Reviving Classics or Honoring a Legend? The Tale of the Black Mamba Jersey

Reviving Classics or Honoring a Legend? The Tale of the Black Mamba Jersey
January 26, 2020, was a heart-breaking day for NBA fans worldwide.

Legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter accident. For the basketball world, it was one of the darkest days, and the pain is still hard to let go of even today.

"Have you ever seen Los Angeles at 4 a.m.?"

As one of the most influential athletes globally, Kobe captured the hearts of fans not just with his skills or championship titles, but through the Mamba Mentality – passion, persistence, rigor, resilience, and fearlessness – that he exhibited behind these great achievements.

During his 20-year NBA career, he maintained a passion for basketball and a relentless desire for victory, strict self-discipline, resilience in the face of injury and downturns, and fearlessly faced himself. Today, the Mamba Mentality has transformed from a personal belief into a spiritual faith, deeply rooted in many fans' hearts and significantly impacting many lives.

In August 2020, Nike announced the re-release of Kobe Bryant's Black Mamba jersey on *8/24.

*In 2016, the Los Angeles Council declared 8/24 as Mamba Day to honor Kobe's spectacular 20-year career in LA.

The Black Mamba jersey, from the 2017-2018 season and co-designed by Kobe himself, was inspired by the black mamba snake. The jersey features a black base with a snake scale motif, considered by Hoop Jersey as one of the Lakers' best designs.

However, its initial release didn't see fiery sales, partly because Kobe had already retired and never wore this jersey in a game.

Back to January 26, 2020, the tragic news sparked a surge in purchases of Kobe merchandise on eBay and worldwide platforms, with prices skyrocketing overnight. Every Kobe jersey, regardless of brand or edition, suddenly became a hot commodity, elevating the Black Mamba jersey from a regular to an iconic status.

Before the incident, Mitchell & Ness's $300 Kobe jerseys were hard to sell even at $200. Post-incident, bidding on eBay for these non-limited editions soared above $400, and they are still in production.

The Black Mamba jersey, especially, saw its price skyrocket from its original $110 to $300 or even $500, with the $200 player edition going for over $1000. Ironically, the City Edition jerseys were always intended to be limited releases, meaning the supply never changed, but Kobe's passing seemingly created many more fans.

After the incident, Nike quickly removed Kobe products from their website to prevent hoarding and price gouging, respecting the deceased.

Half a year later, Nike announced the re-release of the Black Mamba jersey, on 8/24, as a limited edition, a clear commercial move. While it's reasonable for a profit-driven company to release commemorative products on the first Mamba Day after Kobe's passing, this re-release, only changing the number on a previously released jersey.

Again, on December 26, 2024, Boxing Day, Nike once again re-released the same retro Black Mamba jersey. Despite claiming to have tripled the stock compared to previous releases, the jerseys were never seen "in stock." They sold out incredibly quickly, disappearing from Nike stores almost instantly.

This isn't the first time for such a "remake." In 2018, ahead of the documentary "The Last Dance" and to mark 20 years since Michael Jordan's 'The Last Shot' in the 1998 Finals, Nike released a series of Jordan jerseys. However, these were not replicas but current jerseys with Jordan's name and number, priced at $400 for the player edition, double the official NBA site's custom jersey price.

Back to the Black Mamba jersey, despite being a re-release of the same design, they sold out within seconds on 8/24, with many unable to even add them to their carts.

On the same day, many Black Mamba jerseys appeared on eBay for double the price. As of writing, the average sale price on StockX is around $300, over 3 times its original price.

Originally, Mamba Day was established to honor the legend who dedicated 20 years to LA. However, after Kobe's unfortunate passing, it became a day of merchandising under the guise of tribute, leading to a frenzy of buying, price inflation, and reselling. It makes one wonder if Mamba Day is now more about capitalizing on his legacy rather than commemorating a great star. Will this happen every 8/24? Seeing merchandise promoted under the hashtag "Mamba Mentality," has the original spirit been altered?

Well, it's all about that supply and demand. I totally get it, as a Kobe enthusiast, you're still looking for a legit source to get it, and let's face it, you've got good taste and some cash to spare! Lucky for you, Hoop Jersey's got your back:

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