Left to Right: TV personality Kevin Frazier, Kobe Bryant, Kobe V Design Director Eric Avar, and Nike Researcher Matt Nurse.

This week, Nike launched the Kobe V sneaker in Los Angeles, CA. The V comes on the tail of what was the lightest shoe in basketball, the Kobe IV, but when the new version hits retail on January 16th, it will take the title at 10.6 ounces per shoe. The basketball sneaker utilizes a new type of Flywire and a series of innovations that bring maximum stability with minimum amount of weight to the project. We met with Eric Avar, lead designer on the project, Matt Nurse, head researcher for the Kobe sneaker, and the man himself, Kobe Bryant, to take us through the shoe. Hit the jump for a full technical breakdown of the Kobe V...

Reporting by Ralph Warner. Images courtesy of freshnessmag.com
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Low-cut profile: Designed for free and faced paced cuts on the floor.

KOBE BRYANT, PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: "We looked at soccer and how these players put so much torque on their ankle but are still able to play in low-cut boots. I was sitting at home and I'm watching the Barca game and it's crazy the force they're working with. So my wheels just started turning, and I researched some things on my own. For me as a player, I thought, if I can play in low-cut shoes, I might feel more comfortable. I wasn't sure why, but I just kind of had this thing for the low cut. I met with the Nike guys and they helped me evolve the concept."

ERIC AVAR, DESIGN DIRECTOR, KOBE V: "That's the great thing about working with Kobe. He's constantly challenging us and pushing us to create high-performing product. Kobe just point blank said, "I want the lowest, lightest-weight basketball shoe ever. I want to prove to everyone, and specifically kids, that you can play at the highest level in a low-top shoe."

Flywire technology provides support on both sides and center of shoe, without sacrificing weight.

AVAR: "This sneaker has a similar construction (to the Kobe IV), but the main difference from the IV is the materials. We used Flywire again, because it is lightweight and torsionally strong, but this time we upgraded the construction with a thin thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) skin to hold the Flywire fibers. This casing results in a package that's exactly half the thickness and half the weight of the previous version. The skin is more pliable and more conforming, so it gives Kobe that security that is so important in a low-top shoe."

BRYANT: "For me the IVs were like the perfect basketball shoe, now the challenge was how do we go even further? I slipped these ones on and somehow, these guys did it. When I hit that corner or I'm making a sharp slide and I have to cut off against another athlete, I want to make sure I'm getting every ounce of my training in. I'm not losing any seconds when I do that in this shoe."

Toe box: Reinforced and engineered to remain sturdy over time and keep the foot in place.

MATT NURSE, SENIOR RESEARCHER, NIKE BASKETBALL: "We use force plates and make pressure measurements when we're working on a sneaker. The force plates work on a 3D scale, so we can we can measure the force vertically but also forward, backward and side to side. We need to make sure that the toe box is properly constructed to hold you in that mini-car accident you have when you change directions [when playing basketball]. When you land from a jump for example, you can have forces anywhere from two to 10 times your body weight under your forefoot and heel. We need to make sure you can play in an 82-game season and be protected, so we put a lot of reinforcement in the toe cap to keep the player safe."

BRYANT: "This is a credit to them and what they do, because I sit there and have these ideas and concepts on what would help me become a better basketball player. But it's one thing to have those concepts and share them, it's another to have the talent to actually execute them. So for the product to come back exactly what I dreamed it to be and more, it's a credit to what them and what they do."

Heartbeat traction pattern: Created with the heart and dedication Kobe shows on the court, and gives players a better grasp of the floor when changing direction on cuts.

AVAR: "On the outsole we tried to reduce as much weight as possible, to get after the overall light-weight aspect of the shoe. It wasn't one single component that saved weight, but more about looking at every little component to take out as much weight as possible. We did that a lot with the outsole, and we took the more common herringbone traction which you might see in a lot of Nike shoes, and exaggerated that a little bit into this heartbeat pattern. This pattern was part of the inspiration directly from Kobe. I remember sitting with him and we were talking a little bit afterward about inspiration for the shoe and he drew a heart on a piece of paper and slid it across the table to me. And I'm like "OK." [Laughs.]

BRYANT: "The tracion pattern is a little abstract, but I love what I do. It's fun to me and there's an infinite amount of interest about the game, about how to win championships, and how to get everyone on the same page. I want one more, another championship. I look at last year's NBA finals and I have so many fond memories, that stays with you forever. So hopefully we can do that again this season.

The sculpted heel counter was designed with the intention of enhancing ankle security when making cuts.

AVAR: "The decoupled heel (there is a split in the heel cup to allow for added floor contatct) allows for optimal motion during lateral and medial cutting. We sculpted it down to the heel a little more for a closer fit, and we also sculpted the arch as well. That was done in an effort to get a little more one-to-one fit, for added security."

BRYANT: "You have to be careful about rolling your ankle. I've had severe ankle sprains in high-top shoes, so that's not the answer. I feel like the low top is actually an advantage because I feel it allows my ankle to move the way it's naturally intended to move. From the research I've seen and lived, a high-top shoe actually prohibits your movement. So if I have this shoe here and can change directions in its natural state, as you saw with the heel lock, that gives you more protection than having a high top shoe."

Dot Matrix language that can be found on all Kobe products this season.

AVAR: "Kobe is obviously one of the most recognizable athletes and icons on the planet, but there's also this mysterious aspect to his persona and his life. We wanted to have something that could acknowledge that aesthetically. We take the performance so seriously, but Kobe says all the time that he wants to have some fun with it. We developed a dot-matrix code which is actually a secret language, a secret Kobe language that we developed. It's a dot matrix language, and it will appear throughout the Kobe product this year."

BRYANT: [Laughs.] "Divinci ain't got nothing on this. This language came from another dimension. A Nike dimension."

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