One of the most iconic player-sponsorship pairings in basketball is over--at least for now. The Kobe Bryant and Nike shoe contract has expired and will be not be renewed, according to multiple reports.
According to Complex's Brendan Dunne, the deal expired on April 13, but Bryant's estate opted not to re-up with the footwear company. Although a new contract can still be negotiated, the lack of a renewal signals that the sports world might have the seen the last of Kobe's signature shoes with Nike.
Later on Monday evening, Nike issued a statement saying that Bryant "remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family."
“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers," Nike wrote. "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.”
Nike will still release new editions of the Bryant's signature sneakers at some point later this year, per Dunne.
Bryant first signed a deal with Nike in 2003, after spending the first seven years of his professional career in a partnership with Adidas.
However since he left the NBA in 2016 and after his devastating death in 2020, Kobe's signature shoes were not "warranting the marketing attention" that Nike tends to give its current NBA players.
Here's more from Dunne's report:
"Sources tell Complex that after his retirement and before his death, sales for Bryant’s Nike shoes were flagging. Bryant, they say, was a low priority at Nike’s basketball division at the time, his shoes not warranting the marketing attention the brand was giving to its active NBA stars with signature lines like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James."
Time will tell if Bryant's estate chooses to explore other options to commemorate the former NBA star.