A Nike shoe that was designed to honor Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna has recently somehow leaked, and Vanessa Bryant is extremely upset over the situation.
In an Instagram post on Thursday, Vanessa explained that she designed the shoe in honor of Gianna. She said the sneaker was going to be called the “MAMBACITA” but that she never approved it for sale. Vanessa also said Nike never sent her or her family any pairs of the shoes and asked for help in figuring out how they leaked.
“This is a shoe I worked on in honor of my daughter, Gianna,” Vanessa wrote. “It was going to be called the MAMBACITA shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes. I picked the colors in honor of her uniform, the number 2 she wore just like her uniform, the inside pattern, Kobe and Gigi on the back in gold instead of Kobe’s signature, the inside shoe details (butterfly, wings, halo), etc. The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale.
“I wanted it to be sold to honor my daughter with ALL of the proceeds benefitting @mambamambacitasports foundation but I did not re-sign the Nike contract and decided not to sell these shoes. (The MAMBACITA shoes were not approved to be made in the first place). Nike has NOT sent any of these pairs to me and my girls. I do not know how someone else has their hands on shoes I designed in honor of my daughter, Gigi, and we don’t. I hope these shoes did not get sold. @nike.”
You can see Vanessa’s full post below, which includes a photo of the shoe:
One Instagram user who shared photos of the shoe last month says he does not have a pair in his possession. The user, whose handle is brandon1an, claims the leak came from an authorized Nike dealer.
“I just want to make it clear that I don’t own a pair of those Mambacita Kobes,” the Instagram user wrote, via TMZ. “The pictures I posted are official product pictures from a Nike authorized retailer. Unfortunately for @vanessabryant, Nike clearly sent pairs to this retailer (as well as others) with the intent of selling pairs.”
As Vanessa mentioned, she recently chose not to renew Kobe’s contract with Nike. Kobe had been with Nike for 17 years leading up to his death in January 2020. It was recently claimed that he had been planning to leave Nike to start his own show company prior to his death.
Kobe was famously loyal to Nike during his career, but the relationship between Nike and the Bryant family seems to have deteriorated.
Kobe Bryant’s long-standing association with Nike appears to be over.
According to ESPN’s NBA sneaker expert Nick DePaula, Bryant’s wife Vanessa, who controls Kobe’s Trust, decided not to renew her late husband’s contract with Nike. DePaula says the partnership between the Bryants and Nike is “done.” It is unclear if this is temporary or permanent, but for now, there are no plans for any further Bryant-related merchandise releases by the company.
Bryant had been with Nike for 17 years leading up to his death in January 2020. It was recently claimed that Bryant had been planning to leave Nike prior to his passing and start his own shoe company. Perhaps that is what Vanessa plans to do in an effort to comply with her late husband’s wishes.
It’s still surprising to hear about Bryant’s association with Nike ending. He was, after all, famously loyal to the brand during his career.
Deshaun Watson has been sued by 22 women who claim they were sexually assaulted by him, and the Houston Texans star is now facing his first major consequence from the allegations.
Nike announced on Wednesday that it has suspended its endorsement of Watson amid the sexual assault scandal.
“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson,” the company told CNBC’s Jabari Young in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
Watson is one of the NFL’s biggest stars and has numerous endorsement deals, so Nike’s decision could start a domino effect among some of the quarterback’s other partners.
The decision from Nike comes a day after two of Watson’s alleged victims publicly revealed their identities. One of the women, massage therapist Ashley Solis, delivered a powerful statement in which she spoke about how Watson’s alleged misconduct has negatively impacted her career and life. You can see the video here.
The NFL confirmed on Tuesday that Watson is under league investigation. All of the lawsuits against Watson to this point have been civil in nature, but Houston police said on Friday that one criminal complaint has been filed.
Watson’s agent has publicly accused at least some of the alleged victims of lying for financial gain. The 25-year-old’s legal team also claims he was a victim of a blackmail attempt in at least one of the cases.
Kobe Bryant appeared to have quite the ace up his sleeve before his untimely passing this year.
Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, a co-founder of Sherpa Capital who has invested in such companies as Airbnb and Uber, revealed a bombshell about Bryant this week. Pishevar tweeted that he met with the Los Angeles Lakers icon in Dec. 2019 to discuss Bryant’s plans to start Mamba, a shoe company that would be owned by players. Bryant was supposedly unhappy with Nike and was planning to leave the brand in 2020. Pishevar also shared details of the meeting and the designs he presented to Bryant.
Pishevar further stated that Bryant was specifically displeased with Nike’s commitment to his shoe line as well as the poor sales numbers.
Bryant’s plans were confirmed by author Pat Benson, who wrote the book “Kobe Bryant’s Sneaker History (1996-2020).” Benson said it was “very likely” that the five-time NBA champion would have left Nike.
