The world is grieving over the loss of an icon… the legendary Kobe Bryant. And even more devastating is the death of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the other passengers on board that flight.
I was listening to an interview on ESPN with Bob Costas, a sportscaster who covered Kobe’s career, specifically when he played in the Olympics. He said Kobe was not only an incredible athlete — he was a superstar.
This got me thinking about all the times we’ve seen Kobe off the court and as a fixture in popular culture. Whether you were a basketball fan or not, you knew Kobe Bryant. An entire generation grew up idolizing him not only for his game, but also his magnetic personality.
Kobe Bryant’s Marketing Influence
All eyes have been on Kobe from the moment he entered the NBA in 1996 at just 18 years old. Over his 20-plus year career, countless brands sought after his likeness. Not to mention, there is currently a petition for Kobe’s silhouette to become the new NBA logo.
Here are just some of the brands and projects that tapped into Kobe’s undeniable mass appeal:
ESPN’s This is SportsCenter, 1996
ESPN’s This is SportsCenter, I’m not sure what year </3
Guitar Hero, 2008
He ended up taking Brandy to his high school prom!
Sister, Sister – 1996
Hang Time, 1997
All That, 1998
Here’s Kobe pictured with Kenan and Kel
Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside, 1998
NBA Courtside, 2002
Brian McKnight – Hold Me ft. Kobe Bryant, 1997
Kobe raps at 2:38
Kobe makes in appearance in the Destiny’s Child video for Bug-A-Boo at the 2:08 mark, 1999
Here he is shooting hoops with Beyonce’s father, Matthew Knowles
Kobe also rapped on the Say My Name Remix
Kobe Bryant ft. Tyra Branks – K.O.B.E., 2000
Leaving a Legacy
I know Kobe will not be remembered for these random projects, endorsements, and music forays I dug up here.
I’ve learned so much about Kobe’s post-basketball work in the wake of his death. I had no idea about the Mamba Sports Academy, his film projects, books, and all of the incredible work he was putting in to inspire today’s youth.
Yes, Kobe was a brand. He was one of those people who turned anything he touched into gold. But he was also a husband, father, son, mentor, and overall family man. His legacy transcends generations and will be so much bigger than basketball.