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30 for 30: ‘Sole Man,’ Chapter 3 — Kobe and the Gunslinger

In the third chapter of the latest 30 for 30, ‘Sole Man,’ Sonny Vaccaro explains how he was fired from Nike and how he rebounded. With the support of a new employer, Vaccaro sets out to find the next Michael Jordan for Adidas, and he discovers that lightning does indeed strike twice.

After being fired by Nike in a haze of controversy, Vaccaro resurfaces at Adidas, which at that time had virtually no presence in the U.S. basketball market. In the first big strike for his new employer, Vaccaro signs a phenom named Kobe Bryant to a multimillion-dollar contract, an unprecedented deal for a player making the risky (and much-criticized) jump from high school to the NBA. 

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Chapter 1: “How Sonny Became Sonny”
Chapter 2: “The Jordan Effect”

Visit Grantland every day this week for a new chapter of Sole Man. Sole Man will make its prime-time television debut on Thursday, April 16, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Filed Under: 30 For 30, Video, Kobe Bryant, NBA, Nike, Adidas, Sole Man, Sonny Vaccaro, ESPN Films