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Sportress of Blogitude

Kobe Bryant not surprised by Nike’s ongoing support of Colin Kaepernick

Kobe Bryant presumably knows quite a bit about the inner workings at Nike when it comes to how the company goes about its business given their partnership goes back to 2003.

When asked recently about how Nike has stood by Colin Kaepernick despite the controversy the out-of-work quarterback generates, Bryant said he’s not surprised by the company’s ongoing support at all.

“It’s bigger than Nike, Nike’s core value is the athlete itself and you have to stand by what that athlete believes in,” Bryant said in an interview Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley,” as transcribed by CNBC.com. “If this is what the athlete believes in this is what you support so it doesn’t complicate things much at all.”

Nike has always portrayed itself as a quasi-countercultural company despite its immense wealth, power and influence in the world of sports. That said, Bryant insists the brand’s message, principles and organizational philosophy are sincere and legitimate, up to and including its ongoing relationship with Kaepernick.

“Nike’s mission is a very simple one ever since Phil Knight started the company the mandate was to listen to the voice of the athlete,” said Bryant.

Kaepernick of course continues to exist in NFL purgatory, with the widespread belief that he’s essentially been blackballed by the league for his social-justice protests during the national anthem while a member of the San Francisco 49ers, not to mention his outspoken brand of activism.

Despite an overwhelming number of quarterbacks going down in the first two weeks of the season, Kaepernick — despite remaining in optimal shape and his agent reaching out to teams in need of a quarterback — continues to be shunned by the league.

As far as the Nike-Kaepernick partnership is concerned, the company found itself in the midst of a firestorm last year thanks to the company naming the superstar its spokesperson for Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign as part of the slogan’s 30th anniversary.

A polarizing and provocative commercial was part of the campaign, and the critically acclaimed spot earned Nike a 2019 Creative Arts Emmy last weekend for “Outstanding Commercial.”