The future of the Nike Kobe line, one of the longest-running and most important signature sneaker series, is uncertain. The last deal in place between the late Kobe Bryant and Nike expired on April 13, 2021, and his estate has opted not to sign a new contract for now. Nike confirmed to Complex via a statement this week that the deal was over, with Bryant’s wife Vanessa adding a comment of her own on the status of her husband’s endorsement deal via Instagram. There’s the possibility the parties reach an agreement, but a failure to do so would mark the conclusion of Bryant’s long partnership with Nike that began in 2003. Bryant, or rather his estate, is essentially a free agent now.
If the Nike Kobe line becomes history, it will be a rich one. Since their first union, Kobe and Nike have produced industry-shifting sneakers and emotional ad campaigns. Collaborators of the late Lakers icon at Nike often described him as more connected than any other player to the actual development and design of his sneakers. The passion was evident in the final product, which captured the full spectrum of Kobe, from his mighty accomplishments on the basketball court to his passions beyond it. In this stage of uncertainty around what Kobe Bryant’s posthumous sneaker output will look like next, we’ve reflected on the sneaker moments that defined his time with Nike.