Report: Kobe Bryant was planning to end relationship with Nike and start his own ‘Mamba’ brand before his death

Robert Marvi
3 Min Read

Even after he ended his illustrious 20-year NBA career, late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was still thinking big and was never satisfied.

Prior to being killed in a tragic helicopter crash, Bryant was reportedly planning on ending his ties with Nike to form “Mamba,” his own sneaker brand.

“Nearly a year after the Los Angeles Lakers legend’s untimely death, earth-shattering revelations suggest that Bryant was planning to part ways with his longtime sponsor in a move bound to disrupt the entire industry,” wrote Meredith Cash of “Though he had a hugely successful signature shoe line with Nike, the five-time NBA champion had his sights set on creating ‘Mamba,’ a sneaker company with a revolutionary player-owned business model.”

This plan was revealed this week by Shervin Pishevar, a venture capitalist and cofounder of Sherpa Capital. He was also one of the main forces behind Uber.

It turns out that Bryant was not happy with how Nike was handling his line of sneakers, according to Pat Benson, the author of “Kobe Bryant’s Sneaker History (1996-2020)”

“It’s shocking because Kobe was Nike’s golden goose and habitually toed the company line,” Benson said. “Many of his fans were upset with Nike’s handling of his signature line following his retirement. It feels redeeming that Kobe was unhappy about it too.

“It’s certainly going to make things awkward with Nike in the future. But it adds to the beautiful complexity of Kobe. Always pushing the envelope.”

Pishevar also added more reasons why Bryant wasn’t happy with Nike.

It appears that the “Mamba” brand wasn’t just an idea, but that Bryant was truly in the process of bringing it to life.

Although Bryant was predominantly focused on basketball throughout his basketball career, he also had an eye on business.

Early on, he was with Adidas, but he left to join sneaker giant Nike midway through his career as he looked to rebrand his image and improve his reputation.

After retiring from the Lakers in 2016, Bryant completely turned his focus to the business world. He got involved with filmmaking, and his efforts in the field earned him an Academy Award.

If Bryant were still alive, there likely would’ve been no limits to how high he would’ve soared in any business venture he put his mind to.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif., and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s and fell in love with the Nick Van Exel-led Lakers teams. He truly cherishes the Kobe Bryant-era of Lakers basketball and the five world championships that came with it, and is looking forward to the team's next NBA title.