‘Wasn’t Happy With Nike’: Kobe Bryant Reportedly Wanted to Create His Own ‘Mamba’ Sneaker Brand

Published 12/29/2020, 9:48 AM EST
LOS ANGELES, CA — SUNDAY, APRIL 7, 2013 — The Lakers Kobe Bryant watches the game slip away during their 109-95 loss to the Clippers on Sunday afternoon at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant and Nike revolutionized the sneaker game during his 20-year NBA career. The late Los Angeles Lakers superstar pursued several business approaches after his retirement and reportedly had an idea to start a separate shoe company. But what about the partnership that he had with Nike? 


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Kobe Bryant initially signed with Nike in 2003 on a four-year deal that earned him $40 million. This was the dawn of an epic partnership that completely revolutionized the NBA’s sneaker game. 

Bryant and Nike released numerous colorways that epitomized his zeal and passion for the game. The Mamba worked with the brand even after his professional retirement, but things weren’t going smoothly as one would think.


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Kobe Bryant wanted to leave Nike in 2020

2020 woke us all up with the hard-hitting news about Kobe’s death. It was unbelievable at first glance and remains the same to date. Had he lived, the Mamba would’ve accomplished so much in his life, personally and professionally. 

Kobe ventured into different business ideas after bowing out of the league, and he had multiple interests to keep him occupied. He had plenty of contacts to kick-start anything that he wanted to and had already informed a few people about the business ideas he had for the future. 

One such person was Shervin Pishevar, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist among many other things. The Iranian-American investor took Twitter by storm when he made a major revelation about Kobe and his desire to end ties with Nike. 

“I met with Kobe Bryant in late December 2019. Kobe wasn’t happy with Nike and was going to leave it in 2020. Kobe was going to start Mamba, a shoe company owned by players. He passed away weeks later. What he was about to do in business was going to eclipse his sports career,” Shervin Pishevar wrote. 

This certainly sent everyone into a state of disbelief as Kobe seemed to enjoy his partnership with Nike. But Shervin’s revelation has caused a whirlwind of thoughts in one’s mind about what could’ve been. 

Why Kobe was dissatisfied with Nike

There must’ve been a reason why Kobe was inclined towards leaving Nike and Shervin Pishevar knew about it. In fact, the venture capitalist decided to open up his long-kept secret exactly on December 29 because it was the first anniversary of his meet-up with Kobe. 

The Lakers legend unfortunately passed in a tragic accident just under a month after meeting with Shervin. But the latter had obtained vital information from Kobe as to why he wanted to start his own sneaker brand. 

LOS ANGELES, CA, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2014 – Lakers guard Kobe Bryant during pregame warmups before a preseason game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“He [Kobe] wasn’t happy with Nike’s marketing and promotion commitment to Kobe’s line. And the sales of his shoes were anemic and he blamed Nike. He retained tight control because he didn’t trust Nike’s judgment in design.” the tweet mentioned. 

A glance at the ‘Mamba’ prototypes

Kobe Bryant envisioned creating his own brand that would completely focus on player-owned models and intricate designs. He even had Shervin’s team chart up a design as to how a futuristic prototype model would look like. Here are the samples: 


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It is commendable of Shervin to share a personal anecdote that he encountered with Kobe Bryant. He opened up about the details to create an impact as to what the five-time NBA champion dreamed of for the future. 


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Kobe Bryant was always a broad-minded personality whose forward-thinking mentality worked out the right way. If not for the unfortunate crash, one could be witnessing the ‘Mamba’ sneaker brand create a revolution in the market! 


Arjun Athreya

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Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.