finalharrisedit.jpg

Tobias Harris' spot in a visiting locker room is easy to identify. It's the locker with the huge shoe bag off to the side. Inside that bag you'll find sneakers ranging in age, rarity and colorways. One constant always remains: they're all Nike Kobe Bryant sneakers.

The 27-year-old Harris doesn't hit the hardwood with anything but Kobe kicks on his feet. He's currently playing for his fifth different team in his nine-year NBA career, but the shoe bag makes the trip wherever he goes. 

Bryant debuted his first Nike signature shoe, the Air Zoom Kobe 1, in 2006 which is around the time Harris was already playing varsity basketball as an eighth-grader in New York. Fast forward to today in a time when NBA players jump between signature lines on a nightly basis, even multiple times a game, Harris stays true to the one line.

"It's the most comfortable shoe for me," Harris told CBS Sports. "Every year they come out with a new one, and now they're retroing a lot of the most comfortable ones, the ones I wore in high school. Those are always cool for me to go back to and play in. It's the comfort in them and when Kobe was hooping and you're a kid rocking them it was cool."

Nike's Kobe line reeled off 11 signature models and they all tell a unique story. The Kobe 1 was the shoe Bryant wore when he exploded for 81 points in a win against the Raptors. The Kobe 3 was the sneaker that highlighted Bryant's MVP season in 2007-08. The Kobe 4 was the shoe Bryant wore when he won his fourth NBA title over the Magic in 2009. The Kobe 5 was on Bryant's feet as time ran out in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals and the Lakers secured back-to-back titles. The Kobe 6 contributed arguably the greatest Christmas Day colorway of any sneaker ever. The Kobe 7 featured a neoprene ankle sleeve that was unprecedented in sneakers until that point. The Kobe 9 was constructed in a way that mirrored the shoes boxers wear in the ring in order to ease Bryant back as he returned from his Achilles tear. The Kobe 11, the last numbered shoe in the line, was the final sneaker Bryant wore on an NBA court.

finaltobias1.jpg
Tobias Harris wearing the Nike Kobe 6 'Grinch' on Christmas Day. Getty

With longstanding signature lines you always experience ups and downs. There's certain models that resonate more than others, but for Harris the Kobe line never seemed to skip a beat.

"Honestly, the run just kept on going," Harris said. "Since I've been playing, I feel like every new model that's come out the next year has been like the best one. There was no fall off from him."

When Bryant retired in 2016 there were questions as to what would happen with his signature line. He would no longer be around to debut the new sneakers and couldn't show them off on the court. Nike kept the line going with new sneakers launching each year but stopped numbering each model that released. 

There was never a decline in how many players wore the Nike Kobe sneakers after Bryant's departure. And then a select group of players started to stand out with their intense dedication to the kicks. DeMar DeRozan, Isaiah Thomas, P.J. Tucker, Buddy Hield, Montrezl Harrell and De'Aaron Fox are among the NBA's biggest influencers when it comes to keeping the Kobe line alive and thriving. Whenever there's a new Kobe shoe to debut, you'll see it on the feet of one of these players. If there's a rare player exclusive shoe, they probably have it.

Harris' name belongs among those players, but where does he place himself among the league's biggest Kobe line collectors?

"Right around there. They got a little bit more exclusive heat and I'll give them the credit but I'm up there," Harris said. "De'Aaron Fox has a lot of Kobe heat too. P.J. Tucker, you just never really know what he's going to do because he has so much. Montrezl Harrell has a lot of heat also. So there are a lot of guys that have Kobe heat, but this is all I rock so."