One of the longest-running sneaker lines in the industry could be coming to an end after Nike and Kobe Bryant's estate failed to come to an agreement on a new deal this month, first reported by Complex and later confirmed by Nike. Bryant's Nike deal expired on April 13, 2021, exactly five years to the day that his 60-point performance provided an exclamation point to a Hall of Fame career.
Bryant, who originally signed with Nike in 2003 after an extended run with Adidas to start his career, signed a five-year extension with The Swoosh in April 2016. That extension came to an end this month and as it stands it's unclear what the future holds for Nike Kobe sneakers. Bryant's signature line with Nike is one of the longest-running sneaker lines in basketball.
"Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike's deep connection to consumers," Nike said in a statement issued on Monday. "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."
As a part of his signature line, Bryant laced up 11 different models during his playing career and Nike continued to release his sneakers long after his retirement in 2016. After Bryant's death in January of 2020, prices for his sneakers skyrocketed on re-sale sites like StockX and GOAT. In the 14 months since his death, Nike has released more than 10 of his signature shoes with more releases slated through 2021.
"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," Vanessa Bryant said in a statement. "It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband's product than any other signature shoe. 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."
Nike offered Vanessa and the Bryant estate a deal that would extend the relationship, but that offer fell short of expectations from the Bryant side, according to ESPN.
"I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband's legacy," Bryant said to cap off her statement. "We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi's legacies. That will never change."
Bryant and the estate grew frustrated with Nike's approach to the Kobe line since his retirement, feeling like the product was too limited and there was a lack of availability in kid's sizes, per ESPN.
The final Nike Kobe release to date was the Nike Kobe 6 'Grinch,' which was restocked on the Nike SNKRS app on April 13 as a commemoration of Bryant's final NBA game with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Kobe 6 'Grinch,' like many of the Kobe sneakers released since his death, was one of the more coveted sneakers in Bryant's historically successful line.
As it looks now, the Bryant estate and Nike aren't likely to circle back and agree to a new deal so you can expect the market for his Nike sneakers to heat up and re-sale prices to hit an all-time high.