The end Kobe bryant was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday as part of Sanctuary’s most accomplished class in Springfield, Massachusetts. Inductees Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are three of six players selected for at least 15 All-Star Games, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal.
There is no dispute over Bryant’s place as one of the sport’s all-time greats 16 months after the tragic helicopter crash that killed the fivefold. NBA champion, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. Less clear is the future of his shoe brand after his succession and Nike split last month, ending an 18-year relationship.
“My hope will always be to allow Kobe fans to get and wear his products,” his widow, Vanessa Bryant, said in a statement in April. âI will continue to fight for this. Kobe products sell out in seconds. That says it all. I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy. We will always do our utmost to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacy. It will never change. “
Sources said Vanessa was unhappy with the amount of product Nike distributed during Kobe’s five-year retirement contract with the Swoosh. The reality is that few retired NBA players are moving a lot of product outside of Michael Jordan, whose brand generates nearly $ 4 billion in revenue a year for Nike. Even so, only a small fraction of that comes from new models, as MJ’s retro and lifestyle shoes from play days generate most of the revenue.
But according to the Baller Shoes DB Database, Bryant Nike sneakers were the most popular signature model for pros to wear during the 2019-20 season. Yet starting a new Bryant shoe business from scratch or through a partnership with another sports company would still be a major challenge.
âThey should be creating products from scratch,â said Matt Powell, analyst at market research firm NPD Group. “You have to have really deep pockets, because the development costs of making a shoe are extremely high.” Powell points out that most men’s shoes come in 20 sizes, which requires 20 different “shapes,” the expensive molds the shoes are made around. You also need the same number of outsoles, the lower part of the shoe.
âIt’s very expensive, and the market constantly wants new and new, which means you have to keep reinvesting,â Powell said. “That’s why you don’t see new shoe brands popping up all the time.”
According to the NPD Retail Tracking Service, Nike is the dominant player in basketball with 86% of performance sneakers, including the Jordan brand, and 96% of retro business in the United States.
Powell thinks a meeting with Nike makes the most sense for Bryant’s estate, and Cowen & Co. analyst John Kernan agrees. âThere’s really no one else out there who would be able to handle this,â Kernan said. âNike has the scale and the creativity behind it to keep it relevant. I think Nike is the perfect place for this brand to stay. “
Nike held a raffle last week to give fans a chance to purchase his Kobe 5 Protro âHall of Fameâ collaboration. The predominantly gold color scheme is a nod to the material Bryant has collected over his 20-year career. It was more widely available on Saturday via the Nike SNKRS app.
Venture capital Shervin Pishevar revealed in a series of tweets last year that he met Bryant in December 2019 about launching a new shoe brand. “Kobe was not satisfied with Nike and was going to leave it in 2020”, tweeted the serial entrepreneur. âKobe was going to start Mamba, a player-owned shoe company. He passed away weeks later. What he was about to do in business would eclipse his athletic career.
Vanessa bryant launched the Mambacita clothing line on May 1, the proceeds of which are donated to the non-profit organization she founded in memory of Kobe and Gianna. Mambacita was Gianna’s nickname. Kobe Domain filed 13 new brands, by brand specialist and lawyer Josh Gerben, and there are more opportunities for his field to expand its clothing offering. But a shoe company with any type of scale is a different animal.
Kobe spent his first six years with Adidas before joining the Nike family in 2003 and had one of the NBA most profitable shoe deals for most of his career. Bryant embraced the constant on-court comparisons with Jordan, and he nearly matched MJ’s six titles, but Mamba fell short in the shoe game. MJ eclipsed Kobe by around 20 to 1 in sales for Nike. âKobe was a big deal in China, but was never a big force in footwear in the United States,â Powell said.
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