The Kobe Bryant estate will not renew its partnership with Nike, the late NBA star’s widow, Vanessa, confirmed Monday night.
Kobe Bryant’s five-year post-retirement deal with the sporting apparel giant 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.”
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 to the “Mamba” logo, is now free to negotiate a new deal with other brands.
Nike has released over a dozen Kobe Bryant signature shoes since the Lakers legend signed with the company in 2003. Previously, Bryant was with Adidas, having signed a six-year contract there straight out of high school.