Complex- The estate of Kobe Bryant did not renew the late basketball icon’s Nike deal this month, sources tell Complex. The move signals what could be the end of the long relationship between Bryant and Nike unless the two parties can agree to a new contract. Bryant’s latest deal with Nike expired on April 13, 2021, according to sneaker industry sources.
Nike did not have a comment for this story. The brand does have more Kobe shoes scheduled to drop in 2021, which sources say will be the last of his Nikes to release for the time being.
It has also released shoes after his tragic death in January 2020, bringing back old models as retros. These sneakers have regularly sold out in the wake of his passing, which rekindled desire for the Nike Kobe line.
Sources tell Complex that after his retirement and before his death, sales for Bryant’s Nike shoes were flagging. Bryant, they say, was a low priority at Nike’s basketball division at the time, his shoes not warranting the marketing attention the brand was giving to its active NBA stars with signature lines like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James.
UPDATED 4/19, 8:55 p.m. ET: Nike has issued the following statement on Bryant’s departure: “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.”
Sneakerheads, or people that followed the story still as of 4 months ago remember the tweets from VC Shervin Pishevar disclosing his meeting with Kobe before his death and their plans to launch a "Mamba" shoe company.
Vanessa Bryant was (allegedly) furious that he tweeted this out. Probably because her team was in the midst of exploring renegotiations with Nike.
Say what you will about the design of those prototypes (they're hideous) but I think Kobe's plan was genius. Granted, it was a take on Under Armour's original business rollout plan, giving major athletes equity in the company in exchange for coming aboard as brand ambassadors and endorsers. Equity is of course the wave of the present in the NBA, stars aren't investing in startups without getting a sizeable piece in return.
I think that was a solid recipe, and if anybody could be crazy enough to go head to head with Jumpman himself, it'd be Kobe. And he could have recruited the stars to do it too I bet.
We'll see if it will happen now without him here, but I wouldn't bet on it.
If I were Vanessa, I would see what Adidas thinks about a reunion. And I'd bring this billion dollar idea to the table with me-
BRING BACK THE KOBE "FEET YOU WEAR "CLASSIC
Game set match.
p.s.- Can anybody blame Kobe for being pissed at Nike while he was alive? Talk about an all-time mail-in. His sneakers his entire career with Nike were a snooze fest. They all sucked. No personality or character whatsoever. And did they ever even market them? Wouldn't be surprised if that was due to The Jordan Rules but that's just speculation.
p.p.s. - Lebrons Nike's have also, all sucked. The only pair he's ever released that I actually liked weren't even real releases, they were special releases- The Lebron 8 South Beaches