Kobe Bryant was a larger-than-life icon that affected the game of basketball in so many different ways. Off the court, he was one of Nike's top athletes and had numerous signature shoes with the company. However, prior to his death in January, Bryant reportedly was pondering branching out on his own and starting his own shoe company.
Shervin Pishevar, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Virgin Hyerloop, revealed via Twitter on Tuesday that Bryant had spoken to him in late 2019 about potentially starting his own sneaker company that would've been called "Mamba."
I met with Kobe Bryant in late December 2019. Kobe wasn’t happy with Nike and was going to leave it in 2020. Kobe was going to start Mamba, a shoe company owned by players. He passed away weeks later. What he was about to do in business was going to eclipse his sports career.— Shervin (@shervin) December 29, 2020
According to Pishevar, Bryant was unhappy with the direction that Nike was heading with his signature line of shoes. Bryant believed that the sales of his signature shoes had taken a hit in recent years and blamed Nike for the decline. In addition, Pishevar shared a few images that his sneaker design team showed Bryant at their meeting in December of 2019 -- weeks before Bryant's death -- regarding the "Mamba" shoe company.
The shoe that Pishevar and his team showed Bryant was a slip-on sneaker and featured a snake-like texture, likely paying homage to Bryant's "Black Mamba" moniker.
Nike hasn't commented on Pisheavar's claims.
Bryant's joined Nike in 2003 after leaving a deal with Adidas. His first signature Nike shoe was released three years later.