The estate of Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa are no longer affiliated with sneaker giant Nike, as the late Lakers great’s contract with the company has now expired.
“With Kobe Bryant’s five-year, post-retirement endorsement extension with Nike having expired this month, Vanessa Bryant and the Kobe Bryant estate elected not to renew the partnership, she confirmed to ESPN in a statement Monday night,” wrote Nick DePaula of ESPN.com.
Kobe Bryant spent his first several years being sponsored by Adidas, even though Adidas was never a big-time player on the basketball shoe market.
Eventually, he joined Nike, starting a fruitful partnership for both parties.
“Kobe’s Nike contract expired on 4/13/21,” Vanessa Bryant, widow of the Lakers legend, told ESPN. “Kobe and Nike have made some of the most beautiful basketball shoes of all time, worn and adored by fans and athletes in all sports across the globe. It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe.”
Kobe Bryant and eight others died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. last January.
His influence on basketball and its culture is still seen to this day, as several current NBA players still wear his signature sneakers.
Interestingly, there are reports that before his passing, Kobe Bryant was planning on leaving Nike to form his own sneaker company and disrupt the entire industry.
That desire may have been fueled by some differences with Nike.
“According to a source, Bryant and the estate had grown frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe product during his retirement and after his January 2020 death in a helicopter crash,” wrote DePaula. “There was also frustration with the lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids sizes, according to sources.
“Nike, sources said, had presented an extension offer that was not in line with expectations of an ongoing ‘lifetime’ structure similar to the Nike Inc. contracts held by both Michael Jordan and LeBron James.”
Nike filed the suit last week against MSCHF after it launched a pair of modified Nike Air Max 97s called the “Satan Shoes” with Lil Nas X. The shoes, priced at $1,018 and decorated with a pentagram pendant and a drop of human blood in the soles, quickly sold out.
The sneakers drew outrage online, and some called for a boycott of Nike, though the company had nothing to do with the shoe. Nike made a federal filing against MSCHF, and a judge granted a temporary injunction to halt the fulfillment of “Satan Shoes” orders.
A settlement was reached in which MSCHF will issue a voluntary recall on the shoes and offer a buy-back program for previously released modified Nike sneakers it called “Jesus Shoes,” Nike confirmed to NBC News on Thursday.
“If any purchasers were confused, or if they otherwise want to return their shoes, they may do so for a full refund,” Nike said in a statement, reaffirming that it had nothing to do with the shoes. “Purchasers who choose not to return their shoes and later encounter a product issue, defect or health concern should contact MSCHF, not Nike.”
MSCHF agreed to settle the lawsuit after realizing it “already achieved its artistic purpose,” David H. Bernstein, an attorney for MSCHF, told NBC News. The shoes were “individually numbered works of art that will continue to represent the ideals of equality and inclusion,” he said.
“With these Satan Shoes — which sold out in less than a minute — MSCHF intended to comment on the absurdity of the collaboration culture practiced by some brands, and about the perniciousness of intolerance” in partnership with Lil Nas X, Bernstein said.
The release of the “Satan Shoes” coincided with Lil Nas X’s latest single, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” and its accompanying music video. In the video, Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, is seduced out of what appears to be the Garden of Eden, falls into hell and gives the devil a lap dance.
Lil Nas X defended the shoes as the single and the video got increased attention. The single debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
After the release of the song Friday, Lil Nas X put out an open letter to his younger self about coming out. The rapper, who is openly gay, explained that the song was about a guy he met last summer.
“I know we promised to never come out publicly, I know we promised to never be ‘that’ type of gay person, I know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist,” he wrote.
The music video for “Montero” includes a voiceover with a similar message.
“In life, we hide the parts of ourselves we don’t want the world to see,” he says. “We lock them away. We tell them, ‘No.’ We banish them. But here, we don’t. Welcome to Montero.”
Nike Inc. executive Ann Hebert abruptly left the company following a Bloomberg Businessweek report about her son operating a business reselling sneakers and using a credit card in her name.
