On behalf of the Kobe Bryant estate, the player’s widow, Vanessa, has decided not to renew the endorsement deal with sportswear giant Nike.
With Kobe Bryant’s recent contract expiring this month, Vanessa Bryant reportedly told ESPN that she had grown frustrated with Nike. ESPN reported that Vanessa Bryant felt that Nike’s deal was not comparable to those “lifetime” contracts offered to athletes such as Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
“My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products,” Vanessa told ESPN. “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,” she added.
Without a contract, Nike will cease manufacturing its Kobe Bryant branded products. However, the Bryant estate could conceivably strike a deal for some other company to manufacture the items.
ESPN added that the Bryant estate owns the “Mamba” logo and his signature, while the “Sheath” logo is mutually owned by both the Bryants and Nike.
“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.”
Bryant had signed an extension to his Nike deal in April of 2016. But he reportedly met with a creative agency in 2019 with plans to make his own line of sportswear without Nike’s help.
Kobe’s signature shoes have been a mainstay for many top athletes who both appreciate the shoe’s performance and hope to pay tribute to the famed player.
Reacting to the news that Nike may stop producing Kobe branded merchandise, L.A. Lakers player Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said, “First of all, I’m going to try to get a couple more pairs before they stop selling them.” He added that he was shocked by the news about the deal falling apart.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.