Vanessa Bryant and the rest of the estate of Kobe Bryant have elected not to renew the late athlete's longstanding relationship with Nike. Vanessa confirmed the news to ESPN in a statement.
"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", Vanessa said in her announcement.
She's completely correct. Kobe's shoes are an integral part of Nike's brand in the world of basketball. But, for now, all production will be halted on Kobe related merchandise by Nike, because Kobe's estate holds exclusive ownership of the Mamba logo seen on the shoes.
According to ESPN sources, the estate has grown frustrated with Nike in recent years with the limited availability of Kobe products both post-retirement and when he passed. Specifically, a lack of production for women and kid's sizes of the shoe.
Nike reportedly offered the Bryant estate an extension deal that wasn't in line with the lifetime structure they expected. For context, both Michael Jordan and LeBron James have received lifetime deals similar to what they were expecting, and reportedly their extension was not in line with that.
Where Do They Go From Here?
Well, as stated above, Vanessa and the Bryant estate own the Mamba logo, so they can go wherever they want. Prior to his death, Kobe was looking into starting his own company under the Mamba name, so that's a possibility. Nike providing them what they want is also, of course, a possibility. But in all likelihood, they're going to shop around offers at competitors. Adidas, Under Armour, etc.
We'll see where the Kobe shoe lands, but in the meantime, we'll miss that Mamba merch dearly.
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