Hebert, who served as vice president and general manager of North America, departed Monday, effective immediately, Nike said in a brief statement. She had been in the role since last June, overseeing Nike’s sales, marketing and merchandising in the region.
The executive had spent more than 25 years with the Beaverton, Oregon-based company, which said it would announce a new leader for North America shortly.
Bloomberg Businessweek’s latest cover article explored the story of Joe Hebert, Ann’s son, a college dropout who makes a living as a sneaker reseller. Known to his customers as West Coast Joe, he started reselling streetwear in high school and now flips hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shoes each month.
Ann Hebert didn’t reply to emailed questions for that report, but a Nike representative said the executive disclosed relevant information about her son’s business to Nike in 2018. The company said at the time that Hebert did not violate “company policy, privileged information or conflicts of interest.”
After Hebert’s departure, a spokesperson for Nike said the executive made the decision to resign. Hebert didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on LinkedIn.
Only four players in league history were teammates with both Jordan and James: Scott Williams, Larry Hughes, Jerry Stackhouse and Brendan Haywood. HoopsHype was able to connect with all four of them.
“I don’t think it would be fair to give a comparison on them,” Stackhouse, who only played seven games with James in 2010, told HoopsHype. “I played with LeBron at the prime of his career and I played with Michael in the last year of his career. I just think both are unbelievable players. They’re probably one and two in the history of the game. That’s where I’ll leave it.”
WHAT WERE YOUR EARLY IMPRESSIONS OF MICHAEL JORDAN?
Brendan Haywood: It was a learning experience. You got to see up-close what made him who he was. He was like 40 years old. He didn’t have anything to prove. But he was still one of the hardest workers. I would watch him teach Bobby Simmons the footwork to score in the mid-post. Everything he did was calculated. Nothing was done by accident. He was reading your lead foot. He understood where to go and how to get you off balance and get to his pull-up jumper and how to get your arm off of him if you were trying to be physical. Watching him, you got to learn a lot.
Larry Hughes: For me, growing up, I played basketball because of MJ. When I got a chance to play with him, I watched all of the small things that you don’t get to see when you are a fan. How did he conduct himself with the media? What time did he go to treatment? I learned how consistent he was with the game-planning and understanding how to get the job done even at an older age. He may have lost a step but he was still effective.
Scott Williams: One of the things that he liked to do was add aspects to his game. During my first two years in the league, he wanted to improve his low-post and back-to-basket game. We played a lot of 1-on-1 after practices. He would have someone throw the ball to him and he would catch it with a pivot foot on the block. He was working on trying to get around bigger, stronger players knowing that he would have no problem with someone his size. He had to learn to shoot with a hand in his face. I never beat him in one of those one-on-one sessions.
WHAT WERE YOUR EARLY IMPRESSIONS OF LEBRON?
Larry Hughes: As a young player, Bron had a good thought process. He was going to listen and apply the things that made the most sense to him. I can remember LeBron having conversations with a number of teammates on the plane and in the locker room, whether it be veteran guys or guys who were just joining the team. He kept a clean perspective on how everybody saw the game.
Scott Williams: He was always very strong, that’s for sure [Laughs] I remember early days in training camp, I prided myself on my defensive play. I only knew one way to play. I was often playing opposite LeBron during practice. One time he tried to drive down the middle of the lane and I stepped in front, off of my guy, to take a charge. I was clearly in position. He ran into me with a force that I had not felt in quite some time. My first thought was that I hope I didn’t hurt this kid. My next thought was that I hope this kid didn’t hurt me.
Brendan Haywood: When I was in Dallas, LeBron was thinking about going to Miami. Before he went to the Heat, he was recruiting guys to come to Cleveland. I get a text from a number that I don’t know. It’s LeBron. He says: “What’s up, this is King James.” It was a little weird he called himself King James but I kept going. He told me he was trying to get guys to come to the Cavs. He said he knew that they could not give me what I was going to get in the market. But he wanted to know if I would be willing to take a pay cut to be a part of something special. I wouldn’t have taken a pay cut to play with the ’92 Bulls. Buddy, you’re making $100 million off the court! This is my last hurrah! I hadn’t made enough money in my career to take a pay cut and chase a championship. I’d played so many playoff series against him that I saw him as another player. If you play in the league, you look at guys a little differently. He was younger than I was. I looked at him like he was anybody else.
