In the hearts and minds of Lakers Nation, one hero stands heads and shoulders above the rest. The biggest star in a high-profile media center, Kobe Bryant is one of the most marketable athletes in the world. As such, Bryant is part of an exclusive crew that gets something more than 30-second TV spots and NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Awards: their very own signature shoes.
Kobe would tell you that he’s the incarnation of a fierce, competitive nature; an unstoppable will to win; and hours upon hours of dedication to perfecting his craft. Nike, on the other hand, would have you believe that he is the product of, well, their product.
Nike – a mega-merchant in the twenty-some-billion dollar athletic footwear industry – is not just selling uppers, soles, or style. They’re in the business of publicly selling basketball trade secrets and promises of greatness.
While the marketing is highly effective, it’s essentially snake oil. The trade secrets are null. The promises are empty.
There is one aspect of the game that is more undervalued than selfless playmakers and supporting casts: proper running technique. Without it, injury is a virtual certainty. Running is a skill, an art that has been lost in both professional and amateur athletics alike. The negative consequences of that popular naiveté have been inescapable and debilitating.
The latest ad for Bryant’s better-than-ever signature shoe explicitly states, “These Kobe VIs will make you a beast.” No instructions necessary, no assembly required. Just lace up and transform yourself from the last pick to the go-to scorer. The irony of course is that Nike’s latest and greatest weapon – inspired by one of the world’s biggest and baddest snakes – is actually causing the user to absorb the