Kobe Bryant’s contract with Nike is officially over. The late, great future NBA Hall of Famer’s estate decided not to re-up the deal, leaving sneakerheads unsure what that exactly means.
Per ESPN, Nike did offer an extension to the partnership. However, Vanessa Bryant, the Black Mamba’s widow, and the estate felt it was lacking.
“Kobe’s Nike contract expired on 4/13/21,” Vanessa Bryant 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.”
According to sources, Bryant and the estate were “frustrated” with the lack of availability of Kobe’s Nike products after his retirement and his untimely death in January 2020. Sneakerheads will surely agree since copping a pair of Kobe’s Retro kicks are a crapshoot on apps like SNKRS or via the websites of retailers like Foot Locker and Finishline where they routinely sell out in minutes, if not seconds.
More sources say Bryant was looking for a lifetime deal but the estate and Nike were not able to come to terms. She added, “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.”
For now, it seems that all sales of Kobe Bryant-branded Nike gear and apparel will be halted. Reportedly, the Kobe Bryant estate owns the rights to his signature and the “Mamba” logo. But as for the “Sheath” logo featured on the tongue of Nike’s Kobe signature kicks is owned by Bryant and Nike.
If that info is accurate, it seems Nike would have to ante up to license Kobe’s gear. The brand issued respectful but vague statement. “Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” Nike told ESPN. “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.”
But what’s good with more Kobe Retros we can actually cop without having to pay exorbitant resale prices, though? Asking for some friends.