Kobe Bryant's estate has decided not to renew its long-standing contract with Nike. According to reports, Bryant's wife, Vanessa Bryant, decided not to renew the contract for Kobe's releases.
ESPN's Nick DePaula confirmed that Vanessa did not renew the contract.
In a statement to Black Sports Online, Nike stated that they would continue to release the old versions of the Kobe sneakers along with the latest one, which is scheduled to drop this year. However, for now, the partnership has come to an end. Nike's statement reads:
"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."
Did Kobe Bryant plan to end his Nike deal before his death?
Kobe Bryant had signed a deal with Nike in 2003 after working with Adidas since the start of his professional career in 1996. With Nike, Bryant appeared in many advertisements and released over 11 signature sneakers, becoming one of the brand's biggest endorsers.
The signature sneakers continued to be released even after his retirement in 2016 and continued to be done so after the player's untimely death in January 2020.
However, reports emerged last year that Bryant was planning to end his partnership with Nike to begin his own "Mamba" sneaker brand.
According to venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, Bryant was not satisfied with his Nike deal and was planning to leave it the year he died to start his own shoe company that would be owned by players.
Pishevar also shared mockups of show designs for the independent company. The proposed shoe would also contain a tracker that would be connected to a Mamba fitness app.
Pishevar also stated that Kobe was unhappy with Nike's marketing and promotion commitment to his line and that the basketball player did not trust Nike's judgment in design.
How Vanessa Bryant tried to work with Nike to make Kobe's more accessible
There were also reports last year that Bryant's wife, Vanessa Bryant, was attempting to work with Nike to make it easier for his fans to purchase his shoes.
Vanessa Bryant updated via Instagram Stories that she reached out to Nike so that fans would have a better opportunity to get Kobe's Nikes. However, the plans were shut down due to COVID-19.
Given both reports that Kobe wanted to end his deal with Nike and that Vanessa Bryant wanted his fans to be able to get his shoes, fans have been supportive of the late basketball player's estate's decision to end the partnership.
While a statement from Vanessa Bryant has not been released yet, she recently marked the occasion of her 20th wedding anniversary to Kobe. Vanessa took to Instagram to share a photo of the couple kissing at the altar.