NIKE AND THE ILLUSION OF PARTNERSHIP
Recently Kawhi Leonard filed a lawsuit against Nike over his “Klaw “ logo. For those unaware, Kawhi Leonard is a basketball player that currently plays for the Toronto Raptors.
According to Sports Illustrated, Leonard alleged that NIKE filed a copyright registration without the permission of Leonard.
Leonard was adamant about the logo used by Nike was an original creation of his and was conceptualized way back during his college days.
He insisted that he only allowed NIKE to use his logo on products on a permissive basis. NIKE was to acknowledge they had no ownership of the logo just limited uses that required Leonard’s permission.
This is where Kawhi went wrong. Kawhi is learning what previous collaborators learned the hard way. NIKE is always gonna look out for NIKE first.
It’s like when Kanye was frustrated doing his “partnership” with NIKE because he wasn’t receiving royalties for his shoes & his collaborations was limited to a pair of sneakers every two years.
When NIKE was finished with Kanye they took his colorways applied them to other shoes with no afterthought about Kanye.
Same with Sean Wotherspoon, who is the owner of ROUND TWO, a vintage store with flagships in Virginia, Miami, NY, and LA.
After, they were released, soon after Sean started teasing samples of what to come next.
First peek at the second wave! Still early on the sample process, and there’s a lot that’s going to change! I’m thinking add some color to the sole, make that air bubble infrared, gotta change the sock liner to yellow, maybe a new color insole?!, fix the denim on the tabs, and do a gradient from light to dark blue instead of all light blue?!? What new patches should I include with this pair?! I couldn’t be happier holding these babies in my hand, can’t wait to see the final sample! So much more dope Nike shit to talk about, can’t wait to tell everyone! 🌊🌊🌊🌊 @nikesportswear @nike
- Sean Wotherspoon
He thought that next was going to come but Nike went “NOPE”. No official explanation given, just the end of a partnership.
However, he did have this to say.
"I’ve been done working with [Nike], at least on another SW collab, for a while. Still lots of good friends there. I help when asked, but being able to spread my wings again is the best feeling ever,"
Well, its best to interpret that as NIKE gave him the boot and instead of being salty about it he took the bigger road to ensure no bridges were burnt.
People were concerned with the partnership when he posted a picture of him in a pair of YEEZY DESERT RAT 500’s.
Who knows what his contract entailed but if Nike let a pair of yeezys stopped them from capitalizing more on the hype from those Sean Wotherspoon sneakers, shame on them.
Moving along, I would like to offer up this quote from Parent-Athlete and master wordsmith, Lavar Ball.
“NO NO CHECK THIS OUT NIKE GAVE THEM… THEY CAN’T TAKE THEY BRAND WITH THEM..”
“IF LEBRON AND KOBE LEAVE NIKE THEY WON’T LET THEM TAKE THE DESIGN”
“THATS THE BRAND NIKE MADE FOR THEM”
Lavar, didn’t tell a single lie. Recently Kobe launched one of his post-retirement ventures, Mamba Sports Academy. The sports academy offers a variety of training programs to Youth and Adults and isn’t limited to Basketball. Its all about embracing the “Mamba Mentality” Kobe possessed on the court. Its the mentality credited for getting Kobe 5 NBA Championships and many other accolades.
This new venture is all built off Kobe likeness and image. People will literally sign up for this camp because Kobe is attached to it. So It was kinda odd, when I saw the new merchandise for the Mamba Sports Academy.
On Eastbay, the items aren’t even listed with Kobe name on them. The first word you see is Nike. It’s clear the sponsorship is with Nike so obviously you will see their name but one word doesn’t feature “Kobe” or at the very least “MAMBA”.
That was a clear sign to me that when it come to these partnerships, NIKE will be prioritized first and if you’re not willing to do that they will easily find someone that will.
Hopefully, Kawhi recovers his Intellectual Property and doesn’t make the same mistake with New Balance. Hopefully there will be clauses in his contract to ensure the proper uses with his logo and that He’ll never have to battle a Corporate Giant again and just focus on his Legacy.