That dialogue began when venture capitalist, Shervin Pishevar took to Twitter to discuss a meeting that he had with the Black Mamba in 2019.
During a recent interview with Forbes Magazine’s Landon Buford, former Laker, Cedric Ceballos, once a teammate of Bryant’s shared that he thought that Bryant could’ve pulled it off and gotten current NBA players to leave their sneaker deals to join Bryant’s initiative.
“A lot of people would have [gone] with him in whatever venture he went to,” Ceballos, a one-time NBA All Star and NBA Slam Dunk Champion shared with told Buford.
“Just because they grew and he was their Michael Jordan. You see how many players wear his shoes now in the game. They are a drop item; they have a new Kobe shoe coming out just like Jordan’s. People will rush to it and try to grab it, and I’m not sure if he is second on the notch of desirable shoes, but he has to be at least top five. So, a lot of people would have gone with him in his ventures. I think it is so classic because of the money made off of sneakers and the buzz off that. The fact that he would own that it would have been great. Look at what Baron Davis and Master P are trying to do with Reebok. I think that is great, and there is no reason we shouldn’t have an opportunity to own our own shoes. Shaq has been doing it for years, Stephon Marbury has also done it for years.”
A winner of five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, and a regular-season MVP award, Bryant was also an 18-time NBA All-Star and was listed fourth on the NBA’s career scoring list with 33,643 points.
Bryant retired from basketball in 2016 after 20 years in the game with career averages of 25.0 points, 4.7 assists and 5.2 rebounds.
The 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft out of Lower Merion High School, Bryant is the only player in NBA history to spend 20 seasons with one team.
Bryant died in a helicopter crash that took the lives of nine people, including Bryant’s daughter, Gigi on Sunday, January 26, 2020.
His death happened the day after LeBron James passed Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Many compare Bryant’s game to Michael Jordan.
Jordan got the chance to close his career on his terms while with the Chicago Bulls, retiring twice and winning championships both times (he later returned, for two seasons, with the Wizards). Retired NFL player Peyton Manning ended his similarly when he and the Denver Broncos captured Super Bowl 50.
“It would have been amazing,” Bryant told me in an interview in 2016.
“But you know, it just wasn’t meant to be. But at the same time, I couldn’t complain about it. I’ve enjoyed winning to the tune of five championships and been very fortunate to have those. Most players haven’t been able to get one. So, you gotta be able to take the good with the bad.”