Kobe Bryant estate ends partnership with Nike
MANILA, Philippines — Kobe Bryant’s signature line with Nike has come to an end.
Vanessa Bryant, widow of the Los Angeles Lakers legend, and the Kobe Bryant estate have reportedly decided not to renew the partnership after it expired last April 13.
“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,” Vanessa Bryant said in an interview with ESPN.
According to an ESPN report citing a source, Nike opting to limit the availability of Kobe merchandise during his retirement and following his tragic death in January 2020 as well as the “lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids sizes” didn’t sit well with Bryant’s camp.
“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.
“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.”
As per the ESPN source, “Nike had reportedly presented an extension offer that was not in line with expectations of an ongoing ‘lifetime’ structure similar to the Nike Inc. contracts held by both Michael Jordan and LeBron James.”
Nike and Bryant agreed to a five-year post-retirement extension in 2016. Bryant originally signed with Nike in 2003.
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 rereleased the Kobe IV’s as a “Protro” or a performance retro albeit in a limited quantity.
The Swoosh brand continued to release “Protro” versions of Bryant’s sneakers in OG and new colorways including the ever-popular “Grinch” even after his death but again opting to do-away with a general release that would’ve catered to more fans.
“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” Nike told ESPN in a statement. “He pushed us and made everyone around him better. Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”