Nike and the estate of Kobe Bryant have ended their relationship and, though both sides spoke glowingly of each other, there was disagreement over the value of continuing the partnership.
First, the glowing words.
“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,” Nike wrote in a statement emailed to Footwear News.
Kobe’s widow, Vanessa, wrote Monday on Instagram:
“Kobe and Nike have made some of the most beautiful basketball shoes of all time … .”
Bryant, who died, along with his daughter, Gigi, and seven others in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif., Jan. 26, 2020, apparently was considering leaving Nike.
Bryant joined Nike and 2003 and signed a five-year extension in 2016.
Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, last December, tweeted: “I met with Kobe Bryant in late December 2019. Kobe wasn’t happy with Nike and was going to leave it in 2020. Kobe was going to start Mamba, a shoe company owned by players. … What he was about to do in business was going to eclipse his sports career.”
Last month, TMZ Sports reported the Bryant family filed a trademark for “Mamba and Mambacita.”
According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, Nike made no offers approaching the “lifetime” deals Michael Jordan and LeBron James have received from the company.
DePaula reported Bryant and his family “had grown frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe product during his retirement” and in the wake of his death.
“I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy.” Vanessa Bryant wrote in Instagram. “We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change.”