HOW DID MICHAEL JORDAN IMPACT WINNING FOR YOUR TEAM?
Scott Williams: I saw him MJ go from no championships to three. He had mellowed some. [Laughs] Not to say that on game day he didn’t have that smoldering beast side of him. But it wasn’t that all-encompassing thing where every time you were around this cat it was like in October 1990. I’d be curious, for the guys who played with him in Washington, what he was like when he was in practices. I don’t know if it was anything like he was when I was in training camp my rookie year.
Larry Hughes: MJ played in the triangle offense. His attention to detail was understanding angles at a high level. If he didn’t operate the triangle, the job didn’t get done. Bron is similar in his ability to remember and break down the plays. When he is able to see those things, whether it is at a timeout or at halftime, he is able to rely on the information that he downloaded to execute what is needed to happen. It is different based on where they were in their careers when I played with them.
Brendan Haywood: We were a team that based our whole offense around a 40-year-old, aging superstar and we were trying to make the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. At the time, I was thinking that I was just out there hooping. But as I got older, that may have been one of the dumbest ways to ever build a team. You should be featuring your young guys, letting them play, take their knocks and lumps and letting them develop.
HOW DID LEBRON IMPACT WINNING?
Brendan Haywood: The thing that they most have in common is that they impact winning. But they go about in totally different ways. That is why it’s so unfair that LeBron is always compared to Mike. He doesn’t play like Mike! He wasn’t trying to fully dominate like Mike! LeBron wants to play an overall floor game. Bron is more like Magic Johnson but with next-level athleticism. That allows him to do incredible things. LeBron wants to get the 8, 9, 10 assists. He wants to get the rebounds. He wants to get his 26, 27 points. He isn’t just worried about scoring, though. He’s not trying to destroy you. He’s not worried about how many buckets he gets.
Scott Williams: This was an odd year. 2020 sucks. Let’s just get it straight. But with the disjointed season, it threw a lot of the teams off of their games. That’s the thing about LeBron and his leadership. When it did start back, he was able to get his team re-energized and re-focused. The players on the floor have the biggest impact on how hard a team is going to play every night. The coaches will draw up the plays but if the guys aren’t locked on, let’s just face it, some of the execution is sloppy. When you have a stud like that who’s got that championship pedigree, and you have a thirsty young player in Anthony Davis who has yet to wear that ring, you can really get everybody on the same page.
WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN YOU ARE ASKED ABOUT COMPARISONS?
Brendan Haywood: One of the more interesting things is that I had the GOAT conversation with LeBron. We were on the plane and I told him: “I love you, brother, but I have to go with Mike.” I told him my reasons. I’ve had this conversation with him face-to-face. Six rings. Six MVPs. The guy has had two different three-peats and has never been to a Game 7. He was MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. I played with both of them and what LeBron has slowly but surely turned into from a confidence standpoint, MJ was that the first time he walked in the league. LeBron has gotten so much better at that. He has grown into a guy that close out games. Michael always had that ability. Michael always competed defensively. Both of those guys are incredible competitors. They do things differently. The biggest difference is that MJ is a cold-blooded killer. He is an assassin. LeBron is more respected and loved. He is loved by his teammates and he is respected by his opponents. So when we had the GOAT debate, LeBron was just kind of nodding his head. He didn’t really say much. Mike Miller and James Jones said some things on his behalf. I don’t think LeBron agreed with me. But at that point, he hadn’t beaten Golden State. He didn’t have the ring he just got with the Lakers.
