Kobe Bryant, Nike unveil high-top basketball shoe with Flyknit upper

Kobe Bryant, Nike unveil high-top basketball shoe with Flyknit upper

When Nike introduced its Flyknit technology nearly two years ago, chief executive Mark Parker said the running shoe featuring the one-piece, knitted-upper was only the beginning.

“‘We took machines that were designed for something else, we altered the machines dramatically and then we created new software to do something that’s never been done before in footwear,” Parker said in a Feb. 22, 2012, interview with The Oregonian. “And that is actually going to change the whole formula for how footwear is made. I think you’re going to see that on a larger and larger scale.”

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant helped Parker show what the chief executive had been talking about.

Bryant and Parker participated in the introduction of the Kobe 9 Elite shoe at an event at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The shoe features not just Flyknit but two other shoe technologies that Nike often touts: the strengthening thread system Flywire and Lunarlon, a lightweight sole material.

“We are just scratching the surface of the potential of Nike Flyknit to transform the way we design shoes to meet athletes’ needs,” Parker says in a Nike news release issued Wednesday. “The Kobe 9 redefines the basketball shoe by combining power, strength, and flexibility with lightweight materials and a whole new method of manufacturing.”

Flyknit until now had pretty much been limited to running shoes. Flyknit uppers are created on a machine that weaves one-piece uppers from single strands of yarn. Among its other attributes, Nike officials say, the process eliminates much of the waste in the shoe production process.

The Kobe 9 Elite upper reduces waste by nearly 50 percent compared to traditional high-top basketball shoes that use multiple segments and cuts of material in the construction process, Nike said in a news release. The shoe becomes available Feb. 8 and will be priced at $225.

— Allan Brettman