Kobe Bryant was one of the first athletes to test, co-develop, and use the Hypervolt massage gun. Long before the California-based company Hyperice became the Offical Recovery Technology Partner of the NBA, Bryant was already an avid user of their black, neoprene cold sleeves to ice his knees and elbows.
Back in 2007, Bryant seriously considered the idea of a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Chicago Bulls. He would spend his offseason working out at the UC Irvine campus where he met local high school history teacher and former basketball coach Anthony Katz through Ryan Badrtalei, a mutual friend.
Katz, a devoted Lakers fan, had noticed that Bryant would often ice his knees on the bench using leaky plastic bags wrapped in bandages. “It was like an art project. I had zero business experience, I’d never taken a class and I didn’t know what the word ‘entrepreneur’ meant,” Katz told ESPN about the neoprene sleeves he developed.
At first, he was hesitant about approaching Bryant with his design. “Sometimes guys would come to play, planning to be there for a week or two. And after one practice, Kobe would make a call and say, ‘Don’t ever send this guy to work out with me again,'” Irvine’s longtime assistant basketball coach Badrtalei recalls.
Luckily Katz went ahead anyway. “[…] I had this idea and I knew that if I could get Kobe to wear it, then it would give it credibility and exposure.” As it turned out, Bryant liked the idea and worked through some prototypes and redesigns together with Katz until they came up with the Hyperice, a name inspired by the Nike Hyperdunk shoes Kobe was wearing at the time.
When Bryant started wearing the black neoprene sleeves on the Lakers bench, others would soon start to take notice. LeBron James ordered several dozen, Blake Griffin was so impressed that he became one of the company’s first investors.
“The difference between Kobe and LeBron is that when Kobe first got it, he didn’t want anyone else to know about it. He thought it was an advantage,” Katz says about the legendary competitive nature of Bryant. “When LeBron first tried it, he immediately wanted some to share with Carmelo [Anthony], Chris [Paul] and Dwyane [Wade].”
As the company and its range of products grew, Bryant continued to be involved as an advisor in the development of Hyperice products, which includes several recovery products including the original Hypervolt massage gun. Today, the Hypervolt Plus can be found beneath every player seat in the NBA and ensures that the legacy of the great Kobe Bryant lives on.
About Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bean Bryant was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 23, 1978. Originally selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and spent his entire 20-year career with the franchise.
Bryant is a 5x NBA Champion, a 2x NBA Finals MVP, and also won the NBA Most Valuable Player award once. He also led Team USA to the Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London games.