Nike & Kobe Bryant Partnership Comes To An End…For Now

Nike’s long-time partnership with the late Kobe Bryant has come to an end barring a major turn of events.

According to multiple reports, the deal expired on April 13, 2021, and has not been renewed, despite multiple efforts to do so. The decision could spell the end of this historic sponsorship stanza. A sponsorship that led to the creation of some of the most popular sneakers of all-time.

 

With very slim hopes that a contract can be reached between the sports apparel giant and Bryant’s estate, this looks to be the end of an era. This era began in 2003 when Kobe signed with Nike, after spending the early years of his illustrious NBA and soon to Hall of Fame career with Adidas.

Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant, mentioned how frustrated she was with Nike following Kobe’s death. That frustration stemmed from the lack of product made available for fans who wanted to commemorate and honor him by purchasing his signature sneakers.

Back in late 2020, roughly a month or so before his shocking death, venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar states that Bryant wasn’t happy with his Nike deal, and even had plans to leave once his deal expired.

He also mentioned how Bryant and he met about a year earlier and discussed at length the plan to start a new, player-owned independent sneaker company called “Mamba.”

Bryant was upset about the lack of marketing put behind his line citing a dip in sales. They even went as far as to create new sneaker models for the respective brand.

The “Black Mamba” inspired slip-on model features a snakeskin texture and tracker technology at the rear that would connect to a fitness app for integrated coaching and motivational content.

More Kobe sneakers are scheduled to drop in 2021, however, one should expect these to be the last ever from the Swoosh stable.

After leaving Adidas in 2003, Nike and Kobe collaborated on 11 signature models.

 

 

Via sneakernews.com:

It’s hard to imagine Nike without Kobe Bryant, but you don’t have to think back too long to wonder what that’d be like. The five-time champion started his career endorsing adidas and didn’t officially join Nike until the summer of 2003. At this juncture, it doesn’t seem that any other brand would even entertain the idea as it would come off as entirely opportunistic.

After Kobe’s shocking passing, Nike suspended sales of all Kobe product until the following August with “Mamba Week”, a week-long celebration of the fallen icon with some proceeds going to charity.

READ MORE: Nike Is Coming With Kobe Bryant Kicks, Fire Jerseys & Lots of Love For Mamba Day

Afterward, Nike continued its plans of releasing Kobe Retro footwear, releasing a number of Kobe 5 Protro and Kobe 6 Protro colorways – with one coming as recently as early April in Asia.