When news broke over the weekend of the tragic death of retired basketball legend Kobe Bryant, it wasn’t just his friends and family who released statements to the media reflecting on the athlete’s many accomplishments both on and off the court.
Brands that Bryant had been associated without throughout his career did the same. Nike posted a statement on the front page of its website lauding ‘Mamba’, as Bryant sometimes referred to himself, and expressing sympathy for those close to him.
“He was one of the greatest athletes of his generation and has an immeasurable impact on the world of sport and the community of basketball,” Nike wrote.
“He was a beloved member of the Nike family. We will miss him greatly.”
Out of respect, Nike initially said it would be pulling all Kobe merchandise from its website, but it was later revealed it had sold out of the products instead.
According to a report by Forbes, Nike said it was pulling stock to limit resellers’ ability to quickly snatch up all remaining stock of Kobe merchandise, and then flip the products at a higher price.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much anyone could do – with Kobe branded merchandise already selling for as much as US$1000 on reselling platforms such as StockX, according to Business Insider.
This is a familiar story. In 2017, when David Bowie passed away sales of his music rose 1375 per cent on Ebay. Similarly, the passing of Price boosted the sale of his music by 809 per cent.
Twitter users voiced their frustration with the practice. Some said making a profit from death is disrespectful.
Nike has also stated it is reconsidering the release of an upcoming Kobe product, likely in order to avoid a similar situation.