There is the rather cliché reaction wherein following the death of a major universally-loved celebrity, any works by his hand will appreciate, or increase, in value. If he was not a creative artist like a painter or author, then any item related to him, such as official merchandise, will get snapped up instead. With the tragic passing of relatively young retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant at the start of this week, anything that bears his name or likeness have become highly valuable to mourning collectors. Just ask major athletic shoe brand Nike and the NBA about their various Kobe-branded gear.
CBS News reports that the official NBA Store for player jerseys and team merchandise actually ran out of LA Lakers jerseys with Kobe Bryant’s name and numbers on them. This happened Monday, January 27 or a day following the Black Mamba’s death in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California with his daughter Gianna and seven others. No Kobe jerseys were found for online order on the NBAStore.com official website, as well as the real-world store on Fifth Avenue, NYC. Even the Lakers home court Staples Center could not offer merchandise due to cleaning up after the 62nd Grammys held Sunday.
NBA Store was not the only one that suffered a Kobe-stuff shortage. Look no further than Nike, longtime creator of shoes customized for athletic superstars. Michael had his Air Jordan series, Bryant got the Nike Zoom and variants, all of which have been sold out from online ordering at Nike.com since Monday. Now, searches for Nike-branded Kobe gear on Nike.com will lead instead to a tribute screen in remembrance of the 20-year career Laker. About the only helpful advice a company spokesperson can give for Bryant memorabilia collectors would be to scour retail outlets such as shoe stores and partner chains such as Foot Locker.
Kobe Bryant came on board with Nike back in 2003 and has been very hands-on in the conceptualization, design and marketing of his signature shoes, noted by analysts to be the choice of hardwood competition footwear by over 100 active NBA players or close to 25% of the league’s athletes. The company is now debating on how to proceed forward with its Kobe line of shoes and merchandise now that their active collaborator has gone.
As for the NBA Store, its shortage of official Laker Kobe jerseys was quickly remedied for the moment. The purple-and-gold 24’s were restocked and selling at $300 each, while autographed pieces fetch bigger prices online.
Image from USA Today