“It’s shocking because Kobe was Nike’s golden goose and habitually toed the company line,” Benson told Meredith Cash of Insider.com. “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,” added Benson. “But it adds to the beautiful complexity of Kobe. Always pushing the envelope.”
Bryant, who passed away on Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash, had been with Nike for 17 years at the time of his death. He became synonymous with the brand, launching several signature sneakers with them and coming out in many memorable advertising campaigns (including appearing as a puppet with LeBron James, seemingly jumping over a speeding Aston Martin, and promoting the “Kobe System” in a series of ads with Kanye West). Bryant had previously been endorsed by Adidas early on in his NBA career.
It is unclear if anything will ever become of the plans for the Mamba shoe company. But Bryant’s vision for a player-owned business model may just live on through this effort that we recently heard about.
The Colin Kaepernick workout situation has split many fans, observers and media members into factions. There are those who believe Kaepernick was wronged by the NFL and that the NFL’s workout was just a P.R. stunt. There are those who believe Kaepernick is more interested in furthering his career as an activist than playing football. The events of this week are unlikely to change anyone’s minds based on what they believed before, and probably only strengthened their previous beliefs.
Kaepernick has his media supporters and his team/reps leak information to them. The NFL has their media members of choice and leak information to them.
Charles Robinson has been a go-to media member for Kaepernick’s team and has written several pro-Kaepernick pieces since news of the NFL-backed workout became public on Tuesday. Hearing both sides of a story is important for providing balanced coverage and allowing people to make their choices about what they believe to be truthful and not. Robinson has provided Kaepernick’s camp with a platform and large outlet to share their views. That serves a valuable role.
However, while Robinson can provide his pro-Kaepernick biased pieces, one thing he should strive for is to at least be factually accurate with his platform. He was not on Saturday night on Twitter when he alleged the NFL asserted Nike attended the Kaepernick workout on Saturday to film it.
Robinson said on Twitter that the NFL made an “assertion” that Nike was “on hand to film Colin Kaepernick’s workout.” He even said Nike was trying to get the NFL to retract that statement.
This sounds like a big gotcha! moment and more proof of the NFL being wrong and looking to smear Kaepernick and his brand. But there is one big problem: the NFL NEVER said that, so there is no statement to retract.
In the NFL’s statement in response to Kaepernick no-showing their workout and instead handling his own, the league wrote the following:
The third bullet point mentioned Nike and said this:
“Last night, when Nike, with Colin’s approval, requested to shoot an ad featuring Colin and mentioning all the NFL teams present at the workout, we agreed to the request.”
The fifth bullet point also mentioned Nike and said this:
“We heard for the first time last night, around the same time we heard from Nike, that Colin wanted to bring his own video crew. We heard for the first time this afternoon that Colin wanted to open the event to all media.”
The NFL never once said Nike attended Saturday’s workout. All they said was that Nike requested to shoot an ad featuring Kaepernick and that the league agreed to the request. Those are two different things.
If a person asks whether they can bring a friend to the party and the host says yes, does that mean that the friend came to the party? No, it just means that the person asked and the host said yes.
What is so hard about that to understand?
The thing about the Kaepernick story — as this example perfectly illustrates — is that people are seeing what is unfolding for what they want to see. In the case of Robinson, his bias is so strong that he isn’t even representing the facts accurately, which makes him lose credibility.
If he wants to represent Kaepernick’s side of things, that is fine. But at least attempt to be accurate and fair, especially when you have this platform and the influence that goes along with it. At the time of this publishing, his tweet was retweeted by over 1,400 Twitter accounts and liked by over 3,000.
On top of that, after Robinson tweeted to suggest Nike caught the NFL in a lie, Jemele Hill joined in and added it to her story, saying it’s all “part of pushing the narrative.”
Hill didn’t even bother to see whether the story was accurate or not. She just took the information and added it to the story she wants to tell, even if it’s not true.
If either of these respected journalists cared about fairness and accuracy — which are key tenets for journalists — then they would issue corrections and retractions to let their audiences know the truth. If they don’t, then their positions will have been made clear: they are slanted activists working to make Kaepernick look good, not to present facts and truth.
One of the NBA’s budding new on-court fashion trends appears to be no more.
In a series of tweets this past weekend, Philadelphia 76ers forward Mike Scott hinted that players were now banned from wearing the ninja-style headbands that catapulted onto the scene last season. The veteran said that objectors should “start a petition” and “send it to Nike,” also tweeting that the headbands were deemed to be “too unprofessional.”
Scott, who was also in the news for less-than-ideal reasons this weekend, was one of several NBA players who started sporting the look last season. Other ninja-style headband enthusiasts included the LA Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell, the New Orleans Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday, the Sacramento Kings’ DeAaron Fox, and numerous others.
Larry Brown Sports reached out to both Nike and the NBA about Scott’s assertion but has not received a response.
