Multiple reports confirmed that the long-standing shoe deal between Nike and Kobe Bryant came to an end earlier this month. Well, at least for now.
Bryant's estate reportedly decided to not renew the contract with Nike to create more of Bryant's signature shoes. While both parties could conceivably start a new deal, most reports indicate that it's unlikely after the existing contract expired on April 13.
Since 2003, Kobe's partnership with Nike has been a fruitful one, that created some of the most recognizable and sought-after kicks around. As the NBA star grew into the all-time great, desire for the shoes only increased. Demand still remained after he retired in 2016 and after his tragic death in January 2020.
However, over the past few years, sales of Bryant's signature kicks had started to decline. According to Complex's Brendan Dunne, the shoes were not "warranting the marketing attention" that Nike want to give to its current NBA stars.
Even so, many sports fans were devastated to hear that the iconic partnership was coming to an end on Monday. Given the popularity of the Black Mamba's shoes for the last two decades, the reaction wasn't surprising.
After the reports surfaced on Monday, Nike issued a statement about the end of the contract with the Bryant estate. In the brief write-up, the shoe company said that Kobe "remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family."
“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” Nike wrote in an official statement. “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.”
It remains unclear if the Bryant estate has a plan for a partnership moving forward. For now, the sports world will celebrate the last 17 years between the Black Mamba and Nike, while hoping for a future announcement.