Nike released a plethora of Kobe products to honor his memory, but some fans feel this attempt was only a money grab
By: Christopher Claxton
The legacy of Kobe, the Black Mamba, was supposed to continue on 8/23… or so I thought.
On August 23rd I woke up at 9:50 a.m. to prepare myself for the 10 a.m. release of the Nike Kobe 5 Protro “Big Stage”, and I took an L (loss). On August 24th I got up early for the release of the Nike Kobe 5 Protro “5x Champ”, and I took another L.
That same day the Los Angeles Lakers City Edition Jersey Black Mamba was released but I didn’t go for it; I wasn’t going to pay $120 for a jersey. On August 27th, I entered a raffle on UNDEFEATED.com for the Nike Kobe 5 Protro x UNDEFEATED “What If” Pack, a two sneaker set, but long story short, I didn’t win.
On August 29th the pain continued after I once again woke up early, entered the release of the Nike Kobe 5 Protro “Girls EYBL” and didn’t get that pair either.
The terrible death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others in January caused Nike to pull all of the Kobe merchandise from their stores and all Nike authorized dealers, in efforts to stop resellers from buying up all the product and selling it at a higher premium in the aftermarket.
People who had wanted Kobe products to celebrate his life had to wait till whenever they decided it was the right time to release the Kobe line back into the world which was supposed to start again August 23rd with a theme they called “Mamba Week”.
Mamba Week was meant to be a full week dedicated to honoring Kobe and his legacy starting on his birthday, August 23rd , and a week full of product releases, each item honoring Kobe in a different way. Nike also donated a million dollars to Kobe’s sports foundation, but the fans were not pleased with Nike and Mamba Week especially since the products ended up being released on the Nike SNKRS app.
The SNKRS app is notoriously hated among sneakerheads. The shoes sell out in seconds and Nike claims the people who get chosen to buy the shoes are random, but if you use the app you know it’s not. People go years without getting a single shoe on the app and the formula to a successful purchase is unknown to the sneaker community.
Nike also made every product limited, and very difficult to buy. Kobe fans as well as sneakerheads couldn’t get their hands on any product because the resale market ate them up.
“Nike is really finessing Kobe’s death, it doesn’t make sense, and back then these shoes would’ve sat,” said Jonathan Acosta, a senior at St John’s University. “And watch, they’re going to do this every year… profit off of Kobe’s death.”
Nike knew this would happen. After Kobe’s tragic accident, all of his sneakers had a huge demand; the products that were in stores before Nike pulled them were selling out, and Kobe sneakers on the resell market saw a large price increase. After some thinking and going through some sneakers in my collection, I realized production dates for sneakers are usually announced 12-18 months before the intended release.
It makes sense that the Nike Kobe 5 Protro “Big Stage”, Kobe 5 Protro “5x champ”, and the Kobe 5 Protro “Girls EYBL” were limited releases. On the other hand, the Nike Kobe 5 Protro x UNDEFEATED “What If” Pack, a collection that had two of the best shoes of Mamba Week, had claims they were created between February and May of last year. Why didn’t Nike have the factories create more pairs so everyone who wanted a set had a higher chance?
Their actions were at the expense of real fans and allowed resellers to continue to make a huge profit off of Kobe’s name. The Nike Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant Black Mamba City Edition jersey now goes for around $520, which for retail was $120. Nike Kobe 5 Protro “Big Stage” goes for around $415, the “5x Champ” pair for around $424, and the “Girls EYBL” colorway goes for around $310. If you want the Nike Kobe 5 Protro x UNDEFEATED “What If” Pack you’re going to have to pay around $1,700 for the box set.
The products should have been open to everyone who wanted to get their hands on them. To make things right, Nike should offer off a few more Kobe products but this time make them easily available to the public.