Kobe Bryant: The End of an Era
With only five games left, the 2016 National Basketball Association (NBA) season is coming to a close along with the career of one of the greatest basketball players of this generation, if not of all time. His name and the team he plays for are commonly associated with greatness on the court. Kobe Bryant has not only made a name but a brand for himself in his 20 year career in the NBA. With shoes, shirts, drinks, and video games, Kobe’s face and name off the court have made him as big, or bigger than he is on the court.
Bryant was born August 23,1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and played basketball at Lower Merion High School before being selected as the thirteenth overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft. Receiving the Naismith Prep Player of the Year award in 1996, Bryant was a star and desirable as a spokesperson. Before starting his NBA career he signed a six-year 48 million dollar contract with Adidas activating Kobe's brand with a signature sneaker, the Equipment KB 8. Other notable endorsements Bryant has had in the past are: Sprite, McDonald's, Spalding, Upper Deck, Russell, and Nintendo. He has been on the cover of three NBA 2K game and various NBA Courtside games. Since he began his career in 1996, Bryant's jersey sales remained in the top three selling jerseys each season (with the exception of the season when rape allegations were brought against him).
The most notable endorsement in recent years for Bryant has been his five year 45 million dollar contract with Nike that took his brand to a whole other level. Once again, hindered by the rape allegations where Nike would not use his image or release a new Kobe shoe for the year, but Nike resumed when his image was restored two years later. The deal introduced a number of Kobe brand products such as signature shoes, shirts, pants, bags, etc. This deal endorsing the Kobe brand, Forbes estimates puts him third on the list for highest paid athletes behind only basketball great, Michael Jordan, and golfer, Tiger Woods. Huffington Post estimates that, during his 20-year career, Bryant has made an impressive 323 million dollars.
The NBA will be a different place after this season when Bryant retires. The five time NBA Champion, two time Finals MVP, Lakers all-time leading scorer, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and eighteen-time NBA All-Star, has made a name and difference that will go down in history. Bryant's last game will take place on the most expensive ticketed night in NBA regular season history. While Kobe Bryant’s last game with the Lakers against the Jazz is averaging $997 ticket sales on StubHub, the red-hot Golden State Warriors who are looking to break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' record for most wins in a season the same night are averaging $437 ticket sales. Given the historic impact of this game ticket prices are soaring, StubHub spokesman Glenn Lehrman saying, "It is virtually unprecedented to see the two highest-priced regular-season games of the year take place in the last game of the season at games with no playoff stakes involved". While Kobe may only have one game left on the court, his name and brand will continue to grace it forever.
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