Why Vanessa Bryant Ended Kobe Bryant’s Endorsement Deal with Nike
Kobe Bryant’s post-retirement deal with Nike has come to an end.
Kobe’s widow Vanessa and his estate have decided not to renew the endorsement deal, which started in 2003.
In a statement to ESPN, Vanessa said, “Kobe's Nike contract expired on 4/13/21. 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 sources, Bryant’s estate became frustrated with the limited amount of Kobe products available during his retirement and following his death, as well as the lack of Kobe shoes in kids’ sizes.
Vanessa stressed, “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."
Since the deal has expired, Nike will stop production on Kobe Bryant-branded shoes and apparel. The estate is now able to negotiate a new deal with other brands.
Vanessa noted that the Kobe estate owns the rights to the Mamba logo and his signature.
In a statement, Nike said, “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."
After his death on January 26, 2020, Nike immediately sold out of Mamba merchandise. Months later, Nike released colorways of the Kobe V Protro and a limited-edition jersey to honor Bryant’s legacy.