On Monday, Aug. 1, it was announced that Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan had his deal with shoe and apparel giant Nike renewed for another four years.
Upon hearing the news, NBA insider/reporter Shams Charania tweeted that DeRozan would continue to be the face of the “Mamba” line.
“Fresh off making All-NBA second team, Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan is signing a new four-year deal with Nike that keeps him as the featured face of Kobe Bryant’s iconic line.”
If anyone ever had the chance to do so maybe it should be “Debo,” as DeRozan is referred to in his neighborhood of Compton, California. He wears Kobe’s signature shoe every time he steps on the hardwood.
But that announcement didn’t seem to sit too well with Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, who was quick to send a tweet debunking Charania’s notion.
“False. He is not the face of the Kobe line. No one is.”
Vanessa isn’t taking anything concerning her late husband’s legacy lightly. The battle she had with the shoe giant following Kobe’s tragic and untimely death doesn’t help matters.
DeMar DeRozan on Kobe: “I told myself I’m not wearing Kobe’s when I played that night, so I wore Jordans.”
Kobe responded with: “The f*** you got those on for?”… and proceeded to hit the game winner against the Raptors.
DeRozan: “I never put another pair of Jordans on.” pic.twitter.com/zKSat6eSMJ
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) March 9, 2022
Bryant Thanks DeRozan: But Makes It Clear That Kobe Is The Face
Vanessa did say she loves that DeRozan is a supporter of the brand, but only Kobe is the face of it.
“No they didn’t. LOVE that he’s a Kobe supporter but the caption is false,” Bryant said. “It’s misinformation. Only Kobe is the face of his line. If that changes in the future, then I’m sure Nike and I will release a statement announcing it.”
No player in the league wears Kobe’s Mamba, sneakers more than DeRozan. He’s followed by Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker and Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis, who can all be seen playing in Bryant’s shoes almost exclusively. In fact, I’ve never seen DeRozan or Booker play in anyone else’s sneakers.
— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) April 15, 2018
So, while no one should probably ever be the face outside of Kobe, it’s really cool to see players around the league supporting his legacy. In fact his shoe is the most worn signature shoe in the NBA.
Bryant And Nike Had Some Tense Moments
Bryant’s contract with Nike expired April 2021, and at that time, Vanessa Bryant and Nike elected not to move forward as partners. The sticking point for Bryant was Nike limiting Kobe gear to fans and supporters in his retirement and after his unfortunate death. At that Vanessa addressed the situation and said via statement:
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) March 22, 2022
“My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products. I will continue to fight for that. Kobe’s products sell out in seconds. That says everything.
“I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy. We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change.”
In March 2022, it was announced that Nike and Kobe Bryant’s estate would once again partner to honor Kobe and daughter Gigi’s legacy. Here’s what she said via Instagram at the time of the announcement:
“We’re excited to announce our partnership with Nike is going to continue! I am so proud that my husband’s shoes are still the most worn by players on NBA courts and the demand for his shoes remain so desired by his fans around the world.”
Now you see why no one else will ever be the face of Kobe’s line. It’s the closest thing she has outside of her and their three remaining beautiful girls that he loved immensely.