The Louisiana State University Tigers women’s basketball team’s victory in the NCAA national championship game Sunday evening has been mired in controversy. But on game night they had the legacy of NBA star Kobe Bryant with them in the form of his Nike Kobe 6s sneakers gifted to the team by Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant.
Still controversy brewed post game. Some media have called out MVP Angel Reese for mocking the opposing team’s star player, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark with the popular “you can’t see me” hand gesture, and pointing to her ring finger. Reese has been unapologetic. In fact, she addressed the issue during the postgame press conference. She questioned why her using the gesture is being deemed rude when Clark also used the same gesture during the game to another player.
“All year, I was critiqued for who I was. I don’t fit the narrative,” Reese said. “I don’t fit the box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. Y’all told me that all year. But when other people do it, y’all don’t say anything.
“So this is for the girls that look like me. For those that want to speak up for what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you. And that’s what I did it for tonight. It was bigger than me tonight. And Twitter is going to go into a rage every time.”
Then there was the debacle over the traditional White House visit for the championship team. First lady Jill Biden suggested both teams should visit. Resse tweeted that such an invite was “a joke.” The White House has since clarified that only the LSU team will visit.
While there was all this post-game drama, the LSU teams had been sent positive vibes to take into the championship game, which took place on April 2.
In late March, the team was gifted Nike Kobe 6 sneakers in the “Grinch” colorway courtesy of Vanessa. The team headed into the game with fresh sneakers and the legacy of the 41-year-old Los Angeles Lakers legend, who was killed in 2020 in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna and seven others.
For the championship game, the Tigers weren’t wearing purple or gold kicks to match LSU’s uniform, but instead they donned the neon green Kobe 6 sneakers.
Vanessa Bryant shipped boxes of the sneakers to the Tigers the day before their game.
The iconic Kobe 6 Grinches were launched on Christmas Day 2010 in a colorway similar to that of a green apple. They initially sold for $130. Today, according to online sneaker shop GOAT, a pair of Grinches ranges from $700 to $3,500, depending on size.
The gesture by Vanessa may also serve another purpose — publicity. The Kobe 6 Grinches are expected to be readily available again for holiday retail season 2023.
Besides the distinctive color, the sneakers, which were designed by Nike creative director Eric Avar, feature a polyurethane “island” upper, made to mimic snake’s skin, a nod to the green mamba snakes that have deep and dark black eyes. Bryant’s nickname was the Black Mamba.