It's the end of an era for one of Nike's longest-running and most popular sneaker lines after Kobe Bryant's estate and the shoe giant failed to come to an agreement on renewing their partnership contract.
"Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike's deep connection to consumers," Nike said in a 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."
Bryant, who first signed with Nike in 2003 after donning Adidas for several years, continued to be a brand representative after his 2016 retirement from the NBA, signing a five-year extension with the company that same year. He released more than a dozen sneakers under The Swoosh.
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Vanessa Bryant confirmed the news in a subsequent statement shared on her Instagram Story Monday night.
"Kobe's Nike contract expired on 4/13/21. 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," she wrote.
"It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband's product than any other signature shoe," she continued. "My hope will always be to allow Kobe's fans to get and wear his products. 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."
According to ESPN, which first reported the end of the partnership, Vanessa Bryant and the Bryant estate was frustrated by Nike's limited availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his January 2020 death. ESPN also reported Nike's extension offer was not in line with current "lifetime" structures that fellow NBA stars LeBron James and Michael Jordan have been given.
As a result of the terminated contract, future releases of Kobe Bryant-branded footwear and apparel with Nike will likely be halted, ESPN reports.
The NBA legend who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died tragically in a helicopter crash with 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others on Jan. 26, 2020.
After his death, prices for Kobe sneakers jumped on re-sale and auction sites like eBay as third party sellers bought up online stocks to flip them for a profit. In the 14 months since his death, Nike has released more than 10 of his signature shoes with more releases slated through 2021.