The demise of the ninja headband would be a disappointment to many, as they were arguably more visually pleasing than the classic headband look and also allowed players to inject some extra personality into their on-court look. In any case though, this brings to mind the ban that the NBA had previously implemented on upside-down headbands nearly a decade ago.
Nike has shown LeBron James some serious love.
Nike announced on Thursday that they have named a new building at its World Headquarters (WHQ) after LeBron. The LeBron building is the sixth building that was added to Nike’s WHQ as part of an expansion project that began in 2015.
The LeBron James Building will be home to Nike’s Sport Research Lab. The building will include a full NBA-size basketball court, 200-meter endurance track, 100-meter straightaway, and an artificial turf training pitch.
“It’s so surreal,” James said in a statement. “It’s been an honor to be a part of such a great company for the last 18 years. And to know that a building with my name will reside on campus — it’s truly an honor, and I feel truly special.”
James has been signed to Nike since 2003. He has a lifetime deal with the brand that is rumored to be worth $1 billion.
Attorney Michael Avenatti is once again accusing Nike executives of improper conduct, including approving illegal payments to Zion Williamson and other players.
Avenatti was arrested on March 25 and charged by federal prosecutors for attempting to extort Nike. Avenatti allegedly was threatening to hold a press conference in which he would unveil improper activities between Nike and high school/college programs unless they paid him $25 million.
Avenatti hired legal representation for the extortion case and is seeking to have the charges dismissed on grounds of vindictive and selective prosecution. His attorneys filed a motion in U.S. District Court in New York on Wednesday that included numerous allegations, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.
According to the motion, Avenatti has evidence Nike executives approved cash payments to be made to handlers and family members of amateur players. The payments are often made in an effort to steer an amateur player to a college program sponsored by the shoe company. Adidas was at the center of a college basketball scandal over the past two years for this issue. Avenatti says Nike has engaged in similar practices.
Avenatti claims to have evidence showing a Nike employee was willing to make a $35,000 payment to Zion Williamson, $20,000 for Romeo Langford, and $15,000 for another player. Williamson played his freshman season at Duke, which is a Nike-sponsored school, while Langford went to Indiana, an Adidas school.
Avenatti claims to have gained the evidence and information through former amateur coach Gary Franklin. Franklin coached the California Supreme, a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) team. Franklin alleges Nike tried to funnel payments through him intended for the handlers and/or family of several players on his teams, such as Deandre Ayton. Franklin retained Avenatti’s services after claiming to have been forced out by Nike once he no longer felt comfortable going along with their scheme.
In April, Avenatti also accused Nike of making payments to the mother of Williamson, who ended up going No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft.
A malfunction with a pair of sneakers made by Nike may have cost Zion Williamson some time during the college basketball season earlier this year, but it sounds like it actually turned out to be a good thing for the former Duke star.
Williamson announced on Tuesday that he has signed an endorsement deal with Jordan Brand, which is of course owned by Nike. While the terms of the deal were not initially known, Darren Rovell of The Action Network reports that Williamson blowing out his shoe on national TV “made the stakes of landing Zion that much greater.” Rovell estimates that Williamson made millions more on his endorsement deal because the embarrassing sneaker malfunction made Nike that much more desperate to sign him.
Williamson suffered what initially looked like a serious injury in Duke’s game against rival North Carolina back in March when his shoe literally fell apart during play. It was a public relations nightmare for Nike, which sponsors Duke and produces their athletic gear.
As many as seven shoe companies expressed interest in signing Williamson before he was drafted No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, and some wondered if the blown out shoe would impact his decision. He fueled that buzz when he was spotted wearing a different brand a few months back, but in the end it sounds like the deal worked out for everyone.
The legal battle between Kawhi Leonard and Nike over the reigning NBA Finals MVP’s logo continues.
Leonard filed a lawsuit against Nike in June in which he claimed Nike copyrighted his Klaw logo without his consent. On Wednesday, Nike filed a countersuit in Southern California in which they stated their designers created the logo based on a concept provided by Leonard. They even provided a photo of the rough draft of Leonard’s logo compared to their design.
Nike is seeking a judgement that would declare them the owner of the logo, an injunction preventing Leonard from using the logo, plus damages and attorney fees.
In its suit, Nike even cited comments from Leonard in a Nice Kicks article that originally was published on Oct. 29, 2014.
“I give the Jordan Brand team all the credit because I’m no artist at all,” said Leonard. “They refined it and made it look better than I thought it would ever be, and I’m extremely happy with the final version.”
Leonard endorsed Nike from 2011-2018 and signed a contract acknowledging Nike as the copyright owner of the logo. Leonard left Nike and signed with New Balance in November. He would like to be able to use the logo with his new company.
Nike is seeking to have the case moved to Oregon, which is where the company is headquartered.