Just did it: Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, ends 18-year Nike partnership despite wanting ‘lifelong deal reflecting his legacy’
The widow of Kobe Bryant, Vanessa, has ended the late basketball legend's 18-year relationship with sports apparel giant Nike, telling fans that she will "continue to fight" for fans to be able to wear his hugely popular shoes.
Their partnership began in 2003 when the LA Lakers star, then the NBA's hottest property, left Adidas.
Releasing 11 signature basketball sneakers with Nike, he reportedly signed a five-year contract extension with the company when retiring in 2016, which continued to run following his death in a fatal helicopter crash alongside daughter Gianna at the beginning of 2020.
Following the tragedy, resellers jacked up the price of the footwear and Nike also produced re-releases.
Vanessa Bryant just posted this about Kobe's contract with Nike expiring. pic.twitter.com/KR7hUTCxcn— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) April 20, 2021
The end of the partnership means that fans will no longer have to struggle to afford and buy limited editions – although his widow hopes fans can still enjoy the items.
Releasing a statement via Instagram, she began by confirming: "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. My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products.
At 6:36 AM today I received a text:“Vanessa Bryant did not renew contract. Kobe and Nike are done.”I’ve been working since to confirm what this means ahead for the Nike / Kobe Bryant partnership.As of right now — there is no ongoing contract for future Kobe releases. pic.twitter.com/5vuyQg6Gw6— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) April 19, 2021
"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."
Nike had earlier confirmed the news, 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."
Would be hard to believe Vanessa was pleased with how they’ve handled the posthumous releases being so freaking limited. Fans can’t get their hands on pieces of his legacy.— Lou (@louash2) April 20, 2021
Fans on social media offered support to Vanessa but also took the opportunity to criticize Nike.
"I wouldn’t have expected her to hold on to that," one remarked.
"I can’t imagine how painful it must be for her... I’m sure she has her reasons."
"Would be hard to believe Vanessa was pleased with how they’ve handled the posthumous releases being so freaking limited. Fans can’t get their hands on pieces of his legacy," another complained.Also on rt.com Kobe Bryant helicopter crash pilot ‘violated flight standards’ by heading into heavy cloud, was disoriented – investigation