While his death would have been tragic no matter the circumstances, things are only made more upsetting by the fact that Bryant was just starting his post-NBA life after dedicating 20 years to the Lakers franchise. Because of this transition from basketball star to business man, Kobe was allegedly considering parting ways with Nike to start his own sneaker brand.
On Tuesday, entrepreneur and co-founder of Virgin Hyperloop, Shervin Pishevar, revealed on Twitter that Bryant had plans in motion to leave Nike in order to start his own footwear company named Mamba. According to Pishevar, who met Kobe in December 2019, Bryant wasn’t happy with the direction of his signature line due to the brand’s lack of marketing and promotional commitment. He said that the sales of Kobe’s shoes post-retirement were taking a hit, blaming Nike for the decline.
He even shared a look at the designs his team made to show Kobe during a meeting, which was also attended by Usain Bolt’s manager. Pishevar says he decided to share this news now as it’s nearing the one-year anniversary of when the two had their meeting.
Bryant’s relationship with Nike dates all the way back to 2003, when he left Adidas to sign with the brand. Bryant’s first Nike signature shoe released in 2006 and would continue to put out new models after his basketball career ended in 2016.
To this day, Kobe’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, seems to have a good relationship with Nike, recently revealing she came up with a way for fans to get their hands on hard-to-obtain releases.