The tragic death of Kobe Bryant, in addition to the moral damages that all NBA followers may have known, continues to have an impact on the league even today. As the contract between him and Nike ended last spring, the Oregon firm and Vanessa Bryant announced that they had not reached an agreement to extend the collaboration posthumously. If the two parties announce that discussions are still underway in the hope of finding a solution, this end of the contract has other consequences such as the end of the production of shoes dedicated to the late Lakers star. And for many NBA players, this end of production means that the shoes they usually wear today are much more complicated to find. Notably because they have become almost impossible to find in stores, but also because the size of an NBA player is nothing ordinary. Take the example ofAnthony davis and her giant sized feet. He who started playing with the Kobe when arriving at the Lakers, is now in a real trouble.
“I’m not going to go to a store and find Kobe size 17 (European size 51). It’s impossible. These are guys’ favorite shoes. A lot of people have been inspired by him and the shoe is amazing. They are all awesome. Anthony Davis
Because this is the central point of the story. Apart from a renewed interest in paying homage to the legend, the Kobes are above all pairs acclaimed by players for their quality and the comfort they provide to play. In 2019/2020, more than 100 players wore a model of Kobe 4 Protro, model inspired by a retro model worn in 2008 by Kobe. And in the Orlando bubble, it was almost one in three players playing with a pair of Kobes on their feet. The problem is therefore massive for players and especially for longtime fans of the pair like DeMar DeRozan. Especially since Kobe is one of the main idols of the current generations of players who are currently entering the NBA.
“This generation sees Kobe as we saw Michael Jordan. It’s a great shoe to wear. Guys really like it. »DeMar DeRozan
And the Bulls player confirms that even for the members of the teams, the task is difficult. Especially for those who don’t have a lot of stock.
“If you weren’t in the game for the last few years, you’re having a hard time. »DeMar DeRozan
Same story with the Blazers player Larry Nance Jr.
“If you don’t already have one, you won’t. »Larry Nance
While a lot of players are now looking to source Kobe, it is the price of second-hand resales that is increasing dramatically. And NBA players sometimes do not hesitate to spend thousands of euros to afford pairs. So for Josh giddey, rookie and recently signed to Nike, finding a pair is like finding a gold nugget. Especially when it is the shoe supplier of the franchise who contacts him to tell him that he has just found 5 pairs of Kobe 8 System Tb that correspond to his size. Intended for Derek fischer when he finished his career at OKC, this kind of find becomes more and more rare and Giddey can relish this discovery. Because not all rookies are so lucky. So ask Trey murphy, rookie of the Pelicans who are currently playing with a pair loaned by a teammate.
“I look for it every day. It’s hard to find any now. I’m not DeMar DeRozan »Trey Murphy
But even for players of this caliber and long-standing brand ambassadors, the situation gets more complicated. If he is indeed in a more comfortable situation than other young players, he admits that it becomes more and more complicated. He is currently playing with shoes embroidered with number 10, which he however dropped for 11 when he arrived in Bulls. Shoes no longer have the same meaning in his eyes.
“I used to play one or two games with the same pair and give them to the fans. I can’t really do that now. I’ve always had so many pairs. But I look at them differently today. People ask me for them, but I can’t give them the way I used to. If it gets worse, I might even have to go to my safe. »DeMar DeRozan
Many players are thus looking to find a way to get new pairs from Kobe. Whether by paying the price or outright mandating their agent for this mission. For Devin Booker, also a Nike ambassador, the situation is less complicated. But he confirms that he is still paying attention and that he is looking to create a small stock just in case.
“I contacted a few guys to help me find some. I will never run out of Kobe. »Devin Booker
For his teammate at the Suns Jae Crowder, salvation came from a warning from Nike to team managers that the collaboration and therefore production would soon come to an end. And if the word got out in the league, it was better to be prepared beforehand.
“Some of us got wind of it and we started to accumulate it. By the time the news came out, I had enough for two years. »Jae Crowder
But not all are in Crowder’s situation, and the two seasons of accumulated rabs could not change the final deal if no agreement is reached. So players look at other similar models that they could use as compensation. And the closest models seem to be the Kyrie Irving or the Nike GTs. Similar characteristics which also do not allow to obtain the same rendering. So the players go at the end of their shoes. More than they were used to before, as a franchise equipment manager confides
“The guys who wear Kobes wear them until they’re almost shattered. »Anonymous source
While there is no indication for the moment that an agreement will soon be found between the Bryant clan and Nike, the regulars of the model will however have to wait a long time before seeing their favorite pair proliferate again. Indeed, already substantial at the base, the production time of a model could be revised upwards because of the COVID which has seen production times and the production chain undergo major upheavals.
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Finding a pair of Kobe, the current challenge for NBA players