Few players have had the NBA under their spell for as long as Kobe Bryant did during his 20-year career with the Lakers. The 18-time NBA All-Star was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets back in 1996 but was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1996 NBA Draft. While Kobe Bryant laid waste to NBA defences during the entirety of his career, few paid attention to the burgeoning business empire he created behind the scenes. There is, therefore, another aspect to the 'Kobe Bryant helicopter crash' story that details the shrewd investments he made over the years.
Following in the footsteps of fellow Lakers legend Magic Johnson, the five-time NBA champion went about building the 'Kobe Bryant endorsements' story, brick by brick. The first significant brick of the 'Kobe Bryant endorsements' wall was the deal he signed with Nike, back in 2003. The likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony also joined Nike that same year, which solidified Nike's position as a "super-brand" in the sports apparel world. An argument can be made that Nike decided to rope in Kobe Bryant since he was the biggest name in the NBA following Michael Jordan's retirement in 2003. While Michael Jordan had the hugely popular brand of "Air Jordans" to his name, the Nike Kobe 4, which was released in 2009 is still one of the most popular pair of kicks sported in the NBA today. The Lakers legend also paired up with Nike for the launch of the Mamba League in 2017; a league which gave hundreds of kids free access to basketball.
Kobe Bryant proved to have the business acumen of an investment banker when the value of his 10% share in sports drink BodyArmor skyrocketed following Coca-Cola's investment in the company. According to an ESPN report, Kobe Bryant's initial investment of $6 million turned into $200 million with the soft drink giant’s investment. Two years after his investment in BodyArmor, the Lakers legend partnered with former CEO of Web.com Jeff Stibel. Reports suggest that the duo then formed the venture capital fund Bryant Stibel, which then invested in the gaming company that created the immensely popular game Fortnite, among other investments. Throughout his career, reports revealed that Kobe Bryant also signed endorsement deals with the likes of McDonald's, Nintendo, Sprite and Starbucks.
So sad to hear the heartbreaking news of the deaths of Kobe and his daughter Gianna. Kobe was a true legend and inspiration to so many. Sending my condolences to his family and friends and the families of all who lost their lives in the crash. RIP Legend💔 pic.twitter.com/qKb3oiDHxH— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) January 26, 2020
The news of the 'Kobe Bryant helicopter crash' sent shockwaves across the NBA world early on Sunday. NBA fans gathered outside the Staples Center to pay tribute to the man who spent the entirety of his NBA career in the Purple and Gold of the Lakers. Cristiano Ronaldo, Stephen Curry, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were among the countless sports stars who mourned the death of arguably one of the greatest players in the history of the game.