Throughout Kobe Bryant's 20th and final NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar has made it a habit of signing and giving away some of his game-worn shoes to his opponents following games. Just this past week, following Kobe's final game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bryant gave a pair to LeBron James.
Well, the shoe is now on the other foot for Kobe Bryant (pun fully intended). Kobe is in Toronto this weekend to play in his final NBA All-Star Game, but before Bryant laces up his sneakers as a starter for the Western Conference on Sunday night, he'll have to figure out where to put 30 more pairs when he gets back to Los Angeles. In a ceremony in Toronto on Friday night, Kobe Bryant was presented with 30 pairs of the sneaker named for his idol, friend and mentor, the legendary Michael Jordan.
Lasting legacy.During the ceremony, Kobe Bryant was given the entire Air Jordan line (I through XXX), but it is a one-of-a-kind set made specifically for the 18-time All-Star. Actually, there are two of these sets, one in white and one in black. Kobe Bryant was given the brilliant white set, highlighted by the purple and gold-colored Air Jordan III and Air Jordan VIII that Kobe wore during the 2002-03 season.
— Jordan (@Jumpman23) February 13, 2016
Jordan Brand President Larry Miller was on hand to not only present the retirement gift to Kobe Bryant, but also to speak on Kobe's impact on the game of basketball. He made the following statement via Nike.com.
"The Jordan Brand is about more than basketball, it's about leaving a legacy and honoring those who have left a legacy. Tonight the brand was able to honor one of the game's great players and the legacy that [Kobe Bryant] created."In addition to the set given to Kobe Bryant, Jordan Brand also created an all-black set, once again adding the purple and gold highlights to a couple of pairs to honor the Los Angeles Lakers, the team that Kobe Bryant has played for his entire 20-year career.
First Look: Air Jordan Kobe Bryant Pack + Detailshttps://t.co/BL4y7e7TSL pic.twitter.com/ENTD0YUadyHowever, this set won't be going home with Kobe Bryant. Instead, the set inspired by Kobe Bryant is being auctioned off on eBay to raise money for charity.
— SneakerFiles.com (@sneakerfiles) February 14, 2016
"The set features all black versions of the iconic Air Jordan's, from the AIR JORDAN 1 to the recently released AIR JORDAN XXX. To satisfy the most avid fans of the brand, special purple and gold highlights have been added to the AIR JORDAN III and AIR JORDAN VIII to celebrate the versions Bryant famously wore during the 2002-03 season.This isn't the first time that Kobe Bryant has received a gift from Michael Jordan. Kobe's farewell tour has been filled with video tributes and special pregame introductions. In Kobe's final game on the road against the Jordan-owned Charlotte Hornets, Bryant received a special message. This is what Jordan had to say about Kobe in December.
"Only two full sets of these shoes have been made. The other collection-in all white versions of the shoes-were given to Bryant during a special presentation made by the Jordan Brand on Friday at a special event in Toronto."
It's shaping up to be an amazing All-Star weekend for Kobe Bryant, and receiving a gift from Michael Jordan will only add to what has been an amazing farewell tour. It also looks like the ceremony was only the beginning of the night for Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant's wife, shared a photo on Instagram from what looks to be a party thrown by Jordan. Kobe Bryant clearly wasn't going to leave that out of his farewell tour.[Photo by Elsa/Getty Images]