When Kobe Bryant’s final NBA season started, we expected that he’d be showered with gifts during his retirement tour. But the Los Angeles Lakers and Bryant quickly put an end to that early in the year, saying they didn’t want to take away from the games themselves.
Apparently, Bryant had a secondary reason for not wanting any gifts — instead, he wanted to be the gift-giver.
The Black Mamba has given away numerous pairs of his signature shoe this season to long-time foes and emerging stars: LeBron James got a pair. So did Kevin Durant. Draymond Green did, too. Tony Allen was honored by Bryant for his tenacious defense over the years. And Devin Booker’s status as the future of the NBA was cemented with a kick-based gift from Bryant, too.
That’s a whole lot of shoes being handed out by Bryant. And with his kicks in such high demand, Bryant is having to come to the arena prepared.
In fact, on average Bryant brings about five pairs to each road game — and as many as seven in at least one instance — because he knows the demand is especially high.
So what are the requirements for receiving an autographed pair?
“Why? You want some?” Bryant joked when he was asked this week.
“Nah, generally guys that got the cojones to ask, I give it to them. I’ve got plenty of them back there, so I’m not going to run out, so it’s all good.”
Well, then. That explains everything. It also kind of takes some of the shine off of the gifts, though, right? Imagine having one of your heroes handing you a personalized token … just to turn around and do the same thing for someone else.
And seriously, they are generally the exact same shoe. Look at the one he gave to Allen:
A photo posted by Alexander Ovechkin (@aleksandrovechkinofficial) on
We understand that the Kobe 11 has only come out in a limited number of colorways, and that Bryant has worn a select number of those versions in games. That’s fine. But we guess only NBA stars get unique kicks from Bryant, who gave LeBron this bright yellow pair: