Kobe Bryant’s Nike partnership comes to bitter end, Vanessa, LA Lakers

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Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s infamous partnership with Nike has officially come to an end after 18 years, with the NBA great’s estate electing not to renew their endorsement.

Bryant, who tragically passed away last year in a helicopter crash alongside daughter Gianna and seven others, began his professional career representing Adidas for six years before joining Nike in 2003 and forming one of the sporting world’s most iconic collaborations.

After Bryant called time on his legendary NBA career at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season, he moved into a five-year, post-retirement endorsement extension with Nike, which officially concludes this month.

At the wish of Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, and the basketball great’s estate, they opted not to renew the partnership with Nike despite being offered an extension.

“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 an ESPN report, Nike’s limited availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his death led to growing frustration among Bryant and the estate.

The report also states that the deal Nike offered to Bryant’s estate wasn’t in line with the similar lifetime contracts currently endorsed by fellow NBA greats, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

“My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products,” Vanessa added.

“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 honour Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change.”

In a major win for the Bryant estate, Vanessa confirmed they own the rights to his famous “Mamba” logo and his signature.

Months before Bryant died, he was reportedly considering leaving Nike when his partnership was up, with hopes of creating a new brand for the players.

“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” Nike told ESPN in a statement.

“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.”

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