Nike denies pulling Kobe Bryant merch from web site, claims it sold out

Kobe Bryant sneakers and jerseys sold out on Nike.com after the basketball legend died on Sunday and were not deliberately removed from the site, the sneaker giant says.

A company spokesman on Tuesday refuted an ESPN report that Nike pulled the merchandise off the digital sale rack to thwart buyers who will likely resell the gear at higher prices.

ESPN’s Monday report cited anonymous Nike sources to explain why shoppers searching for Bryant’s products on the Nike website were directed to a statement from the company about the star’s death instead of a message simply saying the product was “sold out.”

A source close to Nike told The Post it would take at least several months for Nike to replenish its Kobe Bryant inventory, and so instead of keeping the products online indicating the products had sold out, the company decided to take down all images of the product.

“It is not unusual for an ecommerce website to drop items that have no more inventory, so customers are not frustrated in thinking the product is in stock,” agreed NPD analyst Matt Powell. “These products were not deeply stocked to begin with.”

It’s also possible Nike was seeking to control Bryant’s inventory to prove it will protect the elite athletes with which it has relationships, said sports consultant Joe Favorito.

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were killed along with seven other people when the helicopter they were flying in crashed near Los Angeles, California.

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