Kobe Bryant’s deal with Nike has ended, ending one of the oldest and most iconic basketball sneaker lines of all time.
First reported on Monday night, the succession of Kobe Bryant and Nike failed to come to an agreement to renew the great NBA’s last 5-year extension, which was signed in April 2016.
Nike confirmed the news shortly after posting reports online, releasing a statement that read: “Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection with consumers. He pushed us and improved everyone around him. Although our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family. “
Kobe signed with Nike in 2003 after starting his NBA career with his sportswear rivals adidas. Starting in 2003, Nike released 11 iconic shoes bearing the Kobe name and the Mamba logo. Nike continued to release signature models after Kobe retired in 2016, although reports suggested his line was no longer a high priority for the Swoosh as the signature shoes of emerging stars Kyrie Irving and Giannis Antetokounmpo grew in popularity. .
Still, Kobe’s sneakers were worn by a wide range of active players, including DeMar DeRozan, Devin Booker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo before he got a signature shoe (which was heavily inspired by Kobe’s line). They were also considered to be one of the best performance basketball shoes Nike had on its list, even after Kobe retired.
After the tragic death of the legend in early 2020, interest in Nike Kobe increased. Nike Kobe’s last post-mortem outing was on April 13, when Nike ditched an exclusive-access re-supply of the “Grinch” Kobe 6. That day marked the fifth anniversary of Kobe’s last game in the NBA when the Los Laker Angeles scored. 60 points to bow out after 20 years of career. It was also apparently the last day of Kobe’s deal with Nike.
Late last year, venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar revealed that he had met with Kobe a few months before his death to discuss starting an independent, player-owned sneaker brand called Mamba. According to Pishevar, Kobe was considering leaving Nike and starting his own brand. Ultimately, however, Kobe was tragically killed in a helicopter crash before this business could be undertaken.
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