The late Lakers legend boasts one of the longest-running sneaker lines in the industry, but that could be coming to an end after Nike and his estate failed to come to an agreement on a new deal this month.
The deal expired on April 13, 2021, exactly five years to the day Kobe provided a 60-point performance in the final game of his illustrious career. Kobe originally signed with Nike in 2003 before signing a five-year extension with the brand in April 2016.
As that deal expired this month, his wife Vanessa–who is in charge of his estate–decided not to re-sign, making fans wonder the fate of such an iconic basketball sneaker. Bryant, herself, is obviously a big fan of the shoes too, which seems to be one of the reasons she decided to play hardball with Nike.
After news of this deal ending broke, she issued a statement, alluding to the idea that the sportswear brand wouldn’t meet certain demands, like making Kobe’s beloved sneakers easier to access.
“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 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.”
According to reports from ESPN, Nike offered Vanessa and the Bryant estate a deal that would extend the relationship, but that offer fell short of expectations from the her side.
“I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy,” Bryant continued in her statement. “We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change.”
Vanessa and the estate have grown frustrated with Nike’s approach to the Kobe line since his retirement, feeling like the product was too limited along with a lack of availability in kid’s sizes, according to ESPN. Unless Nike realizes they should change their approach and give the people–and Vanessa–what they want, this is the end of an era.