported.