Recently, venture capitalist, Shervin Pishevar shared that Kobe Bryant had interest in leaving Nike and wanted to start his own sneaker company.
In fact, he shared that the meeting happened a month before Bryant’s untimely death.
“I met with Kobe Bryant in late December 2019,” Pishevar tweeted.
“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.
“These were the designs my team did to show him that day for an independent Mamba shoe company. Here’s calendar details. There were witnesses to the meeting and Kobe’s plans like Gina Ford, who manages Usain Bolt.”
Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash that took the lives of nine people, including Bryant’s daughter, Gigi on Sunday, January 26, 2020.
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, other than Dirk Nowitzki, Bryant is the only player in NBA history to spend 20 seasons with one team.
An 18-time NBA All-Star, Bryant was listed fourth on the NBA’s career scoring list with 33,643 points.
During his NBA career, Bryant won five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards and a regular-season MVP award.
Imagine a world where Bryant owned his own sneaker-line that was independent of Nike, Reebok, Adidas or Puma. It’s been done. New York Knicks Hall of Famer, Patrick Ewing did it.
While Naismith Hall of Famer, Shaquille O’Neal did begin his career with Reebok, he did create an affordable line of shoes that are sold at places like K-Mart and Target.
A two-time NBA All Star, and retired 12 year NBA vet with stops with the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, Stephon Marbury started his line of shoes during his time as a member of the Knicks.
After averaging 19.3 points and 7.6 assists, he left the NBA and had a successful playing career in China and is now coaching.
Michael Jordan is one of the most successful basketball players in the world. Six championships and Nike are synonymous with MJ.
Imagine a world where he actually didn’t wear Air Jordan’s and went the independent route. “I don’t know,” retired NBA All-Star Cedric Ceballos told Forbes Magazine’s Landon Buford in a recent interview.
“Would he want to deal with that? ”
According to COMPLEX, When MJ left the University of North Carolina in 1984, he wanted to sign with Adidas, not Nike.
According to the article, His Airness was a self-described “Adidas nut” and told his agent, David Falk that if the deal the German company offered was even close, he’d sign with them.
36 years later, MJ is still repping Nike checks over Adidas stripes.
“Phil [Knight] worked hard [to put MJ’s deal together],” Cedric Ceballos told Landon Buford.
A 21-year NBA vet, Ceballos was the Phoenix Suns’ 48th overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft by way of Cal State Fullerton.
A Slam Dunk Champion in 1992, Ceballos led the NBA in field goal percentage during the 1992-1993 season, shooting 57.6 percent. Ceballos is now a TV analyst at Fox Sports in Dallas, Texas.
In his interview with Landon Buford, Ceballos shed light on sneaker deals and brands in the NBA. “The most ridiculous deal that was not done was by Spencer Haywood,” he said.
For those keeping score at home: In the 70s, Haywood was approached by Nike who was still a growing company.
Nike offered Haywood stock options or cash.
According to the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn and ESPN’s The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears, Haywood signed over power of attorney to his agent who agreed to accept a $100,000 payment for his client (the equivalent of nearly $600,000 in 2020) for the endorsement opportunity.
Haywood’s agent then took the stock and sold it to liquidate the returns. “Me and Spence joke about it all the time, but it’s just the fact that you never know a company will take off like that,” Cedric Ceballos told Landon Buford.
“Sometimes it is great to take a percent instead of the cash, especially when don’t need it, and that time he was one of the highest players in the NBA. He didn’t really need that cash, so that is one of the dilemmas where he said, that he made a big mistake.”