The world was left stunned when it learned about the tragic passing of global basketball icon Kobe Bryant this year. Bryant, who passed away at the age of 41, was beginning a new chapter in life following his 20-year career as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, which allegedly included the possibility of leaving Nike to start his own shoe company.
Entrepreneur and co-founder of Virgin Hyperloop Shervin Pishevar revealed on Twitter today that Bryant had plans in motion to leave his long-time endorser Nike to start his own footwear company appropriated named Mamba, after the two met in December 2019. According to Pishevar, Bryant wasn't happy with the direction of his signature line due to the brand's lack of marketing and promotional commitment. He continued by saying that the sales of Bryant's shoes post-retirement were taking a hit and he blamed Nike for the decline.
Pishevar shared images of the sneaker design that his team created ahead of their meeting for the Mamba shoe company. The rendering shows a slip-on silhouette with what appears to be snake-like textures at the forefoot to represent Bryant's "Black Mamba" nickname. Pishevar also revealed that there's a tracker on the back of the shoe that's attached by a strong magnet, which is linked to a Mamba fitness app providing various coaching and motivational features.
Pishevar revealed that he decided to share this news now as it's nearing the one-year anniversary when the two had their meeting, but his claims on the situation between Nike and Bryant have not been confirmed by the brand.
Nike declined to comment on the story.
Bryant's long-standing relationship with Nike dates all the way back to 2003 when he left Adidas to sign with the Swoosh. Bryant's first Nike signature shoe released in 2006 and would continue to put out new models after his basketball career had ended in 2016.