Nike and Kobe Bryant’s contractual relationship officially ended on April 13, exactly five years after his 60-point final game in 2016.
Bryant and his estate were unhappy with the limited availability of his Nike products after his retirement and death, per ESPN. Nike also reportedly did not offer the Bryant estate an expected “lifetime” deal.
The split is an unusual one for Nike, which tends to stick with its most iconic athletes — Michael Jordan and LeBron James have “lifetime” deals. However, the Swoosh was unable to come to terms on a new agreement with Kobe’s estate.
“My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products. I will continue to fight for that,” said Vanessa Bryant. “I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy.”
Before his passing, Bryant met with a creative agency to discuss building his own “Mamba” brand after his deal with Nike expired.
Bryant’s estate owns the Mamba logo, which appears on his shoes. The “Sheath” logo, which often appears on the shoes’ tongues, are co-owned by the estate and Nike.
“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” Nike announced in a statement. “Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”
Bryant had been with Nike since 2003, after signing a six-year deal with Adidas as a rookie.