Why Did Nike’s Kobe Bryant Sneaker Deal End? Is a New Partnership on the Horizon?

Published 04/19/2021, 11:28 PM EDT
Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) takes a breather against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of the Lakers’ 103-88 game 1 first round NBA playoff game win at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 29, 2012. AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post (Photo By AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)


There are few sneaker partnerships that were as iconic as the one Kobe Bryant had with Nike. The late Los Angeles Lakers legend signed with Nike back in 2003 after spending a few seasons with Adidas. And now, after 18 years, this partnership has come to an end.

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Nike issued a statement saying, “Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers… Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”

But in contrast to Nike’s statement, Complex’s Brendan Dunne revealed that Kobe wasn’t all that important to the American sportswear company. He revealed 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.”

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LOS ANGELES, CA, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2014 – Lakers guard Kobe Bryant during pregame warmups before a preseason game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Perhaps this is why Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, wasn’t keen on a renewal. According to Nick DePaula, she was the one who pulled out of the deal. DePaula also mentioned that as of now, there will not be any future Kobe releases for Nike. After raking in over $130 million for Nike, the Bryant estate has decided to end this association.

Despite losing out on such a big name, Nike might still be in for profits. Fans will want to purchase Nike Kobes as soon as possible before they go out of stock.

Will another company swoop in and start a Kobe Bryant collection?

Back in December 2020, angel investor Shervin Pishevar talked about how he and Kobe discussed a potential new shoe line. They spoke about this in 2019 and that’s apparently when Kobe revealed he wasn’t happy with Nike. While there is no other proof for these statements, Vanessa’s decision to not renew with Nike could be a sign that this is true.

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While there was no follow-up to those statements, the end of the Nike deal could mean that a partnership with Pishevar might be on the horizon. Both sides are yet to make a statement, but there could be some official comments in the coming days.

022738.SP.0115.lakers7.WS Lakers guard Kobe Bryant during the National Anthem at the Staples Center Monday against the Vancouver Grizzlies. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Kobe signed with Adidas after coming out of high school, but he later moved on to Nike after being unhappy with the Kobe Two. In what could be a huge posthumous deal, the Bryant estate could soon have a new partnership, and fans will be excited to see if this deal works out.

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Aaron Mathew

1542 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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