Even with several exciting Kobe shoe releases on the horizon, there’s still one design I am sure sneaker enthusiasts would appreciate seeing again: The Nike Kobe 5 Protro “Bruce Lee.” This particular sneaker is really something special, not only because it’s linked to the phenomenal Kobe Bryant but also because it pays a stunning tribute to Bruce Lee, the martial arts legend himself.
However, let’s be clear. The birth of the “Bruce Lee” theme didn’t start with the Protro silhouette. That honour is claimed by its predecessor, the original Kobe 5 “Bruce Lee” unveiled in 2010. This version became such a darling to sneaker enthusiasts that a decade later, Nike celebrated this success by releasing its reincarnation – the Protro version.
Staying faithful to its original form, the Zoom Kobe 5 Protro “Bruce Lee” features the same scene-stealing yellow and black colour palette, tipping its hat to Bruce Lee’s legendary jumpsuit from Game of Death (although, you’ve likely seen its replica worn by Uma Thurman in Kill Bill). The four red stripes across the forefoot then offer a subtle reference to the scars Lee’s character sustained in the climactic battle in Enter the Dragon.
In addition to these details, the design boasts the classic Mamba logo on the tongue and Kobe’s red signature on the heel for a more personalised touch. This sneaker also integrates modern technology, like the Zoom Air cushioning and Flywire upper, delivering amplified comfort and support for athletes and, of course, us casual wearers as well.
Although sneaker lovers can still get their hands on this stylish shoe from the aftermarket, with prices now reduced to a more reasonable $300 USD on platforms like StockX, we’d certainly enjoy seeing Nike reintroduce this colour scheme in their upcoming Kobe editions.
Why, you might ask? Well, we would be thrilled to see how this iconic colourway could be reimagined. Perhaps it can be given new life on a different silhouette or maybe a new mix of materials would bring something interesting to Kobe’s “Bruce Lee” design? Whatever their choice, we hope Nike grabs this chance to bring back this beloved colour scheme in a fresh and innovative way- like they have been doing with other beloved Kobe colourways.
Yes, we’ve seen a similar theme on a Kyrie Irving sneaker. And yes, there was an alternate Nike release of this colourway in 2020. However, the popularity and demand for the “Bruce Lee” design continues strong (certainly amongst us at Sneaker Fortress). This is partly due to its origins as a colour scheme inspired by one of Kobe’s (and our) biggest idols.
Not only did Kobe watch Game of Death and Enter the Dragon, but he also immersed himself in every movie Bruce Lee starred in. Kobe’s adoration for Bruce Lee was far more than just him being a fan of his films, though. He was deeply influenced by Lee’s philosophy and martial arts techniques, even incorporating them into his training routine. So why wouldn’t Nike revitalise a colourway that serves as a touching tribute to both Kobe and his idol Bruce Lee?
Back in August 2023, there were strong rumours that suggested a new release of a white Kobe 5 Protro “Bruce Lee” sneaker, which was seen on Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis Jr. The player was spotted lacing up an unreleased Bruce Lee-inspired Nike Kobe 5 colourway (via @NBAKicks on Instagram). If these were to be released, they’d be pretty awesome to grab.
In the photographs captured, we see the sneakers sported by Portis Jr. cloaked primarily in a pristine white hue across the upper portion. This is artfully contrasted by a Swoosh in black and red. Delicate dashes of yellow grace the heel, while Lee’s signature slash marks (from Enter the Dragon) are etched on the front.
While no concrete plans have been announced, we remain optimistic about Nike reviving this iconic colourway in a new light for the upcoming Mamba releases. So, be sure to follow us for updates on whether we will see another “Bruce Lee” design from the Swoosh and Kobe and, of course, more trips down sneaker memory lane.