News broke overnight that late NBA icon Kobe Bryant’s name and likeness will no longer be associated with the Nike corporation. His widow, Vanessa Bryant, and the Kobe Bryant estate decided not to renew the partnership.
According to ESPN, the estate was frustrated with Nike over the limited availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his January 2020 death as well as the lack of availability of shoes in kids’ sizes.
The Kobe Bryant estate could possibly sign a deal with another brand. Apparently, the estate owns the rights to the “Mamba” logo and the 5-time NBA champion’s signature.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 20, 2021
Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram to address the latest development. She posted:
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. 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.
ESPN’s Nick DePaula also reported Nike’s contract extension offer was viewed as not in line with other “lifetime” agreements like the ones signed by Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. He was 41 years old. Eight other people also lost their lives in that accident in Calabasas, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Alyssa Altobelli, 14, John Altobelli, 56, Keri Altobelli, 46, Payton Chester, 13, Sarah Chester, 45, Christina Maurer, 38, and Ara Zobayan, 50 were the other individuals who lost their lives that day.