See it here: Kobe Bryant rolls out new hoops shoe
Kobe Bryant has debuted his latest pair of basketball shoes—now the only question is when he'll take the court in them.
The five-time NBA champion unveiled his new signature shoe, the "Kobe 9" from Nike, on Wednesday, revealing a dramatically different look for the Lakers' MVP.
Bryant shocked the sneaker world in 2008 when he revealed for the first time a basketball mid-top inspired by a soccer shoe. Five editions later, Bryant has decided to go back to an extreme high-top, a decision he said was in the pipeline long before he suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon that forced him off the court almost eight months ago.
"The challenge was to go high and have a shoe that is still light and responsive," said Bryant, whose inspiration for the shoe came by watching boxing icon Manny Pacaquio train. The Filipino fighter frequents Los Angeles' Wild Card Gym.
To create a lighter sneaker and still be able to keep the height, Nike utilized its flyknit technology, previously used only in its running shoes.
Flyknit is one piece of material used on the upper part of the shoe that the company claims helps enhance the foot's natural movements.
"I wanted to push the envelope with the design while creating a shoe that would provide enhanced performance," Bryant told CNBC.
Kobe's collection of signature shoes has meant big business for Nike, which signed him from Adidas in 2003. According to SportsOneSource, Bryant has the second best-selling shoe behind Lebron James, with an estimated $50 million in sales in 2012 in the U.S. alone.
Bryant, in his 18th season, just completed a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension with the Lakers.
The 15-time All-Star, who averaged 27.3 points and six assists last season, dismissed speculation that he would return Friday when the Lakers play the Sacramento Kings.
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Bryant's been practicing all week and says he is anxious to get back on the court.
"It's going to feel like home. I'm like a fish out of water…these gills have got to breathe."
The Kobe 9 will go on sale both online and in stores for $225 beginning on Feb. 8.
—By CNBC's Jessica Golden; follow her on Twitter