Vanessa Bryant Reveals Kobe Bryant’s Partnership With Nike Is Over
The Kobe Bryant estate has decided to not renew their partnership with Nike, the late NBA star’s widow Vanessa confirmed on Monday night.
Kobe Bryant’s five-year post-retirement deal with the sporting apparel giant had expired earlier this month and there had been reports that Vanessa Bryant and the estate had grown frustrated with Nike’s limited production runs for his signature shoes and the chronic lack of kids sizes.
In a statement to ESPN, Vanessa Bryant said:
Kobe’s Nike contract expired on 4/13/21. Kobe and Nike have made some of the most beautiful basketball shoes of all time, worn and adored by fans and athletes in all sports across the globe. It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe.
My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products,” Vanessa Bryant said. “I will continue to fight for that. Kobe’s products sell out in seconds. That says everything.”
ESPN reports that on top of issues over availability, Nike, in renewal talks, did not offer the Bryant estate a “lifetime” contract structure similar to deals the company has with Michael Jordan and LeBron James. “I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy. We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change,” Vanessa Bryant said.
The end of Bryant’s Nike deal means the estate, which owns the rights “Mamba” logo, is now free to negotiate a new deal with other brands.
Bryant’s sneaker line is one of the most popular basketball shoes ever especially when his fourth signature shoe, the Zoom Kobe IV, with Nike, which started a series of low tops, was introduced in 2008.
In early 2019, Nike re-released the Kobe IV’s as a “Protro” or a performance retro albeit in a limited quantity.