The sports world is still mourning the death of Kobe Bryant, 41, the former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard, five-time NBA champion, and 18-time All-Star. He died on January 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people.
Yesterday, ESPN said Nike began pulling Bryant's products from its website in order to curb resellers from trying to profit from his passing. However, Nike has since refuted that report. A spokesperson for Nike confirmed to Input that the reason there are no longer any Kobe sneakers, jerseys or other gear on its site is because they sold out.
The sad truth — Nike did not confirm when, or if, it plans to bring back Kobe shoes or apparel to its online shop. But chances are they'll return, considering how the company didn't intentionally stop selling them in the first place. There's certainly something wrong about people looking to profit from Bryant's situation, but the sad truth is that whenever a celebrity dies, the price of any merchandise or memorabilia related to them tends to skyrocket in secondary markets.
On sneaker resale app StockX, for example, a pair of Nike Kobe 6 "Grinch" that was selling for around $600-$700 prior to his death now has a lowest asking price of $3,999. Meanwhile, on eBay, autographed Bryant memorabilia (including basketballs and jerseys) has also started to surge in prices.
Future drops? — The situation for Nike is different compared to resellers. It's not as if the company was trying to profit from a tragedy here; it just happens to be the one making Kobe products.
Still, with the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend taking place in a couple weeks in Chicago, it'll be interesting to see if Nike launches any product to honor the late Bryant. The brand did have a Kobe 5 Protro "Championship" scheduled to drop on February 5, though some retailers have started to remove them from their launch calendars.