- The Washington Times
Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Nike and the estate of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant will end a lengthy partnership after the sides did not come to an agreement over a contract extension.

Complex first reported the news, and Nike has since confirmed a deal was not reached to various outlets.

“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” Nike told USA TODAY Sports. “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.”

Bryant signed with Nike in 2003 and he signed a five-year, post-retirement endorsement extension in 2016. That extension expired earlier in April, Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, told ESPN.

“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. “It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe.”

Before signing with Nike, Bryant was partnered with adidas. ESPN reports that the Bryant estate grew frustrated with the limited availability of Bryant’s products after his retirement and after his death in January 2020 in a helicopter crash. The lack of availability in kids’ sizes was also a point of contention.

My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products,” Vanessa Bryant told ESPN. “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.”

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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