Yesterday we learned that the Kobe Bryant estate did not come to an agreement this month to renew the late basketball icon’s longstanding Nike deal, which expired on April 13, 2021. Shortly after the news broke last night, Vanessa issued a statement on Instagram.
“Kobe’s Nike contract expired on 4/13/21,” Vanessa wrote on her Instagram Story. “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. My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products.”
Her statement continues with “My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products. 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.”
After losing her husband Kobe and her daughter Gigi to a helicopter crash in January 2020, Vanessa has constantly expressed her frustration on the exclusivity of Nike Kobe products and nudged the brand to make them more widely available for fans. Echoing her own sentiments, she partnered with Undefeated earlier this month for the re-release of the sneaker boutique’s Kobe 4 Protro collection, allowing fans in the local Los Angeles area to get first dibs on the restock.
Bryant signed his first endorsement deal with Adidas upon entering the NBA directly from high school in 1996, before making a jump to Nike in 2003. During his time with the Swoosh, he launched over 11 signature sneakers during his playing career and continued to release new models even after his 2016 retirement.
Nike has also issued a statement about the end of the partnership saying “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.”