Adidas is planning to re-release two of the sneakers Kobe Bryant wore while he was signed to the German sportswear brand through the late 1990s and early 2000s, sources familiar with the brand’s slate of upcoming releases tell Complex. In 2022 it will bring back the Kobe 1, his Adidas signature from 2001, and the EQT Elevation, a shoe he wore during his 1997 rookie season in the NBA.
On Thursday, Adidas announced that they signed projected top-five pick Jalen Green to a multiyear shoe endorsement contract ahead of the NBA draft. The news of the signing was first reported last month by Nick DePaula of ESPN.
Instead they were Nike’s line of Kobe Bryant’s signature sneakers, which were worn by 103 players last season — about 20 percent of the league’s players — according to the sneaker website Baller Shoes DB. Many W.N.B.A. players, like the Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd, also wear Bryant’s signature sneakers. But soon those players will need to find new shoes, at least if they want to play in brand-new pairs. Nike confirmed Monday that its contract with the estate of Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash last year, expired last week. “Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” a Nike spokesman, Josh Benedek, said in a statement. “He pushed us and made everyone around him better. Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”
Nike has a short window in which it can continue selling the shoes and apparel featuring Bryant that it has already manufactured, but soon that merchandise will disappear from Nike’s website and store shelves. Switching shoe companies is not uncommon for top basketball players, whose sneaker contracts can pay tens of millions of dollars annually and rival or even exceed their N.B.A. contracts in value. Bryant signed with Adidas before he entered the N.B.A., in 1996, then signed with Nike in 2003 after his Adidas deal ended. Even as some major sponsors dropped Bryant when he was accused of sexual assault, Nike, which had signed Bryant shortly before he was arrested, stood by him.
Nike did not sign Bryant to what is effectively a lifetime contract, like it has done with Jordan and James, raising questions about how much continued value it saw in his name. The Kobe shoes N.B.A. players wore were often limited editions or unique colors that average consumers could not buy, partly explaining why their popularity on the court did not necessarily translate to popularity on the street.
If Vanessa Bryant cannot come to an agreement with Nike on a new contract, building a new brand around Kobe could be a challenge. Nike, including brands it owns like Jordan Brand and Converse, controls more than half the sneaker market, with companies like Adidas and Puma as distant competitors. Under Armour, which is endorsed by Golden State’s Stephen Curry, has struggled to break through.
Nick DePaula: Nike will honor Kobe Bryant and celebrate “MAMBA WEEK” beginning Sunday, August 23rd, with special programming and launches planned. Several Kobe signature products will be released and the Nike Foundation will make a $1M donation to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation. pic.twitter.com/LVjv0BNA3A
Nick DePaula: Nike’s Kobe plan: “Nike will continue to release Kobe Protro shoes, allowing the millions of fans he inspired around the world to keep Bryant’s legacy going. Nike will also continue to work with the NBA to release limited quantities of Bryant’s iconic Los Angeles Lakers jersey.” pic.twitter.com/xC3DyNjoZw
September 18, 2021 | 9:28 pm EDT Update
The Houston Rockets have waived forward Tyler Bey. This waiver was necessary to create the roster spot for Houston to re-sign Dante Exum. The Rockets signed Bey to a fully non-guaranteed training camp contract in late-August.
September 18, 2021 | 5:41 pm EDT Update
You’re here for at least the next five years now that you’ve signed an extension. Do you allow yourself to think – or dream – about what might come over that time span since you’ve talked openly about wanting to win a title in New York? Have you allowed yourself to think about how things might progress? Julius Randle: Obviously, it’s a process. Everything is a process. We’ve been building this from the ground up. But for me, personally, that is the expectation (winning a title in New York). That’s what I want to happen within that time frame. There’s a lot of things, factors that go into that. So obviously you’ve got to weigh that stuff in.
Julius Randle: But as far as myself, I know Thibs (Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau) is thinking (it as well), it’s just win at all costs. For me personally, that’s just how I prepare myself. I prepare myself to compete at the highest level of our game. Like I said, there’s a lot of factors (that go into winning an NBA title). But I trust Leon (Knicks president Leon Rose), I trust Thibs, Wes (Knicks vice president William Wesley), our coaches, Scott (Knicks GM Scott Perry) – all these guys, I trust. That was part of my process in thinking of signing the extension and that’s my goal, that’s our goal as a team and the guys that are around us. We want to be able to say that we won a championship here in New York. I don’t think there’s any better feeling than that.
Did you guys see the video clip of Trae Young at the Garden with WWE? Do you care about that stuff? Julius Randle: Yeah I see it. But honestly, I don’t care. Obviously, that’s (for) entertainment purposes and all that (stuff), so I let people enjoy it. For me, honestly, I don’t care. I honestly didn’t even watch it. Knicks fans, they’re going to make a big deal out of it – they didn’t like it (laughs). But it’s all fun and games and hopefully they enjoyed it.
September 18, 2021 | 12:10 pm EDT Update
The Rockets have officially re-signed guard Dante Exum and waived Tyler Bey to create a roster space for him, according to the NBA’s transactions log. Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw was the first to report the Bey transaction (Twitter link). With John Wall not expected to play for the team this season as it seeks to trade him, the Rockets were in the market for another point guard. The Rockets’ interest in Exum surfaced on Tuesday.
When the Timberwolves traded up to get Leandro Bolmaro last November in the 2020 NBA Draft (yes, it was less than a year ago… it still feels weird), the question was would it be a year or two before Bolmaro came over from Barcelona to play in the NBA. The answer is one. Minnesota reached a deal and Bolmaro will be with the Timberwolves in training camp, the team announced Saturday. This is not a surprise; he was expected to come over this season. He will be playing on a rookie scale contract.