By Barry Janoff
April 7, 2016: As his days on the court wind down, Kobe Bryant's presence in marketing is ramping up.
Among his brand ambassador duties, Bryant has been talking up sports drink BodyArmor (where he also is an investor) and did an event with American Express as part of the brand's "Teammate to the Fans" campaign.
AEG, which owns and operates Staples Center, home to Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers, has unveiled in conjunction with LakersStore.com the Kobe Bryant "24 Collection," with more than 45 exclusive apparel items to commemorate his career.
The specially created high-end items feature New Era headwear, adidas jerseys and T-shirts, jackets by JH Design Jacket and a pin line with Aminco. Included is a 24 karat gold-fitted black snakeskin cap, limited edition of eight, selling for $38,248.08; and a gold leather snakeskin jacket, limed edition of 24, going for $5,824.
These are in addition to merchandise that Bryant is offering on his own Web site.
Many of the 36 different jerseys that Bryant has worn either with the Lakers, as an NBA all-star or as a member of the U.S. Men's National Basketball Team are available either via the NBA Store or the Lakers online shop.
Now, Nike has taken Bryant's marketing a step farther, declaring April 13 as "Mamba Day," a nod to his last appearance in a Lakers uniform as well as his "Black Mamba" nickname.
According to the sports gear and footwear brand, "Nike-sponsored athletes worldwide will celebrate the player many love to hate by wearing black and gold shoes, a metaphoric nod to the Bryant’s golden career fading to black on April 13."
A multi-platform push includes a spot, "Mamba that features such athletes as track and field star Sanya Richards-Ross, NFL quarterback Russell Wilson, WNBA star Natalie Achonwa, NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., pro skateboarder Eric Koston and NBA all-stars Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Kevin Durant.
True to the premise, "Love him or hate him, the Black Mamba’s prolific career has fueled both joy and anger," athletes in the Nike spot express a their opinions on playing against or watching Bryant.
"He pissed me off a lot," says Durant.
"He was ready to attack at all times," offers Irving.
According to Beckham Jr., "At the end of the day it's me versus you"
And says Wilson, "He makes you fear him before you even step on the court."
Among the other estimated 200 Nike athletes who will wear the black-and-gold Mamba shoes are golfer Rory McIlroy, MLB star Mike Trout and Carli Lloyd of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.
Numerous other festivities are being planned for April 13, when Los Angeles hosts the Utah Jazz in Bryant’s final pro game.
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