Black Mamba Strikes at Foot Locker

by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack

Black Mamba attacked fast and then he was gone—or so it seemed. That was the vibe felt after Kobe Bryant made a brief appearance at a Foot Locker in New York City late Friday night to promote his line of Kobe VII System Supreme kicks.

The crowd was raucous (in a good way), Bryant put on a happy face for them following a Lakers loss to the Knicks a block away at Madison Square Garden and then he slipped out of the building. He was there and he was gone. And the crowd soaked it in.

The event was officially for the launch of the “Great White Shark” edition of the Kobe VII’s, which retail for $170. The honoring of the predatory animal goes in line with Kobe’s predatory mindset, as he explained during a six-minute interview on stage.

“The Great White shark is a predator that’s evolved for years, for centuries,” Bryant said. “That speaks to my game.”

Bryant continued to describe the connection between his mentality and his newest line of shoes, which have editions named after other predatory animals, including “Cheetah” and “Wolf”.

“The philosophy I have is that you either be the hunter or the hunted, the predator or the prey. I’m not trying to be the prey,” Bryant said.

Even though Bryant appeared upbeat during the interview, there was no doubt from those who witnessed the Lakers-Knicks game that it was a front.

Bryant and the Lakers dropped to 15-12 after the Knicks defeated them 92-85 behind Jeremy Lin’s 38 points and 7 assists. Bryant put up 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but momentum from this wild Lin ride—he’s recorded at least 23 points and 7 assists in four straight Knicks wins—was too much for the purple and gold. The MSG crowd was especially vibrant, and Bryant admitted that playing in the World’s Greatest Arena is special.

“It’s always something magical about playing here,” Bryant said. “I think it’s the history of the building, I think it’s the culture of the city. There’s so much energy about it.”

The crowd at the West. 34th St. Foot Locker had a throttled-down tone to it compared to the Garden. But they still brought the love and admiration that they have for Bryant. He smiled, he put on a good face and he answered several of their questions. And then he was gone. Bryant holds the nickname Black Mamba for a reason. Like the animal in real life, he struck quick and then was nowhere in sight.