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Kobe Bryant Wanted to Leave Nike to Launch Own Mamba Sneaker Brand

Mahlik Campbell

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Allen Berezovsky via Getty Images

Despite Kobe and Nike's numerous wins alongside one another, he was allegedly considering leaving the Swoosh to start a player-owned sneaker brand called "Mamba."

Per a tweet thread organized by venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, he met with Kobe in late Dec. 2019 to discuss Mamba before he passed away in a helicopter accident. "What he was about to do in business was going to eclipse his sports career," Pishevar wrote.

Pishevar, whose venture record boasts unicorn start-ups like Uber, Airbnb, Robinhood and more, shared a screenshot of the calendar invite for the Los Angeles meeting at Andrea Restaurant and an early iteration of a futuristic shoe design concept created by his team.

"There were witnesses to the meeting and Kobe’s plans like Gina Ford, who manages Usain Bolt," he added.

Wow: He noted they were toying with the idea of attaching a magnetic tracker to the back of the sneaker that would connect to a Mamba fitness app, complete with coaching and other motivational elements.

Though Pishevar hopes to eventually "honor his vision of a player-owned shoe company," Kobe's association with Nike is still strong. On Christmas Eve, a re-release of the coveted Kobe 6 Protro "Grinch" sold out almost immediately, leading Vanessa Bryant to contact Nike about offering another chance for fans to get their hands on a pair. 

"Hi guys! I heard that fans are having a hard time buying Kobe’s online," she wrote on her Instagram Story. “I reached out to Nike and I wanted to do something cool for fans to have a better opportunity to get some Kobe's. Unfortunately, COVID shut those plans down. We came up with an idea and we’re waiting for COVID stay-at-home orders to lift. Stay tuned. Happy holidays."

The real MVP!