(Washington Post) — Of the many thousands of people who watched the Lakers game on Christmas Day, some didn’t tune in to admire Kobe Bryant’s prowess; they swooned over his sneakers – even if they might have been inspired by the Grinch (designed, perhaps, to steal attention). The shoes, the Christmas Day edition of the Nike Zoom Kobe VI, are a spectacle in lime-green, detailed with red trim and polyurethane nodules that look like a snake’s skin. Leveraging an athlete’s superstardom and calling to mind a much-loved children’s story, they stitch together status and nostalgia and are the sort of thing that kids and adults alike might hope for as they bound out of bed and race for the Christmas tree. With this release, Nike has built on its own tradition of creating shoes that inspire a cult following. Indeed, kids happy to sport cool kicks at school sometimes grow into devoted collectors – or sneakerheads – who dish out thousands of dollars for a closet full of shoes they might never dare wear on a court. Nike’s black-and-red Air Jordan I, released in 1985, catapulted the collectible-sneaker trade into big business. Now in its 25th year, the Jordan brand is a $1 billion-a-year franchise that operates independently from Nike’s broader basketball business.
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