Kobe Bryant is preparing for the next phase of his career as he enters into what will surely be the final two years of his time as a professional basketball player, and he need only look to Michael Jordan to see how lucrative ‘retirement’ can be for an icon of the NBA.
Bryant has outlined his ambition to an entrepreneur with the launch of Kobe Inc, a company he has recently founded, with the first notable investment of the LA Lakers star being in a new range of energy drinks.
There is certainly plenty of money to be made when the Kobe brand lends its significant backing to a product, as the enduring appeal of Michael Jordan has proven over the years. Jordan retired from playing over a decade ago yet, in 2013, his Nike branded shoes made more money than any other basketball sneaker.
The retail sales of Jordan Brand products, including the iconic Air Jordan, hit a huge $2.25 billion in the US last year alone. But can Kobe do something when he finally ends his playing days? Well, we can certainly expect the 35-year-old to be more hands on than Jordan.
"I want to be a part of something and if you want to be a true entrepreneur you have to put skin in the game," Bryant told ESPN. "At this stage in my life, I don't have the interest in taking on any more endorsements."
Bryant, of course, already has his name on a line of Nike shoes, and now he is turning his attention to the sports drink industry. He claims to have invested millions of his own dollars into BODYARMOR, a drink created by a company with an impressive history of success, having made $4.1 billion when two previous products were sold to Coca-Cola.
BODYARMOR is a drink with a difference, says Kobe, and it could be the first step on a path to surpassing the retirement success that has been enjoyed by Jordan since his departure from the professional game.
"From a standpoint of innovation, if you look at the category, the category itself has been a dormant one for years," Bryant adds. "They have become accustom to drinking one product because that's been the only one available to them. There hasn't been a product that has come to them and said, 'There's another way to upgrade your sports drink.' "