A beautiful business partnership has come to an end as the Kobe Bryant estate and Nike executives have failed to come to terms on a contract extension after a partnership that has lasted two decades.
“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,” Vanessa Bryant said in a released statement. “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. 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.”
Reports were that Bryant—frustrated by the limited releases of Kobe shoes after his retirement and the lack of availability of children’s sizes—was looking for a lifetime contract similar to that of LeBron James with Nike.
“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” Nike said in a statement that was issued on Monday. “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.”
The move is likely to include the demand—and price— of Kobe shoes given that Nike will halt the manufacturing of his products.