Kobe in Culture: The Top 20 Kobe Bryant-Inspired Creations
The top 20 commercials, documentaries, clothes, and more inspired by The Black Mamba
From the moment Kobe Bryant stepped onto the court and into the public conscious, he dominated both with flavorful arrogance and cut-throat swagger.
Few players were ever loved, hated and then loved again the way Kobe was. From the afro days to the “Mamba Mentality,” Bryant cultivated a new brash NBA culture that is reflected in the many creations inspired by his career. There were Kobe songs, Kobe commercials, Kobe shoes, and even Kobe puppets. We sifted through it all to give you the top 20 Kobe Bryant themed creations to help you remember and celebrate #8 and #24.
Thank you for the memories.
1. Dear Basketball by Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant, and John Williams
This Oscar-nominated animated short kicked off Kobe’s jersey retirement ceremony last night. It’s Bryant’s last gift to his first love, basketball, and it’s beautiful.
2. Kobe & Lebron puppet commercials for Nike
We never got a Kobe-Lebron NBA Finals but their series of Nike commercials living together as puppets was good enough for me. The puppets take on Kobe and Lebron’s NBA character but have smooth and sensible voices and the patience of your grandfather; a genius character dynamic that is hard to stop watching. Shots out to Lil Dez, too.
3. Lil Wayne – Kobe Bryant
This track was great to play when you were in a room full of Kobe haters. Everyone may not have loved Kobe, but most people loved Weezy. It was, and still is, a cheat code to win any Kobe argument.
4. Kobe Bryant vs Michael Jordan – Identical Plays
A dedicated Youtuber named Youssef Hannoun put together three videos of Kobe making the same moves as Michael Jordan in games. It’s scary exact. Kobe didn’t get to where he got on skill alone. The dude prepared and watched film like a motherfucker. He probably has seen every MJ play and he was clearly not afraid to steal a move or two from the GOAT.
5.Nike Kobe IV
Up until the Kobe IV, no one wore low tops in Basketball. But Kobe was a big soccer guy and challenged Nike to make him a low cut shoe to play in. If Lionel Messi could run for 90 minutes straight in cleats, why couldn’t a basketball player play on a court a third of the size for a third of the time in low tops? So they made the Kobe IV and the next four Kobe shoes were low tops. Kevin Durant soon followed the mold with three different low cut sneakers with Nike as well.
6. Nike – Kobe Bryant ‘You Showed Us’ Ad
After tearing his Achilles, Nike paid homage to Kobe with this nostalgic tribute to Kobe and what he’s meant to the game. The Hans Zimmer score takes it home. Sends chills down the spine.
7. NBA – There Can Only Be One: Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal
NBA’s entire “There Can Only Be One” commercial series for the 2008 playoffs was brilliant, but Kobe’s was particularly fascinating because his face was split with Shaq’s. The former teammates recite a bit about fear and I’m not sure Shaq believes what he’s told to say, but Kobe sure seems like he does. His eye brow raise at the 22-second mark is some black mamba hypnotic shit.
8. Nike – ‘Love Me or Hate Me’ Kobe Ad
Nike dropped this commercial in the heat of Kobe’s villain phase. The audio is tribal and tough as it mixes Kobe talking with sounds of him going through a workout behind a beating drum. It was a brusque “f you” to the haters and a salute to Kobe’s dominance and fans. Nike later made similar spots for Lebron and MJ.
9. Kobe Jumping Over Aston Martin / Inside the NBA Parady
Kobe “jumping” over an Aston Martin in his new Nike Hyperdunks was great and all, but TNT’s parody with Kenny Smith as Kobe is gold. Kobe’s reaction is too, “aye look at the shoes sitting in the street though!”
10. Backstage Lakers – Kobe’s Last Game
Backstage Lakers is probably the best behind-the-scenes sports show no one besides Lakers’ fans knows about. Their episode on Kobe’s last game is an immersive look into the historic day at Staples, catching everything from the mob of reporters stalking Kobe as he enters the arena to his postgame chat with Kanye.
11. Adidas KOBETWO
Complex ranked the Adidas KOBETWO as the 2nd Most hated signature shoe of all time, but that’s because people didn’t know how to react to them at first. And they still don’t! The KOBETWO was a moon boot made for basketball. What a storm trooper would hoop in. They were just different and people couldn’t handle that. They’re fucking crazy, especially that American flag pair. Wouldn’t be surprised if they come back soon after Virgil Abloh does an Off-White™ version or Adidas retro’s them after Kanye rocks them on July 4th, 2018.
12. Nike – Kobe ‘Broken But But Not Beaten’ T-Shirt
It seemed like Kobe was constantly fucking up his fingers, especially when the playoffs came around, but he never let a bum digit stop him from playing and winning rings.
13. Kobe Bryant ft. Tyra Banks – K.O.B.E.
Shameless Kobe rap promotion here, only because the Tyra Banks hook is actually nice.
14. Shaq Freestyle: ‘Kobe How My Ass Taste’
This track isn’t so jolly to “Jelly Bean” junior. After Kobe and Shaq’s falling out, Shaq dropped this freestyle asking Kobe how his ass tastes. I didn’t like it then, but now that time has healed the Kobe-Shaq wound, I can’t help but appreciate it.. Shaq should have acted less and rapped more.
15. Spike Lee – Kobe Doin’ Work
This is a pure look at how Kobe approaches a game. Spike Lee set up 30 cameras around Staples for a Lakers-Spurs battle in 2008. You really get to see the ins and outs of Kobe in game mode as he narrates and explains the footage throughout. It can get tedious at times, but its a must watch for basketball fans.
16. Kanye West – ‘I Feel Like Kobe’ T-Shirt
Kanye merch is over-priced and exploitive of his excessive influence, but his shirt honoring Kobe’s last game is great because of how the game turned out. Kobe dropped 60, making it one of the most historic games of his career. This has become the shirt to commemorate that amazing day.
17. Athletic Alchemy – Kobe Bryant || Psychological Savagery
This isn’t just any Kobe Bryant fan tribute video. It breaks Kobe down to a fundamental level, using psychology and genetics to explore and explain his greatness.
18. Meme – Reality vs. What Kobe Sees
19. Rolling Stone – Kobe Bryant Teenager of the Year
This 1998 Rolling Stone piece by Chris Mundy is one of the first major features ever written on Kobe. It’s cool to see how he dealt with fame as a teenager and matured as he grew up in the league. My favorite tidbits are that Kobe went to prom with Brandy, Tiger Woods saying “It’s nice to finally meet someone younger than me,” when he first met Kobe and the early signs that Kobe and Shaq would have problems as teammates.
20. Nike – ‘Kobe System’ Commercials
As Kobe’s career started to wind down, there really was no point in hating the dude anymore. The Lakers were trash and the light at the end of the Kobe era was turning on. So everyone, from fellow athletes to Celtics fans, started loving Kobe and praising him publicly. Nike captured this with their series of Kobe System commercials featuring Kobe giving stars like Kanye West and Aziz Ansari his success advice as if Bryant were a god or a master teacher; how people started making him out to be towards the end of his career.