Sports fans looking to buy Kobe Bryant related merchandise from Nike won't find any products available because the company has run out of Bryant jerseys, shoes, t-shirts and more, a company spokesman confirmed to CBS MoneyWatch on Tuesday.
A Nike spokesman could not say when Bryant merchandise would available online again.
Earlier reports Tuesday indicated that Nike purposely removed Bryant gear while company officials internally contemplated how to comment on the basketball star's death. The Nike spokesman said the company didn't take any merchandise off the market and officials aren't talking publicly about what will happen once Nike is restocked with Bryant-themed apparel.
When searching for Bryant merchandise on Nike's online store, customers are redirected to a company statement on his impact on basketball and beyond.
"He was one of the greatest athletes of his generation and has had an immeasurable impact on the world of sport and the community of basketball," Nike said.
Bryant, who spent 20 seasons as a Los Angeles Laker,that crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California. Eight other people – including Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna – died as well.
Since Bryant's death, basketball fans have struggled to find his Los Angeles Lakers jersey. The jersey was unavailable for most of the day Monday on the NBA's online apparel store. The website is. Bryant's jerseys were completely sold out Monday at the league's flagship store in Manhattan. Customers who visited the store hoping to buy a jersey were told none were left.
Bryant's play on the court inspired many of the league's current stars. He was an 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships in Los Angeles. He retired in 2016.
Bryant's relationship with Nike dates back to 2003, when he first signed a four-year, $40 million endorsement deal. The sporting gear giant later released popular shoes like the Nike Zoom Kobe 4, Nike Kobe 7 System and Nike Kobe 9 Elite. Basketball camps organized by Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy are partly staffed by Nike-paid coaches.
David Carter, a sports business professor at the University of Southern California, said Nike has a unique responsibility in coming months in how the company releases Bryant merchandise. The company must offer the gear promptly enough to satisfy customer demand, but not so quickly that it spurs accusations of profiteering.
Demand is also likely to be heavy for collectibles and sports memorabilia tied to Bryant, said Michael Mondello, a sports management expert and professor at the University of South Florida. Auction site eBay has more than 1,530 Bryant items, including an autographed jersey for $999, an autographed basketball for $1,085 and a Fleer brand 1996 rookie trading card for $1,175.