Vanessa Bryant, widow of legendary Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant, confirmed on Monday that she and the Kobe Bryant estate will not be extending Kobe Bryant’s five-year post-retirement endorsement partnership with Nike.
“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.”
“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.”
A source told ESPN that Bryant and the late basketball player’s estate had issues with Nike and had become frustrated with the low availability of Kobe products after he retired from the sport and following his tragic death in a helicopter crash last year.
ESPN reported, “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.”
“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.”
Vanessa Bryant also reportedly told ESPN that the Kobe Bryant estate owns the rights to the “Mamba” logo, as well as his signature. The “Sheath” logo, which is on many of the tongues of Nike’s Kobe shoes is owned by both sides, a source told the outlet.
In a farewell campaign, Nike named Bryant’s final NBA game “Mamba Day” after he scored 60 points in the game. After the game, “Bryant had a five-year endorsement extension contract in place that continued the partnership into his retirement,” ESPN reported. “Before he died, Bryant had explored the notion of creating his own Mamba brand upon the expiration of the existing Nike deal, even meeting in December 2019 with a creative agency that could potentially help design and execute a future product series,” according to the outlet.
The sports legend passed away in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Seven other people died in the crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant. Last month, The Daily Wire reported that an investigation determined the helicopter crash was caused by the pilot flying through the clouds in violation of federal safety protocol. “The helicopter did not contain a so-called ‘black box’ recording device often used by investigators of helicopter and plane crashes to piece together the final moments before impact,” The Daily Wire reported. The crash has led to multiple lawsuits and accusations of blame.