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Brands pay tribute to late NBA legend Kobe Bryant

Over the weekend, brands worldwide grieved the shocking passing of American basketball player Kobe Bryant (pictured) who lost his life in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven other passengers. Endearingly known as the “Black Mamba” by fans, Bryant adopted the nickname in 2003 as a representation of how his on court skills mirrored the snake’s agility and ruthlessness.

Nike, which endorsed the five-time NBA champion since 2003, called Bryant “one of the greatest athletes of his generation and has had an immeasurable impact on the world of sport and the community of basketball”. “He was a beloved member of the Nike family. We will miss him greatly. Mamba Forever,” it added.

When Bryant retired in 2016, Nike produced a film titled “The Conductor”, illustrating his polarising effect among players, coaches and fans, whom many have loved and others have loved to hate. The film was developed in partnership with Wieden+Kennedy Portland.

Prior to signing with Nike, Bryant got his first sneaker deal with adidas when he first joined the NBA in 1996. Not forgetting their partnership, adidas also mourned the loss of Bryant, tweeting that he was “a true legend that inspired others beyond the boundaries of the game. He will be greatly missed”.

BODYARMOR, a line of sports performance and hydration drinks backed by Bryant, also paid tribute to the late basketball legend, calling him “an incredible friend” and “a devoted family man and father”.

Mitchell & Ness, an American sports clothing company based in Philadelphia where Bryant was born, tweeted that it will always miss him.

The impact of Bryant’s death was also felt worldwide, with Malaysia’s INTI International University & Colleges sending its condolences to his wife, children and family.

Bryant has also had a strong following in Asia, especially in markets such as China and the Philippines. For China in particular, Bryant was ranked as the top NBA legend last year in the NBA Red Card 2019 report by Shanghai-based sports marketing agency Mailman. The report analyses the influence of the NBA online in China.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Basketball Association said it has lost a dear friend in Bryant who leaves behind fond memories of seven unforgettable visits to the country.

Prominent members in the world of entertainment, sports and politics also came together to express their sorrow. American singer Alicia Keys and R&B group Boyz II Men paid tribute to Bryant during the recent 2020 Grammy Awards, singing an acappella version of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”. Former US president Barack Obama also tweeted that Bryant was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as a meaningful a second act.

Besides brands, athletes too were affected by Bryant’s death. Renowned basketball players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwyane Wade, Ben Simmons and Trae Young, as well as American football player Tom Brady also reacted emotionally to Bryant’s passing. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said for 20 seasons, Bryant showed the world what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. Silver added that Bryant will be remembered most for inspiring people worldwide to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.

Thanks for the memories, Kobe. Mamba forever!

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