Middleton wore a pair of the Nike Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita” shoes during Game 4 of the Bucks' first-round series victory over the Miami Heat.
Khris Middleton wearing the Nike Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita” last week in Game Four against Miami pic.twitter.com/mn9ut4BwI1
— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) June 3, 2021
The shoes were not ever supposed to become available to the general public, let alone worn by one of the NBA's best players on a national broadcast.
Vanessa Bryant posted an Instagram clarifying she worked with Nike on a design–colorway, number and pattern–for the “Mambacita” to honor her daughter, Gianna, and husband, Kobe. However, Bryant said the shoes, initially intended to benefit the Mambacita Foundation, had not been approved for sale.
Nike's contract with Kobe and the Bryant estate expired earlier this year, and Vanessa chose not to renew as the estate launched a Mambacita clothing line. There is no agreement in place between the “Swoosh” and Bryant estate, but the shoes have somehow become available.
Perhaps Vanessa would be open to players donning the design during these playoffs as a way of honoring Gigi and Kobe. It doesn't feel like a stretch to suggest the players would likely agree to make donations to the Mambacita Foundation, accordingly. Still, the seemingly widespread release of the shoe is a bit odd, to say the least.
As for Middleton, he put up a 20-point double-double in the Mambacita design as the Bucks swept past the Heat. Will we see these shoes again in the playoffs? That remains to be seen.