What Is the Future of Kobe Bryant’s Sneaker Brand?

Business, sports and shoes all converge

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant in 2007.
Getty Images

Kobe Bryant’s posthumous induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame served as another reminder of his legacy in the sport and his continuing popularity around the world. For many observers of the sport, and of the world of sports and marketing, this prompted plenty of questions related to Bryant’s forays into footwear. Late last year, Insider reported that Bryant had planned to launch his own brand of sneakers shortly before his death. In April, Bryant’s estate did not renew its contract with Nike. Will the future of Bryant-branded sneakers be found with an entirely new company?

At Sportico, Kurt Badenhausen explored the factors at play here with a good overview of the issues at hand. The article observes that starting a new company from the ground up would be very difficult, but also points out that demand for Bryant’s sneakers among pros was high during the 2019-20 season. And Bryant’s widow Vanessa recently debuted the clothing brand Mamabacita with a high-profile launch.

Several of the experts Badenhausen spoke with felt that the most likely resolution to this situation involved a return to Nike. John Kernan, an analyst at Cowan & Co., said, “Nike has the scale and creative behind it to keep it relevant. I think Nike is the smart place for that brand to stay.” All told, it’s a decision that sits at the intersection of sports and business, and it has significant implications for both Bryant’s estate and future superstars pondering sneaker deals.

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