Kobe Bryant signed a five-year extension with Nike in April 2016 that kept him connected to the brand into his retirement. That contract has now expired, and a new deal isn’t coming.
Bryant’s widow Vanessa and the Kobe Bryant estate have elected not to renew the partnership with Nike, Vanessa told ESPN’s Nick DePaula on Monday. Bryant’s deal expired on April 13, which marked exactly five years since the Lakers legend scored 60 points in his final NBA game.
The estate was disappointed with Nike “limiting the availability of Kobe products” after his retirement in 2016 and death in a January 2020 helicopter crash, DePaula said. There was also reportedly a frustration with the “lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids’ sizes.”
“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,” Vanessa told DePaula. “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. 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.”
Nike confirmed that the relationship had ended, saying in a statement that Bryant was “an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers” and he is still “a deeply loved member of the Nike family.” The company did offer an extension to Vanessa and the estate, but the structure of the deal fell short of expectations, per DePaula.
Lakers guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Talen Horton-Tucker reacted to the news after Los Angeles’ loss to Utah on Monday night. Both players said they will attempt to buy more pairs with Nike likely to hit pause on any future releases.
“I was shocked. I didn’t think that would happen.” – KCP said he’ll be trying to get his hands on more pairs of Kobe’s Nike shoes in the upcoming months. His go-to on-court sneaker.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 20, 2021
“I’m putting the call out right now. Whoever can get me any Kobes, I need ’em.” – Talen Horton-Tucker on the pending Nike/Kobe shortage today’s news could create
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 20, 2021
It is unclear whether Vanessa and the Bryant estate have discussed a new partnership with other brands.