Kobe Bryant's post-retirement endorsement extension with Nike expired this month, and a big decision has been made. According to ESPN, Kobe Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, elected not to renew the partnership.
"Kobe's Nike contract expired on 4/13/21," Vanessa Bryant told ESPN in a statement. "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."
ESPN says that Vanessa and the estate had grown frustrated with Nike, limiting Kobe products' availability when he retired in 2016 and when he died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. The estate was also frustrated with the lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kid sizes. Vanessa went to say what she wants for fans of Kobe when it comes to his products.
"My hope will always be to allow Kobe's fans to get and wear his products," Vanessa 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."
Vanessa told ESPN that the Kobe estate owns the rights to both his signature and the "Mamba" logo. The estate and Nike mutually own the "Sheath" logo seen on the Kobe shoes' tongue. When Vanessa and the estate decided not to renew the contract, Nike released a statement to ESPN.
"Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike's deep connection to consumers," Nike said. "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." Kobe signed a five-year extension with Nike after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game on April 13, 2016, named "Mamba Day" by Nike. The Los Angeles Lakers legend originally signed with Nike in 2003 and headlined sneakers such as Zoom Huarache 2K4 and 2K5, Hyperdunk at the 2008 Olympics and 11 signature models through the Nike Kobe series.