The estate of Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa are no longer affiliated with sneaker giant Nike, as the late Lakers great’s contract with the company has now expired.
“With Kobe Bryant’s five-year, post-retirement endorsement extension with Nike having expired this month, Vanessa Bryant and the Kobe Bryant estate elected not to renew the partnership, she confirmed to ESPN in a statement Monday night,” wrote Nick DePaula of ESPN.com.
Kobe Bryant spent his first several years being sponsored by Adidas, even though Adidas was never a big-time player on the basketball shoe market.
Eventually, he joined Nike, starting a fruitful partnership for both parties.
“Kobe’s Nike contract expired on 4/13/21,” Vanessa Bryant, widow of the Lakers legend, told ESPN. “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.”
Kobe Bryant and eight others died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. last January.
His influence on basketball and its culture is still seen to this day, as several current NBA players still wear his signature sneakers.
Interestingly, there are reports that before his passing, Kobe Bryant was planning on leaving Nike to form his own sneaker company and disrupt the entire industry.
That desire may have been fueled by some differences with Nike.
“According to a source, Bryant and the estate had grown frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe product during his retirement and after his January 2020 death in a helicopter crash,” wrote DePaula. “There was also frustration with the lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids sizes, according to sources.
“Nike, sources said, had 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.”
Source: Lakers Daily