Earlier this week, Vanessa Bryant and the Kobe Bryant estate chose not to renew its long-standing contract with Nike. Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis, a current ambassador for the brand, couldn’t help but be disappointed to see the late legend leave the team.
“It was tough to see. … Just to see that definitely hurts,” Davis said, via Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation.
Anthony Davis on Kobe’s deal with Nike expiring: “It was tough to see. … Just to see that definitely hurts.”
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) April 21, 2021
After Kobe retired in 2016, the all-time great Laker signed a five-year endorsement extension with Nike. For almost two decades now (first signed in 2003), his signature shoes and logo have been one of the most notable staples of the brand.
So why is this partnership coming to an end in 2021?
According to reports from ESPN, the Bryant estate grew increasingly frustrated with the limited availability of his signature products during his retirement and after his tragic death in the January 2020 helicopter crash. Additional frustrations about lack of availability in kids’ sizes were also reported.
ESPN also reports the endorsement offer extended to the Bryant estate did not follow the expected “lifetime” model currently held by LeBron James and Michael Jordan. While Vanessa and the Bryant estate hoped to continue a relationship with the beloved brand, the offer clearly wasn’t good enough.
“My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products,” Vanessa Bryant said. “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.”
With no reported plans to sign with a new brand, recent trademark filing from his estate indicate a plan for an independent launch.
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