The evolution of footwear is quite amazing. You had previous shoes with high-top builds from the 80’s to the transition of the 90’s. In my opinion, you can thank the GOAT himself, Michael Jordan (and Tinker Hatfield). He felt that a mid-cut shoe was more feasible for a guard and without impervious movements, allowing a lot more free-flowing movement without a higher collar of a shoe and also removing unnecessary weight of a shoe (Air Jordan III). But then you have Kobe, who wanted advantage of free-range of natural motion. The basis of using a low top allows a better execution for a better fit on foot and make the wearer’s foot feel as the shoe was just an extension of the body. Kobe wanted the shoe to help minimize necessary immobilization or precisely say, “no-wasted movements”, which in my standards means, every movement made on the basketball court cohorts energy. Kobe did not want any waste any energy or fatigue himself because he wanted to perform at the highest level possible.
The lower cut shoe helped keep the athlete also closer to the ground and better flexibility without restriction. Ground-breaking? Yes and no. Yes because of the usage of Flywire, Lunar and Zoom air combined in shoe (lower-base 2008 Nike Hyperdunk). No because we’ve seen the likes of John Stockton wearing the Nike Air Props Uptempo (’97-’98) or Steve Nash wearing the Nike Air Jet Flight(I consider this one of the top 20 shoes I want to see retroed), while he was playing for the Dallas Mavericks, but also dating back to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wearing low-top Adidas Superstars.