Tuesday , Jun , 05 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Kobe Bryant’s Sneaker Future Secure, Re-signs With Nike

Well, we know one one thing about Kobe Bryant’s future: the all-star guard will be wearing Nike sneakers next season … Bryant turned down offers from other shoe companies, including Li Ning, to re-sign with Nike … Click here for this story …

Darren Rovell, a sports business writer with CNBC, reports that Kobe Bryant has agreed to a new contract with Nike:

Wherever is playing, he’ll be wearing Nikes. Sources are telling CNBC that Nike has re-signed the guard to a multi-year extension. The exact length of the deal and the terms are unknown. It is also not clear whether Bryant’s contract would vary depending on the market in which he is playing.

Although it was expected that Chinese sports and apparel company Li-Ning, which has Damon Jones and Bryant’s former teammate Shaquille O’Neal under contract, would make a substantial bid for Bryant, sources say that it only got serious with Nike.

Bryant signed a five-year deal with Nike worth $45 million in June 2003, a little more than a year after his six-year deal with Adidas expired.

While other companies chose not to renew Bryant’s contracts – Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Spalding and Nutella — among them. But Nike and collectibles company Upper Deck stood by him.

Nike didn’t debut a Bryant shoe until March 2005 and didn’t support it with advertising and actually waited until July 2005 – more than two years into the deal, once the civil case was settled and the criminal case was dropped – to debut the association in a Sports Illustrated print ad.

The first shoe with Bryant’s name on it was the Zoom Kobe I, which hit the market in February 2006. The Zoom Kobe II hit stores in April of this year and sources say they Nike officials are planning on launching the Zoom Kobe III on January 1, 2008.

Bryant’s marketability has come full circle since the day he was charged with sexual assault and some advertising executives labeled him as unmarketable. He changed his jersey from No. 8 to No. 24 in the offseason and he will likely finish as the league’s best selling jersey this both the U.S. and China. Bryant last finished No. 1 in the league in 2002-2003 – before he was charged.

As Bryant goes through the greatest sports marketing comeback of all time, Nike — which was willing to stick through it with him — will now reap the reward. Of course with the Lakers not making it past the first round of the playoffs in the last three seasons, it isn’t all that positive and Bryant — assuming he stays with the the team — needs to lead the team deeper into the playoffs to stay relevant. Bryant led the league in scoring with 32.8 points per game this past season.

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