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After 18 Years Of Partnership, Kobe Bryant’s Estate Terminates Deal With Nike

 

Nike’s 18-year relationship with the basketball legend, which was accompanied by years of iconic advertising has come to an end after his estate and the company failed to reach terms for an extension, according to a report by ESPN.

Vanessa Bryant and the Kobe Bryant estate elected not to renew the partnership, she confirmed to ESPN in a statement Monday night. According to a source, Bryant and the estate had grown frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his January 2020 death in a helicopter crash. There was also frustration with the lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids’ sizes, according to sources.

Nike in a statement said: “Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers. 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 and Nike created some of the most high-profile advertising in the sports world since the deal began in 2003, including many from Wieden+Kennedy Portland. Often, the ads embraced Bryant’s “Black Mamba” nickname, including a six-minute film in 2011 directed by action director Robert Rodriguez with cameos from Bruce Willis, Danny Trejo and Kanye West. When Bryant retired in 2016, Nike’s tributes included an ad showing the Lakers legend as a conductor turning his haters’ spite into a delightful symphony.

Bryant died in 2020 in a helicopter crash alongside his daughter, Gigi.

Vanessa Bryant also confirmed to ESPN that the Kobe Bryant estate owns the rights to both the “Mamba” logo and his signature. The “Sheath” logo often featured on the tongue of Nike’s Kobe sneakers is mutually owned by both sides, according to a source.

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

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