In 2008, Kobe Bryant started wearing a lowtop Nike, becoming the first big name dude in years to eschew ankle support to gain a little more agility. That was four years ago — and four shoes — so there was bound to be some changes. The latest version is what you see here, the Nike Zoom Kobe VII.

The biggest difference, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, is that there is a gigantic detachable bootie where the shoe’s tongue usually is. It’s an interesting look, kind of similar to the Air Max 2 Force Strong that came out when I was in 7th grade, and it almost guarantees these won’t be worn for anything but hooping. I mean, it’s hard to wear a shoe without a tongue and it is equally as hard to pull off neoprene ankle braces in a casual setting. Trust me on that one, bros.

However, because Kobe always gets the best technology, I’m sure these are going to feel great. It’ll probably be weird for all you healthy-ankled lucky ducks to get used to ankle braces, but they’re sure to add a little extra safety and support that turns a lot of people off from lowtops. Aesthetically, they look like a combination of the Kobe VI and the Air Max Hyperfly, which is quite a departure from last year’s snake-skinned model. This is just the launch colorway, and things will surely get fancier as the season (or whatever) goes on, but these are pretty tame. They are fine, but not super exciting.

Detailed photos after the jump, including a shot of the inner sleeve that looks like a blue duck. Let’s hear what you think in the comments.

(via Marquee Sole/Nice Kicks)