Nike basketball held the Kobe Bryant Zoom Experience at the Galen Center, home of the USC Trojans four days prior to the release of his sixth generation sneaker the Zoom VI’s. I am a former college basketball player who had the luxury of participating in this two-day Kobe Bryant experience. Nike assembled an elite group of athletes and integrated a few home employees to test the shoe and gather feedback. Inquiring on aspects such as response, comfort ability, feel, body, and overall design.
Nike kicked off the experience with a Kobe Zoom introduction. This was given by EKIN’s. An EKIN is a Nike employee with high knowledge of product who identifies pertinent information like the history, origin, and evolution of the Zoom. During the presentation the EKIN’s touched on specific details designers had in mind. Nike used a euro polyethylene shell on the entire outside of the shoe; the flexible shell gives the unique look, which is not only fashionable, but serves as a duel enhancer. It customizes the foot of the owner with duel density liners in the shoe, these are similar to memory foam and are very comfortable. This is new technology Nike is using exclusively in the Zoom VI because the designers feel customization is key. They want to give the consumer a unique experience and create a lasting tie between consumer and product.
The EKIN’s explained the difference between Zoom four through six. They had three different generations on display and showed the transformation of each shoe and spoke on old technology, explaining where Nike was headed a few years ago. They then alluded to the new capabilities of the Zoom VI and where the vision of Nike is headed. The EKIN’s acknowledged Kobe, talked about his inspiration on the actual cut of the shoe. Bryant is huge a soccer fan, loved the fact that soccer players can play in low cut shoes and move with no problem. Bryant insisted on creating a low cut sneaker that allowed him to cut on hardwood like he would if he were on the soccer field. He didn’t want a bunch of pressure on his ankles. Through studies Nike concluded that most players sprain their lower ankle and introduced the low cut V, then reinforced the shoe with fly wire and launched the VI. This version has excellent heel support, is very light in weight (10.6ounces), and has amazing response.
My initial response to the Zoom VI was “wow! They did it again.” Nike invited a group of eighteen “Influencers” to the beautiful Galen center, home of the USC Trojans, an arena that hosted greats ranging from Paul Westphal and Tex Winter to O.J Mayo and DeMar DeRozan. Nike reserved the gym, personally selected this group to play in the VI’s and give them feedback about the shoe.
We started the experience by viewing a short Zoom VI presentation from EKINS, who then gave us all “Kobe Venomenon” duffle bags, all containing Nike combat dri-fit shorts, tops and a pair of the all black Zoom VI. They did this roll call style. A Nike representative jumped on the loud speaker and announced each participant’s name, height, and where they went to high school, as if we were all in the starting line-up. For some guys, this hadn’t been done in years, as most of the players were in their mid to later twenties. It came as a complete surprise, as key to detail is something that sets Nike apart from other companies. This was very unique, these special moments made the experience memorable. We changed in the visiting locker room, gathered at half court, and stretched for 20-minutes with a current Lakers strength and conditioning coach.
The Zoom VI’s are extremely light, surprisingly flexible, and very responsive. The feel of the shoe reiterated what the EKINS stated in their presentation. My favorite part of the Zoom VI is the base. The amount balance in the base allowed me to dynamically cut without a lot of pressure on my ankles. The feel of the euro polyethylene shell was also another feature that stood out; it really hugged my foot, which was comforting. The speed at which we played was high; recognizing the doubt of spraining an ankle was also reassuring. The Zoom VI was great, like no sneaker I’ve played in. Light, durable, and extremely sleek. The detail in the design really stands out, only adding another dimension to the already exquisite shoe.
Day two of the experience brought us to Staples Center, where Nike treated us to dinner at Katsuya, one of the best Japanese restaurants in L.A. After the great meal, we were surprised with a tour of “The Vault,” Kobe Bryant’s Nike influenced store set to open on Christmas day. While touring the Vault, Nike gave us yet another surprise. An unreleased blue and white Zoom VI. The attention to detail during this part the experience was extraordinary. Each “Influencer” was given a key that correlated a lock box containing the blue and white VI. It was the way Nike presented the product to the “Influencer” that took the experience to another level. It really made me feel unique and exclusive. It was a personable experience as the team from Nike were true professionals. The Vault was full of photos, not all being Bryant. Supreme athletes ranging from Bo Jackson to Tiger Woods with Kobe action shots, Nike merchandise, memorabilia, and a 25 foot black mamba made up the store. Nike is showing how special the Zoom VI is by turning the launch into a true experience. After touring the Vault, we watched the Lakers take on the Bucks from Hyde Lounge. Staples converted eight box seats into an opulent lounge that injects luxury viewing positioned atop a key point in the arena.
I highly recommend this sneaker. It’s a leader in the new wave of basketball sneakers. Cutting edge technology is transcending the shoe game, adding the utmost comfort and highest level of performance. These have an abundance of style and plenty of detail. Nike put a lot of work into the development of the shoe, fusing different features into a high quality product.