Nike has confirmed the end of its longtime partnership with late NBA player and legend Kobe Bryant.
“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 said in a statement.
Sources suggest that the estate of Kobe Bryant did not renew the Nike deal this month and essentially hinted at the end of the contractual relationship unless the two parties can come to a new agreement. However, it is worth noting that Bryant’s estate has also filed for 13 trademark applications since May 2020, which is indicative of the estate’s plans to quietly launch a new brand.
“The filings would suggest Vanessa [Bryant] is building an IP portfolio for a new brand launch,” intellectual property attorney Josh Gerben told CNBC.
Bryant originally inked a deal with Nike back in 2003 following a stint with rival brand Adidas, and according to sneaker industry sources, the late basketball player’s deal with the DTC sportswear brand officially came to an end on April 13, 2021.
During Bryant’s 20-year career with the NBA, he won five championships, made 18 All-Star appearances, obtained two Finals MVP trophies and won one league MVP trophy. Bryant also had the fourth-highest points in NBA history, scoring 33,643 points.
While the deal has expired, sources say the brand does have more Kobe shoes scheduled to drop later this year, which will most likely be the last of the Nike x Kobe Bryant relationship.