Scott Williams: The thing that I hate the most is that comparisons are being drawn and I don’t care which way you stand on it. They are two absolutely phenomenal players and I hate when someone says that one is the GOAT and one isn’t. It’s almost like a knock on the one that you say is not the GOAT. I don’t really like to get into that game. I’ve been forced into that corner where I’ve had to make that choice a few times and I will say Michael is the greatest of all time, in my opinion, from being in the locker room with both of them. But I didn’t get LeBron at the top of his game. I got him when he was still developing. We’re not as close but I still consider LeBron a friend. As a basketball commentator and as a fan, obviously, I have followed LeBron. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate all that LeBron has done and overcome.
Larry Hughes: LeBron had the same attention to detail that MJ had. He was focused on the things that happened before him and how he could enhance the game that was played before him. He was a student of the game. He understands how basketball players play and how they get their job done. The opportunity to have played with both of those guys was amazing. You see similarities in how they pay attention to detail. It’s film. It’s muscle memory. They had the ability to make adjustments based on what happened.
In this episode of Signature Shots, ESPN analyst Kirk Goldsberry details how Michael Jordan developed from an inconsistent jump-shooter at North Carolina into the most efficient and most prolific midrange scorer of the mid-90s, thanks to his legendary fadeaway.
Kobe Bryant taught us to be better-a better scorer, better GOAT, better father. His philosophy of #MambaMentality changed the game and continues to inspire athletes like Serena Williams, Anthony Davis, Sydney Leroux, Diana Taurasi and Sky Brown today.
Vaporflys (and prototypes of them) have been involved in nearly every major running victory and milestone since 2016, and for good reason: Research suggests the design of their soles gives runners at least 4% more energetic efficiency over shoes from competing brands.
“The runner runs the race, but the shoe enables him or her to run it faster for the same effort or ability,” Geoff Burns, a kinesiology researcher and pro runner, told Business Insider of Vaporflys. “So for two athletes of equal ability on race day, the one with the shoes is going to beat the one without the shoes.”
That has led some athletes sponsored by companies other than Nike to don Vaporflys in secret. In at least three competitions, non-Nike runners have worn “blacked-out” Vaporflys: shoes covered in black permanent marker to make it difficult to spot the Nike swoosh.
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks today revealed new uniforms, inspired by the franchise’s signature colors and marks synonymous with the team and its history in the city of Atlanta since 1968. In addition to the uniforms, the team also released new primary and secondary logos along with new ‘Atlanta Hawks’ wordmarks. The team will begin wearing these uniforms to start the 2020-21 season.
Infinity Black and Legacy Yellow rejoin Torch Red and Granite Gray to create a visual identity derived from the Hawks proud heritage. These core colors have been present throughout the Hawks’ time in Atlanta, having adorned more than five decades of Hawks Basketball including Hawks Legends Lou Hudson, Pete Maravich, Dikembe Mutombo and Dominique Wilkins.
Venum will take over as the UFC’s new apparel partner beginning in April 2021, the promotion announced Friday. The UFC’s apparel deal with Reebok runs through March 2021, but the company will stay on as the UFC’s official footwear brand through the end of next year, per a release.
Unlike Reebok, Venum is a company which focuses mainly on combat sports and martial arts and has since it was founded in France in 2006. Before the relationship between the UFC and Reebok, many fighters had Venum as a sponsor.
Reebok represented a major name brand affiliated with the UFC, which at the time was striving for mainstream acceptance. But it was a rocky relationship. The initial rollout featured extremely generic looking fight gear, rife with the misspelling of athlete’s names. Fighters and managers were critical of the amount of money athletes stood to lose without sponsor patches on fight gear allowed. On top of that, there was concern that every fighter wearing the same uniform would strip the sport, which has its fair share of over-the-top characters, of its individuality.
The dynamic between the UFC and Reebok did improve over time. The UFC desired a cleaner look and presentation on television and pay-per-view and in that aspect Reebok was viewed as a success. The guaranteed, consistent money that came from Reebok became more welcome to some fighters – especially the ones not at the top of the card – compared to having to scratch and claw for sponsors every fight.