Nike, Kobe Bryant relationship ends after almost 20 years

Madrid, Apr 23 (EFE).- Vanessa Bryant, former basketball star Kobe Bryant’s widow, and the player’s estate have decided to conclude their relationship with Nike, putting an end to the most popular shoe brand in the NBA.

“Kobe’s Nike contract expired on April 13, 2021. 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 Bryant said in a statement.

“It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe,” she added.

For its part, Nike, whose role was key in the athlete’s ascension as an international icon, said “Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers”.

“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,” the company added in a statement.

With the decision, all merchandise related to Kobe Bryant will be stopped by Nike shortly.

US media states that Nike presented a renewal offer that did not meet neither economic nor duration expectations since Bryant sought a “lifetime” contractual relationship, similar to the one signed by the company with Michael Jordan or LeBron James.

“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,” said Vanessa Bryant.

According to sources consulted by ESPN, Vanessa Bryant and the NBA star’s estate were “frustrated” by the limited availability of Bryant products – especially for young children – since the player’s retirement and especially after his death in January 2020 in a helicopter accident.

The New York Times explains that the Kobe shoes worn by NBA players are often limited editions that the average consumer cannot afford, a strategy that Vanessa Bryant does not agree with.

Bryant’s circle, which owns the rights to the famous “Mamba” logo (the player’s nickname), may already be negotiating with other brands to form a new association, or could even choose to create his own firm, something the player himself was planning to do before his death, according to CNBC.

The partnership between Nike and Bryant began in 2003 and resulted in some of the most popular shoes on the market, such as the Zoom Huarache 2K4 and 2K5, as well as the famous Hyperdunk and the 11 models in the Nike Kobe series. The last renewal of the contract came after its withdrawal in 2016, for another five years.

The impact of Kobe’s products in the NBA is outstanding.

According to the Baller Shoes DB website, during the last NBA season, a total of 103 players, around 20% of the League, wore Kobe Bryant shoe models. More than LeBron James’ or even Michael Jordan’s.

Now, Vanessa Bryant wants her husband’s legacy to find the same love on the streets as on the court. EFE


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